Rotten appleThis stuck out to me when reading Obama's horrible speech:
For the first time since 2002, we are providing the necessary resources and strategic direction to take the fight to the extremists who attacked us on 9/11 in Afghanistan and Pakistan.
This is precisely the lie that was used to justify invading Iraq. But the people the US is murdering in Pakistan were not involved in 9/11, nor were the Taliban. Yes, OBL was in Afghanistan, and you can argue that the Taliban were protecting him (more accurately, "a" Taliban given that the people who now represent the Taliban are not coterminous with the people who were then, by any means), but they were not in any way involved. The Taliban have never attacked the US, have never had the intention of it and, even were it within their means, they would not conceive that intention. (How can I say that? Because the Taliban are, above all else, a Pashtun movement. As with many Islamists, they do not have the broad vision of an OBL; they are focused on an internal objective: Afghanistan (or in some cases, Pashtunistan), not a Caliphate.)
So most Americans probably don't care about killing a few guys in turbans, their wives and children and some bystanders, but they should care about this:
there remains the question of detainees at Guantanamo who cannot be prosecuted yet who pose a clear danger to the American people.
The principle that the executive cannot arbitrarily imprison others is fundamental to the rule of law. It is the beginning of liberty, the sine qua non of any republic of laws, or any republic that even wants to pretend to be based on the rule of law.
If you cannot present evidence of someone's wrongdoing, under the rule of law he must be presumed not to have done wrong. This is justice as we understand it. Although it is my belief that the law as a body is perverse and does not serve the people, I also believe that it is not possible for humans to live freely in states without the rule of law. I also believe it is better for the weak to be oppressed by the powerful using the means of the law than for the powerful simply to exercise their power without even the restraints they impose upon themselves. I am not a utopian, by any stretch, and I think that at least putting those restraints out into the open is the better course.
That there is even a debate in America over whether torturers should face repercussions from the law, or whether it is right or wrong to detain people who have never been charged with, let alone convicted of, wrongdoing, and in some cases clearly would have no case at all to answer, unless you truly believe that being Muslim should be criminalised, is not just worrying. It is disgusting. America always was putrid. Now it has stripped away the pretence that it is anything else. It's laid bare as the rotten apple it is.