Betray Us

A beautiful cartoon that exposes the absurdity of the Petraeus saga:

A radical idea: instead of carrying out assassinations based on secret kill lists, perhaps the Federal government could start obeying the Constitution, and start issuing arrest warrants or extradition requests for individuals suspected of criminal activity so that they can be tried by a court of law in front of a jury of their peers. We used to call this strange and antiquated notion due process.

The decision to use flying death robots — or as they are known in common speech “drones” — to indiscriminately assassinate terrorism suspects (and their families and neighbours) has already created a new swelling of anger against America in the nations where suspected terrorists have been targeted. As Obama himself recently put it, “there’s no country on earth that would tolerate missiles raining down on its citizens from outside its borders.” Presumably, this includes Pakistan, and Yemen, and Libya and Somalia, and other nations where American drone missiles have rained down on citizens?

And one day, other nations  — like China, which is rapidly putting drones into the skies  — might choose to use flying death robots to assassinate their own suspected terrorists on American soil. Would the American government have any grounds to complain?

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Obama Doesn’t Understand Blowback

There’s no country on earth that would tolerate missiles raining down on its citizens from outside its borders. So we are fully supportive of Israel’s right to defend itself.

Barack H. Obama

Well, he’s got one thing right. No country would tolerate missiles raining down on its citizens from outside its borders. And that goes for Gaza just as much as it does for Israel. Having lived in what David Cameron referred to as a “prison camp” for all their lives — Israel controls Gaza’s airspace, territorial waters and border crossings — and living under constant threat of Israeli F16 and drone raids, should Israel really find it surprising that young Gazans are fighting back? Hamas may have a counterproductive and dangerous strategy driven by a violent religious ideology that ends up hurting the Palestinians more than anyone else, but that’s not the point. The point is that nations don’t tolerate missiles raining down on citizens. That’s just as true for Palestine as it is Israel.

There are other examples which Obama would do well to consider. In the first twenty four hours after his re-election, Obama ordered yet another drone strike in Yemen — setting the tone for the next four years. During the Obama administration drones — or perhaps more accurately, flying death robots — have rained down missiles across a vast tract of the world. Yemen, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Libya, Somalia. Quite possibly also Iran and Syria. No trial, no hard evidence, just summary execution.

Every drone strike creates blowback. It increases hostility to Americans throughout that part of the world. It drives angry young people into the arms of violent extremists like the Taliban and Hamas. Because — as Obama rightly points out — no country would tolerate missiles raining down on its citizens from outside its borders. That means that in the long run Obama’s drone strikes are probably America’s greatest national security problem.