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Why Osama bin Laden couldn't get a Hollywood ending


Osama bin Laden  in Afghanistan in April 1998

Osama bin Laden in Afghanistan in April 1998


Osama bin Laden in Afghanistan in April 1998

Like most people - and archbishops - I feel that, in an ideal world, when apprehending a cornered and unarmed mass murderer the preferred etiquette would be to ask him to put his hands up and read him his rights while he would do as asked with an acceptance speech along the lines of "Fair cop, gov ... "

Sadly, abseiling into a Pakistani concrete compound which you believe to be heavily defended by suicidal jihadists does not represent the ideal world for the usual niceties.

This is the big thing about the killing/potential arrest of Osama. You and I weren't called upon to do it.

And, although they talk up the skill and expertise of their special troops (as all nations do), the Yanks' reality is they're still human beings.

No less. No more.

Hollywood depiction of daring military raids may have given us all a totally skewed idea of how easy it is to swoop into enemy territory, size up the situation and tell at a glance whether the bloke you've come for is unarmed or dangerous.

Osama wasn't, as we say in these parts, carrying.

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We know that now.

But the US Navy Seal who shot him presumably wasn't taking the chance that he may have been. And in fairness we didn't have to make that split-second decision that, he did.

The Archbishop of Canterbury talks about his unease at the gunning down of the unarmed Osama.

And in an ideal world bin Laden would of course have been lifted and brought for trial.

I'm just not sure the good archbishop has thought through the practicalities.

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