Monday, 2 May 2011

the death of a fugitive

so i'm here on my day off avoiding the vacuuming and wondering whether i can think up something to put here and what happens but osama bin laden is announced dead.
my initial reaction is great annoyance with australians not directly effected by his acts who breathlessly announce it on facebook as if they are watching a western and the bad guy has been shot.

my next reaction is to think that the great jubilation is senseless due to the fact that terrorism wont be going anywhere anytime soon, dont these people realise that he will have legions of followers ready and able to step into his position?

soon after i realise that while i still think that the world will see very little change after this i might sound a bit insensitive to the intelligence people, special forces and service people who risked life and limb in the pursuit of justice. not for a second would i want to minimise the efforts of those people. nor would i want to disregard the loss and suffering caused by bin laden and his followers.

then i hear president obamas announcement of bin ladens death wherein he states that this outcome proves that the US is the greatest nation in the world. the rage is back! the US is one of, if not the most, overtly Christian nation in the world, do they not understand that pride and gloating of that nature is totally the opposite of Christ's message? america is undoubtedly the most powerful nation on earth and that is one of the reasons they should not need to say so.
do americans not understand that this is why the world regard them as idiots? powerful but stupid. and arrogant.

(i'm going to enjoy using this line) some of my best friends are americans and there are exceptions to every rule but the arrogance is astounding. and now bin laden is a martyr. even in victory, the US has in a sense, lost. bin laden has got exactly what he wanted.

these are just my initial thoughts and i reserve the right to refine them or change them entirely but for the moment let me say that i see no victory in this day. i just see the beginning of more of the same and i am sorry


  1. My thoughts exactly. As for the 'burying at sea' business, just gives way for the mad conspiracists to have a field day. Bin Laden's been 'dead' for over 6 years in terms of activity other than funding efforts. I'm glad he's gone but you're right, the jubilation is unwarranted, others have already taken the helm and my fear is that it will further anger Al Qaeda to the point of retaliation.

  2. Well, but of course, we're the greatest nation; what with all those nukes, we can kill anyone who disagrees. If that's not greatness, then I don't know what is.

  3. baino,
    i never thought of the mad conspiracists! of course you are right, there will be bin laden sightings until he would be 120 years old :)
    and my guess is retaliation is guaranteed.

    you know what? i'm already waiting for the CIA to come after me.
    i expect there will be 1000 cars in my funeral procession

  4. I came to you via Snow and am glad I did. Power does not equal greatness in my book or shouldn't anyway- but what would I know I am an ignorant atheist Aussie. And I agree wholeheartedly with your assessment that Bin Laden's death will at the hands of the Americans will mean more of the same.

  5. hey elephants child,
    i had a quick lurk at yours today as well :)
    when we mistake power for greatness we end up with things like 9-11
    drop by again soon

  6. Osama bin Laden comes from a very rich Saudi family their wealth acquired I understand from a construction business. He I popstulate is an idealist Saudi who could not stand the political/business ties with the USA for his own reasons. On the surface he had plenty to lose. But for what he would see as interference all over the globe by the USA in other countries affairs we may never have had a "war against terror." Imagine if a son or daughter of Rupert Murdoch's reacted similarly. There is a book written about the connections between the Saudi royal family and the Bush push. I have only read a review some years ago and I know not the title. His death will not change anything. Triumphalism in the Usa is alive and well. thankfully not all their citizens feel comfortable or are carried away.

  7. No, the USA isn't the most powerful nation any more, it's China, as the Americans owe China 1½ trillion dollars. But of course they want to keep thinking of themselves as nation number one.

    As you say, terrorism will continue and bin Laden's death will make little difference. It might even fan the flames. The problem isn't bin Laden but extremism of all kinds.

  8. I think you might have lost me at powerful but stupid and arrogant. Kylie, I truly adore and respect you, but let's just say we shall have to agree to disagree.

    I was uncomfortable when I heard the news, but only because it brought back sad personal memories of a hard time in NYC. I'm not at all uncomfortable with bin Laden's death or our feelings and expressions of victory.

    I am constantly amazed, though, at the venom against the USA, as if we are simply one giant mindless entity like the Borg of Star Trek. This is also the way, I have noticed, that people think of the police--not a group of individuals but a groupthink totalitarian organism. In fact, I am America. Ella is America. Alex is America. Obama is America, Bush is America, the Tea Party is America, the Socialists are America, the Unionists are America, the Democrats, the Republicans, the Jews, the Christians, the Muslims. We're all America. Not even merely Americans, but America.

    I'm a proud American patriot who loves my messy, contentious, sprawling, noisy, partisan, and, yes, powerful country. I don't feel embarrassed to say it, nor apologetic. I don't feel the need to convince anyone either. But I do like to say my piece, and so I have.

  9. Btw, I'm no fan of Obama--at least not until last night--I thought his statement was eloquent and remarkably reserved. It was the first time I've seen him demonstrate leadership.

