FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

Twisted Value Judgments

by JUSTIN DOOLITTLE

Senator Lindsey Graham, the most radical authoritarian in the radically authoritarian U.S. Senate, has introduced a legislative measure that would impose trade sanctions on any country that offers asylum to NSA leaker Edward Snowden. The amendment was approved unanimously by the Senate Appropriations Committee and will no doubt become law (at least in some form).

As the Washington Post report points out, Graham asserts, on no evidence, that Snowden’s revelations have had “incredibly disturbing” implications for national security. This in itself is not particularly interesting. Graham is a proven liar and a dedicated authoritarian whose mission in life is to expand the Security State in order to stop the mythical Terrorists who continue to haunt his dreams at night nearly a dozen years after 9/11. There is virtually no punitive action against Snowden, including assassination, that Graham would conceivably oppose. And, of course, any government that does not hand this monster back to the U.S. government so he can be locked in a cage for several decades is clearly siding with Terrorists, or something, and must be punished accordingly.

It is instructive, though, to consider this in the larger context of U.S. sanctions over the course of recent history. It’s always refreshing when the U.S. government explicitly reveals its priorities – what it considers to be manifestly harmful to American interests and deserving of sanctions (not “crippling sanctions,” mind you: those are reserved for the unique evil of the Persian Menace) and what it does not. Most Democrats and Republicans throughout the U.S. government will certainly support some kind of sanctions regime for whatever luckless country ends up committing the unspeakable crime of offering Edward Snowden asylum. That’s the crime, here, remember: providing a safe place to live for a young man whose actions have not, to anyone’s knowledge, caused any appreciable harm to anyone, and who inspired millions of people around the world with courage in standing up to the world’s most powerful government.

Let’s rewind back to May 31, 2010. On that day, barely remembered now, Israeli naval commandos boarded the Mavi Marmara, better known as the Gaza Freedom Flotilla, a Turkish ship carrying aid to the impoverished souls of the Gaza Strip. Savage violence ensued, with the commandos murdering nine activists, including one dual U.S.-Turkish citizen by the name of Furkan Dogan. Dogan, who was unarmed, was shot five times. Ali Yunusoalu, a friend of Dogan’s who was on the ship at the time, said the soldiers just “started shooting and bombing” and that Dogan “ran everywhere” before finally getting shot, including once in the forehead at point-blank range.

No high-ranking U.S. officials even cared enough to offer a pretense of outrage over a foreign state executing an American citizen. The U.S. response was even more muted than it was the previous time Israel murdered an American citizen, in 2003, when the IDF bulldozed an activist by the name of Rachel Corrie to death for no discernible reason. After that, at least there were a few U.S. officials who went through the motions, with meek calls for investigations and phony expressions of concern. After the flotilla incident, though, no one even bothered. Not only was there no outrage, not only was aid to Israel not even threatened, not only were sanctions not imposed, but the U.S. government exhibited far greater concern over the nonexistent Terrorist ties of the activists on board the ship than over the senseless murder of a U.S. citizen. The manic and obsessive quest to root out Terrorism, real and imagined, across every inch of the Earth would not be derailed by the mere point-blank execution of Furkan Dogan.

Comparing the U.S.’s reaction to these two situations is quite revealing. One possible objection to this analogy is that sheltering Snowden represents an (ostensibly) ongoing offense on which some government might be forced to relent under the pressure of sanctions, as opposed to the flotilla murder, an isolated incident, over which sanctions could serve no meaningful purpose other than the exertion of retributive punishment. This ignores the fact that Israel’s attack on the flotilla, and subsequent murders, was not just some random incident that took place in a vacuum. It happened in the context of Israel’s illegal and morally abominable blockade of the Gaza Strip, which is now in its sixth year and continues to cause massive suffering, having created what Noam Chomsky calls “the world’s largest prison.” And this blockade, of course, is part of an even broader context, namely, Israel’s brutal, multi-faceted criminal mistreatment of Palestinians over the past half-century. No one can reasonably deny that Israel’s war against the Palestinian people has served to increase terrorism and violence around the world and stir hatred and resentment against Israel’s #1 ally and benefactor, namely, the United States. The flotilla attack was just one of a seemingly endless line of atrocities committed by Israel that have harmed U.S. security and favorability around the world.

