Kenny v Obama

On Monday morning I woke around 4.20am it was cold and i got up to check my daughter was warm enough. I returned to bed as noted through my hazy sleep that the ladies on radio4/ the world service, were very fivelive-y. throwing to interviews, everything was pacy and punchy. I didn’t get the reason. I listened though and remembered them throwing live to Barack Obama in the white House, apparently, about Osama Bin Laden being dead. I listened hard. I heard the statement it struck me his delivery, his style, his authoritative voice, but his embodiment of the decision as his. I was impressed with his delivery of the news.

Over the last few years there has been two massive yet comparable terrorism decisions. One taken the other night by the American government and one taken by the Scottish Government. As I thought about the statement Obama made, the more I was disturbed by it. The more it seemed to jar with the the Statement of Kenny MacAskill.


Lokerbie Decision on the Scottish government website
Vs text of Bin Laden decision from BBC website
I vs We
Obamas speech is peppered with reasoning residing firmly in the “I”, not the subject of the decision being taken ” i take the decision”, but in regarding the reasoning for the decisions,

“And so shortly after taking office, I directed Leon Panetta, the director of the CIA, to make the killing or capture of Bin Laden the top priority of our war against al-Qaeda, even as we continued our broader efforts to disrupt, dismantle, and defeat his network.”

Over the years, I’ve repeatedly made clear that we would take action within Pakistan if we knew where Bin Laden was. That is what we’ve done.

Now I understand there is an election coming up in America, and politically, President Obama can really kick start a campaign with news like this. It makes him look strong. makes him look determined and says to the conservative right (of the middle ground) that voting for him will get things done. But it really jarred with me.

When Kenny MacAskill gives the key reasoning. He talks of Scotland, what it is, what it can be and what it would like to be.I don’t regularly vote for the SNP, but i liked the Scotland I heard described. It was aspirational, no just for scotland, but for what justice was and how it could be carried out.

In Scotland, we are a people who pride ourselves on our humanity. It is viewed as a defining characteristic of Scotland and the Scottish people. The perpetration of an atrocity and outrage cannot and should not be a basis for losing sight of who we are, the values we seek to uphold, and the faith and beliefs by which we seek to live.

Our justice system demands that judgment be imposed but compassion be available. Our beliefs dictate that justice be served, but mercy be shown. Compassion and mercy are about upholding the beliefs that we seek to live by, remaining true to our values as a people. No matter the severity of the provocation or the atrocity perpetrated.

I like that i live in a country where our elected officials can made decisions based on what the country can be, should be, and is.
I like that justice can be aspirational. The Scotland Mr MacAskill described is the Scotland I believe in and want to live in.
I think on balance I like our approach better.

What a contrast between Obama’s inspirational “Yes we can”, campaign to become president and the presidential reality of shooting a wanted terrorist, in an secret operation in a foreign country, to get revenge.