Why Is America Still Doing Drone Assassinations?
Oh so proudly we hail, by the dawn’s early light—the assassination of Ayman al-Zawahiri, the top al-Qaida leader and one-time right hand of Osama bin Laden.
According to the Associated Press (Monday, Aug 2, 2022) “President Joe Biden announced Monday that al-Qaida leader Ayman al-Zawahri was killed in a U.S. drone strike in Kabul, an operation he said delivered justice and hopefully “one more measure of closure” to families of the victims of the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks on the United States.”
‘Closure,’ Joe? You have a very strange view of closure
You recently disconnected us from the longest war our nation has ever fought, more than twice the length of World Wars One and Two combined. I say ‘disconnected,’ because ‘fled’ is a word Americans find hard to swallow, although it is our fashion today to shoot from the hip and regret our quick draws with heads down and victims of the nations we invade hanging from our departing helicopters.
There’s another side to what Biden celebrates, as he boldly states, “He will never again, never again, allow Afghanistan to become a terrorist safe haven because he is gone and we’re going to make sure that nothing else happens.”
How in hell do you make sure that nothing else happens, Joe?
In fact, there are several other sides to the statement: 1) All preening and posturing aside, have we just made Afghanistan a safe haven for the Taliban after 20 years of futility, or do we no longer call them terrorists? 2) As we try to calm the Middle East and pretend we didn’t actually cut and run, we have once again fired up a recruitment program for al Qaida, which has been pretty quiet of late. Finally, 3) one can but wonder if al Qaida and the Taliban might not find a common grievance here, to support one another. The Taliban statement after the assassination would seem to be a move in that direction.
I suppose it’s preferable to drone strikes on weddings, our former tactic of choice
It was always such bad press to kill brides and grooms, their families, well-wishers and assorted children when a terrorist target was only suspected of attending. No expensive marketing campaign was needed for recruitment under those circumstances. Throw in the mix that George Bush and Dick Cheney made America a war criminal with its industrial-strength torture facilities at abu Ghraib and Guantanamo and you have hatreds that will last a hundred years.
Then, there’s the embarrassing fact that assassination is against American law
President Ford (remember him?) issued Executive Order 11905, which included this language: “No employee of the United States Government shall engage in, or conspire to engage in, political assassination.” The reason Ford did that was that the CIA had been caught out attempting to assassinate the leaders of Cuba and the Congo, and had aided assassination plots in the Dominican Republic, Chile, and Vietnam.
Former president Harry Truman said that “I would never have authorized the establishment of the CIA if I had known it would become the American Gestapo.” Gestapo? Harsh words, particularly in the times that Truman said them.
The current version of the ban, Executive Order 12333 states that “No person employed by or acting on behalf of the United States Government shall engage in, or conspire to engage in, assassination.” That’s pretty clear language. Short, concise and to the point, which is a rarity among bureaucratic writers.
But you will not believe how recent administrations have chosen to interpret EO 12333
(justsecurity.org) In public speeches, administration officials have criticized the use of the word ‘assassination’ to characterize targeted killings carried out by the United States. The administration’s theory seems to be that targeted killings can’t be assassinations because assassinations are unlawful killings — and the US’s targeted killings, in the administration’s view, are lawful.
Did George Orwell ever conceive of the fact that the doublespeak of his 1984 novel might actually occur in America? Now I’m aware that certain readers give me flack for seeming un-American, but it’s not so. I love my country, but I was alive when Pearl Harbor was attacked, number FDR, Truman and Eisenhower among my presidents and watched as Ronald Reagan enabled America’s slow death of the Middle Class as well as standards of truth and honesty. Seems to me I have the street-creds to take a longer view, having lived in all or part of ten decades.
No matter. I take the long view.
Lastly, Americans are over-fond of guns and I think that makes us vulnerable
We’re too quick to step in with military strikes, when diplomacy often shows better results and both our allies and enemies understand that targeted killings are simply assassinations in a coat and tie. Drones are cheap, can be weaponized and are easy to come by. Throughout history we have chosen to believe that our oceans make us invulnerable, but that’s no longer the case. What goes around comes around, and the same drone that brings us an Amazon package can be configured to bring us an enemy’s own ‘targeted killings.’
Unclean hands and the strangling of language to change perfectly clear intent are the ingredients of retribution. Romans 12:19 from the Bible: “Never avenge yourselves, but leave room for the wrath of God; for it is written, Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.”
But whose god strikes that vengeance?
The main suspects are Christianity, Hinduism, Buddhism, Judaism and Islam. Hinduism alone has three gods. The Hindu trinity comprises Brahma, the creator; Vishnu, the preserver and Shiva (or Mahesh), the destroyer.
Christianity is perhaps the largest (mainly because of colonialization) and it flies the most flags, from the Inquisition through the Crusades to modern day attacks on abortion clinics, always with God on its side.
As for al-Zawahri, according to a Guardian UK article, after a decades-long hunt the simple habit of sitting out on the balcony gave the CIA an opportunity to launch ‘tailored strike.’ I’m sure the finger on the button had God on his side. In God We Trust heralds our American currency and who is to argue?
Who indeed? That question begs an answer.
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