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The Reality of the "Lesser Evil"

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  • scotpeden@cruzio.com
    Dead Enough: The Reality of the Lesser Evil http://www.worldcantwait.net/index.php/features/covert-drone-war/8051-dead-enough-the-reality-of-the-lesser-evil
    Message 1 of 1 , Nov 16, 2012
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      Dead Enough: The Reality of the "Lesser Evil"


      by Chris Floyd

      To all those now hailing the re-election of Barack Obama as a triumph of
      decent, humane, liberal values over the oozing-postule perfidy of the
      Republicans, a simple question:

      Is this child dead enough for you?

      This little boy was named Naeemullah. He was in his house -- maybe
      playing, maybe sleeping, maybe having a meal -- when an American drone
      missile was fired into the residential area where he lived and blew up the
      house next door.

      As we all know, these drone missiles are, like the president who wields
      them, super-smart, a triumph of technology and technocratic expertise. We
      know, for the president and his aides have repeatedly told us, that these
      weapons -- launched only after careful consultation of the just-war
      strictures of St. Augustine and St. Thomas Aquinas -- strike nothing but
      their intended targets and kill no one but "bad guys." Indeed, the
      president's top aides have testified under oath that not a single innocent
      person has been among the thousands of Pakistani civilians -- that is,
      civilians of a sovereign nation that is not at war with the United States
      -- who have been killed by the drone missile campaign of the Nobel Peace
      Prize Laureate.

      Yet somehow, by some miracle, the missile that roared into the residential
      area where Naeemullah lived did not confine itself neatly to the house it
      struck. Somehow, inexplicably, the hunk of metal and wire and computer
      processors failed -- in this one instance -- to look into the souls of all
      the people in the village and ascertain, by magic, which ones were "bad
      guys" and then kill only them. Somehow -- perhaps the missile had been
      infected with Romney cooties? -- this supercharged hunk of high explosives
      simply, well, exploded with tremendous destructive power when it struck
      the residential area, blowing the neighborhood to smithereens.

      As Wired reports, shrapnel and debris went flying through the walls of
      Naeemullah's house and ripped through his small body. When the attack was
      over -- when the buzzing drone sent with Augustinian wisdom by the Peace
      Laureate was no longer lurking over the village, shadowing the lives of
      every defenseless inhabitant with the terrorist threat of imminent death,
      Naeemullah was taken to the hospital in a nearby town.

      This is where the picture of above was taken by Noor Behram, a resident of
      North Waziristan who has been chronicling the effects of the Peace
      Laureate's drone war. When the picture was taken, Naeemullah was dying.
      He died an hour later.

      He died.

      Is he dead enough for you?

      Dead enough not to disturb your victory dance in any way? Dead enough not
      to trouble the inauguration parties yet to come? Dead enough not to
      diminish, even a little bit, your exultant glee at the fact that this
      great man, a figure of integrity, decency, honor and compassion, will be
      able to continue his noble leadership of the best nation in the history of
      the world?

      Do you have children? Do they sit your house playing happily? Do they
      sleep sweetly scrunched up in their warm beds at night? Do they chatter
      and prattle like funny little birds as you eat with them at the family
      table? Do you love them? Do you treasure them? Do you consider them
      fully-fledged human beings, beloved souls of infinite worth?

      How would you feel if you saw them ripped to shreds by flying shrapnel, in
      your own house? How would you feel as you rushed them to the hospital,
      praying every step of the way that another missile won't hurl down on you
      from the sky? Your child was innocent, you had done nothing, were simply
      living your life in your own house -- and someone thousands of miles away,
      in a country you had never seen, had no dealings with, had never harmed in
      any way, pushed a button and sent chunks of burning metal into your
      child's body. How would you feel as you watched him die, watched all your
      hopes and dreams for him, all the hours and days and years you would have
      to love him, fade away into oblivion, lost forever?

      What would you think about the one who did this to your child? Would you
      say: "What a noble man of integrity and decency! I'm sure he is acting for
      the best."

      Would you say: "Well, this is a bit unfortunate, but it's perfectly
      understandable. The Chinese government (or Iran or al Qaeda or North Korea
      or Russia, etc. etc.) believed there was someone next door to me who might
      possibly at some point in time pose some kind of threat in some
      unspecified way to their people or their political agenda -- or maybe it
      was just that my next-door neighbor behaved in a certain arbitrarily
      chosen way that indicated to people watching him on a computer screen
      thousands of miles away that he might possibly be the sort of person who
      might conceivably at some point in time pose some kind of unspecified
      threat to the Chinese (Iranians/Russians, etc.), even though they had no
      earthly idea who my neighbour is or what he does or believes or intends. I
      think the person in charge of such a program is a good, wise, decent man
      that any person would be proud to support. Why, I think I'll ask him to
      come speak at my little boy's funeral!"

