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We Got Him!

Bin Laden, Just War, and the War on Terror



Sunday was one of the great turning points in the war on terror. But not in a way you might think.

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Chuck  Colson

From Ground Zero to the gates of the White House to Citizens Bank baseball park in Philadelphia, Americans spontaneously erupted in celebration.

We got him! Osama bin Laden had received his just reward.

Bin Laden’s death is a tremendous triumph for President Obama, General Patreaus, for the CIA and the intelligence community, and for the brave members of our special forces.

When I heard the news, my heart was filled with pride in my country.

This is an enormous victory, and can be a major turning point in the war against terrorism. But not just in the obvious way: Yes, Al Qaeda has been dealt a tremendous blow -- practically and symbolically.

But the real turning point could be in how we conduct this war hereafter. As I have said on BreakPoint previously, maintaining 100,000 troops in Afghanistan no longer meets the just war criteria. Our goal in Afghanistan seems to have morphed from destroying the Taliban to nation-building -- transforming Afghanistan into a pro-Western, pro-democratic society.

Our chances of succeeding in transforming a society that has resisted change for nearly two millennia are just north of zero, which is why I believe that our efforts in Afghanistan are no longer just. That’s because Christian just war doctrine demands that war be waged only when a reasonable probability of success exists.

The just war doctrine also does not say that the United States has the moral right or duty to go into other countries and force them to conform to our strategic plan.  Yet that’s what we’re doing in Afghanistan.

Oh sure, our invasion of Afghanistan was a just response to the terror attacks of 9/11, aided and abetted by the Taliban. But we’re well past that. The brave men and women of our armed forces went in and threw the Taliban out. And we still could keep the Taliban terrorist movement under control with covert forces, but we don’t need 100,000 troops on the ground to do that.

The success of the operation against bin Laden proves that targeted, behind-the-scenes operations based on solid intelligence give us the best chance to eliminate the terrorists. It’s like using a rifle instead of a shotgun.

It is not only a more just and appropriate response to terrorism, but it could save billions upon billions of dollars -- 100 billion this year alone -- at a time when our nation is teetering on the edge of fiscal insolvency. The president deserves enormous credit for what he’s done.

I should also mention that just two weeks ago, I hailed the President’s decision not to try Al Qaeda mastermind Kahlid Sheikh Muhammad in New York City -- and to instead try him instead at Guantanamo. Of course, we now know that the information about Bin Laden’s whereabouts came from detainees at Guantanamo. I can’t help but wonder if that was one reason for the administration’s decision to try Muhammad there.

But again, this is a time to celebrate America’s victory over bin Laden. And it’s also a time to see a just way forward in the war on terror, which can save billions of dollars and untold lives.

Further Reading and Information
No Confidence: Afghanistan and Christians
Chuck Colson | BreakPoint | February 22, 2011

Obama's Wars, America's Problem
Chuck Colson | BreakPoint | September 29, 2011

Osama bin Laden Operation Ended with Coded Message "Geronimo-E-KIA"
Jake Tapper | ABC News | May 02, 2011


Comments:

Osama should have had a trial
American conduct over the death of Osama Bin Laden was slippery and not just at all. Instead of shooting him in the head, we should have captured him and giving him a fair trial. Even then, we shouldn't party over death of Osama, but take it as fair justice. I can hardly see how sneaking behind the backs of the Pakistani people to kill in a zone that is not at war just at all.
Grateful but not celebrating
While I am truly grateful for a successful operation and justice done and progress in the war on terror, I won’t be celebrating. For people of Christian character, celebrating the assassination of Bin Laden is as crass as Muslims celebrating when a Westerner is executed. “As surely as I live, says the Sovereign Lord, I take no pleasure in the death of wicked people. I only want them to turn from their wicked ways so they can live.” Ex 33:11 NLT
Sorry Chuck, you're wrong on this one
Chuck Colson,

I respect you tremendously, and quote your application of worldview to current events frequently. You are one of the most potent moral thinkers of today. But no one is 100% perfect, and in today’s Breakpoint, you are just plain wrong.

You say, “Our goal in Afghanistan seems to have morphed from destroying the Taliban to nation-building,” – well, yes. We removed the evil, old system, and have some moral responsibility to help them rebuild with something better. Similar to the US occupation of Germany and rebuilding of Europe after WWII. We had learned after WWI that leaving a vacuum allows the worst elements to walk in. Just as we found that leaving Afghanistan after the Soviets left, opened the door to takeover by the most extreme elements in the Taliban.

