Live

Watch CBSN Live

British views on Bin Laden's death

Is it ever right to celebrate a death? I ask the question because many people over here, and not just the Archbishop of Canterbury, felt just a little uncomfortable watching jubilant crowds across the US cheering the killing of Osama Bin Laden. It's not that we didn't welcome his end. We did. He was our enemy too. 9/11 may have been an attack on American soil but many British and other European citizens died there, as have so many of our soldiers in Afghanistan and Iraq. We're not squeamish about hitting our enemies hard. But if it had been British rather than American special forces who had killed Bin Laden I doubt if we would have seen the same celebrations here in London. The last time I can remember anything that came close was almost thirty years ago when our navy had retaken the Falkland Islands, or Malvinas, from Argentina. But even then a significant section of the population was reluctant to cheer too loudly. Mrs. Thatcher famously told journalists they should 'Rejoice!' rather than ask difficult questions about whether more casualties could have been avoided. It may be because we don't go in for retributive justice in quite the same way as you. The last time we executed anybody was in 1964. We don't extradite people to other countries if they might face the death penalty, and in practice that often means the United States. Or perhaps we're just less demonstrative. It takes a Royal Wedding to get huge crowds out onto the streets over here. No, I think it's that while we recognize that death and destruction is an inevitable consequence of war, and while we are content to see justice meted out however brutally, it's still regrettable. Don't get me wrong. This isn't a criticism of all those Americans who gave vent to genuine feelings of relief and joy this week. It was a truly courageous and brilliantly successful military operation. So with characteristically British understatement let me just say what I think many people here thought. Well Done. Now let's get back to the job we undertook together. To make the world less violent, less dangerous and more just wherever we have the power to do so. This is Lance Price for CBS News in London.

View CBS News In
CBS News App Open
Chrome Safari Continue