Tuesday, May 03, 2011

Europe reacts 

Reuters is running a piece this afternoon with the headline, "Should bin Laden have been captured and tried?":
While many world leaders applauded the U.S. operation that killed al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden, there were concerns in parts of Europe that the United States was wrong to act as policeman, judge and executioner.

U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder defended the action as lawful Tuesday, but some in Europe said bin Laden should have been captured and put on trial.

"It was quite clearly a violation of international law," former West German Chancellor Helmut Schmidt told German TV. "The operation could also have incalculable consequences in the Arab world in light of all the unrest."

Ehrhart Koerting, Interior Minister in the city-state of Berlin, said: "As a lawyer, I would have preferred to have seen him put on trial at the International Criminal Court (ICC)."

Gert-Jan Knoops, a Dutch-based international law specialist, said bin Laden should have been arrested and extradited to the United States. He drew parallels with the arrest of former Yugoslav president Slobodan Milosevic, who was put on trial at the war crimes tribunal in The Hague after his arrest in 2001.

"The Americans say they are at war with terrorism and can take out their opponents on the battlefield," Knoops said. "But in a strictly formal sense, this argument does not stand up."
I can't help thinking how nice it is to be lectured by a former German head of state regarding violations of international law, because, you know, the Germans have been so precise in their adherence to international law over the last century.

It may well be that within both the Bush and Obama administrations, internal debates took place as to whether it would be better or worse to capture and try bin Laden -- if the opportunity presented itself -- or simply whack him like Sollozzo in the restaurant scene in Godfather I, but avoiding criticism from European politicians and lawyers must have been pretty low on the list of considerations. Going forward, the same debates regarding Ayman al-Zawahiri might take place -- and he could conceivably have a greater operational intelligence value as compared to bin Laden -- but here is one vote to whack him like Hyman Roth ("I'm a retired investor on a pension") in the airport scene in Godfather II.

Kudos to Eric Holder for manning up and stating that the action was legal.


By Blogger Stack Trace, at Tue May 03, 05:44:00 PM:

An unexpectedly ballsy decision by Obama. More, please!

There will be some effete hand-wringing over it, but nothing serious.  

By Blogger RoseB, at Tue May 03, 06:20:00 PM:

I really don't know why this was so courageous of Obama. All he had to do was say yes to something others have been working on since 9/11. I'm surprised he didn't say "present" instead. I'm in awe of the SEALs who took him out. What unbelievable bravery and discipline.  

By Blogger Stack Trace, at Tue May 03, 06:48:00 PM:

RoseB, totally agreed. Mostly I'm amazed that he actually approved it, and that so far, he has been unapologetic about it publicly. I would have expected something more waffly, more Carter-ish.

For once I'm just going to stand back and be happy that the POTUS acted like, well, the POTUS. Until the next dumb thing he does.  

By Anonymous sirius, at Tue May 03, 06:59:00 PM:

"It was quite clearly a violation of international law."

Then, paraphrasing Dickens, international law is an ass.

"The operation could also have incalculable consequences in the Arab world in light of all the unrest."

Personally, I'm past the point of caring.

One last thought--a question, really. What would Obama Administration members done with Osama had they captured him alive? Prior intellectual/moral preening would've set up an interesting, and quite potentially hypocritical, dynamic.  

By Anonymous Anonymous, at Tue May 03, 08:03:00 PM:

'Personally, I'm past the point of caring' - Amen brother.

By the way (I could be wrong), I thought the point of this mission was actually to capture him, and obviously kill/disarm if he posed a threat to the SEALs?  

By Anonymous QuakerCat, at Tue May 03, 09:46:00 PM:

I think the better question or point about Germans should not be about what they may have done wrong in the past; but rather how big of a bunch of pussies they have become. When they lost the war its almost as if there nuts were genetically removed.

One more point about the German's was the role they played in hiding the source for the famous "yellow cake" intel that led us to war in Iraq. The fact that they would not reveal the source (who turned out to be totally bogus) and there is a strong belief that they knew this inteligence was anything but clean; is a point that far too many "internationalists" seem to forget.  

By Anonymous Pasquin, at Tue May 03, 10:20:00 PM:

Let those euros come over here and try to enforce their "international laws."  

By Blogger Georgfelis, at Wed May 04, 12:01:00 AM:

Since the Euros and the Germans are so hot-to-trot to try OBL in criminal court, that means that they would be more than happy to hold the less-important terrorists we presently house in Gitmo, right?


