Of all the policies of the Barack Obama administration – one of many which began under the Bush regime and has been continued, even expanded, by his successor – I think the use of predator drones sickens and angers me the most. Especially with the revelation that the drones also target first responders, and even people attending funerals. Imagine if a suicide bomber had attacked police and firefighters as they arrived at the World Trade Center on 9/11, or the funerals of the victims. That is essentially what the CIA’s predator drones are doing.
But what’s really infuriating, though not surprising, is how quiet liberals are about this, given how loudly they spoke out against war during the Bush years. Yet this is arguably worse in terms of its sheer violence and callousness: worse than Abu Ghraib, worse than the Haditha massacre. If any other country’s military engaged in such acts, they would be denounced by the U. S. government (and others) as war crimes, and rightly so. And as the report cited by Glenn Greenwald makes clear, government officials have been lying about the civilian casualties from the attacks. But from most Democrats, the response amounts to at best a shuffling of feet and an uncomfortable silence. In fact, most of them support the use of drones, and even keeping the Guantanamo Bay prison camp open, according to a Washington Post poll. This despite Obama’s campaign promise to close Gitmo. I guess Democrats suffer from memory loss as much as Republicans do.
How anyone can vote for a man who gives orders to commit mass murder is simply incomprehensible to me. And please spare me the counterpoint that the Republicans are just as bad. Of course they are. That just further proves the point that the major parties are virtually indistinguishable in their lust for mass murder, bigger government, and more control over people’s lives. Voting Republican or Democrat is voting for the imperial warfare/welfare state, and all of the blood and treasure it demands.
Last March, Anthony Gregory questioned if Barack Obama was already a worse president than George W. Bush, noting a long list of dubious accomplishments during Bush’s eight-year tenure. Prior to his election Obama was highly critical of Bush’s policy on torture and the holding of suspected terrorists indefinitely at Guantanamo Bay without trial. And one of Obama’s first acts after being sworn in as President was also one of his most dramatic: he signed an executive order banning torture and ordering the closure of Gitmo by 2010. It was hailed as a bold move to restore the country’s shattered image overseas and bring its prosecution of the war on terror in line with its values on respecting human rights.
What a difference a thousand days as Leader of the Free World makes.
During that time Obama has ordered the killing of an American citizen in Yemen, without due process, based on his alleged association with al-Qaeda. And in March he made an about-face on his promise to close Gitmo, instead reinstating the military tribunals and continuing Bush’s policy of detaining suspects without trial since they “in effect, remain at war with the United States.”
Now the Senate has granted Obama even greater discretion in arresting and indefinitely holding anyone – even U. S. citizens, despite its supporters’ claims to the contrary – suspected of terrorist activity, in approving a defense appropriation bill for 2012 that essentially expands the battlefield for the war on terror to anywhere on the planet, including U. S. soil. (The Senate rejected an amendment sponsored by Colorado Democrat Mark Udall and Kentucky Republican Rand Paul that would have stripped out the authorization for indefinite detention of terrorism suspects.) It is an unprecedented expansion of power for a president who campaigned on a promise to restore the country’s “moral authority.” Yet Obama is simply another in a long line of politicians making promises that could never be kept: it is impossible to regain a moral authority the American empire has never possessed.