- The Washington Times - Tuesday, December 18, 2001

Hannah Arendt's spine-chilling observation about Adolph Eichmann's impenitent labors in the Holocaust machine in "Eichmann in Jerusalem"should inform our treatment of Osama bin Laden: "It was as though in those last minutes [Eichmann] was summing up the lessons that this long course in human wickedness had taught us the lesson of the fearsome, word-and-thought-defying banality of evil."

Bin Laden and his vile lieutenants have done, however, what was unthinkable after the Holocaust. They have bettered Eichmann's instruction in malevolence. To them, unremitting genocidal warfare against U.S. citizens and non-subscribers of their pathologically twisted religious beliefs is keenly relished. Their vocation to enslave the world to their bleak and joyless conception of human existence sans laughter, sans kites, sans singing, sans everything is as repugnantly motivated as was the Holocaust.

Our repugnance is less only because their villainous aspirations have been clipped. Human nature is more alarmed by crimes committed featuring flesh-and-blood victims than by criminal attempts or conspiracies that have been foiled. But bin Laden's al Qaeda moral depravity exceeds that of the cog-like Eichmann. Their sole remorse is that their wickedness was not swifter, as with the destruction of the magnificent Buddhist shrines in Bamian. Their motto is conclusive as to their character: With malice toward all, with charity for none.

President should thus order the killing of bin Laden and his genocidal brothers either in combat or by summary execution upon capture and identification. Unconditional surrender should not save them from our swift sword irrespective of international law.

Law is not law if its application wars with a compelling moral consensus. And who on the face of the Earth touched by the Age of Enlightenment would deny the staggering immorality of bin Laden's shrinking tribe? The educational mission of an open trial, like Eichmann in Jerusalem, can be accomplished by publishing the uncontradicted proof of al Qaeda's genocide. Demented disbelievers will still dot the landscape, but they would deny the force of gravity to cast wrath on the United States or Israel.

As defined in the 1948 Genocide Convention, the crime of crimes reaches attempts and conspiracies to destroy, in whole or in part, a national or religious group through killings or serious bodily or mental harm. Bin Laden through interviews and videos has openly boasted of a conspiracy with Islamic extremists to massacre every citizen of the United States and any non-adherent of their loathsome religious creed.

Their September 11 genocide trophy, for example, evoked cheer, merriment and pride over their nauseating carnage.

Detractors of summary execution of bin Laden's circle insist the precedent would set us on a slippery slope of international lawlessness that would haunt the future. The worry is legitimate, but discredited by experience. All enlightened values or decisions are matters of degree.

Even marriage or divorce is determined by whether your partner's irksomeness comes every 50 seconds or every 50 years. There is a threshold of moral squalidness that if surpassed requires a morally certain responsive trumpet.

The line may be inexact, like the dividing line between day and night, but when crossed awakens a revulsion more felt than articulated. Thus, the world would have rejoiced wildly if Count von Stauffenberg's plot to assassinate Adolf Hitler had succeeded. When the United States shot down Japanese Adm. Yamamoto of Pearl Harbor infamy, no tear-stained newspaper could be found here.

The Eichmann precedent is similar. What was at work was moral instinct more compelling than legal niceties. Eichmann was kidnapped by Israeli agents in Argentina, a clear trespass on sovereign soil. He was tried, convicted and sentenced to death by Israel under Israeli law for complicity in the Holocaust. But Eichmann's genocidal actions occurred years before the nation of Israel was born. As a matter of international law, what justified Israel's jurisdiction to punish what was not punishable under its sovereignty when the conduct occurred? Eichmann's prosecution seems a classic example of an ex post facto prosecution by Israeli authorities.

Moreover, an understandable riot of emotions had impassioned Israel against Eichmann's unspeakable crime; the possibility of a neutral and impartial judge or layman was chimerical. The outcome carried all the suspense of a marriage ceremony. But does anyone today question the justice of Eichmann's execution despite the legal shortcomings? Of course not. The Holocaust monster and the inarguable facts about Eichmann rightfully supplanted the law in favor of condign punishment.

The Eichmann precedent has not lead to a slippery slope of international anarchy beyond what has been the norm since time immemorial.

International law is obeyed when convenient to national interests and defied when inconvenient. Self-preservation is each nation's North Star. Thus, Mr. Bush should not be squeamish about killing or summarily executing bin Laden and his al Qaeda cohorts.

There is nothing left to debate about their genocidal guilt and reptilian retrogression from homo sapiens. The executions should be undertaken more in sorrow than in anger, and with a heightened commitment to thinking seriously about the enshrinement of an elevated moral order between ashes to ashes and dust to dust.

As Shakespeare wrote in "As You Like It," "Sweet are the uses of adversity: which, like the toad, ugly and venomous, wears yet a precious jewel in his head."

Sign up for Daily Newsletters

Copyright © 2019 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.

The Washington Times Comment Policy

The Washington Times welcomes your comments on Spot.im, our third-party provider. Please read our Comment Policy before commenting.


Click to Read More and View Comments

Click to Hide