Monday, 30 May 2011

BBC go muckraking Media Lens

The BBC Empire - or, at least, one of its outposts - it seems, is striking back, and in rather cheap and desperate form judging by the responses of BBC Middle East Bureau Chief Paul Danahar.

Following Bad News From the BBC, Part 1, a Media Lens charge sheet of BBC imbalance and distortion, Part 2 of the Alert featured a most revealing exchange with Danahar in which he refused to countenance the accumulated evidence of More Bad News From Israel, an updated text from Glasgow University Media Group authors Greg Philo and Mike Berry, or the damning testimony of ex-BBC journalist Tim Llewellyn.

Instead, Danahar resorted to a spurious and diversionary attack on ML co-editor David Cromwell, dragging-up a job held long-ago at Shell. With no moral obligation to do so, Media Lens subsequently offered this comment:
"The BBC’s Middle East Bureau Chief, Paul Danahar, shares senior editorial responsibility for ensuring balanced and impartial BBC News coverage from Israel and Palestine. Rather than provide substantive answers to the serious questions raised in our latest media alert, he apparently first requires a ‘mea culpa’ from David Cromwell making clear that DC ‘deeply regrets his actions, or lack of them’ in working for Shell in the Netherlands between 1989-1993. What could possibly justify such a slippery response from a senior BBC editor?
There's a lot that could be said about this. But the issue of supposed hypocrisy is a red herring based on a fundamental misunderstanding of our argument. Most of us work for corporations, most of us buy their products and services, and most of us pay taxes that feed the war machine. We all began life as infant narcissists. We are all still prone to the self-interested, greedy, egotistic, angry thoughts that are entrenched in our destructive society. We could all be doing more to make the world a better place. None of us is beyond blame. But then blame has never been the issue for us. The issue is that we should all be challenging each other - challenging, listening and changing - in order to make the world a saner, less destructive place. We have to because the world is rapidly going to hell in a handcart.
We are not pretending that we are paragons of virtue and we are not saying that Paul Danahar is a 'bad man' for working at the BBC. We are saying that we believe that BBC News offers a biased version of events favouring the powerful on Israel-Palestine and many other key issues. And we're offering solid and ample evidence, arguments and sources in support of our claims. We're asking Paul Danahar and the BBC to respond rationally to our arguments so that people can make up their own minds on who is making most sense. Then it's up to the public, and indeed BBC journalists, how they want to respond. We don't ask the BBC or readers to respond on the basis that we are teetering on the edge of Enlightenment. We ask them to respond if they think our arguments are reasonable and important. Frankly, we could be complete moral reprobates. But if our arguments make sense, and if people think the oppression of Palestinians matters, then they should still think about how things might be improved to relieve suffering. It is the arguments that matter, and the suffering, not whether DC is a virtuous individual."
As ever, the ML Editors getting to the very heart of the matter.

I'd like to add this.  Whatever our past circumstances, the most important things are what we learn from those experiences and what we actually, if possible, do about the injustices we see and feel therein.

Cromwell's experiences helped him see from the inside just how brutal the corporate monolith can be in its rapacious pursuit of profit.  It provided the impetus for writing Private Planet, a book outlining radical, green alternatives to the corporate plunder of the world and its resources.  Ten years ago, Cromwell had gone on to co-found Media Lens with David Edwards, both giving much of their lives to exposing corporate-establishment power by helping to advance a new, unconstrained and humanitarian media.   

Danahar, by contrast, continues to work for an organisation which protects the establishment line and, in his particular role as Middle East bureau head, approves an output that, in its consistent falsifications and denials, actually contributes to the suffering of occupied and brutalised Palestinians.    

