Osama bin Laden and Ratko Mladic PDF Print E-mail
Monday, 06 June 2011 16:04

On May 1, 2011 Osama bin Laden was killed in an operation that brought an assault team of American SEALS to a compound in Abbottabad not very far from Islamabad, the capital city of Pakistan. The news of his death caused much rejoicing among Americans and others in the world, especially the relatives of the nearly 3000 people killed in the 9/11 tragedy. For many Bin Laden was the face of terrorism which has beset the world over the last decade and which has changed many aspects of our life. If many rejoiced at his death just as many mourned his passing as that of a martyr and a hero. His death has deepened the alienation between those who see him as an evil person and those who admire him; this  will have an impact on world society in the coming months and years.

Before the month of May came to an end, the news of the capture and arrest of Ratko Mladic hit the news media. Though not as well known as Osama bin Laden, Mladic was both loved and hated by many people in the former Yugoslavia. Mladic was a general in the Serbian  army and it is claimed that he was responsible for the killing of nearly 8,000 Muslim men and boys in 1995 in Srebrenica  during the tumultuous time of the breakup of the former Yugoslav Republic. Indicted on genocide charges, he went underground but, like Bin Ladin, he was hiding out in the open. Even as the families of his victims rejoiced at his capture there are those who put up streamers claiming him a hero.

The cases of  bin Laden and Mladic should lead us to ask:  What is the basis for our  admiration of  a person?  I would like to think that we admire a person who epitomizes those traits or characteristics or ways of behaving that our society or culture promotes,  and encourages each one of us to have. But this points out a dilemma.

The jihadist ideology pursued by the admirers of bin Laden brings about the death of  those they consider as enemies, even if the victims have nothing to do with what the jihadists are fighting.  This was the rationale for the 9/11 incident, the London subway bombing, the Bali bombing, the Mumbai attack.  Where is the moral good in all of these?

Mladic carried out the “ethnic cleansing” that his government considered necessary and good, even if the people killed had no fault other than being what they were, members of an ethnic group seen as bad by others. The horrible Ruanda genocidal war was motivated by  the same  warped thinking. Where is the moral good in this?
Simply from humanitarian considerations we have to realize that there is a need to think beyond what is good for self, family,  tribe or even of country.  We have to begin to orient our thinking towards the good for humanity, towards the universal good.  Both bin Ladin and Mladic did what they did for what they believed was the good for the group they represented .  What about those people who are not in the group but yet may not be considered enemies?  We need to search our hearts and souls for the answer. --REMEDIOS F. MARMOLEÑO