Friday, February 17, 2012

Obama Supporters and their Hypocrisy

The beginning of the 21st century in the United States of America with George W.  Bush as president quickly became enraptured by issues of terrorism and war after the attacks on September 11th 2001.  Bush left office with low voter approval ratings averaging just over 60% disapproval average his last two years in office.  This was in part due to a response to terrorism which included an unconstitutional war in Iraq (of course the US hasn't entered a declared war since WWII despite continual conflict) based on false claims of weapons of mass destruction, prisoner abuse scandals, a failing economy, and the loss of liberties by legislation such as the Patriot Act.  A very dark spot on the US policy on terrorism was the prison at Guantanamo Bay where prisoners were being subjected to "harsh interrogation techniques" which are more rightly called torture unless you asked the Attorney General at the time who redefined torture.  The prisoners were also guilty without the chance to prove themselves innocent which takes away the presumption of innocence that rule of law requires in order to apply to everyone equally.

Obama took on this issue in his 2008 bid for the presidency.  Here he can be seen speaking even as president elect in 2008 before taking office. 

Obviously Guantanamo Bay hasn't been closed, and for me this comes as no shock, but what's interesting is that even though the prison was so heavily criticized under Bush it now gains acceptance under Obama according to a poll by the Washington Post.  53% of self identified Democrats and 67% of moderate democrats support keeping the facility open.  Not only that but 83% of US respondents approve of the drone policy (although I'm sure far fewer understand what that policy entails).  On top of that 77% of liberal Democrats are in favor of his drone policy.  During the Bush administration one of the most frequent complaints was that he all to often did what he wanted, without approval, and often shrouded in secrecy.  The facts are that this is no different from what's happening in the current drone program.  Obama has authorized multiple drone strikes inside the borders of countries like Pakistan, where recently there were protests against the US's drone war campaign within Pakistan where epitaphs of President Obama were burned.  Also according to the Bureau of Investigative Journalism, "research by the Bureau has found that since Obama took office three years ago, between 282 and 535 civilians have been credibly reported as killed including more than 60 children."

Pakistani Minister Hina Rabbani Khar:"In our view, drones are not only completely illegal and unlawful and have no  authorization to be used within the domains of international law, but even more importantly, they are counterproductive to your objective of getting this region rid of militancy and terrorism and extremism, because if one strike leads to getting you target number one or target number three today, you are creating five more targets or 10 more targets, in the militancy that it breeds, in the fodder that it gives to the militants to attract more people to join their ranks." 

The problem lies not only in upsetting the autonomy of a country that has nuclear arms and a strong militant right wing influence, but this program has resulted in the assassination of US citizens.  Anwar al-Awlaki was a US citizen that President Obama ordered assassinated using the drones.  Whether or not Anwar was a terrorist or not if he is committing crimes against the US he should be tried by the due process of the law rather than refused his rights as a US citizen to habeus corpus and assassinated.  Had Bush ever claimed the right to assassinate US citizens it would have been used as fodder by the left in the US.  However they are perfectly willing to look the other way when it comes to Obama ordering such strikes in countries where no war is declared, even when shrouded in secrecy.  The CIA has claimed that disclosure of information on the details of the process of either how the orders are given or how they choose the targets would aid the enemy. 

This is the perfect demonstration of the blind following or worship of political leaders in which they give their loyalty not to any ideal, but merely the whims of the leaders themselves.  This is clearly the case with Republican leaders who supported every expansion to military spending for the war on terror, but now call for fiscal accountability and reigning in spending (just so long as it's not military spending).  It's a big problem within the US political system because it has the effect of allowing something that although criticized at first by the opposition party, if continued when that party takes power it receives bipartisan support from the public.  Now days both parties both speak for increases in military spending and yet wish to be seen as trying to reduce the deficit.  The same is true with starting a war or military operation without congressional consent and now seems to be true with drone assassinations and secret military prisons.  It's all part of a broken political system that's going to require more than simply voting for the lesser of two evils or worse yet supporting them even when their policies conflict with a persons own ethics.

1 comment:

  1. Well said Zach. Blind faith to a party or a leader is not the way to go.