Danahar's refusal to engage the serious questions put by Media Lens prompted many letters.   Here's my own: 
Dear Paul
How regrettable to see you engage in this petty point-scoring diatribe against David Cromwell when all he's done is ask some civil questions about your organisation's reporting.
Don't you have some public duty to consider the weight of these issues, not least for those suffering in the conflict? You are the BBC Middle East Bureau Chief, after all.
Nor is it remotely relevant to claim that the issues precede your own tenure - or that those not having visited the region can hold no informed view.
Are you seriously claiming that there's no substance at all to the mass of documented evidence now showing BBC bias by language, omission and institutional constraints?
It's not just the bombing and siege of Gaza or the murder of those aboard the Mavi Marmara. It's the daily oppression of Palestinians across the West Bank, Gaza and East Jerusalem that never gets any mention.
That's right, Jerusalem, same city, different part, where your bureau sits, its editors and journalists seemingly oblivious to the persecution and apartheid going on all around.
Not long ago, returning from the West Bank/East Jerusalem, I wrote to the BBC asking why they had failed to report the plight of a Palestinian family being evicted from their home in Sheik Jarrah, while noting the multiple other brutalities against Palestinians that go unreported by the BBC.
It went, tortuously, up to the BBC Trust for further consideration before being, predictably, dismissed. Most complaints never even get a response.
Tim Llewellyn has just outlined that labyrinthine process alongside key examples of loaded BBC coverage and institutional placation of Israel, receiving a terse little smear on his good character for doing so.
Like your responses to Media Lens, it's a sign of the BBC on the back foot, in blatant denial, stooping to cheap riposte rather than answering the serious charges levelled against it.
As documented by Philo and Berry, by Media Lens and many others, the evidence of BBC bias and fear of Israel is obvious to anyone who cares to see. It certainly should be to you.
You've expressed your opposition to past apartheid injustices. Why don't you permit the same open, ethical examination in this case?
Kind regards
John Hilley
No answer has come.  As ML say, Paul Danahar is not a 'bad' person in working for the BBC.  Nor are my own points to him meant as personal or moralising.  It's about trying to show how such people come to defend indefensible bias when their careers and ego depend on it. 

On which note, readers here at Zenpolitics might also be interested in this latest sample (30 May 2011) of BBC distortion from Radio 4 Today presenter Kevin Connolly (as cited by the ML Editors) eliciting another of my responses: 
Dear Mr Connolly
I heard your piece today discussing the apparent anxieties Israel feels towards its neighbours Egypt and Jordan, while considering the Arab Spring as a catalyst for Palestinian action.
I'd be very interested to learn who was involved in writing such a loaded report, with its 'democratic Israel surrounded by hostile Arab forces' theme.
Did it ever occur to you or your fellow producers that Israel is the most dangerous, militarist state in the region, the one deliberately preventing peace through its expansionist occupation and inhuman siege? 
Did you for a moment think to question Israel's own claims to being a democratic state given the (UN-documented) apartheid treatment of its Arab 'others'?
Did your conclusion, Israel "always cautious in these matters, will simply become more cautious still", never strike you as a resort to BBC caution in itself, ensuring, as with the rest of this grossly unbalanced report, that Israel is not presented as a calculating aggressor?
The production of such output, alas, reveals nothing about Israel's nuclear militarism, its anti-democratic fear of a democratic region or its wilfully-crafted repressions.  But it surely does say much about your own cautious appeasement and BBC-trained mindset.
I (incautiously) await any response.
Kind regards
John Hilley
Can the BBC ever be redeemed?  Is it worth sending these letters?  Do such criticisms make a difference?  I'd say the answers to these questions are, no, yes and yes.

The greater, long-term aim is the diminishment, rather than redemption, of 'statemouth' news services like the BBC.  The point of sending emails is to help expose the distortion and propaganda.  And the difference all this can make is two-fold: it helps victimised people in immediate ways by serving to inform and build public support for their cause, while suggesting model alternatives for a truly independent citizen media to come.

All very large undertakings and aims, perhaps, but why think small when the consequences of corporate power and establishment lies are so dismally and dangerously big.   


Thursday, 26 May 2011

Obama: media adulation and the 1967 border

Barack Obama's current European tour has been accompanied by levels of media idolatry that would make a movie star blush.

One has little faith in what purports to be serious 'analysis' in most of the mainstream media.  But it has been remarkable, by any such standards, to watch so many journalists, correspondents and news anchors gush over Obama's 'starlit' presence and 'benign' words, particularly concerning Israel-Palestine.

