FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

Obama Administration Calmly Debates Killing More Americans

by JASON HIRTHLER

The critical reader could be forgiven for feeling like he or she had stepped into a surreal universe while reading The New York Times on Tuesday? When he read, in a demure column on the left-hand side, that the U.S. was debating slaughtering another American by drone strike. And that this “debate” was occurring in the hallowed halls of justice where according to the U.S. Constitution our duly elected leaders shoulder the not inconsiderable burden of ensuring not only our safety, but also our recourse to a fair trial should we fall foul of the law. That before we are tossed into that mixer of ruinous injustice known as the American penal system, our accusers must bring clear evidence before impartial judges. Evidence of our calumnies and crimes. Of our guilt.

A critical reader may have noticed that this debate was uniformed by any of the above considerations. That in fact it had moved beyond such thorny legal puzzles to more forthright questions such as which branch of the government ought to do the slaughtering. One envisions our suave and insuperable President bent in the thinking man’s pose in a chair before assembled military chiefs, their jowly faces and watery eyes lending a providential gravity to their badges and epaulettes. Settled on their haunches, their consciences unfettered, they listen to the Decider-in-Chief describe his preference that the Pentagon, and not his personal executive paramilitary (CIA), conduct strikes against Americans. Better for transparency, it is said to be. Although transparency must not a high priority, considering none but the brave are privy to the supposedly classified evidence that the American in question and in Pakistan is actually guilty of plotting against his own country. Not that the existence of the evidence alone would merit a sudden strike without a court ruling. But we digress.

Set aside the Constitution for minute. Shelve the U.N. Charter for a second. Lay down your human rights manifestoes that Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch have suggested may indicate our drone strikes are war crimes. Put down your humanitarian legal tomes and your laws of armed conflict. Close the Geneva Conventions and that dusty World Court charter. Put aside even the President’s own protocols for such strikes.

Just listen to the chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, Mike Rogers, fulminate about how all this “self-imposed red tape” and judicious deliberation over whom should do the killing is “endangering Americans at home and our military overseas.” Indeed, Rogers salivates, these “individuals” (terrorists) would otherwise have already been “removed” (slaughtered) from the battlefield, perhaps keeping safe the fine folks of Michigan (alarmed) whom Rogers proudly represents (poorly). Notice how Pakistan is a “battlefield” though no war has been declared against this once-sovereign state. Note how these individuals were to be liquated for “plotting to attack U.S. interests” abroad, and that even as the battlefield is now global, so too are our interests, which may include a petroleum field beneath some godforsaken Bedouin camp, or a cabal of disheveled insurgents fighting to rid their country of U.S. paramilitaries.

Surely, though, the unnamed threats espoused by the President, without foresight, by Intelligence Chief James Clapper, without proof, and by Mr. Rogers, without sense, take precedence over decades of finely calibrated international law? Law designed to protect weak from strong and defenseless from militant? Surely it is better to err on the side of paranoia than peace? We must prize security above all. Once this oft-repeated maxim of the mass mind surfaces in one’s head, it soothes one’s fears that we might indeed be living in a parallel universe, one where we seem to celebrate the very things we despise, namely peace and justice and the sanctity of law.

For just a disorienting moment, though, it appeared that we lived in such a place. A world where a Pakistani man whose son is vaporized by an American drone and who demands a reckoning from the local CIA station chief, is first denied a hearing, then abducted for his persistence. Where this criminally complicit station chief is hustled out of the country at first light and furrowed away in that dense haystack of military bureaucracy. A world in which the executive supervisor of a global assassination program—conducted by airborne robots manned by field officers in Las Vegas La-Z-Boys—is able to publicly flout the law of his land and mistake policy for legislation. A world where anti-frackers are surveilled alongside anti-capitalists, and animal-rights activist and environmentalists strike fear into the hearts of the FBI. Even as our drone program inordinately slaughters civilians and produces, according to former military general Stanley McChrystal, 10  terrorists for every innocent slain.

