Friday, 6 May 2011

One more dead terrorist

I know I'm a few days late with this, but I'm afraid I've only just got around to putting my thoughts on this into type.

As just about everyone in the world knows by now, Osama Bin Laden - Western public enemy number one - was shot and killed by US special forces on Sunday night just gone. But what is an appropriate Christian response to this series of events? The killing of another human being is never a good or pleasant thing, but are there ever circumstances under which it can and should be justified?

I have to say that, had I been in Barack Obama's position, I probably would have given the same order that he did, even had I known (as I assume he probably did) that the death of Bin Laden was the most likely outcome. I'm not sure I can fully justify this morally, but on the basis of my limited knowledge and understanding, it just feels like - however much I might normally object to such an action - that under these circumstances it really was (unfortunately) the only right thing to be done. To what extent the West and America in particular were responsible for creating these circumstances in the first place however, is of course another issue...

Of course, this event doesn't mark the death of Bin Laden's ideology and others will do their best to take up and continue this cause, but hopefully it will significantly weaken his organisation and have a demoralising effect on his more committed supporters. This won't be helped though, by those in the West who have been publicly and jubilantly celebrating his demise, however understandable this reaction might be.

Those involved in the strike on his compound, and in tracking him down in the first place, do of course have good reason to be proud of their success and they have performed an unpleasant - but I think necessary - service to the rest of us. The death of another human being though - made in the image of God - is always a reason for lament, however corrupt and dangerous to others that life may have become.

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