The hand-wringing, liberal commentariat has been waxing indignant about Barack Obama’s claim, ‘justice has been done’ – after some testosterone-pumped US thugs shot an unarmed and pyjama-clad Osama Bin Laden. No, no, say these bourgie commentators, it is an ‘extrajudicial killing’, an assassination that is ‘is not permitted under international (or any other) law’. So say some deadheads from the Monash school of law, Gideon Boas and Pascale Chifflet. And Geoffrey Robertson, high-flying QC and champion of all things bourgie such as human rights, argues in a similar vein: the killing was a travesty of the rule of law, precisely what the USA and other states who lauded the killing, are supposed to uphold. Far better, says Robertson, to have put Bin Laden before a law court and demystified the man, humiliating him on the world stage. In other words, Barack Obama and the USA are being fundamentally hypocritical in mouthing support of the rule of law and yet assassinating people.
This is bourgeois crap.It assumes that ‘the law’ is neutral, non-partisan, that all are equal before ‘the law’. Sure, but only if you assume the basis of that law: that it is a support structure for a particular social and economic system. Obviously ‘the law’ in question is deeply partisan – pro-capitalist, pro-bourgeois, pro-private property, etc. Try testing the laws of treason and insurrection, or what are now called ‘terrorism’. Try overthrowing the state by organising an insurrection. And what is the standard response of police when dealing with protestors? Drag them through the courts.
Further, what would have been the result if Bin Laden had been put on trial? Would he have been found not guilty, able to skip away and start a new life, or indeed carry on as before? The outcome would have been exactly the same, except far more of a triumphant spectacle. I would suggest that by killing Bin Laden, the US did itself a disservice. If he had been captured and put to trial, the dance over the victim could have gone on for much longer.
All of which means that Obama’s claim that ‘justice has been done’ speaks the truth of the supposed ‘rule of law’.