The Killing of Bin Laden: Justice or Vengeance?
Continued from previous page
President Obama’s speech last night could have aimed to put an end to the triumphalism of the “global war on terror” that George Bush began and Barack Obama claimed as his own. It could have announced a new U.S. foreign policy based on justice, equality, and respect for other nations. But it did not. It declared instead that the U.S. war in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iraq and beyond will continue.
In that reaffirmation of war, President Obama reasserted the American exceptionalism that has been a hallmark of his recent speeches, claiming that “America can do whatever we set our mind to.” He equated the U.S. ability and willingness to continue waging ferocious wars, with earlier accomplishments of the U.S. – including, without any trace of irony, the “struggle for equality for all our citizens.” In President Obama’s iteration, the Global War on Terror apparently equals the anti-slavery and civil rights movements.
Today, across the region, the Arab Spring is on the rise. It is ineffably sad that President Obama, in his claim that bin Laden’s death means justice, did not use the opportunity to announce the end of the deadly U.S. wars that answered the attacks of 9/11. This could have been a moment to replace vengeance with cooperation, replace war with justice.
But it was not. Regardless of bin Laden’s death, as long as those deadly U.S. wars continue in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iraq, and beyond, justice has not been done.
Phyllis Bennis is a fellow at the Institute for Policy Studies in Washington, D.C. She is the author of "Before & After: U.S. Foreign Policy and the War on Terrorism."