We have been seeing some historic events recently, events that could change Islamic countries in particular and the world in general. The so-called “Islamic Spring” has brought out thousands of demonstrators, at some risk to their lives, to push for new governments. In addition, Osama bin Laden has been eliminated, so it is possible that Islamic terrorism may eventually become less of a factor in the world. Let’s take a look at a few things:
(1) Like most people, the citizens of Islamic countries just want to live their lives in relative peace and security. They are sick of repressive regimes and living in fear and some deprivation. Hence the Islamic Spring. We wish tem success, because if they benefit, we ultimately will benefit.
(2) Notice these demonstrators aren’t chanting “Down with Israel” or “Down with America.” The anti-Israel and anti-American sentiments and the violence that comes with them come from a relatively small group of fanatics and repressive Islamic regimes.
(3) There’s a risk that power vacuums left by collapsing regimes in these countries might be filled by a militant islamist group such as the Muslim Brotherhood. This, of course, would be a disaster for the citizens of the country and would pose problems for the rest of the world having to deal with another Iran-like militant government.
(4) Bin Laden’s successor isn’t very well-liked, so the Al Qaeda organization is likely to further break into smaller, semi-independent cells. Without strong central leadership, coordination of sophisticated terrorist attacks might be hampered. Besides ridding the world of this evil force, the killing of Osama hopefully resulted in a significant weakening of Al Qaeda.
Lastly, for those who might be questioning the attack on, and the killing of, Osama bin Laden, let me say that perhaps thousands of lives might now be saved. If any of the plots to kill Hitler had succeeded, millions of lives would have been saved. The world has been freed from an evil force that has cost many countries dearly in terms of lives and expenditures on security. As far as I’m concerned, bin Laden was as evil as Hitler or Stalin, just on not quite such a grand scale.
I might also mention that governments are not under the same moral rules as individuals. While individuals shouldn’t kill except in the most extreme of circumstances (self-defense when in imminent danger), governments can kill in wars and for capital punishment. We might not approve of capital punishment for various reasons, but I think we have to agree that a major function of government is to keep its citizens safe. Killing is often necessary to keep citizens safe from enemies, foreign and domestic.
For those who are concerned the U.S. broke the Geneva Convention by our actions, let me say that we are not in a conventional war in which countries pretty much play by the rules. We are engaged with trans-national groups who have no rules and are conducting guerilla warfare, attacking innocent civilians in a campaign of terror. While we can’t stoop to their level, we have to fight them in the most effective way given the type of warfare we’re dealing with. Again, government has the duty to keep its citizens safe by any means possible. I believe it would be irresponsible for our government to put its citizens at increased risk because of the Geneva Convention, fear of our reputation being tarnished, or out of concern for Muslim sensitivities. I know this gets dangerously close to “The ends justify the means” but we are dealing with life and death struggles.