I never thought too highly of Rand Paul. Let’s get that out of the way right now.
I even incorrectly at the time of his campaign predicted the other guy would win, due to his opponent being the better liar & Rand running away from the anti-militarism that made his father, for all his contradictions elsewhere, such a popular figure.
Well yesterday, Rand remembered for several hours that he is the son of Ron, speaking at length against John Brennan’s nomination to head the CIA and by extension the claim of the Obama Administration to the right to unilaterally kill you. Naturally, being a Republican senator from FriedChickenVille, Real Murrikuh, the primary jump-off point was specifically about the proverbial Citizen Minding His Own Business getting droned over coffee, a formulation that, though understandable, tends to imply that the problem with murder vanishes once you cross the borders. Yet he expanded on that in a way questioning of U.S. foreign policy & militarism that I was shocked to hear coming from him instead of his father, actually name-checking the 16-year old that was murdered in our names in Yemen:
There was a man named al-Awlaki. He was a bad guy, by all evidence available to the public that I’ve read, he was treasonous. I have no sympathy for his death. I still would have tried him in a federal court for treason and I think you could have been executed. But his son was 16 years old, had missed his dad, gone for two years. His son sneaks out of the house and goes to Yemen. His son is then killed by a drone strike. They won’t tell us if he was targeted. Suspect, since there were other people in the group, about 20 people killed, that they were targeting someone else. I don’t know that. I don’t have inside information on that. But I suspect that.
But here’s the real problem: When the President’s spokesman was asked about al-Awlaki’s son, you know what his response was? This I find particularly callous and particularly troubling. The President’s response to the killing of al-Awlaki’s son, he said he should have chosen more responsible father.
You know, it’s kind of hard to choose who your parents are. That’s sort of like saying to someone whose father is a thief or a murderer or a rapist, which is obviously a bad thing, but does that mean it’s okay to kill their children think of the standard we would have if our standard for killing people overseas is, you should have chosen a more responsible parent.
Obviously I disagree with Rand Paul on putting anyone to death, even if it is al-Awlaki, but again, Real Murrikuh. Also, his sympathy with al-qaeda did not occur in a vacuum: at one point he was actually condemning the 9/11 attacks, participating in online discussions with the Washington Post, & being invited to the capitol. Going off of the timeline we know of for Anwar al-Awlaki, his turn from this to Islamist militant spokesperson appears to coincide with the move towards U.S. invasion of Iraq. This is not to defend taking up such views, only to point out the process, and how it reflects the humongous Fail when it came to “hearts & minds” with regard to the world’s reaction to how the U.S. government approaches it. He clearly shifted allegiances, engaging in what can safely be called nutjobbery.
But that and a nickel doesn’t buy an explanation of why in the hell his son had to die!
As usual, the fear-mongers supporting never-ending global war act as if everyone is an imminent threat, like the slightest stir of anger in faraway places is equivalent to someone about to detonate explosives at the Nets game. The continuation of this absurdity is the true threat to national security, as eventually if you treat the entire world as your enemies they will decide the shoe actually fits & respond. Common sense, on the other hand, would acknowledge that They, even if they don’t particularly like Us, are Over There, and the overwhelming majority of likelihood of them attacking us can be mitigated by not being Over There. It’s kind of like not getting stung by bees — don’t go slapping beehives with a stick.
For someone with any degree of actual power to point out how absurd the entire foreign policy status quo is, is itself a pigs flying moment. Yet, as is par, it’s inherently damaged by appeal to such power to check itself, via invocation of the Constitution. Folks, if the checks & balances and the Bill of Rights actually worked in the way described in
public government schools’ American History courses, there’d have been war crimes trials by now. The shape of the beast changes, but it is still a beast, it is still the fire of arbitrary authority doing whatever it feels like. If I were the hopeful sort, I’d suggest the next step should be repeal of the blank check known as the Authorization to Use Military Force, followed by calls for rapid draw down and removal of the U.S. military from its current global deployments — a shift from talk to action on dismantling the empire once and for all. I’m not holding my breath though. This continues not for the reasons given to us by the perpetrators of these crimes, but for reasons of self-aggrandizement & enrichment, thus disproving the security argument isn’t enough.
Still, for most of a day the U.S. Senate functionally did jack squat. That’s a good thing.