One feels like Candide traveling alongside Dr. Pangloss, inundated by the philosopher’s implacably optimistic and purblind interpretations of the world before him, with its crumbling walls and quaking vistas, its meaningless sheaves of jurisprudence, its fetors of human decay, its rhetors and their high-flown certainties. But then you recall that most of what you read in the Times is just a clever fiction anyway, sometimes even worthy of a Voltaire.

Jason Hirthler is a veteran of the communications industry. He lives and works in New York City and can be reached at jasonhirthler@gmail.com.

 

More articles by:

Jason Hirthler is a veteran of the communications industry and author of The Sins of Empire: Unmasking American Imperialism. He lives in New York City and can be reached at jasonhirthler@gmail.com.

November 23, 2017
Kenneth Surin
Discussing Trump Abroad
Jay Moore
The Failure of Reconstruction and Its Consequences
Jeffrey St. Clair - Alexander Cockburn
Trout and Ethnic Cleansing
John W. Whitehead
Don’t Just Give Thanks, Pay It Forward One Act of Kindness at a Time
Chris Zinda
Zinke’s Reorganization of the BLM Will Continue Killing Babies
David Krieger
Progress Toward Nuclear Weapons Abolition
Rick Baum
While Public Education is Being Attacked: An American Federation of Teachers Petition Focuses on Maintaining a Minor Tax Break
Paul C. Bermanzohn
The As-If Society
Cole A. Turner
Go Away, Kevin Spacey
Ramzy Baroud
70 Years of Broken Promises: The Untold Story of the Partition Plan
Binoy Kampmark
A New Movement of Rights and the Right in Australia
George Ochenski
Democratic Party: Discouraged, Disgusted, Dysfunctional
Nino Pagliccia
The Governorship Elections in Venezuela: an Interview With Arnold August
Christopher Ketcham
Spanksgiving Day Poem
November 22, 2017
Jonathan Cook
Syria, ‘Experts’ and George Monbiot
William Kaufman
The Great American Sex Panic of 2017
Richard Moser
Young Patriots, Black Panthers and the Rainbow Coalition
Robert Hunziker
Fukushima Darkness
Lee Artz
Cuba Libre, 2017
Mark Weisbrot
Mass Starvation and an Unconstitutional War: US / Saudi Crimes in Yemen
Frank Stricker
Republican Tax Cuts: You’re Right, They’re Not About Economic Growth or Lifting Working-Class Incomes
Edward Hunt
Reconciling With Extremists in Afghanistan
Dave Lindorff
Remembering Media Critic Ed Herman
Nick Pemberton
What to do About Al Franken?
November 21, 2017
Gregory Elich
What is Behind the Military Coup in Zimbabwe?
Louisa Willcox
Rising Grizzly Bear Deaths Raise Red Flag About Delisting
David Macaray
My Encounter With Charles Manson
Patrick Cockburn
The Greatest Threats to the Middle East are Jared Kushner and Mohammed bin Salman
Stephen Corry
OECD Fails to Recognize WWF Conservation Abuses
James Rothenberg
We All Know the Rich Don’t Need Tax Cuts
Elizabeth Keyes
Let There be a Benign Reason For Someone to be Crawling Through My Window at 3AM!
L. Ali Khan
The Merchant of Weapons
Thomas Knapp
How to Stop a Rogue President From Ordering a Nuclear First Strike
Lee Ballinger
Trump v. Marshawn Lynch
Michael Eisenscher
Donald Trump, Congress, and War with North Korea
Tom H. Hastings
Reckless
Franklin Lamb
Will Lebanon’s Economy Be Crippled?
Linn Washington Jr.
Forced Anthem Adherence Antithetical to Justice
Nicolas J S Davies
Why Do Civilians Become Combatants In Wars Against America?
November 20, 2017
T.J. Coles
Doomsday Scenarios: the UK’s Hair-Raising Admissions About the Prospect of Nuclear War and Accident
Peter Linebaugh
On the 800th Anniversary of the Charter of the Forest
Patrick Bond
Zimbabwe Witnessing an Elite Transition as Economic Meltdown Looms
Sheldon Richman
Assertions, Facts and CNN
Ben Debney
Plebiscites: Why Stop at One?
LV Filson
Yemen’s Collective Starvation: Where Money Can’t Buy Food, Water or Medicine
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail