On May 29, 2012, the New York Times published a long report (based on interviews with three dozen current and former Obama administration advisers) revealing how President Obama personally authorizes every drone strike against individuals suspected of being terrorists. Every Tuesday, the President, with two dozen counterterrorism officials, pore over mug shots and biographies of each suspect. The goal of these meetings is to determine which of these suspects is enough of a national security threat to warrant kill or capture — of which, the New York Times puts it, “the capture part has become largely theoretical”. As I read the article, I couldn’t help but think of the popular Japanese manga “Death Note” (which also became an anime series, a live-action film, and was banned in China). “Death Note” is a perfect allegory for the insidious moral implications of Obama’s targeted killing policy. Read the rest of this entry »
Category Archives: International Relations
A recent Washington Post-ABC News poll reveals something quite depressing. The poll shows that a majority of Americans, including many Democrats, support President Obama’s counterterrorism policies of keeping Guantanamo Bay prison open and drone strikes against suspected terrorists abroad. These are policies that Obama and many liberals criticized Bush for doing. But now that Obama is carrying them out, there’s ample support these policies.
President Barack Obama’s speech about recent developments in the Middle East was unimpressive. He proclaimed the U.S. supports democracy and “universal rights” but given the U.S.’s practice of torture and occupation of two countries, that proclamation is hypocritical. Obama said that the United States supports the current Arab uprisings. Yet, the U.S. was late in supporting the Egyptian uprising since the tyrant being overthrown — Hosni Mubarak — was a key U.S. ally. The U.S. supported the revolution when it was clear that Mubarak was going to leave. Obama talked about Libyan dictator Colonel Muammar al-Qaddafi’s violence against his own people, which justified U.S./NATO intervention. Qaddafi has a long history of repression but that did not stop the U.S. government from using Libya as a rendition destination for detainees to be tortured, which is illegal. Obama was also reluctant to support the Bahraini uprising and accused Iran of meddling in the country. However, Iran is not militarily occupying Bahrain — Saudi Arabia is, a U.S. ally. Bahrain is another key U.S. ally, home to the U.S. Navy’s 5th Fleet, securing American influence in the oil-rich Gulf. Hence, the reluctance. As for the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, Obama said nothing new. He lectured the Palestinians to not use terrorism, stop delegitimizing Israel and called for a de-militarized (i.e., defenseless) Palestinian state along the 1967 borders — just like Bush. Israel, on the other hand, gets continued U.S. support for its security interests but “must act boldly” to advance peace — whatever that means. The core issues of settlement expansion, right of return for Palestinian refugees and the future of Jerusalem were left unaddressed. Overall, Obama’s speech was unimpressive, hypocritical and a regurgitation of tired political platitudes.
The death of Osama bin Laden, at the hands of U.S. special operations forces in Pakistan, has reignited the debate about torture. Those who support the use of torture (or “enhanced interrogation techniques”), claim that vital evidence which led U.S. special forces to successfully finding and killing bin Laden was produced through torture. The key piece of evidence that led to bin Laden’s death was the nom de guerre of his courier Abu Ahmed al-Kuwaiti. If the Bush administration did not implement its torture program, they argue, Osama bin Laden would still be alive and inspiring al-Qaeda to commit acts of terrorism. This argument is wrong on multiple levels. Read the rest of this entry »