The propaganda effect on a celebrity-primed public is a study in how our 'critical' media have served to conceal, circumvent and prettify Obama's true warmongering colours.

As the first leg of the tour commenced in Ireland, the BBC's Mark Mardell was in typical 'romantic' flow:
"President Obama's trip to Europe will be a melange of pageantry and policy, and the political equivalent of both poetry and prose."
The fawning continued in more personalised form during Andrew Marr's studio 'questioning' of the President, which, alongside his previous 'engagement' of Tony Blair, might serve as a definitive model of the deference-to-power BBC interview.

By the time of Obama's speech to Parliament, the BBC's political correspondent Nick Robinson was swooning for the nation: "There was never any doubt that Britain was in love with Obama" - a declaration, observed Media Lens in a letter to Robinson, which had raised the adulation from love-in to "hagiography". 

The Guardian's Patrick Wintour was also on-side with a glowing endorsement of Obama's US-Europe 'compact' for a free Middle East:
"Barack Obama has put America and Europe unambiguously on the side of those fighting for freedom across the Middle East, saying the west can remain "the catalysts for global action", ending a decade of war, terrorism and terrible recession."
Much of the same media devotion has been given to Obama's latest Middle East speech, billed as the second big 'appeal to the region' after his Cairo address in 2008.  

In particular, the 'analysis' failed to record the truth behind Washington's supposed 'support' for an Israeli-Palestinian peace deal based on the 1967 border.

This was taken in spoon-fed form by the BBC and other liberal outlets as Obama's 'historic endorsement' of a two state settlement.  Yet, few seemed willing to question or deconstruct what Obama had actually intimated to Netanyahu. 

Wintour at the Guardian could only muster this lame comment on Obama's meaning:
"He also seemed to tack to the Israelis, following his speech calling for a settlement based on 1967 borders, by arguing that it would be difficult currently for Israel to talk to the Palestinians.
Helpfully, other observers like Lamis Andoni have been more forthcoming in helping to expain that "tack":  
"Obama's lip service to Palestinian "self-determination" is nothing more than vacuous rhetoric - as he clearly implied that Israeli interests, especially its security, remain the top priority for American foreign policy in the region.
He mechanically repeated his commitment to the vision of a two-state solution - establishing a Palestinian state alongside Israel. However, as expected, he left the borders and terms of the creation of such state subject to Israel's "security interests".
His reference to resuming peace negotiations on the basis of the 1967 borders (also known as the Green Line) means neither a complete Israeli withdrawal from the occupied territories nor the establishment of a sovereign Palestinian state on all of the land within the Green Line, including East Jerusalem.
There is a significant difference in negotiations "lingo" and even legal language between saying that the establishment of a Palestinian state "will be based on" 1967 borders as opposed to saying it "will be established on" the 1967 borders.
The first leaves ample room for Israel to continue occupying and even annexing vast settlement blocs (and perhaps even all of the illegal, Israeli settlements in the West Bank and East Jerusalem) for "security reasons".
For Andoni, Obama's evasions are a clear green signal to Israel that it's still permissible to take whatever it can from any 'two-state settlement':
"Just in case his pro-Israel support base misunderstood the thinly veiled statements from his Middle East speech last Friday, Obama made sure to clarify to his definitively pro-Israeli view that there is no going back to the true 1967 borders:
"[The statement] means that the parties themselves - Israelis and Palestinians - will negotiate a border that is different than the one that existed on June 4, 196... It allows the parties themselves to account for the changes that have taken place over the last forty-four years, including the new demographic reality."
In clearer words, the president is effectively, although not explicitly, equating the presence of Palestinians on their own land with the illegal presence of Israeli settlers living on land confiscated forty-four years ago from the Palestinians."
Ilan Pappe, another ever-reliable conduit for truth, could also see the real intimations behind Obama's lofty words:
"[Obama]said there will be “no return to the borders of June 4, 1967” and the thousands who attended the AIPAC convention cheered wildly. Annexation of Israeli settlement blocs built illegally in the occupied West Bank and the creation of a small Palestinian bantustan in the spaces in between was the essence of Obama’s real vision for peace."
Which leaves Pappe, like this present writer, in no doubt about the necessary direction of any Palestinian - or other - liberation process:  
"A relentless struggle against the ethnic cleansing of Palestine will continue outside the realm of the western corridors of power. What we learned from Egypt and Tunisia, even if we are not sure what would be the endgame there, is that struggles outside corridors of power do not wait for leaders, well-oiled organizations and people who speak in other people’s names."
We wait in vain for Mark Mardell committing those fundamental words to poetic prose.

