‘Europeans Find the Ground Zero Celebrations Somewhat Embarrassing’

The death of Osama bin Laden has raised important questions about how far a country can go in the desire for revenge. In a SPIEGEL ONLINE interview, German political scientist Herfried Münkler discusses whether democracies can carry out targeted killings and talks about the “unthinking naïveté” of the American celebrations at Ground Zero.

SPIEGEL ONLINE: Mr. Münkler, US special forces have killed al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden in Pakistan. Can a democratic country kill someone like this, without due process or a trial?

Münkler: The answer is an unqualified yes. A democracy is, like a monarchy or an aristocracy, a form of rule. As such, it is justified in resolutely protecting the lives of its citizens as a matter of course and being prepared to take the lives of its enemies. But when it comes to the killing of Osama bin Laden, this question doesn’t even arise. If you believe the US government’s version of events, US special forces asked bin Laden to surrender. He refused, and therefore met with the same fate that would befall, for example, a mafia boss in Germany or Italy in the same situation.

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Categories: Countries, Germany

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