President Obama and Legality of Operation Geronimo

The modern world is characterized by the growing terrorist threat that impacts the functioning of states, their laws, military actions and demands potent responses to protect the lives of people. The dramatic events of 11 September 2001 radically changed the global community and thousands of people’s lives in the USA, its approach to protecting the state, and struggling with terrorism. The President was provided with an additional authority to legalize the use of force as self-defense to avoid casualties or critical damage done to the infrastructure of other strategically important objects. The events that are observed today, such as the rise of ISIS and serious threat, prove the necessity of such decisions; however, there are still many debates about Obama’s decision to use force and order Operation Geronimo. From the legal perspective, he had the legal authority to execute the plan.

Operation Geronimo is known as a strategic military operation resulting in the elimination of Osama bin Laden. The person was traditionally associated with Al Qaeda, a group responsible for the 11 September terrorist acts and considered its leader. Fort this reason, the decision to find and kill Osama bin Laden was accepted by the government of the USA. The complexity of the military operation was preconditioned by the fact that the US special troops had to act on the territory of another land (Schaller, 2015).

It demanded the high relevance of information about the target’s location, the improved skills to attack it and to move secretly to avoid contacts with local governmental forces. In such a way, the US Special Forces managed to find and kill Osama bin Laden in Abbottabad, Pakistan (Schaller, 2015). However, this operation gives rise to multiple debates regarding the right to use force in this way.

Justifying the President’s position, it is possible to appeal to the existence of a regulation allowing him to use force against individuals who might be dangerous to a state and plan a new attack presupposing severe devastations and victims. This change was introduced after September 11, 2001, to protect the USA from future attacks. Moreover, the authorization to use force can be viewed regarding one of the fundamental rights of a nation to self-defense, which is accepted by the UN (Savage, 2015). Moreover, NATO members also acknowledged the critical importance of the given change in the legislation to provide the President with more authority needed to guarantee safety to all citizens. In such a way, analyzing the situation from the perspective of international law, Obama’s actions can be viewed as reasonable, logical, and justified.

Moreover, analyzing the case, it is possible to admit the fact that the most effective scenario presupposing no damage to civilians or objects of infrastructure was chosen. Although there was a less risky plan to bomb the area and kill Osama bin Laden, it was rejected because it would violate the international laws. First, other innocent people might be killed as a result of using bombs; second, serious harm could be done to the area, meaning that Pakistan’s interests would be ignored and hurt (Schaller, 2015). For this reason, acting in terms of the legal authority provided by the Senate, Obama selected the strategy regarding the right to use force against individuals who planed or performed terrorist attacks against the USA (Schaller, 2015). The military operation helped to resolve legal issues and avoid claims about damaging the property of other nations.

At the same time, by acting in this way, Obama also tried to protect the USA and the lives of its citizens. One of the main causes for the use of force is to prevent new damage by a person who is already known for previous attacks or maleficent actions aimed at the destabilization of the situation and casualties (Savage, 2015). Because Osama bin Laden was known as one of Al Qaeda’s leaders, the probability of new attacks planned by him was high. Moreover, the President used the information provided by the Intelligence Service about the location and plans of the terrorist (Savage, 2015). For this reason, the use of force and Operation Geronimo can be viewed as legal ones and appropriate actions to counter terrorism.

Finally, speaking about Obama’s actions, it is possible to mention the emotional aspect of this decision. The nation suffered an unexperienced terrorist act that killed hundreds of people, injured them, and ruined their lives. For this reason, the majority of US citizens demanded punishment for a terrorist responsible for the tragedy. As far as the laws of the USA provide the President with an opportunity to order such operations and actions, finding and killing Osama bin Laden can be viewed as the act of justice performed in accordance with the US legislation. The impossibility of delivering the criminal to the state impacted the choice of strategy and tools to enforce a sentence.

However, there is an opposite opinion on Operation Geronimo. Its opponents state as it contradicted international laws. First of all, it failed to respect the territorial sovereignty of Pakistan as the US troops entered its lands without any approval or allowance. Second, the assassination of bin Laden cannot be accepted by the international humanitarian law as there is no official armed conflict between the USA and Al Qaeda (Ambos & Alkatout, 2012). Moreover, his killing can be lawful if he personally took part in some terrorist acts of hostilities (Ambos & Alkatout, 2012). In such a way, Operation Geronimo can be viewed as an abuse of force by the USA and extrajudicial execution (Ambos & Alkatout, 2012). For this reason, such actions are unacceptable at the international level.

However, this position can be refuted by the fact that Al Qaeda has been designated as a terrorist formation dangerous for nations because of the use of violent methods to convey its messages (Schaller, 2015). Moreover, it remains responsible for the terrorist act on September 11, 2001. In such a way, the idea that there is no conflict between the group and the USA is irrelevant. Moreover, his execution was accepted by the current laws, meaning that the given claim cannot be applied to the situation (Savage, 2015). Finally, the territory of Pakistan was not damaged, and its citizens did not suffer from the operation.

In such a way, Operation Geronimo remains a contradictory theme because of the complexity of international relations and laws. However, from the perspective of the US legislation and the right for self-defense, Obama had the legal authority to execute the plan as the Senate provided him with it. For this reason, the successful operation can be viewed as a response to the terror organized by Osama bin Laden and a part of the anti-terrorist strategy employed by the state.


Ambos, K., & Alkatout, J. (2012). Has ‘justice been done’? The legality of Bin Laden’s killing under international law. Israel Law Review, 45(2), 341-366. Web.

Savage, C. (2015). How 4 Federal lawyers paved the way to kill Osama bin Laden. The New York Times. Web.

Schaller, C. (2015). Using force against terrorists ‘outside areas of active hostilities’—the Obama approach and the Bin Laden raid revisited. Journal of Conflict and Security Law, 20(2), 195-227. Web.

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