On the death of Bin Laden

2 May 2011

On the death of Bin Laden

Early this morning American soldiers raided the villa where Osama bin Laden was in hiding and killed the world’s most wanted terrorist, bringing an end to a search of almost ten years for the man behind the attacks of 11th September. Anyone who has been touched by the pictures from the United States can see how these attacks traumatised American society. Understandable enough, because I too can still see clearly the pictures of the aeroplanes hitting the World Trade Center in New York.

by Emile Roemer

Emile RoemerThe history books will characterise the last ten years as the decade of the war on terrorism. The attacks of 11th September led, after all, to terrible wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, wars which gravely undermined international law and made victims of hundreds of thousands. Wars also of which you are entitled to ask whether they have not done more harm than good, because however appalling the act which provoked them, Afghanistan and Iraq became battlefields on which extremists could conduct their war against what in their eyes is the Great Satan, while their numbers grew and grew.

To what extent the death of Bin Laden will form a definitive turning point is by the same token also open to question. Terrorist cells are characterised by the fact that they have no need of a hierarchical apparatus to guide them. Our modern society is and will remain vulnerable when it comes to individuals who, throwing their own lives into the bargain, are determined to sow death and destruction.

It is precisely because of this that I have invested my hopes above all in the people in the Arab world who are rising up against oppression and who want to take the future into their own hands, using banners and hurling shoes instead of deploying soldiers and tanks. Long years without any prospect of a better life and decades of Western support for dictators who oppress their own people have formed a seedbed for anti-Western terrorism that spares nothing and no-one.

So we must draw the lessons of this recent period by opting now for the good, by giving support to the protesting citizenry of countries such as Tunisia, Egypt, Libya, Syria and Yemen. They are the true, worthy fighters for a humane future.

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