Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Assassination Inc.

Andrew Levine writes in Counterpunch about the 'achievements' of President Obama:
He didn’t just continue Bush’s lost wars, rebranding one and escalating the other; he also added much of Asia and Africa, and even parts of Latin America, to the empire’s anything goes free fire zones. Drone technology makes it easier now than it was for his predecessor to practice “low intensity” warfare; but, to borrow a slogan from another nefarious lobby, “drones don’t kill, presidents do” — insofar as they really do control the means of violence. To the extent that Obama is not owned by the national security state, he is culpable each and every time its agencies spread murder and mayhem.

But the worst change of all, so far, is that this former teacher of Constitutional law has trashed Fifth Amendment protections of due process and First Amendment protections of free speech by ordering the extra-judicial murder of American citizens who propagandize for radical Islamic causes. American presidents have been ordering assassinations of political figures abroad at least since the 1950s. But assassinating American citizens used to be beyond the pale. But this is precisely what Barack Obama did in ordering the assassination of Anwar Al-Awlaki, a radical cleric and a citizen of the United States.

One would think that Tea Partiers who bleat on endlessly about the Constitution would object. So far only Ron Paul has. The rest of them are not about to let consistency become a hobgoblin of their little minds; not when their anti-Muslim animosities are aroused.

But because they know better, liberals are even worse. Just as they did when Obama’s very own Murder Incorporated, the Navy Seals’ “Team Six,” killed Osama Bin Laden and dumped his body at sea instead of bringing him to justice, they praise their Commander-in-Chief’s boldness and cheer him on for perpetrating murder. How dare they then fault Republicans for applauding the hapless Rick Perry for overseeing hundreds of executions in the killing fields of Texas! How dare they claim moral superiority!

Would it not have been better had a President Bush or a President McCain killed Al-Awlaki? Then Congressional Democrats – moved by partisan zeal, if not by principle — might at least object. It is the old, “love me, I’m a Democrat” story. It is why Obama, like Clinton before him, has been able to do so much to advance the neo-liberal agenda. As a Democrat, he can do what no Republican can — coopt or neutralize the opposition.
It is hard to protest the killing of Bin Laden and Al-Awlaki, given who they were. Yet I think Levine is correct that if Bush were the one doing the killing, there would be much weeping and gnashing of teeth on the liberal/progressive/left, and for legitimate reasons. As Jon Stewart put it, Obama may now be best known for raining death from the sky. Very strange.

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