Tuesday, 17 May 2011

Arrival of the Palestinian-Arab Spring

The remarkable footage of Syrians and Palestinians pouring across the Golan's wired fences last weekend shows that the Arab Spring has now decisively reached Palestine-Israel.

As Real News also reports (if only the BBC could offer such honest and qualitative output) it formed part of a coordinated set of Nakba protests, all met with brutal responses, across the West Bank - notably Qalandiya - Gaza, East Jerusalem and on the Lebanon-Israel border.  Pro-Palestine protesters even gathered in Tel Aviv.

Jonathan Cook's fine analysis of the Nakba anniversary protests suggests a growing mood of optimism as the September date for a declaration of Palestinian statehood approaches.  

It also offers some sombre reading for Israel's political and military advisers who see with increasing clarity that brute force will not be enough to stem the gathering, unified demand for Palestinian liberation.

As Cook notes:
"Although the protests are not yet a third intifada, they hint at what may be coming. Or, as one senior Israeli commander warned, they looked ominously like a "warm-up" for September, when the newly unified Palestinian leadership is threatening to defy Israel and the United States and seek recognition at the United Nations of Palestinian statehood inside the 1967 borders." "There are several lessons, none of them comfortable, for Israel to draw from the weekend's clashes. The first is that the Arab Spring cannot be dealt with simply by battening down the hatches. The upheavals facing Israel's Arab neighbours mean these regimes no longer have the legitimacy to decide their own Palestinian populations' fates according to narrow self-interest."
It's an ominous set of developments for Netanyahu who must now consider the combined threat of a new Palestinian political accord - the Hamas-Fatah rapprochement - and the spectacle of a newly-released Arab street determined to exercise not only its domestic grievances but also its solidarity with the Palestinians.

The spectacle of so many Palestinians and fellow Arabs marching in peaceful protest is yet another crucial rebuke to Israeli fearmongering and claims of a new 'terrorist' insurgency, further raising the Palestinians' moral case around the world.

Netanyahu has responded with the same standard combinations of defiance and an 'acceptance' that Israel may have to "cede parts of our homeland" for peace.  

Yet, alongside the exit of Obama's envoy George Mitchell, Netanyahu's rhetoric and empty 'concessions' only confirms the vacuousness of any 'peace process' and, without that reliant prop, the increasingly worried assessments that must be taking place inside the Israeli power circle.

As September at the UN draws nearer, Israel will, inevitably, turn to America for political cover.  But with Washington under increasing pressure to declare its support for all democratic claims in the region, it will be more difficult than ever to exclude equal Palestinian demands for statehood and democratic participation.

The decisive dynamics of the Arab uprisings, all driven by populist internet campaigns, has created not only the crucial Fatah-Hamas realignment but also a crisis of hegemony for Israel and the US power bloc that keeps it protected.
Already, much of Europe has signalled its support for a 'pre-1967' Palestinian state, giving advance notice that any further US veto at the UN - following Washington's rejection of the Security Council vote on Israeli settlements - will leave Obama even further exposed.

As ever, Netanyahu's upcoming visit to Washington is being scrutinised for its possible manoeuvrings and signals on Israel's difficult relations with Obama.  It's a media gaze with diminishing relevance.  

Rather, it's what's happening on-the-ground in Gaza, the West Bank and East Jerusalem, across the region, along Israel's borders, in the streets of Cairo and Damascus, that really matters.