      Is that what you would say if shrapnel from a missile blew into your
      comfortable house and killed your own beloved little boy? You would not
      only accept, understand, forgive, shrug it off, move on -- you would
      actively support the person who did it, you would cheer his personal
      triumphs and sneer at all those who questioned his moral worthiness and
      good intentions? Is that really what you would do?

      Well, that is what you are doing when you shrug off the murder of little
      Naeemullah. You are saying he is not worth as much as your child. You are
      saying he is not a fully-fledged human being, a beloved soul of infinite
      worth. You are saying that you support his death, you are happy about it,
      and you want to see many more like it. You are saying it doesn't matter if
      this child -- or a hundred like him, or a thousand like him, or, as in the
      Iraqi sanctions of the old liberal lion, Bill Clinton, five hundred
      thousand children like Naeemullah -- are killed in your name, by leaders
      you cheer and support. You are saying that the only thing that matters is
      that someone from your side is in charge of killing these children. This
      is the reality of "lesser evilism."


      Before the election, we heard a lot of talk about this notion of the
      "lesser evil." From prominent dissidents and opponents of empire like
      Daniel Ellsberg and Noam Chomsky and Robert Parry to innumerable
      progressive blogs to personal conversations, one heard this basic
      argument: "Yes, the drone wars, the gutting of civil liberties, the White
      House death squads and all the rest are bad; but Romney would be worse.
      Therefore, with great reluctance, holding our noses and shaking our heads
      sadly, we must choose the lesser evil of Obama and vote accordingly."

      I understand that argument, I really do. I don't agree with it, as I made
      plain here many times before the election. I think the argument is wrong,
      I think our system is so far gone that even a "lesser evil" is too evil to
      support in any way, that such support only perpetuates the system's
      unconscionable evils. But I'm not a purist, not a puritan, not a commissar
      or dogmatist. I understand that people of good will can come to a
      different conclusion, and feel that they must reluctantly choose one
      imperial-militarist-corporate faction over the other, in the belief that
      this will mean some slight mitigation of the potential evil that the other
      side commit if it took power. I used to think that way myself, years ago.
      Again, I now disagree with this, and I think that the good people who
      believe this have not, for whatever reason or reasons, looked with
      sufficient clarity at the reality of our situation, of what is actually
      being done, in their name, by the political faction they support.

      But of course, I am not the sole arbiter of reality, nor a judge of
      others; people see what they see, and they act (or refrain from acting)
      accordingly. I understand that. But here is what I don't understand: the
      sense of triumph and exultation and glee on the part of so many
      progressives and liberals and 'dissidents' at the victory of this "lesser
      evil." Where did the reluctance, the nose-holding, the sad head-shaking
      go? Should they not be mourning the fact that evil has triumphed in
      America, even if, by their lights, it is a "lesser" evil?

      If you really believed that Obama was a lesser evil -- 2 percent less
      evil, as I believe Digby once described the Democrats in 2008 -- if you
      really did find the drone wars and the White House death squads and Wall
      Street bailouts and absolution for torturers and all the rest to be
      shameful and criminal, how can you be happy that all of this will
      continue? Happy -- and continuing to scorn anyone who opposed the
      perpetuation of this system?

      The triumph of a lesser evil is still a victory for evil. If your
      neighborhood is tyrannized by warring mafia factions, you might prefer
      that the faction which occasionally doles out a few free hams wins out
      over their more skinflint rivals; but would you be joyful about the fact
      that your neighborhood is still being tyrannized by murderous criminals?
      Would you not be sad, cast down, discouraged and disheartened to see the
      violence and murder and corruption go on? Would you not mourn the fact
      that your children will have to grow up in the midst of all this?

      So where is the mourning for the fact that we, as a nation, have come to
      this: a choice between murderers, a choice between plunderers? Even if you
      believe that you had to participate and make the horrific choice that was
      being offered to us -- "Do you want the Democrat to kill these children,
      or do you want the Republican to kill these children?" -- shouldn't this
      post-election period be a time of sorrow, not vaulting triumph and giddy
      glee and snarky put-downs of the "losers"?

      If you really are a "lesser evilist" -- if this was a genuine moral choice
      you reluctantly made, and not a rationalization for indulging in
      unexamined, primitive partisanship -- then you will know that we are ALL
      the losers of this election. Even if you believe it could have been worse,
      it is still very bad. You yourself proclaimed that Obama was evil -- just
      a bit "lesser" so than his opponent. (2 percent maybe.) And so the evil
      that you yourself saw and named and denounced will go on. Again I ask:
      where is the joy and glory and triumph in this? Even if you believe it was
      unavoidable, why celebrate it? And ask yourself, bethink yourself:what are
      you celebrating? This dead child, and a hundred like him? A thousand like
      him? Five hundred thousand like him? How far will you go? What won't you

      And so step by step, holding the hand of the "lesser evil," we descend
      deeper and deeper into the pit.

      This article originally appeared on chris-floyd.com on November 9, 2012.
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