Thursday, May 05, 2011

N.T. Wright on Osama bin Laden

N.T. Wright comments on the killing of Osama bin Laden over at Ruth Gledhill's blog.

I hear Wright's objections and I am no fan of American exceptionalism. The point I would like to make is that this is not really exceptional but typical of how governments go after terrorists. The UK and other governments spasmodically engage on seek and destroy missions in other countries where the goal is to terminate rather than capture terrorists. Israel does it all the time and they are not alone. To give an example, an SAS hit team killed three IRA members in Gibraltar in 1988. In terms of the degree of force applied, in the 1980 siege in the Iranian embassy in London all but one terrorist was shot and killed by the SAS who had explicit orders to take no prisoners! You can pursue terrorists with a Tomahawk missile or a special forces hit team, but the result is the same. It is important to remember that under the Laws of Armed Conflict that terrorists are not subject to the protection of the Genevan conventions because they do not qualify for its provision (long story, but it's true). For this reason, the rules of engagement given to soldiers dealing with terrorists are usually different from that during conventional warfare or peace keeping operations.

There are questions of legality and morality about war, how warfare is conducted, and how Christians tackle these tough ethical issues. For all of its limitations, I still think Just War Theory is the best way to go and provides the framework for us to approach this subject.


Brian Small said...

If the Brits do the same thing, then it isn't about American Exceptionalism, then, is it?

Virtual Methodist said...

"the Brits" could no longer get away with doing it outside their jurisdiction... Gibraltar and the Libyan embassy were both within the borders of British jurisdiction(whatever Spain may think about that)... But it isn't an issue of American exceptionalism alone (though it reinforces the other issues at play)... it is the mentality of imperial power (the Pax Americana enforced by overwhelming military power), the myth of redemptive violence, which America has espoused in its religious and political ethos and glorified in its media (probably no more than any previous imperial power, but because the reach of American media is greater than any other in history to date we notice it more) and the refusal to accept any responsibility by the US and west in general for contributing to the problem in the first place...

Saint and Sinner said...

On the IRA terrorist scenario: if Britain knew that the terrorists were in Boston, and if Britain could not trust the American government to keep a raid on the IRA compound a secret (especially if they might even be harboring the terrorists!), then Britain would have every moral justification to make the raid.

Just another reason to ignore the morally backward Church of England. [Aren't these the guys who wanted to allow Sharia law in Britain?]

Jeremy said...

"...and the refusal to accept any responsibility by the US and west in general for contributing to the problem in the first place..."

If by "in general" you mean outside of the academy then yes. But the academy, Christian or not, has severely critiqued the decisions the US has made since, well for a long time. And the academy is a powerful voice.

Ian Paul said...

There is some interesting theological reflection about this under my posting of it at

John Thomson said...

Saint and Sinner

The issue isn't really whether Britain would have been justified (though carrying out covert operations in a friendly foreign state is arguably morally doubtful) but whether they have been vilified by the USA for doing so. I suspect they would.

I am neither pro nor anti American, however, I suspect the bottom line is being a/the world super-state gives the right to do as you please; power, in this case, is morality.

I think N T Wright's points are well worth weighing.

outlook fly said...

With Microsoft outlook 2010 , you're in control of getting things done and delivering amazing results according to your schedule. More communication tools in Download Outlook 2010 help you stay in touch and organized.

Unknown said...

Use this diet hack to drop 2 lb of fat in just 8 hours

At least 160 thousand men and women are losing weight with a easy and secret "water hack" to lose 1-2lbs each night as they sleep.

It's easy and it works all the time.

This is how you can do it yourself:

1) Take a clear glass and fill it half glass

2) And now follow this crazy hack

you'll become 1-2lbs thinner in the morning!

Grace Bible said...

Welcome to Grace Bible Community Church. We’re glad to have you here. On this site you’ll find many useful tools to help you grow in and understand the Word of God Rightly Divided. Only the King James Bible is used in our messages and videos. We follow the pattern that God has designed for us in this day of grace that we live in – a design carefully laid out by God for your godly edification and the saving of souls.
In our Videos Library section, you’ll find a variety of subjects to glean from. These are for your edification. Enjoy them and please return often because videos and articles will be added weekly.

Unknown said...

Excellent Post as always and you have a great post and i like it thank you for sharing.Feel free to visit my website;

Unknown said...

The full glance of your site is fantastic, as smartly the content material. Feel free to visit my website;

Unknown said...

I have added to my favorites. Thank You Feel free to visit my website;
일본야동 said...

This is the right site for everyone who would like to find out about this topic. 바카라사이트

EricFord said...

Great story on a great personality i really enjoyed this while i was reading share more for us, Now it's time to avail african gowns for ladies for more information.

Daniel Oscar said...

Nice Post! Thanks for sharing this information with us. Now it's time to avail for more information.

Harry Parker said...

You have shared a very informative article with us and I am really inspired by your article writing skills. Keep sharing more articles with us in the future. Now it's time to avail Property Management Virtual Assistant for more information.

Rocky Martin said...

Thanks for sharing in this topic. I have found this interesting blog post! Do check it out Colossal head Olmec.