“Christian just war doctrine demands that war be waged only when a reasonable probability of success exists.” How can you be so pessimistic, when Afghanistan has conducted 2 national elections (albeit flawed). We are not going to “transform Afghanistan into a pro-Western, pro-democratic society.” But we can support the reform elements and give them the protection and training to achieve their own version of a developing free country. Remember, the lack of any history or social understanding of freedom was the argument against transforming Japan and Korea after WWII. It will take time, and yes money and sacrifice, but the goal is very realistic.

“The success of the operation against bin Laden proves that targeted, behind-the-scenes operations based on solid intelligence give us the best chance to eliminate the terrorists.” This is the most wrong statement of the entire commentary. The intelligence to root out bin Laden was gained through aggressive military action within Afghanistan, Iraq and Pakistan.

Osama was found by tracking down his personal courier, which was extremely difficult because of the security precautions they enacted. The pseudonym “Abu Ahmed al-Kuwaiti” was provided by Khalid Shaikh Mohammed (captured in Pakistan in 2003), and Abu Faraj al-Libbi (captured in Pakistan in 2005). It took more traditional sleuthing to get al-Kuwaiti’s real name, according to the NY Times. That meant putting more operatives on the ground in Afghanistan and Pakistan to track him, yielding a partial name. A file released by WikiLeaks suggests that the courier’s identity was provided to the US by another key source, the al-Qaida facilitator Hassan Ghul, who was captured in Iraq in 2004 and interrogated by the CIA.

In fact, Osama was holed up in his compound (and largely ineffective in leading further terrorism) because of the on-going military operations partnering with counter-terrorism efforts. Plus the “targeted” operation was from a base in Afghanistan which would not exist without our presence there. We cannot gain intelligence without the larger effort, and without our active military partnership with the governments of Afghanistan, Iraq and Pakistan.

The fact is, that without the heartbreaking sacrifice of so many US Soldiers and Marines, the people of Afghanistan would be enslaved by the worst kind of terrorists. And freeing the enslaved is one of the most Christian (and “Just War Doctrine”) goals I can think of.

Respectfully,

Norman Wolfe
Denver, Colorado

Some sources I used to develop the above information:

http://www.redstate.com/dan_mclaughlin/2011/05/03/inconvenient-facts-about-the-takedown-of-osama-bin-laden/#comment-8556

http://www.nytimes.com/2011/05/02/world/asia/02reconstruct-capture-osama-bin-laden.html?hp
Mourning the need to use extreme prejudice
I think it should be mentioned that as Christians we shouldn't rejoice at the death of any person, but rather have hoped for the repentance and their acceptance of Jesus as Lord. Sadly, in the case of Osama bin Laden that was not to be the case. Had he, or even Hitler or Stalin, repented, asked for forgiveness, and accepted Jesus he would have been saved. Of course they would still have to have faced earthly justice and consequences.

However, neither Judaism or Christianity calls for pacifism in a general manner, but as Mr. Colson points out for justice. That may mean resorting to the use of deadly force for self defense, criminal justice, or military force.

As a former military officer I appreciate Mr. Colson's view on the concept of a just war as it applies to Afghanistan and other actions. As we celebrate the actions of our military and intelligence agencies in bringing bin Laden to justice, let us mourn the fact that so many people reject Christ and seek to do evil.
Mourning the need to use extreme prejudice
I think if should be mentioned that as Christians we shouldn't rejoice at the death of any person, but rather have hoped for the repentance and their acceptance of Jesus as Lord. Sadly, in the case of Osama bin Laden that was not to be the case. Had he, or even Hitler or Stalin, repented, asked for forgiveness, and accepted Jesus he would have been saved. Of course they would still have to have faced earthly justice and consequences.

However, neither Judaism or Christianity calls for pacifism in a general manner, but as Mr. Colson points out for justice. That may mean resorting to the use of deadly force for self defense, criminal justice, or military force.

As a former military officer I appreciate Mr. Colson's view on the concept of a just war as it applies to Afghanistan and other actions. As we celebrate the actions of our military and intelligence agencies in bringing bin Laden to justice, let us mourn the fact that so many people reject Christ and seek to do evil.




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