FOr the last 24 hours international news (at least in NOrth America, it would be interesting to know how the story is being covered elsewhere) has been filled with one story, and only one story.
The assasination of Osama Bin Laden. Because, if we are honest that is what it was. Now it can be argued that assassination is a legitimate weapon of war (as it would have been for Hitler, as the Us seemed to believe it was for Castro at one point in time). ANd although there is no confirmation that the mission was to kill and not extract realistically speaking there was no chance of a non-lethal extraction. And even if there was a chance of extraction, extract to where? Where would there be a place to try him? By whose laws?
BUt in the end this was vewngeance. This was not justice, any more than the trumoped up trial of Saddam and the resulting hanging was justice. THis was retribution, understandable and predictable but still retriburtion pure and simple.
ANd what do we do now when/if it turns out that killing the titular leader (and it has never, in public documents, been proven that he was the strategic mastermind) makes no difference to the movement. Although it may slow up the flow of money I suppose. ANd then there is the problem of Pakistan. AN already uncertain relationship, a government that was already forced to try and play both sides against the middle, and the US have invade Pakistani territory in an act of war--what does that do to the future relationship (remembering that there are still Taliban and other "unfriendlies' hiding in the Pakisatni border-country.
But even more troubling, what does this say about the US value system? I am not naive enough to believe this is the first time US forces have actively participated in assassination, to say nothing of the time US money/information/material have supported other assassinations. BUt when we start to use these sorts of tactics, the same tactics we demonize when used by our enemies, have we infact become just as bad?
Oh and I have to point out that 30 years ago the US supported Bin LAden and his mujahadeen. THe US also installled Saddam in power. Which US-supported movement now will turn around and bite them in the backside in 2030? Will it be the nationalist movements in Egypt? TUnisia? Libya?
In the end though it comes to this. As people of Christian faith we follow the one who taught his friends to love their enemies. Who taught a new way of change. Who called us to be people of nonviolence. Assassination, however understandable, even justifiable, is a failure to follow that Way. ANd rejoicing in the death of anyone, no matter who they are, is also a failure to be people of The Way.