The Labour candidate for Mayor... said upholding the principles of justice and democracy had been critical to the western response after World War Two.
The same principles should have applied to bin Laden, who was shot dead in a raid by US Navy Seals in Pakistan last May.
"I was appalled to see Osama bin Laden in his pyjamas shot dead in front of his kid," Mr Livingstone said. "The best way to demonstrate the values of a western democracy is you put Osama bin Laden on trial, you challenge what he says. My parents' generation gave the best years of their lives to establish these values. We should never erode them."
I blogged my own viewpoint on this question last May and will not repeat the exercise. But I'm interested in the contrast invoked here by Livingstone: between the good war of yesteryear - 'gave the best years of their lives to establish these values' - and the bad practice of today, as exemplified by the shooting of bin Laden.
I have no intention, for my own part, of quarreling with the goodness ascribed by Livingstone to WWII. I'd be happy to agree that it was the goodest of all good wars, seeing that had it been lost it is hard to know what the extent would have been of the further horrors of National Socialist barbarism. But still, what a phony contrast Livingstone makes. Does he not know of the various badnesses perpetrated on the Allied side in pursuit of victory against Germany and Japan? Think of the bombing of Dresden and other German cities, killing and injuring hundreds of thousands of civilians; the incineration of so many of the inhabitants of Hiroshima and Nagasaki; the fact that the war was fought in alliance with Stalinist Russia, its record of human rights depravity at the time second only to Hitler's; the summary execution of German guards and soldiers by US forces liberating Dachau concentration camp; and so on. Livingstone can lament the killing of Osama bin Laden all he wants, if he wants. But the suggestion that that act somehow damns those who ordered it relative to the record of his parents' generation is a historical joke. Whatever one might think about the justification or otherwise for the Allied actions I've listed above, by today's standards they were certainly war crimes.
The real point of Livingstone's comparison, of course, is not historical accuracy about the past; it's embellishing that past in order to imply a slippage of standards on 'our' side, as compared with 1939-45. And that is - to speak frankly - bullshit.