I just read the New Yorker report on the raid that killed bin Laden.
I took a few things away from it.
1st. There is no military organization in the world that can even come close to matching the courage, determination, ability, and competence of the armed forces of the United States.
This is compounded by the willingness of the American people to pursue Justice.
You can hate President Barrack Obama’s policies and politics, but you cannot doubt his courage, his willingness to make difficult decisions, his admiration of, concern for, and confidence in the military.
He risked his Presidency on doing the right thing.
2nd (and this is more troubling)
The article reports the following transmission was sent to confirm contact with bin Laden (known as “Crankshaft” by JSOC group and referred to as “Geronimo” in the broadcast”).
Inside the compound the Seal team radioed;
“For God and Country, Geronimo, Geronimo, Geronimo”
This was immediately followed by the words “Geronimo, E.K.I.A.” (Enemy Killed in Action) to confirm he was dead.
The article goes on to describe the tension in the White House situation room.
At one point the article points out “as they awaited word, VP Biden nervously fingered his Rosary”
I was struck by the incongruity of these statements.
It was blind, nonsensical, religious belief that triggered the situation in the first place.
What was the difference? Our praying to a different invisible “God”?
One God sent planes into buildings.
One God guided forces to a house in Pakistan.
Taken in the best light, I guess the “Christian” God is more “surgical” in his vengence.
To borrow a line from a t-shirt I once saw;
“Science flies you to the moon, Religion flies you into buildings”
I do not begrudge people their religious beliefs. I do not doubt their sincerity. As long as it is personal and private.
I am troubled by any of our governmental actions, our elected officials, our powerful military being guided by any religious tenets.
Morality, honesty, and integrity do not exist because of religion, they exist in spite of it.
Studies show humans are evolutionarily “designed” (now that’s Intelligent!) to be moral, empathetic, and ethical.
Religion compels a certain behavior out of fear of eternal damnation or reward of a blissful, eternal life (especially with Seventy-two Virgins).
Humans have an innate sense of right and wrong and most follow that path. Religiosity, a by-product of our evolutionary development, is unnecessary.
If those Seals want to pray to thank God, if the Vice President wants to recite the ‘Holy Rosary’ and go to Mass, if the President wants to acknowledge God’s help in making the decision, I fully support their right to do it, privately.
But not as Officials of the US Government and not using any resources of that government.
I believe the decision to send bin Laden’s remains into the ocean, with appropriate Islamic burial protocols, was a brilliant tactical decision. Equally so, the offer of the remains to the Saudi Government (who wisely declined). But I don’t think they are an endorsement of the efficacy or effectiveness of the religious procedures. Nor should they be.
In the interest of full disclosure and if, in the unlikely event I am wrong and God does exist, Osama bin Laden’s passage into the eternal was dependent our exact adherence to Islamic protocols, I pray we fucked it up!
This will be a better world when the world adopts the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” approach to Religion.