Furthermore, Israel, under Netanyahu, has defied and ignored the U.S. at will. All the conditions would seem to be in place for sanctions against Israel. But don’t suggest this in polite society. You will be met with shock and confusion and you might be taken in for an immediate psychological evaluation. That offering asylum to Edward Snowden is a more egregious offense against the United States than actually murdering an American citizen is just a self-evident truism in this Post-9/11 World.

Justin Doolittle writes a political blog called Crimethink. He has an M.A. in public policy from Stony Brook University and a B.A. in political science from Coastal Carolina University.

More articles by:

Justin Doolittle is a freelance writer based in Long Island, New York. You can follow him on Twitter @JD1871.

Weekend Edition
February 23, 2018
Friday - Sunday
Richard D. Wolff
Capitalism as Obstacle to Equality and Democracy: the US Story
Paul Street
Where’s the Beef Stroganoff? Eight Sacrilegious Reflections on Russiagate
Jeffrey St. Clair
They Came, They Saw, They Tweeted
Andrew Levine
Their Meddlers and Ours
Charles Pierson
Nuclear Nonproliferation, American Style
Joseph Essertier
Why Japan’s Ultranationalists Hate the Olympic Truce
W. T. Whitney
US and Allies Look to Military Intervention in Venezuela
John Laforge
Maybe All Threats of Mass Destruction are “Mentally Deranged”
Matthew Stevenson
Why Vietnam Still Matters: an American Reckoning
David Rosen
For Some Reason, Being White Still Matters
Robert Fantina
Nikki Haley: the U.S. Embarrassment at the United Nations
Joyce Nelson
Why Mueller’s Indictments Are Hugely Important
Joshua Frank
Pearl Jam, Will You Help Stop Sen. Tester From Destroying Montana’s Public Lands?
Dana E. Abizaid
The Attack on Historical Perspective
Conn Hallinan
Immigration and the Italian Elections
George Ochenski
The Great Danger of Anthropocentricity
Pete Dolack
China Can’t Save Capitalism from Environmental Destruction
Joseph Natoli
Broken Lives
Manuel García, Jr.
Why Did Russia Vote For Trump?
Geoff Dutton
One Regime to Rule Them All
Torkil Lauesen – Gabriel Kuhn
Radical Theory and Academia: a Thorny Relationship
Wilfred Burchett
Vietnam Will Win: The Work of Persuasion
Thomas Klikauer
Umberto Eco and Germany’s New Fascism
George Burchett
La Folie Des Grandeurs
Howard Lisnoff
Minister of War
Eileen Appelbaum
Why Trump’s Plan Won’t Solve the Problems of America’s Crumbling Infrastructure
Ramzy Baroud
More Than a Fight over Couscous: Why the Palestinian Narrative Must Be Embraced
Jill Richardson
Mass Shootings Shouldn’t Be the Only Time We Talk About Mental Illness
Jessicah Pierre
Racism is Killing African American Mothers
Steve Horn
Wyoming Now Third State to Propose ALEC Bill Cracking Down on Pipeline Protests
David Griscom
When ‘Fake News’ is Good For Business
Barton Kunstler
Brainwashed Nation
Griffin Bird
I’m an Eagle Scout and I Don’t Want Pipelines in My Wilderness
Edward Curtin
The Coming Wars to End All Wars
Missy Comley Beattie
Message To New Activists
Jonah Raskin
Literary Hubbub in Sonoma: Novel about Mrs. Jack London Roils the Faithful
Binoy Kampmark
Frontiersman of the Internet: John Perry Barlow
Chelli Stanley
The Mirrors of Palestine
James McEnteer
How Brexit Won World War Two
Ralph Nader
Absorbing the Irresistible Consumer Reports Magazine
Cesar Chelala
A Word I Shouldn’t Use
Louis Proyect
Marx at the Movies
Osha Neumann
A White Guy Watches “The Black Panther”
Stephen Cooper
Rebel Talk with Nattali Rize: the Interview
David Yearsley
Market Music
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail