The legality of Operation Geronimo and killing the leader of the terrorist organization Al-Qaeda – Osama bin Laden in Pakistan in 2011 remains debatable in terms of liberal democracy. It can be viewed as a violation of fundamental human rights and sovereignty or justice for multiple crimes committed by the terrorist. Therefore, President Obama was legally justified in executing Operation Geronimo regarding US law. It was also explained by the ongoing conflict between the country and Al-Qaeda. Public opinion was entirely on the side of the President and military forces’ actions. However, the United Nations and Human Rights Watch expressed concerns in possible violation of international law.
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From the perspective of American law, the killing of Bin Laden was fully justified. Beforehand, after the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, the US Congress adopted the Authorization for Use of Military Force (De Vogue, 2011). This act allowed the US President to use all reasonable and necessary force against those states, organizations or individuals, participating in the 9/11 attacks (De Vogue, 2011). Thus, the Obama administration justified the use of force based on this resolution and international law, enshrined in treaties and the laws of war.
Moreover, legality was justified by John Bellinger, a senior attorney at the US State Department. He claimed that these actions were not forbidden by “the long-standing assassination prohibition in executive order 12333” (Bowcott, 2011). As a result, Operation Geronimo was regarded as a legitimate military action concerning the ongoing conflict between the US and al-Qaeda (Bowcott, 2011). It also could be recognized as an opposing force in terms of killing specific leaders.
Concerning public opinion, the nation celebrated the success of Operation Geronimo. In American society, Bin Laden was perceived as evil; therefore, Obama presented Laden’s death as a triumph and retribution (Cox & Wood, 2016). According to Cox and Wood (2016), the PresidentPresident distinguished revenge and justice; the latter was explained by accusing Bin Laden of killing thousands of Americans. Hence, Obama delivered a speech focusing on a national security topic.
However, regarding global reaction, the operation can be identified as a violation of the country’s sovereignty and international law. The UN Charter enables a foreign government to conduct a military operation on the territory of another state (Hameed, 2016). It is not prohibited in case that country is not capable and ready to deal with the problem (Hameed, 2016). Nevertheless, the reaction of Pakistan was definitive, claiming that it was a mainly illegal action. Despite the fact that the opinions in the UN were divided, the representatives argued that the US provided an opportunity to Bin Laden to surrender, but he refused to take the responsibility (Hameed, 2016). Thus, the killing of terrorists can be sanctioned as legal action from the perspective of preventing potential terrorist attacks.
To sum up, the United States conducted Operation Geronimo that killed Osama bin Laden, who was responsible for the terrorist attacks against thousands of innocent people. The American nation and law legally justified the action of President Barack Obama. The international community’s reaction was not transparent; however, it approved the killing of Osama bin Laden by the US military. Even though this act could be acknowledged as violating international law by infringing Pakistan’s sovereignty, the elimination of bin Laden was a huge success not only for the United States but for the whole world.
Bowcott, O. (2011). Osama bin Laden: US responds to questions about killing’s legality. The Guardian. Web.
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Cox, L., & Wood, S. (2016). “Got him”: Revenge, emotions, and the killing of Osama bin Laden.” Review of International Studies, 43(1), 112–129. Web.
De Vogue, A. (2011). Was killing of Osama bin Laden legal under international law? ABS News. Web.
Hameed, H. T. (2016), “The applicable international law regimes to the killing of Osama bin Laden by the United States.” Journal of College of Law for Legal and Political Sciences, 5(17), 638-664.