WORLD'S MOST EVIL AND LAWLESS INSTITUTION? THE EXECUTIVE BRANCH OF THE U.S. GOVERNMENT, PART 2
Our Divided Selves
We almost never ask such questions in this country, never try to put ourselves in the shoes of the tens of millions of victims of our leaders' war-making, because doing so confronts us with a grave dilemma. On the one hand, if we would say these acts are evil if done to ourselves they are obviously also evil when done to others. But admitting that would require most of us to challenge our most basic beliefs about this nation and its leadership. And if we are members of our political, intellectual, media, government and private sector elites, it would threaten our jobs and livelihoods.
We are divided. The honest part of ourselves knows there is only one word that can adequately describe the U.S. Executive Branch's indifference to non-American life. It is not a word to be used lightly, for overuse robs it of its power. But when appropriate, failing to use it is an act of moral cowardice that assures its continuation. That word is "evil".
If we would regard such acts as evil if done to us, they are equally evil if done to others. This is what we teach our children when we teach them the Golden Rule or that America is a nation of laws not men. It means, simply, that if needlessly ruining the lives of the innocent is evil, the U.S. Executive Branch is the most evil and lawless institution on the face of the Earth today, cannot be trusted, and poses a clear and present danger to countless innocents abroad and democracy at home.
We speak of "institutional evil" here because the greatest evils of our time are conducted by often personally decent, even idealistic, men and women. It is not necessary to be hate-filled or personally violent for an American to commit evil today. One need only be part of, or support the police, intelligence and military activities of the U.S. Executive Branch.
But the practical part of ourselves, the part that needs to make a living and maintain emotional equilibrium, leads us to ignore the mass evil our leaders engage in. It is so much easier. For accepting this truth means accepting that our leaders are not good and decent people; that JSOC commandos are not "heroes" but rather lawless assassins whose very existence shames us all; that we are not being protected, but endangered by leaders who are turning hundreds of millions of Muslims against us; that we must assume that Executive officials are right now secretly engaging in a wide variety of illegal and immoral activities that would shock and disgust us if they were revealed; and that we cannot believe a word they say when these abuses are revealed as they so regularly engage in secrecy and stonewalling, lying when discovered, covering up when the lie is revealed, and claiming it was an aberration and/or blaming it on a subordinate when the coverup fails. (8)
The issue of trust is key since it is the only basis upon which U.S. citizens can support secret Executive actions about which they are not informed. And the issue of trust is ultimately a moral, not legal judgment. We acknowledge that the citizen actually has a moral obligation to resist an unjust law promulgated by an immoral government, whether in the Soviet Union, South Africa, or, as we acknowledge when we celebrate Martin Luther King Jr.'s birthday, in America.
Even when the law is used by the likes of David Ignatius , David Brooks , Tom Brokaw , and Nancy Pelosi to attack an Edward Snowden, their key unstated assumption is that they trust the U.S. Executive since they know little more about its secret activities than anyone else. The moral dividing line is clear. Those indifferent to innocent human life and democracy are less angry at Executive mass murder and threats to democracy than at those who reveal this wrongdoing.
Although the principal responsibility for the millions of lives U.S. leaders have ruined lies with the Executive, most of America's other organs of power have also participated in keeping the screams of America's victims from reaching the public. Republicans and conservatives have not only shown no concern for America's innocent victims, but cheered on its leaders' torment of the innocent.
Bush U.N. Ambassador John Bolton, when asked by a New YorkTimes writer about U.S. responsibility to aid the millions of refugees its invasion of Iraq had created, responded that the refugees had:
"nothing to do with our overthrow of Saddam. Our obligation was to give them new institutions and provide security. We have fulfilled that obligation. I don't think we have an obligation to compensate for the hardships of war. Helping the refugees flies in the face of received logic. You don't want to encourage the refugees to stay."
But particularly striking has been the behavior of centrists and liberals who know full well the horrors U.S. Executive Branch leaders have inflicted upon the innocent, espouse humanitarian values, but simply look the other way. The Times, for example, quite appropriately ran photos and small bios humanizing each of the nearly 3,000 Americans killed on 9/11. But its editors have made a conscious decision not to humanize virtually any of the millions of non-Americans for whose deaths U.S. leaders are responsible, as has the rest of the U.S. mass media.
David Petraeus became Afghanistan commander on July 4, 2010, and
proceeded to loosen General McChrystal's rules of engagement, triple bombing
A Pakistan newspaper reported that things were so bad at the Kandahar Mirwais hospital that civilian casualties "overwhelm the limited bed space. On some days, the floor is red with blood" and that "the overflow at Kandahar's Mirwais hospital has forced hundreds of sick and injured Afghans to cross the border into Pakistan every day to seek medical treatment." It also noted that "many Afghans are unable to get to basic healthcare" because, despite hundreds of billions in U.S. spending on war, "thirty years of conflict have left the country's health care system struggling to cope."