Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Bin Laden’s Killing and the Rule of Law

On May 2nd, the United States Navy SEALs stormed the compound of Osama bin Laden killing the world’s most wanted terrorist. A month later, this killing continues to affect the international community.

This article shows how an idea developed by the ancient Italian political philosopher Machiavelli --states are selfish entities out to protect their national security with little regard for human rights--- has come to the forefront of policymaking.  Human rights have been relegated to the backburner of policymaking.

Bin Laden’s killing reinforces the de facto rule that national security trumps human rights observances. Bin Laden’s killing underscores the notion that humans live in a world where realpolitik is a stark reality, and liberalism is only dream.  As Machiavelli points out, countries are selfish, and only ruthless means keep them alive.

This article looks at three aspects of how Washington’s drive for national security has trumped international law and human rights in Pakistan.  First, Washington’s desire to protect itself against bin Laden drove U.S. officials to disregard Pakistan’s sovereignty. Second, the violation of Pakistan’s sovereignty enabled the Taliban to rise. With the Taliban in operation of western Pakistan, civilians are subject to human rights abuses. Third, Washington’s policy to kill bin Laden instead of capture him can be viewed as undermining the meaning of justice.

The disregard for human rights and disruption of justice, all in the name of national security, highlights how little the world has changed in terms of prioritizing national security over human rights.

 Read more.