Curtain Raiser

We Can’t Endorse This List, Colltalers

Some are calling this moment a consequence of three years of rhetorical gymnastics by President Obama’s supporters to frame his foreign policy within a morally acceptable view.
Others may say that it’s more likely a turning point, a moment when all the pragmatism applied in the past is no longer enough to disguise the staggering evil of such policy.
We’re talking about the debate over the so-called ‘kill list,’ of course, a subject unlikely to appear in the most virulent attacks against the president, to be launched by the Republican Party, and even the extreme fringes that control large parts of it, in the coming months.
When the news broke, last week, that the president has a personal finger on who gets to be chosen to be assassinated by the U.S., wherever they may be, apart from the fact that he seemed to be taking full responsibility for this murderous policy, everything else smelled so bad, that even his most ardent constituents wonder whether we really want go down this road.
Which seems to have already been taken, by the way. But that doesn’t mean that this discussion is rhetoric. When Osama bin Laden was executed last year, some of us had to go to some soul searching to find ways within ourselves to accept it. Because, otherwise, what our principles of justice and the rule of law would be good for?
So it did take a lot of swallowing hard to view it as inevitable, even if thousands still mourning the death of their loved ones on Sept. 11 and thereafter, ordered by the mass-murderer, couldn’t bring themselves to ‘celebrate’ his death. What for? Or rather, what difference it made towards their grief?
But that was then and somehow, part of such acceptance, was the thought, which now has been clearly proven wishful, that it was an one-time deal. Who were we kidding? Still, between the suspicion and the apparent confirmation that came last week, which the president hasn’t denied, there’s a world of disappointment and self-doubt.
Are we really sure that that’s what we want our country to be: a nation of fly-by-night armies of murderous drones, launched toward distant lands, on simple assumptions about enemy combatants?
Is that what we are about, to sow destruction and carnage in miserably poor villages, even if the enemy cowardly hides among women and children?
Mr. President, how can you expect millions of Americans, already struggling to keep a sense of dignity and hope for the future and their children, to endorse a multibillion-dollar strategy that, even if it were open and transparent, which it’s not, would be hard to comprehend?
It’s not hard to see why the extreme right wouldn’t say anything against such armed-to-the-teeth foreign policy. It’s a virtually impossible task to explain how come a former professor of law, who was elected championing the end of the U.S.’s involvement in bloody wars we can’t explain, is now leading the country to an even darker slippery slope of target assassinations.
We can’t endorse this policy, even if the president would engage society to explain it in detail, which the intelligence would never allow him to. We simply can not bring ourselves to jump in joy every time a barren road on the other side of the world is razed by a flying piece of hardware, controlled from some secret bunker, by some video-game-trained soldier.
We may have five months to convey this message to President Obama. Some may say that it’s already too late, but we don’t believe in that. We need to get started, though and leverage our support with some substantial, humanistic, principled demands. Or we may not be able to get up in the morning and tell our children to go out in the world and be good ever again. Have a great one. WC



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