We’ve taken out tens of thousands of terrorists – including Osama bin Laden.- Barack Obama.
From Obama’s farewell speech to his country delivered on 16th January, 2017. It was a wonderfully structured speech it could have been sub-titled “threats to our democracy.” He outlined 4 that was the speech. A structure, a theme, an end-point, (there could have been a mic-drop but by now he realises that dropping a piece of equipment doesn’t make a point any truer.)
Somewhere in there he talks about the above achievement. An achievement that makes the United States one of if not the most efficient and bloodthirsty of all the terrorist groups. I haven’t been able to stop thinking about it since then. I haven’t been able to stop thinking about it since I read an article “the Lethal Presidency of Barack Obama.” It’s an article about the drone program that should be required reading for the rest of us. For the rest of us not in America who have to judge their presidents by what they export and he exported death. For the rest of us not in America and therefore in countries where their president can decide to drop bombs on you if he feels you are a threat, with nothing to protect you, not International Norms, not the ICC, not the UN Security Council, nothing but the conscience of the man in the seat. He dropped drones on Pakistan and Yemen killing, killing, killing but Barack is an honourable man. He defined any male between the ages of 15 and 45 in the vicinity of a terrorist as a combatant too but Barack is an honourable man. He personally demanded that he make the decision, that he see the names, that he have the nightmares because Barack is an honourable man.
In his farewell speech he named it an achievement, the killing of tens of thousands of human beings. It left me, it leaves me close to tears to think about this. We must first accept his numbers though we know that no government ever gives the right statistics about the deaths. But ok tens of thousands. That’s not ten thousand, that’s not twenty thousand that is something between thirty and ninety thousand.
Tens of thousands of lives snuffed out. This world of ours is tens of thousands of souls darker. And for what? I want to know what it was for? Is this retribution for the 3,000 American dead seven years before he became president? Weren’t the dead of Afghanistan and Iraq enough, more than enough to quell those fires of revenge? We know that 9/11 was not the work of tens of thousands of people. We know that the ones directly responsible for it put themselves out of the judgement of humans as they committed the act. We know that before he became president the Americans have been killing, killing, killing.
So it was a preventative measure for there have been no terrorist attacks on his soil during his tenure. What’s worth killing tens of thousands? What is it you are preventing? The deaths of a hundred thousand, the deaths of a million, ten million? How do you know what death will do? How do you know that killing that many people over the course of eight years actually helps? This really bothered me. Does he think he is god to play with human lives like this? Is he endowed with the divine agency to weigh them on a scale ? To say it is ok to kill this many in order to save that many? Who the fuck does he think he is that he can make decisions like that? That he can know what will come of such decisions?
But he was tortured I told myself. I said I’ve read his book and listened to him and he has a kind soul. In the Once and Future King an old man reminisces on a crime he committed while 18. He has nightmares about it. The ghosts of the dead haunt him, they weigh him down, he does all he does as atonement for his crime. It was the “necessary” killing of the innocents prophesied to bring death and destruction that weighed on him. It was the biblical decision laid on King Herod. It was the exact same thing that the former president of the United States did.
This man though did not stand there contrite. He shed his tears later in a moment of love, letting this moment of mourning pass. He should have stood there and cried in pain. He should have said that it is a blemish on my soul and on the nation that I had to kill tens of thousands of people to keep it safe, the world is broken and instead of healing it all I could do was break it further so it wouldn’t break forever. Tens of thousands of people deserve a longer eulogy from their murderer than “we took out….”
In his private moments he may drown in despair for all I know. And I’ll never see the files he was shown, maybe he did save us all. Even if he did it deserves a pause. It deserves a tear. Tens of thousands were not all guilty, it’s not possible, it’s not. A cry for the lost sheep lost forever is the least they deserve. Not smugness “…including Osama-Bin –Laden.” Those were people. Those people had not yet committed crimes, they may never have, so it’s difficult to call it an execution. The problem with this pre-emptive strikes we can find ourselves in a horrid cycle where America kills other people to stop them killing Americans in the future and the only reason those other people are killing Americans is to stop the Americans killing them. The snake swallows its tail and eats itself alive.
I mourn the deaths of all those people. The blood of my brothers and of my sisters. Maybe this was for the best, but I still mourn your deaths and I hope that the man who acted a god mourns you too. You deserve that much.