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Killing of osama bin laden



Recently US merin SEAL paratroopers killed the leader of world famous terrorist organisation when he faced them himself unarmed. The assasination starts huge debates around the world. The famous journalists, analysts, philosophers are taking part on the topic of assasination of an unarmed accused. The Debate was started on Tuesday when Leon Panetta, Director of the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) declared that the SEAL team who shot bin Laden had orders to capture him if he hadn't posed a threat.

The assassination of Bin Laden raised many moral and ethical questions even about world justice system against crime. Recently world found the trial against a Nazi war crime associate. He was punished, but Osama Bin Laden was assassin when he was unarmed and was not a hard job to bring him for justice. But it was violated by the state or organs who promote universal human right and unjust around the world.

This study will analyse two articles whcih was written by two famous persons respectively Mr. Robert Fisk of The Independent and Mr. Naom Chomsky an Americanlinguist, philosopher,cognitive scientist, andsocial activist. This study will analyse the assasination from journalistic, legal and other ethical stand points.

Article by Robert Fisk:


Robert Fisk (2011) basically pointed out on the moral question to kill the opponent when he is available bringing to the justice. He mentioned in the article that:

“Many Arabs - and this theme was taken up by the Arab press, which spoke of his "execution" - thought he should have been captured, taken to the international court in The Hague and tried………………The real problem, however, is that the West, which has constantly preached to the Arab world that legality and non-violence was the way forward in the Middle East, has taught a different lesson to the people of the region: that executing your opponents is perfectly acceptable.”(Fisk 2011)

Article by Naom Chomskey:


Noam Chomsky argued about an ethical question on the plot of assassination of Osama. He wrote,

“We might ask ourselves how we would be reacting if Iraqi commandos landed at George W. Bush's compound, assassinated him, and dumped his body in the Atlantic. Uncontroversially, his crimes vastly exceed bin Laden's, and he is not a “suspect” but Uncontroversially the “decider” who gave the orders to commit the “supreme international crime differing only from other war crimes in that it contains within itself the accumulated evil of the whole” (quoting the Nuremberg Tribunal) for which Nazi criminals were hanged: the hundreds of thousands of deaths, millions of refugees, destruction of much of the country, the bitter sectarian conflict that has now spread to the rest of the region.”

Ethical points

The ex President of Ireland Mary Robinson who was the High Commissioner of UN High Commission for Human Rights and she explained her "moral unease" at the killing of Osama bin Laden in a weekly debate with William Crawley on Everyday Ethics of BBC RADIO ULSTER. That interview was recorded live on 8 May 2011 at the 50th anniversary of Amnesty International. Mary Robinson expressed her uncomfortable situation but also said that if somebody is unarmed then he should be arrested and taken to the custody and the Great Democracy would do that. She avoided answering the moral ethical aspects of Osama bin Laden killing. She told that she didn't know the circumstances of who was armed and what the situation was but she also mentioned, “we steel don't know the full truth”.

Anthony Dworkin, an international law expert at the European Council for Foreign Affairs, told Deutsche Welle, He argued on the stand point of International Laws. "Under the laws of war, you are allowed to target enemy fighters unless they are clearly surrendering or are disabled by injury; whether they are armed or fighting at that particular moment or not. Under law enforcement standards, you can only use lethal force if it is strictly necessary to prevent the loss of other lives or to prevent the escape of someone you are seeking to arrest."

From Philosophers view:

From a consequentiality standpoint, a morally right act (or omission) is one that will produce a good outcome, or consequence. So what's the outcome after the assassination of Bin Laden? Firstly it is fact that now American's safety is under threat more than ever before. USA need to be alert than any time which would increase expenses. Beside this world people could understand justice by the conventional process is not absolute. Robert Fisk just tried to mention in his article.

My understanding is that the present world is not perfect in the sense of just society and the universal justice is merely seen around the world but ‘'might is right'.

“Aristotle's form of universal justice could exist in a perfect society. Particular justice is where punishment is given out for a particular crime or act of injustice. This is where Aristotle says an educated judge is needed to apply just decisions regarding any particular case” (Wikipedia).

As per utilitarianismphilosophy the right act or policy is that which would cause "the greatest good for the greatest number of people" also known as "thegreatest happiness principle". Jeremy Bentham wrote inThe Principles of Morals and Legislation. It is for them alone to point out what we ought to do, as well as to determine what we shall do. On the one hand the standard of right and wrong, on the other the chain of causes and effects, are fastened to their throne. On that point whose pleasure was established by the killing of Bin Laden? Particularly the world people became divided on the issue. Millions are unhappy and unpleasant and on the other hand millions are happy in the west.

From the consequentialist standpoint, a morally right act (or omission) is one which will produce a good outcome, or consequence. By the act its tough to determine whether the killing produced any good result or will there be any better consequence. The US governmental stand point showed that now they have to be more careful from the possible revenge by the Al-Qaida people.

As per Mill never to kill another human being may seem to be a good rule, but it could make self-defence against aggressors very difficult. Rule utilitarians add, however, that there are general exception rules that allow the breaking of other rules if such rule-breaking increases happiness, one example being self-defence. Self-defence is legally justified, while murder is not. So killing of Bin Laden was not self defence, because he himself was unarmed and an unarmed person never is danger to the life of commandos.

Journalistic View:

As a journalistic ethical view point they should follow the truth. Everybody knows that it is illegal to shoot an unarmed combatant. Article 13 says, “prisoners of war must at all times be protected, particularly against acts of violence or intimidation.” Now question arises whether Bin Laden would be treated as a prisoner of war or not.

“As the leader of al-Qaeda, bin Laden was functioning as the head of a paramilitary organization and quasi-government. This made him as legitimate a target as anyone who is an enemy soldier, in uniform or not”( Dobrin 2011)

Fisk wrote in the above mentioned article that in the end, Osama's unarmed death has turned him into a greater martyr than if he had been killed in the "fire fight" that Obama originally claimed - quite wrongly - had caused his death. As a journalist it is the moral obligation of Fisk to tell the truth for the audience.

“Journalists so frequently deal in the false liberal-conservative dichotomy because it generates the sort of tension that feeds narrative, and narrative makes for more accessible stories. Simply dividing up the interests into two neatly-differentiated competing camps enables lazy beat reporters to claim to have painted all of reality with but two phone calls. Why venture outside and talk to ordinary people -- whose experiences and views almost always challenge the traditional labels -- when we can simply sit at our desks and dial up a D and then an R and gather a pair of quotes that supposedly cover the whole spectrum of the American take on anything?” (Goodman 2011)

Though Fisk criticised the act of killing and the possible consequences whatever he found from his a long time personal and professional experiences. He also pointed out the wrongs of Bin Laden here and in his other articles. But Chomsky directly attacked the US killing mechanism,

“Same with the name, Operation Geronimo. The imperial mentality is so profound, throughout western society, that no one can perceive that they are glorifying bin Laden by identifying him with courageous resistance against genocidal invaders. It's like naming our murder weapons after victims of our crimes: Apache, Tomahawk… It's as if the Luftwaffe were to call its fighter planes “Jew” and “Gypsy”(Chomsky 2011).

Communicator perspective:

The response to the news on the street has also been divided.Khaleej Times (2011)publishes a report byReuters reporting this divided sentiment: “Those who revered him prayed the news was not true, but many in the Arab world felt the death of Osama bin Laden was long overdue. Some said the killing in Pakistan of the Saudi-born al-Qaeda founder was scarcely relevant any more, now that secular uprisings have begun toppling corrupt Arab autocrats who had resisted violent efforts to weaken their grip on power....For some in the Middle East, bin Laden has been seen as the only Muslim leader to take the fight against Western dominance to the heart of the enemy — in the form of the September 11 attacks on New York and Washington in 2001. On the streets of Saudi Arabia, bin Laden's native land, which stripped him of his citizenship after September 11, there was a mood of disbelief and sorrow among many.”

Knowlton and reader (2008) argued that the goals of objectivity and context often work against each other; the more one tries to achieve one of those goals, the more the other is jeopardized. The news came to the audience which could be judged through communicator perspective. The objectivities of the news around the world also divided into two groups. One part supported the killing and pasteurised as it was legitimate with the people's cheers. Other groups of publications raised the question on the legitimacy of killing an unarmed accused rather brought him to the justice for his wrong.

Deontological view:

If the argument is based on pure intellectual and deontological then the US position destroyed the inviolability of human life as applied to a harmless, subdued, or person and it would not be fired that bullet to save the whole universe.

As Deontological ethics that place special emphasis onthe relationshipbetween duty and the morality of human actions. The relation between deontological morality and retributivism is a theory of punishment. Some theorists believe that retributivism and deontology go hand in hand, in the sense that one requires the other. Retributivism requires that the innocent not to be punished and the guilty be punished. But who execute the punishment in what process? Is it through the justice system or by executive summery system?

Deontological ethics is commonly contrasted with consequentialistorteleologicalethical theories, according to which the rightness of an action is determined by its consequences. The moral absolutists within the Deontologists believe that some actions are wrong no matter what consequences follow from them.Firing on an unarmed would destroy humanity, US Constitution even they regard his guilt, and the Geneva Conventions, in order to save them.


Killing can not be a peaceful, loving, or kind thing and it is not a video game. Killing someone is a very sombre, serious matter. The circumstances of bin Laden's killing, it seems that Third Geneva Convention should come into play. People are killed by a rocket, aerial bomb or soldier's bullet makes no moral difference because everyday they are killed as unarmed civilians. Once Bin Laden became a legitimate target for military attack, then US may think that one way of killing him was as legitimate as another.

The people who support the killing of Osama may apply the philosophy of utilitarianism by Jeremy Bentham state that whatever benefits the greatest number of people is moral or just.

The opposite people who condemned the killing may support their case with the philosophy of Natural Rights by John Locke/Thomas Hobbes. The right to life is a natural right that should never be violated.

On other hand every people should have right to face justice, Maybe the International Criminal Court could decide what is “reasonable” and what should be the standard point of acceptance about the killing of unarmed people around the world. But this is not possible to find the conclusion whether the killing is ethical or legal as it is really uncomfortable to make a determination.

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