  10. Jeez, and I said such nice things about Australians not so long ago...


  11. leah,
    before i posted this i thought about my american friends and you more than any, you being so very close to the action (for want of a better term)
    i dont wish to offend, nor to be insensitive and i dont condemn his killing or the sense of relief and closure and justice. i am ok with all of that but i think that to declare america the greatest nation on earth is arrogant.

    to me australia is home and it is the greatest place on earth but if i make that statement it is qualified with "to me"

    i identify as female, as Christian, as australian and lots of other things but there are times i cringe to be associated with those groups and i see no reason why an american cannot be a patriot but also find some of the actions or attitudes of their nation distasteful.

    i did say i was open to changing my mind, the post was almost stream of consciousness and i was aware it may not be fully thought through.
    sorry i offended you

  12. megan,
    i have no idea what you really think so if i offended you i am sorry.

  13. Wow Kylie - what a blast against America. Forgiving that for the moment, I agree with your thoughts regarding the death of OBL. It is the way of the world and always has been.

    There will always be someone to take his place, to pick up his mantle of hatred. Terrorism certainly isn't going anywhere sadly enough but I suppose there is some justice in finding him and ending his life just as he directly or indirectly ended so many others.

    No I didn't run out in the streets and wave the American flag Kylie. Not all of us are arrogant enough to think "we" are the best on the planet.

    Each country has its' own faults as well as good things. We are still "young" and do not have centuries of culture and tradition to fall back on. We are still in the process of creating who we are.

    I think it was unfair to stereotype the entire country, anymore than I would Italy or Australia or any other country. Our challenge remains that we are a nation of countless cultures and religions and political beliefs. To make it all "work" is difficult at best. Considering our youthful beginnings I don't think we've done as badly as you have portrayed. I would give us a grade of 'B' - pretty good but with room to improve.

    Still, that is the beauty of a blog and perhaps yours will touch off more commentary on the cultures of the world.

  14. mike,
    i hope you read my comment to leah.
    i am not labelling individuals as the same as the nation, i did not say anything about the understandable celebration, the jubilation i referred to was what i saw in my own country, by people who have no vested interest, nmo more than i do anyway.

    my own country is even younger with a melting pot of cultures, religions, politics and ethnicities and i doubt we would do a whole lot better but that doesnt mean i would have to like it.

    my comments were related to one specific statement and my reaction to that statement

    i truly do not want to offend and i certainly dont want to be insensitive.
    thanks for your comment

  15. leah, mike and megan,

    since receiving leahs comment i have thought some more about this.
    i will not countenance any criticism of my country from anyone who i would regard as an outsider, even if they are correct.

    depending on the criticism and the way it is made i also see it as bad form on the part of the critic so i broke my own rules there. i wont do it again

  16. nick,
    the thought of china being the most powerful makes the US look like a great big teddy bear

  17. Imagine the uproar if Pakistani troops had covertly invaded some state in the USA. After that they shot the minister who burned the Koran on church property.

    There were Australians killed in the 9/11 attacks and in Bali too.
    There was more ordnance dropped on the Australian city of Darwin in WW2 than on Pearl Harbour.

    9/11 attacks on NYC and Washington were the 1st attacks on USA's own territory barring Pearl Harbour at that time not technically USA.

  18. Kylie, I wouldn't want someone to hesitate in posting whatever they feel! Or whatever they feel like posting! I just felt compelled to post my own statement (it's the same one I always trot out in response to certain types of criticisms, but I do mean it). You should post what you like, and your friends will still love you, they just might have to rebut! Hey, it keeps things lively.



  19. I don't see anything wrong with criticising what you see as the repellent practices of another country. Every country has plenty of them, after all. As long as you appreciate the good things as well and don't just write off a whole nation with some grotesque stereotype.

  20. I think that some of your American readers miss the point in reminding you that people with diverse values live in America. No doubt the same is true of Communist China, yet the government of that country is no less culpable for the evil it does. If only those countries in which everyone held the same values were open to criticism, then no country would ever be criticized.

  21. P.S. "i will not countenance any criticism of my country from anyone who i would regard as an outsider, even if they are correct."

    Then this would be a bad time to bring up the poisonous snakes?

    Look, kiddo, America's arrogance and stupidity affects the entire world, so I would consider it eminently open to criticism by the entire world. The people whom I become impatient with are those non-Americans who ONLY criticize America, thereby engaging in the same kind of arrogance and self-righteousness of which they accuse America.

  22. I didn't miss the point, Snow. I rarely miss the point.

  23. I will even venture to say that I *never* miss the point, at least not in online discourse. How's that for arrogance?

  24. Btw, I was *obviously* not saying America should *never* be criticized. I'm objecting rather to a. the blanket indictment of words like "stupid" and b. the strange concept of the USA as a giant Borg.

  25. thanks everyone for your comments.

    snow, the snakes are not a criticism, they are fact and there is no arguing with that.

    i hear regular criticism of australias drinking culture which is admittedly shameful and dangerous and costly but i dont neccessarily like to hear it.

    and our tradesmen are by some accounts the worst in the world. there are some shonks but there are also some great craftsmen out there with their shirts off

  26. Kylie, aren't all three of the things you mentioned facts?

  27. well, snow, i kinda expected you to say that.
    i'm probably not qualified to judge, even though i did :)

  28. "i'm probably not qualified to judge"

    Kylie, don't back down just because people blasted you. They don't like you criticizing American because you're a foreigner, and they don't like me criticizing America because I'm an American--and therefore a traitor. In other words, DON'T CRITICIZE AMERICA, ANYONE, EVER. You spoke the truth as you saw it, and the problem wasn't with what you said but with the fact that you have a reader base that's not used to you talking about such things, and it made some of them uncomfortable, that's all.

