May 03, 2011
In the days after the tragedy in New York City, the Taliban (which was separate from al-Qaeda) informed the United States government that it would surrender Osama bin Laden to the International Court at The Hague or another third party for them to determine his culpability in the crime.
The United States government refused.
No one seems to remember this event. At the time, despite my general aversion to international “courts,” it seemed this proposal was both fair and effective. Perhaps the Taliban would not have followed through on their promise, yet the United States never even considered it.
The Hague, for all its failings, is not exactly a hotbed of Muslim extremism. Were the verdict “guilty,” Osama bin Laden would have been imprisoned, probably for life in solitude. Had the verdict been “not guilty,” can it be reasonably argued that Osama bin Laden would ever have been released into freedom again? He was even at that time blamed for the East African embassy bombings for which he could have immediately been tried following any acquittal. If nothing else, the same “black ops” team who killed him this week could have done so with greater ease and more than a decade earlier.
While it is true this scenario would have offered less shock and awe, it certainly would have plotted a different course for the West and the world.
It would have demonstrably proven that the West, and the United States in particular, stood by its standards. It would have deprived terrorist groups of a hero and avoided their recruiting appeal to those multitudinous innocents who”ve suffered at our hands. It would have strengthened the nascent bond between “Old Europe” and the New World which flourished in the days and weeks following the attacks.
Instead, all of the opposite has come to pass. The United States garnered a reputation of solving its problems through devastation. Although al-Qaeda has been relatively silent of late, Islam in general has become more radicalized throughout the region. Europe was economically weakened and the United States was virtually bankrupted.
It all could have been so easily avoided.
After more than a trillion squandered, over 5,000 soldiers lost, over 35,000 wounded or injured, and multi-generational damage to our reputation, all we have to show for it is a corpse.
Supposedly it is that of a man named Osama bin Laden. We should not be so certain it is not our own.