Inspired by their mutual aims and achievents, Palestinians and their Arab supporters are no longer waiting around for America's 'benign' interventions or insistence on a 'negotiated settlement'.  The Arab Spring itself appears to be the determining factor in how that process will evolve.

Much of that has some way to go - as the Egyptian navy's collaboration with Israel in attacking and preventing passage of the latest Gaza aid ship suggests.

Yet, for all the regime-transformation still to take place in the region, Israel realises that it is now confronting a newly-invigorated Arab movement, a set of popular forces able to enliven the Palestinian cause and multiply the political pressures for change.       


Sunday, 15 May 2011

The implications of resistance

Today, 15 May 2011, marks another historic milestone in the journey of Palestinian resistance.   

Buoyed by mass marches and support from fellow Arabs, Palestinians will take, once again, to the streets of the West Bank, Gaza, East Jerusalem and various parts of  Israel to mark the Nakba anniversary and demand an end to their suffering.  Following a mass internet campaign, many have called for this day to be the launch of a new intifada.

But, while we may express our own support for a putative Third Intifada, it’s also imperative to remember the consequences of such actions, the human costs.

Put most simply, people, principally Palestinians, die in intifadas.  People get locked-up and brutalised in intifadas, losing their liberty for years.  Families lose their loved ones in intifadas, fathers and sons murdered and incarcerated, causing lifetimes of human misery.  People, Palestinians, also get spiritually broken, the intended purpose of crushing intifadas, in an effort to deter them from taking-up further intifadas.

And yet, despite all those years of state killing, detention and family sorrow, Palestinians are still out on the street demanding their most basic human rights.

On Friday 13 May 2011, Milad Said Ayyash, 17, was shot in the stomach by Israeli forces during a demonstration in Silwan, East Jerusalem.  He died next day from his injuries.  As the resistance mounts, Milad is unlikely to be the last Palestinian to lose his life.

Which makes it all the more important to appreciate the driving spirit of such uprisings.  It's not a call to violence, it's a cry against violence, the ruthless and prolonged violence of the Israeli state.  It’s a reaction to deep oppression, an outpouring of despair, a plaintive desire for justice.  And it's in the resisting of that violence that we show our solidarity with the victimised. 

While we may declare ourselves “all Palestinians now”, we should also acknowledge the very human sacrifice that actual Palestinians will make, and have made, in pursuit of their human rights.   

Many activists and supporters have joined Palestinians in those endeavours, losing their own lives, feeling the brutality of a bullet, a tear gas canister, a merciless beating and other intimidations.

But for others who support the cause with words and actions from further afield, there’s the added requirement to think-through the human consequences of uprising and resistance.

One can, and should, say that violence, violence in any form, only contributes to the larger mass of human suffering.  We can also say that, longer term, violence, any violence, resolves very little.  But alongside those moral imperatives must sit an understanding of how and why such violence occurs. 

When we’ve measured and contemplated the costs, the misery, the legacy of such resistance, we should still be able to come to the same moral conclusion: that people, Palestinians enduring grotesque daily oppression, are absolutely entitled to be on those streets. 

The current actions are being marked by mass additional Arab support in the region, particularly from Egypt which has shown the way in its heroic efforts to overthrow tyranny and reject Western ‘solutions’ to their social and political imprisonment.

Palestinians have the same right to liberation, to see an end to their persecution and the apartheid system that blights their everyday lives.

We might wish for a supportive response from the ‘international commuity’.  But we know it won’t be forthcoming.  Obama and the West have shown their selective self-interest in choosing which tyrants and regimes in the region to condemn.  There’s no prospect, we can be completely sure, of including Netanyahu and Israel in that field.

Which makes it all the more a people’s resistance supported by conscientious citizens the world over, a globally-endorsed one that doesn’t depend on, or expect, Western-style ‘interventionist responses' – which, as we’ve seen in the tragedy of Libya, only involves Cruise missiles and more death.   

