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Where is our moral compass?

By       Message Arshad M Khan       (Page 1 of 1 pages)     Permalink    (# of views)   2 comments

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Where is our moral compass?

Arshad M Khan

Source: Eurasia Review
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Anyone who has given any thought to our tragic military adventures in Iraq must be sorry to see Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel leave. Not only did he express reservations about the Bush/Cheney Iraq war, but, according to news reports, he wanted an up-front discussion of the pros and cons of confronting IS (or ISIS or ISIL the name changes almost too frequently) directly with US troops. Sergeant Hagel had seen the Vietnam mess first hand; not so the ardent armchair interventionists (AAIs) of this administration . Apparently the AAIs won out.

Moreover, previous cabinet officers have written about the excessive importance attached to polls by this White House. That policy is poll-driven as opposed to principle-driven marks a certain inability or disinterest in developing strategies with distinct long-term goals and benefits, and then convincing the public of their virtue. Thus the ad hoc nature of policy, intuited by the electorate as an unsure hand at the helm.

Among a myriad reasons why we should not intervene now in Iraq, is a simple and important one: we will now be busy making a new set of extremist enemies so dangerous as to not mind killing themselves in pursuit of their aims. Bombing them (our preferred method) kills many more civilians than the few entrenched IS fighters in the heavily populated cities.

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Reprieve, a human rights charity, issued a report on drone strikes over the last dozen years targeting 41 individuals, often multiple times, in Yemen and Pakistan. The strikes killed 1141 people mostly women and children and the targets generally survived including Ayman al-Zawahiri. The latter was targeted twice killing 76 children and 29 adults but not him. Some ask how that is different from a suicide bomber who kills himself and often other bystanders in pursuit of a target. Of course the obvious difference is that the drone operator goes home to dinner at the end of his shift. After all this killing, the Taliban, who were not involved in the 9/11 attacks in the first place (it was Saudi citizens), are far from destroyed or disrupted or even degraded. They seem to be attacking at will.

The bombing campaign against IS has naturally caused another flood of refugees, most of whom according to reports found life more bearable under IS (as they are Sunnis, even if extremist) than under the viciously sectarian, Shia regime of former Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki. For the refugees, life is getting even worse as the UN program providing food aid has run out of funds; pressed by weak economies, donors are not fulfilling commitments.

By the way, how does IS "involve an actual or imminent threat to the nation"? It was candidate Obama's prerequisite, as a presidential hopeful in 2007, for a president to "unilaterally authorize a military attack" ... "under the constitution."

Finally, what will be the cost of this new found war? One would guess at least the $1 million per soldier per year of the Afghan war and then some, because bombing campaigns are expensive. This, while poor schools do not often have enough money for books, poverty and income inequality keep rising, and our infrastructure, the backbone of any economy, is crumbling. Working on the last would produce a multitude of decent paying jobs.

It is often said that a prosecutor worth the name can get a grand jury to indict a cabbage ... and its opposite -- that is not indict someone when the prosecutor does not want to. The charade in Ferguson is over and the white police officer who shot Michael Brown, the unarmed black teenager, was not indicted. Such is the case in almost all such incidents.

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And there are plenty: there were 54 police shootings in October 2014 of which many might have been justified under the circumstances. But why has the police turned 'judge, jury and executioner' when non-lethal measures like tasers are available. And there are also some very disturbing incidents. The Saturday before Thanksgiving, twelve-year old Tamir Rice was playing in Cudell Park and recreation center in Cleveland's northwest side when he was shot by police -- apparently within two seconds of their arrival on the scene in response to a 911 call. They thought it was a real weapon! Is there something serious ly amiss with police training when such events are becoming commonplace across the country?

On November 19, in the UN General Assembly's Third Committee -- it carries responsibility for humanitarian issues -- there was a vote on a resolution to condemn attempts to glorify Nazism and deny Nazi war crimes. While it was clearly aimed at Ukraine and its neo-Nazis, it also called for the adoption of the International Convention against racial discrimination to have a mechanism for resolving complaints.

What have we against such a resolution? One might even be forgiven for thinking the U.S. proposed it. Telling, for our positions in this new world, that it was Russia, our WW II ally against Nazism, who brought it to a vote. We voted against -- we plus two other countries (Canada and Ukraine) -- while I55 countries voted for, and the resolution passed with a resounding majority.

Both at home and abroad, the actions of militarist authority beg the question, where is our moral compass?


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Arshad M Khan is a former Professor. Educated at King's College London, Oklahoma State University and the University of Chicago, he has a multidisciplinary background that has frequently informed his research. He was elected a Fellow of the (more...)

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