Today Barack Obama just about guaranteed his reelection by offering up the blood, guts and gore Americans seem to crave. Like Bush before him, the president and his advisers know that to keep the American people tuned-out, they have to keep them turned-on. Killing and carnage turns too many Americans on; makes them like animals in perpetual estrous (on heat). It’s just the way it is.
I wager it’s quite possible that the body of the slain Osama bin Laden will be put on display, much as the Bush administration proudly exhibited the horribly mutilated bodies of Saddam Hussein’s sons.
Some Americans streamed into the streets of the Capital and gathered at Ground Zero, New York, in jubilation over the bin Laden kill, much as the Arab Street erupts after their Americans or Israeli enemies are murdered. (To their credit, I have not seen Israelis throng to Rabin Square to celebrate similar occurrences, although I’ve seen them form human chains from Tel-Aviv to Haifa to stop a war.)
How different are we from our Arab adversaries? Not much, or so it would seem. That vulgarist Geraldo Rivera surrounded himself with hysterical reptilian brains—students who were behaving as on a spring break. Or in a fashion that would do any primitive tribe proud.
Except that a primitive tribe generally wages war only on imminent enemies, and confines the battle to the home front. Had such a precision operation been undertaken and achieved after 9/11, without wasting trillions of dollars, destroying at least two countries along the way, and causing the deaths of hundreds of thousands of people, to say nothing of the American economy, the travel industry, on and on—it would be worth celebrating. But not now.
And not in this manner. A civilized people doesn’t dance in the streets in celebration of the enemy’s death; barbarians do.
First to die today at the hands of NATO (purportedly “Danish airmen possibly in an F16 bomber”) were members of the Gaddafi family, when their compound was hit on the weekend. The Libyan government reported that Gaddafi’s “second youngest son, 29-year old Saif al-Arab, and three grandchildren under 12” were murdered. What had they done to anybody?
Nevertheless, barbarism booster John McCain rattled his old bones in a jolly jig, with nary a thought for the kids killed:
“We should be taking out his command and control. If he is killed or injured because of that, that’s fine.”
UPDATE I: TOO LATE FOR PAC MEN OF THE UNIVERSE. Nobody disputes that OBL needed killing. It ought to have been done by precision pac men: highly select, special-ops soldiers, and not by lumbering standing armies that scooped up in their dragnet entire countries and economies (ours). The state can’t do anything right. I said as much in 2002. I made recommendations against the “military’s clodhopper’s traipse around the world” in “Facing the Onslaught of Jihad”:
Professional killers get high on blood and can be put to good use as the Pac-Men of the universe. Paid by contract, the mercenary is far more motivated than a poorly paid soldier.
GI Joe, moreover, has little incentive to avoid killing civilians. Punishment for carelessness is infrequent and responsibility for mishaps is collectivized. Litigating against the employees of an all-powerful superpower can be Kafkaesque. Ultimately, the people who pay for the soldier’s excesses are the taxpayers.
The mercenary contractor, on the other hand, will incur liability for “collateral damage,” the euphemism for killing innocents. For the mercenary, stray bullets mean strained budgets. Above all, like any private contractor, mercenaries are paid in full only on delivering the Bin properly Laden with goods.
UPDATE II: HE WENT DOWN FIRING: “U.S. official says Osama bin Laden went down firing at the Navy SEALs who stormed his compound.” OBL refused to surrender.
UPDATE III: STORY CHANGES. Now the custodians of the allowable information claim that OBL “Hid Behind One of His Wives During Firefight.” This is just a wild guess: The stories will vary depending on the circumstances and the politician weaving the yarn. I also hazard that the general direction will to demean the enemy.
I can offer a historic perspective on the enemy’s evolving courage. During the Six-Day War, in 1967, Egyptians were often mocked in Israel for their cowardice. Piles of shoes were left in the desert, as the Egyptian soldiers fled from the Israelis. They removed their shoes and ran. (Google seems to have scrubbed these famous images from their search.) But that has changed. The Jihadis are cowards in as much as their “military” strategy is to go after defenseless civilians. But are they cowards in death? I doubt it.
UPDATE IV: MURDER IN LIBYA. “There were no obvious signs of military command and control facilities, but there were signs that the buildings were being used as a residence,” reports the Star Tribune. “In a kitchen, rice, pasta, fish and stuffed peppers were on a stove, with a wall clock stopped at 8:08 p.m., the time of the attack. In the building, which took a direct hit, women’s dresses were buried in the concrete debris.”
No wonder “U.S., British and Italian embassies were attacked and burned by angry mobs in the Libyan capital Sunday, hours after a NATO airstrike was reported to have killed one of Moammar Gadhafi’s sons and three of his grandchildren.”
UPDATE V: THE UNIT. I can see how the operation executed by “the specially trained and highly mythologized SEAL Team Six, officially called the Naval Special Warfare Development Group, but known even to the locals at their home base Dam Neck in Virginia as just DevGru,” will make for a good episode of “The Unit.” Yes, I confess; I watch it. It’s one of the more tolerable action drama series on TV, because it features … action, good acting, and very few women pretending to be as strong or as capable on the battle field as men. I’m allergic to those. (If there is a skinny, annoying fem, weighing 80 pounds, and chasing bad guys in stilettos, I change the channel.) Although “The Unit” has elements of “Jack Bauer: Federal Zombie,” which I simply hated, beggars can’t be choosy.