Blair and the West were very able to do their 'deal in the desert' with Gaddafi, yet can't somehow find the impetus to muster a diplomatic peace.  Why?  Because, it simply doesn’t suit their strategic political, economic and military interests to do so.

And so it is with Israel.  Obama, Cameron and their associates offer sanctimonious wishes for peace and a two state solution.  But there’s not the slightest thought of imposing the necessary sanctions and pressures on Israel to see those claims and ‘aims’ realised.

It was ever thus.   As one key whistleblower has just documented, there never was a 'peace process' for Israel and its US backers, only the "deceptive farce" which has kept the Palestinians even further removed from a just realisation of their rights.

And so, failed and abandoned, Palestinians take to the streets in another amazing effort to overcome their catastrophe, their sixty-three year Nakba, a suffering that Israel and its Western sponsors encourage no one to recognise or understand.

If, as seems likely, more Palestinians are killed and wounded in the course of such actions, we should reflect on the complete barbarity of state-directed violence.  We should also recognise the ultimate uselessness of all killing and violence.  But we can still come to the rational conclusion that, when faced with the scale and intensity of Israel's violence, Palestinians, like all other people, have a fundamental right to resist it. 


Thursday, 5 May 2011

Obama's Vengeance - the director's cut

It's being hailed as the iconic picture: Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton and their political-military entourage in the White House Situation Room (purportedly) watching Osama bin Laden's 'real time' murder.
Obama sits low, looking pensive, Clinton anxiously covers her mouth, others stare intently at the 'grisly action'.

Whatever they saw, we've still to learn.  No photographic "trophy" evidence will be released, says Obama.  Doubts have arisen as to whether they witnessed the actual killing.  It's only that photo which we've been given as 'proof' of Obama's 'defining moment'.

It could make the perfect movie still for 'Obama's Vengeance', in which an all-action Navy SEAL hero will cry "Geronimo, Geronimo, Geronimo, God Bless America!" as Washington's finest savour the final take-down of Bin Laden, the 'embodiment of evil'.  

As with the the BBC's reverential to Obama ("Watch the chin", gushes Matt Frei), the slaying of Osama will soon, no doubt, receive the best Hollywood treatment, every celluloid salutation: dutiful revenge, military honour, the defence of Western freedom.

It won't, we can be sure, depict a set of warmongering elites gazing gratuitously at the detail of their extrajudicial killing.

Beyond the intended photo-op, the picture of Obama's private 'snuff movie' reveals something deeply disturbing about the ways in which power internalises state killing on a personal level, offering a rare glimpse into the pornography of official violence.
Nor can the media-led celebrations and chants of "USA" remove the darker truth that this was the illegal murder of a still un-arrested suspect, even one very deeply suspected and widely reviled.

Consider the media treatment of a similar photo/film showing, say, the Iranian authorities eliminating a sworn enemy in some Western state.

Why, many suffering and bereaved Iraqis and Afghans will now ask, shouldn't George W Bush be considered a legitimate target on home soil for his multiple, untried crimes in their lands? 

Bin Laden has, we're told, been killed, his body removed and buried at sea.  Where's the photographic corroboration?  Assurances have been made about his 'resistance to capture', the 'necessity' of shooting him and the observation of Islamic burial protocols. Yet, beyond the far-out conspiracy theories, where's the standard proof of all this having happened, or having happened according to the Washington narrative?  The director is in charge of the final cut.

Nor should we be misled by the West's smokescreen vilification of Pakistan in, allegedly, harbouring Bin Laden, all serving to mask America's own illicit actions inside another country.   We've been told that the CIA didn't trust Pakistan intelligence (ISI), keeping them in the dark about the operation.  But the dirty dealings, long-standing, between Washington and Islamabad suggest a more nuanced version still to unfold; that this was, more likely, the result of a quieter quid pro quo and 'opportune moment' for the 'sacrifice' of Bin Laden.       

Whatever official 'evidence' might eventually surface on these matters, the essential purpose of the operation has been achieved.  There will be no fair trial, no inconvenient testimony, no public education of the background politics to Al Qaida, the Twin Tower attacks or the illegal invasion of Afghanistan.