Yeah, I thought so.

Actions speak louder than any number of words.  

By Anonymous Anonymous, at Wed May 04, 08:29:00 AM:

I really don't know why this was so courageous of Obama. All he had to do was say yes to something others have been working on since 9/11.

Actually, Rose, the CIA unit responsible for finding OBL was shut down by the Bush Admin in 2005 so yes, Obama did do something "others" had NOT did not: he made it a CIA priority to find the man responsible for 9/11, the USS Cole, Embassy bombings, etc, and capture/kill him [contra Tora Bora]

The fact that Bin Laden was unarmed when he was killed is a fitting ending: The 3,000 people he killed on 9/11 were unarmed, too.  

By Blogger RPD, at Wed May 04, 10:03:00 AM:

OBL declared war on the US and the west in the mid 90's. We warred on him right back.  

By Anonymous feeblemind, at Wed May 04, 10:26:00 AM:

The 'International law" quote jumped out at me as well.

A couple of questions:

Paraphrasing algore, who is the controlling legal authority for international law?

Does this mean our current POTUS could be charged and arrested if he ever sets foot in Europe?

Glad to see you back, E-81.  

By Anonymous Anonymous, at Wed May 04, 10:39:00 AM:

"kudos to Eric Holder"? For defending the obvious? Unlike feeblemind, I didn't miss insghts like this one.  

By Blogger Progressively Defensive, at Wed May 04, 11:40:00 AM:

I'm delighted; I'm going to frame the NY Post front page and put it on my wall.

But this was technically illegal, by whatever UN regulations, existent treaties or diplomatic realtions we have with Pakistan, and certainly by Pakistani law, I think. Only jingoism defies this logic.

But the pacifist internationalist left, would they be consistent, ought to label Obama a "war criminal," more so than George W. Bush. This was an invasion of a country and the assasination of a resident along with the concurrent killing of what I presume were some of it's citizens, perhaps law abiding or perhaps not, but in any case innocent until proven guilty. It was counter-terrorism in fact, i.e., international unlawfulness to combat international unlawfulness; and bravo.

What I like is that the George W.Bush as war criminal meme is moot rendered so with the retort "then Obama, too."  

By Anonymous Chemist, at Wed May 04, 12:15:00 PM:

If the police try to arrest someone and this person shoots at them, it is not illegal for the police to return fire and kill this person. Killing instead of arresting is not illegal if the other guy is shooting at you. As far as I've read, Bin Laden grabbed a gun and fired at the SEALs and they shot him in the head. How is this different than the police firing on someone? Why is this 'illegal'? Does one seriously expect the SEALs to just walk up to a guy that is actively shooting at them and try to arrest him?  

By Blogger Noumenon, at Wed May 04, 12:45:00 PM:

Note that the Europeans were not that happy when we did kidnap and seek trial: the Italians convicted 23 CIA agents for kidnapping when they abducted Hassan Mustafa Osama Nasr and sent him to Egypt.

However, I'm on the Europeans' side here: foreign countries' intelligence agencies kidnapping people in other countries is not something I'd want to happen here, and trials are better than executions (Egypt eventually freed Nasr and ruled his detention "unfounded.")  

By Anonymous Boludo Tejano, at Wed May 04, 08:47:00 PM:

Ehrhart Koerting, Interior Minister in the city-state of Berlin, said: "As a lawyer, I would have preferred to have seen him put on trial at the International Criminal Court (ICC)."

Yup, that really worked well for Milosovic. Four years of trial and still going strong when he died of a heart attack.

Perhaps the US should have released Bin Laden to the custody of Herr Ehrhart Koerting, with the proviso that if Bin Laden escapes, Herr Ehrhart Koerting will consent to receiving Daniel Pearl treatment within 24 hours of Bin Laden's escape.

Any comments about all of Germany's commerce with Iran, Herr Ehrhart Koerting?  

By Blogger Assistant Village Idiot, at Thu May 05, 08:30:00 PM:

"The operation could also have incalculable consequences in the Arab world in light of all the unrest."

Compared to what?  

By Anonymous Anonymous, at Mon May 09, 11:16:00 AM:

A new conspiracy!! OBL is not dead. His was shot but not killed during the raid and is now being held in an underground facility at a place like Diego Garcia.
The myth that he is dead avoids all the issues raised above. And, we can begin some interrogation that WILL get everything he knows with the added advantages that no one (our side,their side) will ever know where the info came from and interrogation techniques can be improved.  

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