NOTE:  Since I agree with the views expressed in this piece, I copied the URL to send it to people I know would appreciate it.  Every time I tried to send it the server rejected it as “SPAM”.  Are they afraid of dissension, of opposition to murder?

That’s why I am posting it here in its entirety, and I hope it is not censored.

P.S.  If this offends you, there is the “Delete” key.  Just use it…


Unmaking War

May 8, 2011  Kathleen Barry

This week in America there has been something distasteful about the joyful celebrations of the killing of Osama Bin Laden. More than distaste, it has been filled with macho and the elation of revenge. Worse, it has obscured American’s attention from how actually Bin Laden died.

I am among those millions of people around the world who are relieved that this terrorist responsible for repeated heinous acts that have taken thousands of lives, but I am also hearing who are speaking quietly, as if it would be anti-American, about “being sickened,” or “revolted” or “appalled” by the jubilation. And we have more reason than might be immediately evident from news reports and White House announcements for our reactions.

Bin Laden is dead. But he was unarmed when the US Special Forces stormed in on him, killed him and then buried his body at sea before we even knew he was dead not to mention before we even were able to ask how he was killed. Follow the Pentagon and State Department announcements: first, it was stated that he was unarmed. Then a few days later announcements included that an AK47 was nearby in the room. Sometime after that, as some of us began to question the killing, we were told that a pistol was “within his reach.”

What we do know is that Bin Laden’s courier was killed but that although firefights were described by the President, no Navy Seal was fired upon. If Bin Laden was unarmed, surely he could have been taken as a prisoner. Legally, it would then be the work of the International Court to try him and bring him to justice, for justice resides in our courts, or it is suppose to reside there. Whatever his punishment, it would not have resulted from a President authorizing vigilante justice.

Instead, from what we know today, the picture we are piecing together looks like he was assassinated, killed in cold blood. That is what the President of the United States referred to as “justice.” That is what Americans celebrated in the streets for days. With that the President dragged the US to a new low in our standards of justice. Assassination follows from war crimes already committed by this President and his predecessor in Iraq and Afghanistan.

War crimes, assassinations and Americans flooding the streets celebrating vengeance, the President’s ratings in the polls take a leap upward for his “strength” (read macho), pundits confident of his re-election, and congratulations from Dick Cheney – – – That sordid atmosphere leaves an air of suspicion surrounding anyone calling for real justice in relation to Bin Laden, the kind of mentality we experienced in the US with the invasion of Iraq in 2003 when many of us knew that war against Iraq was a war crime and that there was no evidence of weapons of mass destruction there. No matter. Americans wanted revenge for 9/11 even though Iraq had nothing to do with that crime against humanity masterminded by Bin Laden. They got it at the cost of 1.3 million Iraqi and almost 4,500 American soldiers lives. Then the celebration of war virtually drowned out the massive global anti-war protests before the invasion in 2003.

As long as the US and its deadly military are the final arbiter’s of justice in the world, we will all be dragged down and sink into its amorality. That is why in Unmaking War, Remaking Men I have proposed a plan for a global peace-making military whose special forces would use the least force necessary to bring down leaders engaged in ethnic cleansing, genocide and other crimes against humanity. Until we make that kind of change we will be doomed to macho revenge masking as justice.

About Kathleen Barry
I am a feminist activist, author of five books including Female Sexual Slavery which launched an international movement against trafficking in human beings and a sociologist and Professor Emerita. My latest book Unmaking War, Remaking Men has prompted this piece.


About martisima

After over 50 years of teaching literature to undergraduate and graduate students, I feel I have earned my retirement (it happened when I was 72, five years ago). I do miss the classroom, however, but not the meetings and all other requirements of the profession. I love teaching, and wish I could still do it. But now I read for pleasure, and watch films, and listen to all kinds of music (no TV, though). I love to travel, and hope I can resume doing it soon. I need to get over my health issues caused by thyroid surgery three years ago!
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  1. Rafael says:

    Hey Martha, really good essay. I found the original (I think) at Code Pink and left this comment:
    “Your conclusion, while noble in spirit, avoids a central limitation. Stated simply, human behavior remains more biological than rational. Many sensitive minds will agree with you, but your sentiment will struggle against the tribal and the visceral, the macho and the vengeful. That is part of our human condition. I applaud your remarks and I would add that the incident was of dubious legality at best. But it’s also important to admit that this was no aberration. We flatter ourselves on our alleged civilization, on our advanced social modernity, on our progressive values. But that is a bare patina on the angry, hot, fearful, bloody urges that drive individuals and nation states with equal force. Maybe we can learn to apply “minimal force” as you suggest. But I doubt that any of this can really happen as long as we fail to acknowledge that our own biological evolutionary history is somehow not relevant. Violence and compassion are both interwoven in our DNA, and so only approaches that appreciate our natural tendencies can hope to propose controls (really, self-controls) that can plausibly result in better behavior. Otherwise, an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth will seem to most people ‘fair justice’ even as it leaves us collectively more blind and toothless.”

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