President Obama was interviewed by Steve Kroft on CBS’ “60 Minutes”. Kroft was respectful of Obama and let him fully answer every question, most were about the recent killing of Osama bin Laden. Kroft’s questions weren’t very sharp or demanding. He lightly touched on the sacrifices made in capturing bin Laden, but didn’t grill the president over the massive number of civilian deaths in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Pakistan (from drone attacks, specifically). At the end of the interview, Obama said: ” — and I think that anyone who would question that the perpetrator of mass murder on American soil didn’t deserve what he got needs to have their head examined.” (watch the interview here)
I watched the interview on my computer, and this last statement of Obama’s (before that ominous ticking sound signaled the end of “60 Minutes”) made me stand up and shout, O, the hypocrisy. I know most people can get used to the contradictions about what a terrorist is and how 3000 dead American civilians is far worse than 300,000 dead Middle Eastern civilians, but I am afraid I will get furious every time I hear that hypocrisy.
Let’s closely examine Obama’s final phrase of the interview. “The perpetrator of mass murder” is Osama bin Laden, and Obama’s right, Osama is a perpetrator of mass murder. He was backed into a corner of the world, and from there he attacked the greatest power on earth — the USA. I’m not questioning the ethical stance of Osama bin Laden. He is a mass murderer. Roughly 3000 on 9/11, and a few thousand more (possibly) scattered in much smaller attacks around the world.
But let’s look at another mass murderer. We had a president who invaded Iraq on very little (and very false) evidence that Saddam Hussein was harboring and aiding terrorists. There have been at least (at least) 200,000 dead Iraqis (many of them women and children) because of the U.S. invasion. Can the people of America really buy that those deaths aren’t murder? Even if we call those dead Iraqis casualties of war, is that still acceptable? And the invasion of Iraq wasn’t even a war. It was an invasion. Even Iraqis (those dogs!) don’t enjoy having their marketplaces, mosques, villages, and wedding receptions blown up, shot up, and invaded. Is not George W. Bush a perpetrator of mass murder? Of course he is. How can we kid ourselves any longer? He was the commander-in-chief. He plotted the invasion, and he kept his army invading, despite the ugliness that ensued. GW Bush is no different than Osama bin Laden, except the former wears cowboy boots and kills on a scale tenfold to what the latter does.
What about Barack Obama? Does he need to have his head screwed on straight? Isn’t he a psycho killer also? Obama weaned us off the Iraq war (it still isn’t over, but it’s quieted down some, although we still have 50,000 soldiers stationed there), but he’s escalated the drone program and haunted Pakistan for the past year with constant drone attacks. Those attacks have killed more civilians than terrorists. Drone attacks are messy at best (but freedom isn’t tidy, as the war criminal, Donald Rumsfeld said before the invasion of Iraq). The U.S. gets a location of a possible terrorist, Obama sends in the drones, and those manless machines bomb that area, killing anyone who happens to be there. A terrorist killed, maybe, and a whole lot of other people.
Collateral Damage. Hey, it’s going to happen.
It’s like China trying to covertly take out GW Bush while he’s shopping at an upscale mall in Texas. They send in two heavy missiles, they get their man, and they get everybody else unfortunate enough to be there at the same time. How is that not terrorism? Well, it is terrorism if China is doing it, or any other country than the USA.
What about the 9 Afghani boys collecting firewood and getting slaughtered by a U.S. helicopter? How is that OK? The U.S. apologized for it, as if it only happened once, and hadn’t been happening since 2001, since the first invasion of Afghanistan. Why shouldn’t we ask for Obama’s head to be examined? Why aren’t more people questioning the killing spree this country has been on since the 9/11 attacks? This country truly acts like a death metal song. Seek and destroy. Fight fire with fire. Reaping death. Reign in blood. You might think that’s melodramatic, but it isn’t. Pay attention, look at the statistics. Barack Obama didn’t say anything in the interview about the moral issues of invading Iraq. He didn’t say anything about closure for the hundreds of thousands of bereaved families left in the destructive wake of the many invasions of the U.S.
Even American citizens aren’t safe
Obama recently unleashed a drone attack in Yemen, aimed at the American-born Muslim cleric, Anwar al-Awlaki. There are at least four Americans on Obama’s Kill List, ready to be taken out in a moment’s notice. Luckily for Awlaki, the drone attack missed (which happens often with drone attacks) and killed two other people. Obama said he wasn’t going to spike the football by releasing the pictures of a dead Osama bin Laden, but it seems he’s going to try to run up the score on the war on terror. Keep in mind, al-Awlaki has not been charged or convicted of anything. He’s been perceived as a threat to the U.S., and that is now enough to destroy him.
What kind of system of ethics is this? In what kind of twisted Orwellian world do we live? Obama is certainly more eloquent than Bush was, but his message is the same. America can kill kill kill, and no questions should be asked. Questioning Americans should get their heads screwed on straight. But don’t look to one party to make this better. Very few in Washington have expressed sincere regret over the dead and wounded victims of America’s war on terror. And don’t look to America’s populace. Very few Americans can tell the difference between a war in Iraq and a bloody movie or popular sporting event on TV.