  29. Snow, I think you missed the point...

  30. Polite discourse is a good thing! I don't mind people disagreeing with me, I just don't like the words "stupid" and "idiot."

  31. I hardly think anyone blasted Kylie!

  32. Kylie, why am I uncontrollably making these strings of comments?

  33. lol, leah you are making strings of comments because you are passionate about it :)

  34. Leah said: "Kylie, why am I uncontrollably making these strings of comments? "

    Up late? Too much wine? Boundless enthusiasm? All of the above?

    As for whether anyone blasted Kylie, I guess it depends upon your definition of the word blasted. I thought that some of the comments were unjustifiably harsh, and I also thought that Kylie was shocked and hurt by them. Oddly enough, I wrote a similar post about the same time Kylie did, and I don't recall getting a single negative response (maybe I did, and just forgot it), but then my readers are used to me trashing god and country.

  35. Snow, I think that when one posts a post like this, a post which was rather harshly stated (whether true or not), one must expect to get some harsh and/or defensive remarks in response!

    That's just the way it goes.

  36. hmmm, i'm compelled to put my final word in here but also understand that it probably wonrt be final :)
    i did feel very confronted by some of the comments here and i didnt expect them so yes, i was shocked but at the same time i understand that i asked for it to a degree.

    i dont hate america, hate very rarely enters my emotional range and when it has it is under extreme provocation and in the face of PERSONAL pain so that was a bit of a whammy.

    i dont regard the individuals and the nation as the same thing so nobody should think that.

    i made a statement about how i think the world sees america and i suspect that was taken as my personal opinion. i will take ownership of calling the US arrogant and i stand by that but at the same time i recognise that a measure of arrogance is often necessary for success.

    snow, i appreciate your support in a situation where i probably bit off more than i could chew.

    leah, only a true friend will take the trouble to make a respectful disagreement so thank you for that.

    the whole discussion has been a good one and it is the reason i fell in love with blogging


  37. Leah said: "Snow, I think that when one posts a post like this, a post which was rather harshly stated..."

    WHAT?! If this wasn't gentle and understated, then I don't know what gentle and understated look like. Kylie is a lamb, I'm telling you, an absolute lamb. The woman wouldn't blow a butterfly off course if she was a hurricane--or a typhoon, or whatever they call them down there. Why, she wouldn't squash a fly if she sat on it.

  38. I love Kylie. She's one of the people I respect the very most on the interwebs and in life. In fact, I'm traveling three thousand miles to meet her in a month! (of course, she is traveling umpteen more miles, but hey, we won't quibble). I still don't think using the words "stupid" "idiot" etc is gentle, but then again, we can agree to disagree. But also, disagreement is the soul of political discussion, and dare I say, very American! I don't really think my disagreements were harsh, just impassioned.

    Btw, in reference to something you mentioned awhile back, I don't consider political protest to be anything like treason, for baal's sake, rather the backbone of American society and democracy (although again, I don't have to agree with it!!! and I can certainly say my disagreement!!!) and I have total respect for the notion of atheism. One of my best friends is an atheist LOLOL just kidding I have many many atheist and agnostic friends and family members. In matters of god or not-god I would never weigh in. It's a personal journey.

    That wasn't as tangential as it would seem--I think there are places I like to weigh in (the political) and places I don't (god or gog or baal or the Great Not or whatever).

  39. p.s. Kylie, you're probably right in thinking folks took the "idiot" statement as personal opinion, but hey. Funnily, I don't take any exception to the term "arrogant," because I sure as heck think America and Americans are arrogant. It's our thing!

  40. Leah said: "In matters of god or not-god I would never weigh in. It's a personal journey."

    The politics of the American right-wing (like the politics of much of the Middle East) is very much tied to their understanding of what god wants. If they were content simply to go to church on Sundays, I would have no problem with them, but their religion permeates America. When people say that religion is a personal matter, I assume that they don't follow the news.

    As for Kylie being harsh (or not), her stated intent was to depict how people from other countries see America, and based upon the blogs I read and the comments I receive, she was right. I don't recall a single non-American disagreeing with her.

    Thanks, Leah, for your comments--and thanks, Kylie, for hosting this discussion.

  41. Leah said: "I sure as heck think America and Americans are arrogant. It's our thing!"

    So, do you see our arrogance as implying that we really are superior? I think a lot of Americans do.

  42. Snow, I agree completely about the deism that permeates American politics, and frankly I find it alarming as well. I certainly don't support it. Your point is well made and well taken.

    I'm not sure why we (or some of us) are so arrogant--not necessarily a demonstration of superiority, but some embedded psychology of fuckit, i'm gonna do my own thing!

    This was very interesting actually.


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