Opinion | America’s War on Terror persists eleven years after 9/11
Musings with Milam
Published: Monday, September 10, 2012
Updated: Monday, September 10, 2012 22:09
It has been eleven years since 9/11. Much has happened in those eleven years.
A war in Afghanistan, a war in Iraq, the emergence of the Transportation Security Administration (TSA), the Patriot Act, the National Defense Authorization Act, which President Obama signed allowing indefinite military detention, and a plethora of other government activities including wiretapping, prosecuting whistleblowers and rendition of suspected terrorists.
There was a noticeable uproar over most of those activities under President George W. Bush.
The anti-war movement in particular was quite boisterous in the disapproval of the decision to invade Iraq in 2003, and rightfully so.
Maybe there is some weariness because we’ve been engaged in this perpetual “War on Terror” after 9/11. But the American people, since President Obama was elected, haven’t been as noticeably boisterous about our continued war in Afghanistan, among other things.
Since President Obama initiated the surge there in December of 2009, nearly a thousand soldiers have been killed, which is about the same amount as the previous eight years.
Afghanistan certainly isn’t a campaign issue in this election either.
Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney, his vice presidential candidate, Paul Ryan and other GOP officials failed to mention Afghanistan at the Republican National Convention in Tampa.
In fact, Mitt Romney was the first GOP nominee since 1952 to not mention war in any context during the acceptance speech.
Did the anti-war movement die down because President Obama was elected in 2008? It seems so.
Outrage over the aforementioned infringements to civil liberties and continued war is a matter of party, not principle.
The two-party system breeds this “us vs. them” mentality enabling people to hopscotch around on issues when they are prudent to advancing the party.
Loyalty should not arise between American citizens and their elected officials or the party they represent, but rather to principles and ideals.
Sure, those principles and ideals can be tempered by pragmatism and compromise, but an R or a D next to someone’s name shouldn’t wholly negate them.
I am dismayed when I hear Democratic friends of mine attempt to defend the surge in Afghanistan or the incursion into Libya; the latter was wholly unconstitutional and even went beyond the scope of the War Powers Act of 1973.
I am more dismayed when they try to justify President Obama’s policy reversal on Guantanamo Bay as the fault of the Republicans.
If anything, President Obama has been as much a war hawk as President George W. Bush was and in some cases, even more so. In becoming one, he has, to some extent, caused the abatement of the anti-war movement and turned Democrats into war apologists.
For instance, I would be amazed if most Americans knew or cared about the answer to this question: What do the Pakistanis, Yemenis, Somalis and Afghans all have in common?
If you said, “United States drone strikes,” you are correct. What’s the impetus behind such strikes?
If you said, “President Obama’s ‘Kill List’,” you are correct again.
President Obama’s so-called “Kill List” is essentially a list of suspected terrorists that the president pores over, deciding which to target with drone strikes. American citizens can and have been targeted by these strikes as well.
Anwar al-Awlaki, for instance, was born in the United States and was an American citizen-turned-militant killed by the drone strikes, along with his sixteen-year-old son, also an American. He was born in Denver.
It seems irrelevant though in the face of supposed national security and the effort in the “War on Terror.”
As it happens, President Obama, in order to minimize civilians counted in the death toll of the strikes, counts all military-age males in a strike zone as combatants.
That’s not only legally dubious, but also morally convenient.
Of course, one can’t count on the Republicans to care about this. They were more disturbed and outraged that the “Kill List” was leaked by administration officials rather than the actual substance of the leak itself.
More disturbing than that is administration officials leaking the contents of the “Kill List” because they believed it would make President Obama appear stronger in regard to national security.
I guess that is the world we live in post-9/11, where having the power to kill American citizens without due process is considered politically strong.
Unfortunately too, this election cycle does not appear to be the arena for such discussions about war, civil liberties and the moral foundation the United States wishes to stand on and project from.
And yet, it needs to be.
Even if our economic situation improved over the next four years, it means nothing if our moral foundation was built on the dead bodies of the Pakistanis, Yemenis, Somalis, Afghans and Americans because we were too cynical, too apathetic or too accepting to question the power of the presidency.