Saturday, January 24, 2009

Obama orders Air Strike in Pakistan

This has not really been remarked upon in the American media, but the British Media has had quite a bit to say about it:

Essentially President Obama gave the green light on air strikes in Pakistan. These strikes killed 18 people.

I have no problem with pursuing terrorists. But are these air strikes likely to do anything more than kill innocent people and increase hostility toward the United States? I find that very doubtful.

It is sad to see the president already responding to world affairs with militarism. Predictable in an American leader, and consistent with what Obama has said all along about Afghanistan and Pakistan, but sad nevertheless.

Let's see how far Obama goes with this militarism. Signing the order to close Gitmo was a very positive step; and in general I'm impressed with Obama's first week, he's off to a good start. This air strike, however, is a bad sign and not a wise decision on Obama's part. It's likely that Obama will be better Diplomatically than Bush and Clinton, but that is not really saying very much for him.

Finally, why isn't the American media saying more about this air strike? Why are they silent? I sometimes like to imagine that we actually have the free and independent press that our constitution advocated and championed - then I watch the news and am reminded how far away from our ideal we are.


  1. He's stimulating the economy! Industrial Military Complex, HOO RAH!

  2. The reason the Mainstream Media are silent is this tends to undermine the myth of Obama as the anti-Bush.

    It causes huge cognitive dissonance for them.

    They want somebody who will be soft on terrorists, and this suggests it isn't Oabma.

  3. I agree with you Professor McAdams. I think that is exactly the reason that media has not reported on it.And its sad. I don't want a "pro-obama" or a "pro-bush media, I'd like a free and independent media, which sadly we see to lack much of.

    I don't mind being tough on terrorism, but merely sending bombs will probably not accomplish much. I'm sorry to see President Obama go that route. Good Diplomacy, really adressing the root cause of terror, would be better.

    And Obama is off to a rocky start with respect to this problem.

  4. I have two questions:

    1) If George W Bush were in office a week longer, do you think he would have authorized such air strikes?

    2) If the president had reliable intelligence that al-Qaeda operatives were hiding out in a few towns in say, southwest Montana, would he be justified in authorizing airstrikes on these towns, knowing that innocent Americans would die as a result?

    Regarding (1), I doubt Bush would have authorized these airstrikes, as he handled relations with Pakistan very carefully. On the other hand, Obama's doing so isn't just sad, it's stupid, from a diplomatic standpoint, why unnecessarily flair up tensions between the US and Pakistan by taking military actions that their government officials oppose? Refraining from this isn't being "soft on terrorists." It's just being smart.

    Regarding (2), how far should we go in pursuing terrorists? Apparently it's okay to dehumanize the foreign innocent victims of US military operatives as "collateral damage." Would the death of innocent US citizens be acceptable collateral damage as well? If it isn't acceptable, what is it about innocent US citizens that would make them more valuable than innocent foreigners? Trying to claim something like "the US military has a duty to protect US citizens, but they have no such duty in the case of foreign citizens" is really to dodge the issue. The issue is whether killing innocent foreigners is an acceptable cost of protecting US citizens. And if it becomes acceptable, I say we've lost the so-called "war on terror" precisely because at that point we've given into the central tenant of terrorism: "destroy your enemy at any cost."

  5. I agree with you entirely Nate.

    I should clarify, I don't think in terms of "soft on terrorists". That is Prof. McAdams' language - as you noticed I'm sure. I agree with him that the media is playing up the differences between Obama and Bush, and so I think there is bias in that direction. But I certainly do not think Obama is justified to bomb.

    If ground forces were sent right into the areas we think these terrorist are, I might - MIGHT - agree with that decision. But not bombing. That kills innocents and accomplishes nothing.

    I fact you are right that we have given in to the central tenant of terrorism "destroy your enemy at any cost." And you are right, that is not merely said, but done right tragic.

    It is precisely this thinking that the Israeli government uses to justify is massive restrictions and horrifying attacks on the Palestinian people.

    Interestingly, the New Batman film explores this very problem extremely well. Maybe we should make those in power watch it!


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