Klein's Sociopathic Defense of Drone Killings of Children
Here are the relevant portions of the exchange, which was triggered when regular guest Mike Barnicle announced how amazing he found it that so little public attention and debate is paid to the fact that Obama simply kills whomever he wants "without any kind of due process":
There are several points worth noting about this exchange:
(1) Klein's justification - we have to kill their children in order to protect our children - is the exact mentality of every person deemed in US discourse to be a "terrorist". Almost every single person arrested and prosecuted over the last decade on terrorism charges, when asked why they were willing to kill innocent Americans including children, offered some version of Joe Klein's mindset.
Here, for instance, is what the Pakistani-American Faisal Shazad said after he pled guilty to attempting to detonate a bomb in Times Square, in response to an angry question from the presiding US federal judge as to how he could possibly be willing to kill innocent children:
The mentality of Faisal Shazad and Joe Klein are completely identical and indistinguishable: it is justified for us indiscriminately to kill even your innocent children because doing so will help stop you from killing ours.
And here's what Osama bin Laden had to say on the same topic:
The only difference between the Joe Kleins of the world and Osama bin Laden is that they're on different sides. To the extent one wanted to distinguish them, one could say that the violence and aggression brought by the US to the Muslim world vastly exceeds - vastly - the violence and aggression brought by the Muslim world to the US. That's just a fact.
(2) Leaving aside the sociopathic, morally grotesque defense of killing 4-year-olds with a "joystick from California". Klein's claims are completely false on pragmatic grounds. Slaughtering Muslim children does not protect American children from terrorism. The opposite is true. That is precisely what causes the anti-American hatred that fuels and sustains terrorism aimed at Americans in the first place, as even a study commissioned by the Rumsfeld-era Pentagon recognized almost a decade ago.
The reason American 4-year-olds are in danger from terrorism - to the very limited extent they are - is precisely because those empowered in US government and media circles think like Joe Klein does. Soulless cheerleaders for indiscriminate killing like Joe Klein - who once went on national television and advocated that the US should preserve the right to launch a first-strike nuclear attack on Iran in order to stop their nuclear program, prompting host George Stephanopoulos to label that statement "insane" - are the reason there is a terrorism risk to Americans, not the solution for that risk.
If you want to understand why there is such a widespread desire to engage in violence against the US, look at Joe Klein's face and listen to his words. Every Muslim who has ever engaged in violence against the US will make that as clear as can be.
(3) This exchange is a perfectly vivid expression of the Obama legacy. Here we have a standard Democratic/progressive pundit who is one of the media's most stalwart Obama fanatics defending indiscriminate slaughter of Muslim children. Meanwhile, it's left to a former right-wing, Gingrich-era congressman to raise objections, call for more public scrutiny, and cite the moral and strategic dangers, one of the very few commentators on MSNBC - the progressive network - who has ever voiced such passionate criticism of Obama's ongoing killings.
Obama has led all sorts of progressives and other Democrats to be the most vocal supporters of unrestrained aggression, secret assassinations, and "crippling" the Iranian people with sanctions. It is completely unsurprising that the most sociopathic defense of drones comes from one of the most committed Obama supporters, and that it's now left to a former GOP Congressman to raise objections. As much as anything, that is the Obama legacy.
(4) One of the primary reasons war - especially protracted war - is so destructive is not merely that it kills the populations at whom it is aimed, but it also radically degrades the character of the citizenry that wages it. That's what enables one of America's most celebrated pundits to go on the most mainstream of TV programs and coldly justify the killing of 4-year-olds, without so much as batting an eyelash or even paying lip service to the heinous tragedy of that, and have it be barely noticed. Joe Klein is the face not only of the Obama legacy, but also mainstream US political culture.
Speaking of killing children, the Afghanistan government said this morning that a NATO operation on Saturday killed three more Afghan children, ones who were tending to livestock.
There's one other vital point to be made here. Klein says that "there is a really major possibility of abuse [of drone power] if you have the wrong people running the government" - in other words, we can trust Obama with it, but not the big bad Republicans. This was precisely what Bush followers used to say about his claimed powers of due-process-free eavesdropping and detention: maybe this would be scary if Hillary Clinton could do this, but I trust Bush to use it only against the Bad Guys.
Leaving aside the authoritarian willingness to trust certain leaders with unchecked power, this is not how the US government works. Once a power is legitimized and institutionalized, then it is vested in all presidents, current and future, Democratic and Republican. That is why Thomas Jefferson warned: "In questions of power, then, let no more be heard of confidence in man, but bind him down from mischief by the chains of the Constitution." Those who cheer for the unchecked power to assassinate in secret because it's Obama who currently wields that power will be the ones fully responsible when some leader they don't trust exercises it - abuses it - in the future.
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