Skip to content

What I Wish He’d Said

4 May 2011

Fellow Americans, Allies, and Lovers of Freedom Across the World:

We need not be reminded of the monstrous evil that al Qaeda brought to American shores on September 11, 2001.  We buried 3,000 of our mothers, fathers, brothers, sisters, and children over the next days and weeks, and no doubt the raw bitterness of that evil remains freshly present to all who were touched by it nearly ten years ago in New York, Pennsylvania, and our nation’s capital.  Since that date, our fellow citizens have buried many more family members who laid down their lives for us in pursuit of justice and national self-defense.  In this life, we cannot hope to restore to them what they have lost, but we can extend to them our hand, our fellowship, and our shared grief.

And we can extend to them one other gift, the commitment to pursue the vision of peace, safety, and liberty that we received as a fragile stewardship from our nation’s founders.  Central to that vision is the pursuit of justice, by which we tell the world that the American experiment was, is, and will always be worth the price in blood to protect.  In our better moments, as throughout most of our history, our shared vision is to be a blessing to the world, and although we have not always lived up to that ideal in every particular, it remains our fondest hope and aspiration.  For that reason, from time to time we send our armed forces to distant lands to secure justice and to plant the seeds of liberty, opportunity, and prosperity, not only for ourselves but also for those who cannot secure these blessings on their own.  To be an American is to look outward upon a world of sickness, violence, tyranny, and injustice, not with detached pity, but with moral resolve and a sober commitment to contest those oppressive forces wherever divine providence might grant us success.

While we have prosecuted the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, brave men and women in our intelligence services have toiled long and hard, well behind enemy lines and in the most dangerous places on earth, to provide us with credible information that we can use in the pursuit of justice.  It is difficult, inexact, and anonymous work, but it is essential and irreplaceable.

This past Sunday evening, acting on information compiled, sifted, integrated, and distilled over these past ten years, a small band of highly skilled, wonderfully trained, and profoundly courageous young men embarked on a covert assignment:  to enter a hardened residence in northern Pakistan by night and capture the United States’ most wanted terrorist, Osama bin Laden.  In the course of that raid, which took less than an hour, bin Laden and several others refused our call to surrender, engaged our forces with lethal weapons, and were killed.  None of our American forces was lost or injured, a remarkable fact for which we are deeply grateful.  We took custody of bin Laden’s body, and after a wide range of tests confirmed his identity beyond any doubt, the United States Navy buried him at sea in full accordance with Islamic traditions and practices.  Our military accorded bin Laden the full dignity that attends human life in any form.

In our gratitude at the safe return of our brave men from this decisive mission, we should not be too quick to rejoice at the death of Osama bin Laden or any of his inner circle.  As the great poet John Donne wrote nearly four centuries ago, “any man’s death diminishes me.”  We have not sought this war against the agents of terror; it has been thrust upon us.  We do not, in the first place, seek to shed the blood of others; we seek only to protect the blood and the freedom of the innocent lives placed in our care.  Nor did we seek vengeance, but rather an opportunity to uphold justice.  I regret the loss of life that attended this mission and ask you, my fellow citizens, to temper your joy with Donne’s sober recognition that we are all “involved in mankinde.”  Justice that requires us to take human life is never a fitting occasion for triumphalism; it is an occasion for introspection, and for a realistic appreciation of how far we have yet to go before we can enjoy the “peaceable kingdom” that Isaiah foretold.

As the temporary custodian of the people’s White House, as Commander-in-Chief of the United States armed forces, and as the successor to the honorable former president George W. Bush, whose foresight prepared the ground for what our young warriors have now achieved, I wish to extend my personal and heartfelt thanks to all of those who have labored so diligently and with such great competence, not only for the last several days and weeks, but since that awful Tuesday morning in 2001 when the new reality of global terrorism made its presence tragically known.

Good night, may God bless America, and may He have mercy on us.

6 Comments leave one →
  1. 5 May 2011 6:48 pm

    A bit wordy for my taste. I would have included only the best of the paragraphs: the one in the spirit of John Donne and added that to what the President said.

    • qb permalink*
      6 May 2011 2:16 pm

      I guess the main effort here was to get BHO off his pathological obsession with himself, of which we have accumulated mountains upon mountains of conclusive, primary evidence in just twenty-eight short months. A healthy sense of self is one thing; Narcissus is quite another. Would it kill him to take the spotlight off himself for a change? Perhaps it would.


      • 6 May 2011 3:46 pm

        Now qb, this ain’t about Obama’s alleged pathological narcissism. Charlie Sheen is a narcissist. It’s really about your flawed politics. Who was it that hoped he would fail? Well, in the matter of Osama bin Laden, he did not. Ad hominem doesn’t change that. Still, the Donne paragraph is excellent.

      • 6 May 2011 7:01 pm

        The hope that BHO woulf fail was not some generalized, amorphous, universal thing; it pertained, and still pertains, to his stated policy agenda, which as many of us foresaw would accelerate our bankruptcy and transform us into a European social democracy hamstrung irreversibly by a new hegemon, the public sector union. OBL was a target of opportunity for which he can claim essentially zero non-derivative credit, and the wish for BHO to fail has no pertinence to such things.

      • 6 May 2011 8:35 pm

        More specifically, it pertained to the political ENACTMENT of his policies. Alas, in vain; he has succeeded far too much, as the economy now shows.

  2. larry permalink
    5 May 2011 7:42 pm

    hear! hear!
    almost like ronaldus maximus said it himself.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: