Ephesian 6:12, Job 14, Matthew 26:52

For those unlettered amongst you, the specific passages are;

For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places. Wherefore, take unto you the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand.

Man that is born of woman is of few days and full of trouble. He cometh forth like a flower and is cut down; he fleeth, also as a shadow, and continueth not. And doth thou open thine eyes upon such a one, and bringest me into judgment with thee?

Then said Jesus unto him, Put up thy sword into his place: for all they that take the sword shall perish with the sword.

I can understand vengeance. Should any of those I love be touched, I know that I would want revenge, and there is a moral calculus in the decision that is as old as time. Equally, states that embody their citizens, which I suppose the proper description of a Hobbesian republic such as the US can sometimes be under the sovereignty of the Law, can take on those wishes for revenge and divert them into justice. I also understand that some are warriors, that they are necessary for the defence of a free people, and that there are very dark things in the world, both within us and outside, that any civilisation has to struggle with.

I'm really not keen on assassinations though. They tend to blow back. One by definition has to have a capacity to commit them, which is deployable and which can be denied or finessed. They work in a secret world in which chains of command and scrutiny must be the loosest and most obscure things, they usually, in the sweep of history, unleash as many as, or more problems than, they solve, and they mean that free societies must especially be on their guard because we are most vulnerable to them.

That said, wars happen. Osama Bin Laden, with all his great wealth, took up a sword against the most successful and freest civilisation in history when it was writhing with power (even if I spend a good time observing how much of that is weakening and being mismanaged). He took decisions and financed operations that killed a great many people in that civilisation and elsewhere, and then he fled to a corrupt rogue state whose intelligence service or military--and, chillingly, it is more likely to be the hitherto reliable Pakistani military given that what happened was near Islamabad and not Rawalpindi--protected him. It appears that he lived until yesterday, when justice was visited upon him by soldiers and sailors who did not know, given what seems to have happened to their helicopter, whether they would make it alive out of their engagement zone. These were men braver than those who attacked the twin towers or the USS Cole, even if they were made of the same stuff. We still do brave, too.

He's not the only one to blame for our predicament. When he launched his attacks, the West was in surplus, the banks were barely two years into throwing our money into the abyss, and though the arcs of instability were full of tinder, major wars were not in place. Now, in part thanks to him, war and debt and a sort of political, partisan madness grip large parts of North America, Europe and Australia. I can't weep for him and I understand the crowds who are happy at what they see as justice. I won't 'celebrate death' because, well, he may have repented and anyway, judgment is God's. I worry what the blowback for this act will be, and I would rather have seen him on trial.

But Osama made war on the people of all sorts in the Praries and on the Plains and under the Canadian Shield; on the fields of France and the cliffs of England and the steppe, on the Alps and the Rockies, on the Australian desert and on the Atlantic main. He messed with Texans and Turks. He raged against free people and took our flabbiness for utter weakness, our spiritual corruption for a complete collapse of morals, and our narcissism and distraction for total idiocy, and he tried to murder other people's children and other people's parents, regardless of whether they were at war with him or not.

He seems to have paid the price of that--I'll wait for the DNA match to be made available to be sure--and if, I suppose, such a person, who chose to do awful things, has been sent to his Judgement, then today I am--what? glad? Content?

With Adolf, and Benny, and Tojo, and Boney, and the Kaiser, and the Caliph, and Genghis, and every single other one of our pretended conquerors, 'the Great King of Terror' has gone to the dust. I wonder if we can now stop being afraid, and if we can dismantle the terrors and the darkness within.


RAnn said…
Welcome to the Catholic Blog Directory. I'd like to invite you to participate in Sunday Snippets--A Catholic Carnival which is a weekly gathering of Catholic Bloggers who share their posts with each other. This week's edition is at http://rannthisthat.blogspot.com/2011/05/sunday-snippets-catholic-carnival.html
Martin Meenagh said…
Thanks RAnn--It's 2am on Monday here, but I will visit next week. I'll also have a link up to you by tomorrow.

All best


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