Adonis Diaries

Posts Tagged ‘Gulet Mohamed

More drone attacks. More “collateral” casualties of babies and civilians: Glenn Greenwald 

Shouldn’t Presidential contenders in the US give more priorities to the “Unconstitutional” activities done during the two Bush Jr. Administration and that are still going on with Obama? Like indefinite detention in Guantanamo prison and the pursuing of drone attacks that are killing more civilians than the listed targeted 2,000 “terrorists” in Pakistan, Afghanistan, Yemen, Somalia…?

In a previous post, I published the lengthy article of Glenn Greenwald on the evil of indefinite detention, like in the Guantanamo prison camp, Bagram prison (in Northern Afghanistan) and elsewhere.  I am splitting this article into two parts and reporting the sections on the collateral “damages” on civilians done by the US drone attacks…

Glenn Greenwald wrote: “As the US is heading into Election Year, there is an increasingly common and repellent tactic being employed by some Democratic partisans against those of us who insist that issues like indefinite detention (along with ongoing killing of civilians in the Muslim world) merit high priority. The argument is that to place emphasis on such issues is to harm President Obama (because he’s responsible for indefinite detention, substantial civilian deaths, and war-risking aggression) while helping competing candidates (such as Gary Johnson or Ron Paul) who vehemently oppose such policies.

The argument to demanding that issues, like indefinite detention and civilian deaths of drone attacks be prioritized in assessing the presidential race, is to subordinate the importance of other issues such as abortion, gay equality, and domestic civil rights enforcement on which Obama and the Democrats are better. Many of these commentators strongly imply, or now even outright state, that only white males are willing to argue for such a prioritization scheme because the de-prioritized issues do not affect them.

There are numerous glaring flaws with this divisive tactic. For one, it relies on a full-scale, deliberate distortion of the argument being made: Demanding that issues like indefinite detention, civilian deaths and aggressive war be given high priority in the presidential race does not remotely advocate the de-prioritization of any other issues.

For another, many women and ethnic and racial minorities – as well as gay Americans — are making similar arguments about the need for these issues to receive substantial attention in the election.

More important, it’s irrational in the extreme to argue that self-interest or “privilege” would cause someone to want to prioritize issues like indefinite detention and civilian casualties given that the civil liberties and anti-war advocates being so accused are extremely unlikely themselves to be affected by the abuses they protest.

It isn’t white males being indefinitely detained, rendered, and having their houses and cars exploded with drones — the victims of those policies are people like Boumediene, or Gulet Mohamed, or Jose Padilla, or Awal Gul, or Sami al-Haj, or Binyam Mohamed, or Afghan villagers, or Pakistani families, or Yemeni teenagers.

When you spend the vast bulk of your time working against the injustices imposed almost exclusively on minorities and the marginalized — as anyone who works on these war and civil liberties issues by definition does — it’s reprehensible for someone to deploy these sorts of accusatory tactics, all in service of the shallow goal of partisan loyalty enforcement. Those who were actually driven primarily by privileged self-interest would want to de-prioritize these issues in a presidential campaign, not insist on their vital importance.

And that is this real point here: what’s so warped about those who employ this tactic for partisan ends is how easily it could be used against them, rather than by them. The authors of the three accusatory examples linked above (Carpentier, Pollitt, and Matthews) — as well as most of those Democrats who have now sunk to explicitly arguing that such matters are unimportant — are white and non-Muslim. To apply their degraded rhetoric to them, one could easily say:

Of course they don’t consider indefinite detention, invasions and occupations, and civilian slaughter to be disqualifying in a President or even meriting substantial attention in the presidential election — of course they will demand that everyone faithfully support a President who continues to do these things aggressively — because, as non-Muslims, they’re not the ones who will be imprisoned for years with no trial or have their children blown to bits by a U.S. drone or air strike, so what do they care?

I don’t employ or endorse that wretched reasoning, but those who do — such as the authors of the above-linked accusations — should have it applied to them and their own political priorities; they deserve to reap what they are sowing.

Indeed, The Washington Post today has an excellent article by John Tirman on the millions of civilian deaths which the U.S. has caused over the last several decades and how steadfastly those civilian deaths are ignored in U.S. political and media discourse.  One primary reason that these deaths receive such low priority is because Americans are unaffected by these casualties and can thus easily de-prioritize them as aberrational:

This explains much of our response to the violence in Korea, Vietnam, Iraq and Afghanistan. When the wars went badly and violence escalated, Americans tended to ignore or even blame the victims. The public dismissed the civilians because their high mortality rates, displacement and demolished cities were discordant with our understandings of the missions and the U.S. role in the world.

These attitudes have consequences. Perhaps the most important one — apart from the tensions created with the host governments, which have been quite vocal in protesting civilian casualties — is that indifference provides permission to our military and political leaders to pursue more interventions.

(John Tirman, the executive director and principal research scientist at the MIT Center for International Studies has released a book on that topic).

It’s much easier to view these policies as non-disqualifying and to insist on their de-prioritization in favor of other policies because their white, non-Muslim privilege means that they aren’t the ones who are going to be indefinitely detained, assassinated without due process, or have their homes and children targeted with drones and cluster bombs. Muslims have a much harder time so blithely acquiescing to such abuses — as do non-Muslims who are capable of protesting grave injustices even when they’re not directly affected by them.

Again, that is not a form of reasoning I accept or use — there may be all sorts of reasons why one would want these policies to be de-prioritized or at least not be seen as disqualifying beyond selfish, privilege-based indifference — but those who spew those kinds of smears should understand how easy it is to subject them to those accusations.

Ultimately, it really isn’t that complicated to understand why many people consider these issues to be so imperative. Those struggling to understand it should go read Lakhdar Boumediene’s Op-Ed. Or this story and this Op-Ed about a 16-year-old boy and his 12-year-old cousin whose lives were ended when the 16-year-old was targeted (in secret and with no checks) with a drone strike in Pakistan. Or these newly documented findings of ongoing abuse of detainees at Bagram. Or the dozens of Yemeni women and children killed by a U.S. cluster bomb. Or the secretive process by which the current President has seized the unilateral power to target even U.S. citizens for assassination.” End of quote

Retired US army officer Dave Grossman examines in his book “On Killing” the mechanisms that enable the US citizens, not just to ignore, but even cheer such killings.  There are several levels for turning a blind eye on crimes against humanity: first, cultural distance (“such as racial and ethnic differences that permit the killer to dehumanise the victim”); second, moral distance (“the kind of intense belief in moral superiority”); and third, mechanical distance (“the sterile, Nintendo-game unreality of killing through a TV screen, a thermal sight, a sniper sight or some other kind of mechanical buffer that permits the killer to deny the humanity of his victim”).

The Guardian reported: “Thus western liberals who fall over one another to condemn the death penalty for murderers – who have, incidentally, had the benefit of lawyers, trials and appeals – those same liberals fall quiet as their State-sponsored murder and kill with total impunity foreigners and US citizens of Moslem background such as nuclear scientists (Iran), terror suspects (Yemen, Pakistan, Somalia…), and alleged militants in faraway lands.

Human-rights lawyer and anti-drone activist Clive Stafford Smith said: “targeted killing is just the death penalty without due process”.

Note 1: Glenn Greenwald published the article “The evil of indefinite detention and those wanting to de-prioritize it”

Note 2: The NYT has published an Op-Ed from another released, innocent Guantanamo detainee, Murat Kurnaz, that is just as harrowing and moving. It isn’t the people who are demanding these injustices receive high priority who have to answer charges of race-and-privilege-based self-interest and indifference; if anyone should answer those scurrilous charges, it’s those insisting that these abuses are not disqualifying and can and should be de-prioritized in the 2012 election.


adonis49

adonis49

adonis49

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