The Dillard Doctrine

Urban Conservative Commentary on Politics & Life

What It All Means

Random notes on the execution of Osama bin Laden:

The Body: Good on the Navy for doing it right, as only we can. I personally have no problems with bin Laden receiving a proper Muslim burial (or as proper of one as could be arranged quickly, under the circumstances). There was really no one to return his body to (the Saudis had stripped him of his citizenship in the early 1990s), and frankly-no one wanted it. Or more accurately, no one wanted the headaches that would come with it.

And for those Muslims who say the burial at sea defies Islamic tradition/law, I say…go retrieve his body. We’ll provide the coordinates, but that’s it.

The Pictures: I’m completely against releasing them, for the same reason that I was against the Obama Administration’s almost-release of photos of alleged detainee abuse. If the goal by burying bin Laden at sea was to prevent (as much as possible) a rally to a grave, then why create a rallying cry by releasing photos of him actually dead? If the president was willing to commit an act of war to have him killed (yes, sovereign territory was invaded), then I’m willing to believe him when he says bin Laden’s dead. It doesn’t serve our national interest to release those pictures, “deathers” be damned.

The Credit: Yesterday, I said that both sides of the political spectrum would try to take credit for bin Laden’s execution, at the detraction of the other. In a true Crimson Tide moment, they are both right…and both wrong.

Here’s the reality: the War on Terror-the conditions that caused us to go after bin Laden in the first place-began with President Bush. For his willingness to go after him worldwide, he deserves credit. In that noble goal, however, he did not succeed in catching/killing him.

For ordering the mission to do so (and especially to kill him, depriving him of anything resembling due process!), President Obama deserves credit. That said, he was not the most ardent supporter of the War on Terror as a senator, and some of those who served-myself included-remember that fact.

The two are inseparable; President Obama does not have bin Laden killed without President Bush’s actions in the GWOT. That’s just how it is.

Revealing the organization that conducted the raid: As the song says, we need a hero. We’ll never know the names of those who went, or the one who ultimately pulled the trigger (and we should never know, for their own safety). That said, saying who conducted the raid-while technically a violation of operational security-was somewhat necessary. Drones and bombs are somewhat impersonal; being able to have a direction to point to say “they did it!” works for me; it’s a human connection that we needed when this day came. Besides, if anyone thinks they’re just going to drive up to the base at Dam Neck, they’ve got another thing coming.

The $25 million in reward money: I don’t think it should go to the SEALs for doing their jobs; contrary to some opinions, we don’t raise mercenaries here. But again, we’ll never know if they do or not. Nor should it go to any detainee who initially tipped where bin Laden was, unless that detainee has been shown to be innocent of anything resembling terrorism or support for it. Something tells me that the reward money is just going to disappear…either figuratively or literally.

The status of the GWOT: Technically, it was over anyway. Personally, I think bin Laden’s death provides not only a sense of closure to it, but a sense of victory. Killing the face of the enemy in the GWOT does bring about a sense of winning. That said, terrorism will continue to take place. Just because bin Laden’s dead doesn’t mean it will just stop. He was the public face of one terrorist organization; someone will take his place. And if not, some other organization will take al-Qaeda’s.

Bringing me to my last point…

The ensuing complacency: I don’t enjoy living like someone’s always trying to kill me (or by broader extension, destroy my country); it’s not something that I enjoy walking around with all day. But it’s the reality that I have.

I fear that, with bin Laden’s execution, we’re headed back to September 10, 2001.Scratch that, I know we are. It will take us some years to get there. We’ll have a discussion on the Patriot Act, and decide that it’s not worth keeping. Same for DHS and (especially) TSA. Gitmo will close. And a generation of Americans will be born who will come to know 9/11 as an answer on a history test, and nothing more.

And then it will happen again. Once we’ve become secure enough in our power to believe that we can kill any threat that arises, one will emerge that we can’t. And the knee that jerked on September 12 will jerk again.

I don’t want that to happen. We’ve seen the extremes of what a nation must do to defend itself. I feel those extremes justified and necessary, others don’t. Now is the time to have that discussion. If we do away with the Patriot Act, what commonsense laws balance our freedoms with their preservation? How can we extract intelligence without resulting to enhanced interrogation techniques, and when are we justified in using them? The adults in the room are going to have to have those discussions, free of the shifting political winds.

What it all means is that we have a reason to celebrate. But we also have a reason to remain on guard; to remain vigilant; to remain prepared to act.

If we fail to do the latter, the former is reduced to nothing.

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Written by Coby Dillard

May 3, 2011 at 8:00 am

Posted in Editorials

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