No European government has condemned or criticized the killing of Osama bin Laden by American commandos, but the questions raised about the changing details of his death sharpened considerably after the White House revealed that he did not fire a weapon, was not armed and did not use a woman as a protective shield.
Some are questioning whether “justice” in fact was done, as President Obama portrayed the killing, and whether the American troops made any effort to capture Bin Laden alive or whether they simply executed him. And some think that the scenes of celebrating Americans — whether at theWhite House or at ground zero — are inappropriate responses that are indecorous at the least and at worst could incite more terrorism.
The disquiet is mostly among those on the left and among the elite in the media, but it is reminiscent of the atmosphere during the Bush administration and the war against Iraq, when the United States was criticized for unilateralism, arrogance, disrespect for international law, triumphalism and a resort to overwhelming military force.
“We’re back, not to square one, but perhaps square four in anti-Americanism,” said Nicole Bacharan, a scholar of the United States at the Institute of Political Science at the Institute for Political Studies [in Paris].
There are also questions in Europe over whether the killing of Bin Laden was legal.
A columnist at the German newspaper Süddeutsche Zeitung, Heribert Prantl, asked, “Which law governs the execution of Bin Laden?” He said that American law required trials before the death penalty and concluded, “The decision to kill the godfather of terror was political.”
Geoffrey Robertson, a prominent human rights lawyer in Britain who is currently defending the WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, was scathing in an interview on the BBC. Mr. Obama’s assertion that justice was done “is a total misuse of language,” Mr. Robertson said. “This is the justice of the Red Queen: sentence first, trial later.”
If it were clear that Bin Laden was “threatening to use a weapon tokill,” then his shooting is justifiable as self-defense, Mr. Robertson conceded. But if the order was to kill Bin Laden, he said, that would be illegal.
Who's even more put off by the successful, unilateral US mission to deep-six Osama? The Pakistanis.
Pakistan has warned America of the "disastrous consequences" if it carries out any other unilateral raids against suspected terrorists in its country.
The Pakistani army and the government have been criticised for Monday's raid on the compound of al Qaida leader Osama bin Laden, with many angry over the violation of the country's sovereignty and doubtful of government claims it was not aware of the raid.
Foreign Secretary Salman Bashir said today "there shall not be any doubt that any repetition of such an act will have disastrous consequences."
Hey, Pakistan, once you are through thumping your chest and lecturing us about "disastrous consequences," would you care to comment on the pile of evidence that your government either deliberately harbored bin Laden, or willfully turned blind eye toward his hideout, for years? A response:
Pakistan's army, angry over the unilateral U.S. raid that killed Osama bin Laden, today ordered a reduction in U.S. military personnel operating inside the country, the Associated Press reports...
The army, though, conceded "shortcomings in developing intelligence on the presence" of the terrorist leader in Pakistan.
These guys sure are charmers, aren't they?
UN human rights chief Navi Pillay on Thursday called for "a full disclosure of the accurate facts" to determine the legality of the killing of Al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden.
"I think it's not just my office but anybody is entitled to know exactly what happened," she added.
"The United Nations condemns terrorism but it also has basic rules of how counter-terrorism activity has to be carried out. It has to be in compliance with international law," she said.
"For instance, you're not allowed (...) to commit torture or extra-judicial killings," she explained.
Guy Benson is Townhall.com's Political Editor. Follow him on Twitter @guypbenson. He is co-authors with Mary Katharine Ham for their new book End of Discussion: How the Left's Outrage Industry Shuts Down Debate, Manipulates Voters, and Makes America Less Free (and Fun).
Author Photo credit: Jensen Sutta Photography