Was the killing of Osama bin Laden justified? Perhaps it's a rather useless question, since he is now most certainly dead. But despite their distance in time and space, some recollections insist on recurring, right next to terrible images of those two planes and the huge buildings collapsing in New York 10 years ago.
Yes, I still think about that Cuban plane which exploded on October 6, 1976, in the Caribbean, killing the five crew members and all 73 passengers, including the entire champion fencing team of Cuba, many of whom were teenagers. All four men directly responsible for this horror had ties to the CIA which, it was later revealed, knew of the bombing in advance.
Then I must go back to an event 15 years earlier, in April 1961, when an attack unit, armed, trained, financed and transported by the CIA, after destroying many Cuban airplanes on the ground, invaded the so-called Bay of Pigs in the south of that country. Perhaps as many as 4,000 Cubans were killed while fighting off the attack.
Those mainly responsible for the Bay of Pigs invasion, then CIA Director Allen Dulles and two presidents who approved the action, Eisenhower and Kennedy, are no longer alive.
But I learned as a kid that "sauce for the goose is sauce for the gander." Wouldn't Cuba have been justified (or still be justified today) in "taking out" the organizers of the plane bombing - Luis Posada Carriles and Orlando Bosch Avila - by sending in a Cuban equivalent of SEAL Team 6?
The two were never holed up in some cave or secret mansion but have been enjoying carefree lives in Florida, with court decisions preventing their extradition to Venezuela, where they were once sentenced, or to Cuba where, it was said, they "might be tortured." (This time the reference was not to the U.S. Army base at Guantanamo.)
Posada Carriles, after being acquitted of minor immigration violations, is completely free. Bosch, referred to years ago by a U.S. expert as "one of the deadliest terrorists in the hemisphere," was officially amnestied years ago by - guess who - President George H.W. Bush, who just happened to be CIA Director at the time of the plane bombing.
The thought is mind-boggling! Would Cuba be justified in sending some kind of helicopter over to Washington to "take out" the top people responsible for such Cuban events? Let's not even think of Chile, Congo, Vietnam, Grenada, Iraq, Afghanistan or all the others.
What is clearly needed is a better definition of terrorism and terrorists, and how to treat them. I personally am against killing anyone - not Osama bin Laden and certainly not George H.W. Bush or anyone from his family.
But a short epilogue is necessary. Orlando Bosch, it seems, has just died peacefully in Florida, four days before his famous fellow terrorist was shot dead in Pakistan.
Meanwhile, five Cuban men who had been in Florida trying to discover when and where the Miami-based "freedom fighters" might next strike against their country, and thus to prevent such strikes, are serving life sentences in five different maximum security penitentiaries in the USA (in one case, "only" 75 years). No one can really explain why. But the current president has not responded to pleas that he fight his war on terror by freeing these obvious anti-terrorists.
I should add that I am glad the racist right-wingers who love to smash the U.S. president by calling him a "Muslim friend of terrorists" (or else a socialist and communist) have become much quieter as of late, at least for a while. That is a good thing. But the questions remain: What is terrorism? Who are terrorists? And how does one best oppose them?
Photo: Courtesy of Wikipedia.