Thursday, 5 May 2011

Osama Bin Laden

Lambeth Palace has released the following ;

The Archbishop of Canterbury on Osama bin Laden

'…Q: Do you believe that the killing of Osama Bin Laden is justice for the 9/11 attacks and indeed other attacks? And was the US morally justified in shooting him even though he was unarmed as the White House now admits?
A: I think that the killing of an unarmed man is always going to leave a very uncomfortable feeling because it doesn’t look as if justice is seen to be done, in those circumstances. I think it is also true that the different versions of events that have emerged in recent days have not done a great deal to help here. I don’t know the full details anymore than anyone else does but I do believe that in such circumstance when we are faced with someone who was manifestly a ‘war criminal’ as you might say in terms of the atrocities inflicted, it is important that justice is seen to be observed.'

My sense is that it is too early to comment definitively as we really don't understand the circumstances. But I echo the unease that is around. We have here two very unsettling notions - the idea that Pakistan's intelligence forces could have been ignorant of Osama bin Laden's presence and the idea that one nation can enter another's territory without that nation's knowledge or agreement. Is the government of Pakistan being truthful? As David Cameron challenged - are they supportive of, or opposed to terrorist acts? Where can we place our trust?  Was the operation carried out by the USA justified ? Surely, illegal or uninvited entry into another country's territory does not embody a principle we would wish to see adopted by those we consider our enemies. And might it not have been preferable to bring Osama bin Laden to justice in a court rather than to risk making him an apparently unjustly treated martyr?

However, I absolutely acknowledge that my perspective as someone who is neither American nor Muslim and who has not lost loved ones through either acts of terroism or war demands a humility and a willingness to listen to other people's wisdom and perspectives on this deeply complex and impenetrable sitaution.

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