As Robert Fisk notes:
"a court would have worried more people than Bin Laden. After all, he might have talked about his contacts with the CIA during the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan, or about his cosy meetings in Islamabad with Prince Turki, Saudi Arabia's head of intelligence. Just as Saddam – who was tried for the murder of a mere 153 people rather than thousands of gassed Kurds – was hanged before he had the chance to tell us about the gas components that came from America, his friendship with Donald Rumsfeld, the US military assistance he received when he invaded Iran in 1980."
'Justice is done', Obama and Western others proclaim, including the ever shameless Tony Blair.  No need for accountability or recourse to international law when pursuing a 'miltary foe', fighting the 'war on terror'.   

It's an interpretation convincingly rejected by many notable legal figures:
"The prominent defence lawyer Michael Mansfield QC expressed similar doubts about whether sufficient efforts had been made to capture Bin Laden. "The serious risk is that in the absence of an authoritative narrative of events played out in Abbottabad, vengeance will become synonymised with justice, and that revenge will supplant 'due process'.

"Assuming the mission was … intended to detain and not to assassinate, it is therefore imperative that a properly documented and verifiable narrative of exactly what happened is made public. Whatever feelings of elation and relief may dominate the airwaves," he said, "they must not be allowed to submerge core questions about the legality of the exercise, nor to permit vengeance or summary execution to become substitutes for justice."

The human rights lawyer Geoffrey Robertson QC argued that the killing risked undermining the rule of law. "The security council could have set up an ad hoc tribunal in The Hague, with international judges (including Muslim jurists), to provide a fair trial and a reasoned verdict...This would have been the best way of demystifying this man, debunking his cause and de-brainwashing his followers."
That ever-useful task - the effort to persuade individuals and states against the use of violence, murder and the abrogation of law - will not be advanced in any way by Bin Laden's death.  Whether it's murder committed by 'outlaw' extremists or 'our-law' extremists, the taking of life, any person's life, achieves nothing of any moral or practical worth.

America and its shrill media are in an ecstatic froth about this 'final avenging' of 9/11.  But there's no talk of the millions of lost Afghan, Iraqi and other lives that came about as 'responses' to that act. 

 All that has now, according to the Guardian, become "Obama's War":
"In the end, it all now comes down to one man, Barack Obama. On 11 September 2001 he was an obscure senator who reacted to the attacks on the Pentagon and the World Trade Centre by talking of the need to raise the hopes of embittered children across the globe. Almost a decade further on, the softest touch, in Dick Cheney's insulting view, has become the man who succeeded in hunting his quarry down. The irony will not be lost on Republicans who claim that America is now less safe under a Democrat president. There will undoubtedly be an al-Qaida response to their leader's death, and there is no shortage of evidence that plots are in the pipeline. A terrible life that brought misery to thousands is now over. Ending the legacy of that conflict will require all of Mr Obama's earliest and truest instincts. He now has the authority to carry them out."
How touchingly liberal of the Guardian to invest in Obama this 'legacy of responsibility', this 'mantle of redemption'.

The non-Guardian truth is that it's not just Obama's war, but America's 'law' that counts.

As the facile-named "Geronimo" action shows, Obama and his fellow sheriffs don't adhere to the law, they're above the law; America is the law, a self-proclaimed authority still imposing its Wild West version of patrol, capture and retribution on a long-suffering East.

Much is being made of Al Qaida's collapsing project against the current Middle East/North African revolutions, with popular demands for true participatory democracy rather than Islamic theocracy.

But - as with 'Nobel Obama's' extension of the war in Afghanistan and further violations into Pakistan - America's Cruise missile 'solution' for Libya and support for ruthless Saudi, Bahraini and other Gulf autocrats will, assuredly, not prevent or discourage even more Al Qaida-type responses.

Bin Laden may be gone, his killing officially witnessed (or not), his demise lauded on American streets.  But the greater risk, by far, to peace and human security lies with Obama, his posse of military 'avengers' and the media acolytes who iconise their gory executions.