An American exception for drone strikes?

President Barack Obama and his nominee to head the Central Intelligence Agency, William Brennan, steadfastly refuse to say whether they believe the President has the right to kill Americans on American soil even if they have not been charged with any crime.   The closest they will come to answering the question is to say they have no intention of killing Americans in the United States at the present time.

Obama and Brennan definitely should answer the question.  But if you think the President should be able to order the killing of anyone, anywhere in the world, based on his personal judgment of national security, why should an exception be made for American citizens?  Are we Americans some sort of master race who are obligated to respect each others’ rights, but can do as we like to people of other nations?

Here is the answer given by Anglican Bishop Desmond Tutu, winner of the Nobel Peace Price for his nonviolent struggle against white rule in South Africa.

I am deeply, deeply disturbed at the suggestion … … that possible judicial review of President Obama’s decisions to approve the targeted killing of suspected terrorists might be limited to the killings of American citizens.

Desmond Tutu

Desmond Tutu

Do the United States and its people really want to tell those of us who live in the rest of the world that our lives are not of the same value as yours? That President Obama can sign off on a decision to kill us with less worry about judicial scrutiny than if the target is an American? Would your Supreme Court really want to tell humankind that we, like the slave Dred Scott in the 19th century, are not as human as you are? I cannot believe it.

I used to say of apartheid that it dehumanized its perpetrators as much as, if not more than, its victims. Your response as a society to Osama bin Laden and his followers threatens to undermine your moral standards and your humanity.

Desmond Tutu – NYTimes.com.

Now I don’t think it would be an advance if the United States government came to hold the life of American citizens as lightly as it holds the lives of people living in the killing zones of Pakistan, Yemen and other countries, which I think this is a distinct possibility.

Rather the point is that if you and I think we have a right not to have our lives snuffed out without knowing the reason, we ought to recognize that people of other nationalities, cultures and religions are just as human as we are, and have the same right.

George Orwell wrote the following in 1945.

By ‘nationalism’ I mean first of all the habit of assuming that human beings can be classified like insects and that whole blocks of millions or tens of millions of people can be confidently labelled ‘good’ or ‘bad’.  But secondly — and this is much more important — I mean the habit of identifying oneself with a single nation or other unit, placing it beyond good and evil and recognizing no other duty than that of advancing its interests.

George Orwell

George Orwell

Nationalism is not to be confused with patriotism. … … By ‘patriotism’ I mean devotion to a particular place and a particular way of life, which one believes to be the best in the world but has no wish to force on other people.  Patriotism is of its nature defensive, both militarily and culturally.  Nationalism, on the other hand, is inseparable from the desire for power.  The abiding purpose of every nationalist is to secure more power and more prestige, not for himself but for the nation or other unit in which he has chosen to sink his own individuality. … …

Actions are held to be good or bad, not on their own merits, but according to who does them, and there is almost no kind of outrage — torture, the use of hostages, forced labor, mass deportations, imprisonment without trial, forgery, assassination, the bombing of civilians — which does not change its moral color when it is committed by ‘our’ side.

via George Orwell: Notes on Nationalism.

If something is wrong when it is done to Americans, it is wrong when it is done to anybody.

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One Response to “An American exception for drone strikes?”

  1. Holden Says:

    It is very upsetting to realize more and more that our president is truly a tyrant. And I don’t say that simply because I don’t like his party affiliation or for some other personal political motive.

    President Obama is truly a tyrant. I fear he may be a megalomaniac of the worse kind. All you need to is scour youtube a few minutes and listen to the way he openly speaks about so many issues.

    He truly appears to have a complete disregard for personal freedom or the sanctity of life.

    Like

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