Something Else to Think about with the Killings in Connecticut

December 19, 2012

Senseless killings always sting the worst.  Last week, when news had spread that deranged gunman Adam Lanza opened fire at a Newtown, Connecticut elementary school killing 20 children, horror, shock and then outrage were experienced by untold numbers of Americans.  Those of us in education especially reflected upon how such a vicious act could be perpetrated on the most innocent of innocence?

Of course, within hours of the carnage in Newtown, profiteering politicians were making statements and gearing up to impose new attacks on Second Amendment rights.  New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg on Meet the Press proclaimed that President Obama should make gun control his number one priority for 2013.  Forget about the economy which is slowly and silently slipping into another huge economic downturn.  Then there was California Senator Dianne Feinstein who has promised that she will introduce legislation banning assault weapons on the very first day the Senate is back in session.  Never mind that studies on the same ban in effect between 1994 and 2004 have been inconclusive on whether it reduced violent crime during that time period.

But this piece is not about engaging in the never ending debate over gun rights in our country.  It is about the hypocrisy of Americans who mourn the young victims in Connecticut while totally disregarding the child victims of our government’s war machine overseas.

In the last seven years, first the Bush and then the Obama Administration, has conducted a lethal undeclared drone war over the skies of Pakistan near the Afghanistan border.  Its purpose is to seek and destroy al Qaeda targets in the now open ended War on Terror.  However, those same American drones have killed at least 168 children in the raids including 69 in a single attack in Madrassah in 2006.   Where is the horror, shock, and outrage over these deaths?

Beyond the innocent children killed, the drone war has disrupted the family lives of many other kids in Pakistan.  Strikes that have killed one or both parents have left many kids orphaned and unable to provide for themselves.  Many parents have stopped sending their children to school for fear they will end up at the wrong place at the wrong time and because there are reports that American drone strikes have damaged or destroyed local schools.  Then there are the mental effects of the constant aerial assault.  In a poor country like Pakistan, with virtually no psychological resources families are left to themselves to cope with loss and the traumatic stress of always living in danger of being blown up.

Now, we are told that these attacks on civilian populations are necessary to kill the bad guys and keep us safe.  Have we gotten to the point in America where only “us” count? Are our children’s lives more important than others?  Americans claim the moral high ground in world affairs yet ignore the atrocities committed by our government in the name of national security.

Yes, we are dismayed and outraged that 20 innocent children were taken from their parents last week in Newtown, Connecticut.  And we have a right to be.  But, let’s not forget that on the other side of the world Pakistani parents are suffering because they too have lost children to senseless violence – senseless violence at the hands of our government.

So while we mourn the tragic end of young lives, let’s rededicate ourselves to peaceful coexistence.  We could provide no greater memorial to the 20 innocent children lost in Connecticut than to pressure the Congress and the President to stop at once the drone war over Pakistan and other countries.  We owe it to parents in those countries.  We owe it to ourselves.

Article first published as Thoughts About the Connecticut Killings on Blogcritics.


It’s Time to Cut Our Losses in Afghanistan

April 25, 2012

Last Sunday the Obama Administration and the Afghanistan government finalized an “agreement” that commits the U.S. taxpayer to financially support the Afghan people for 10 years after the withdraw of American troops from Afghan soil at the end of 2014.  According to U.S. and Afghan officials the pledge of U.S. support will be finalized when both Afghan president Karzai and President Obama sign the document.

Naturally both sides claim the agreement is in the best interests of the U.S. and Afghanistan.  The Afghani’s will get about $2.7 billion a year to build infrastructure, train their security forces, and maintain democratic institutions.  The U.S. will get a stable nation in an unstable neighborhood and a reliable friend in the fight against international terrorism.  At least that is what the party line is from both sides.  Of course one doesn’t have to look to hard at historical examples where our foreign aid actually had the opposite effect on a situation.

Now, in the first place this “agreement” is indicative of how far we have moved away from being a constitutional republic.  In essence, the Obama Administration has negotiated a treaty with Afghanistan. defines a treaty as “a formal agreement between two or more states in reference to peace, alliance, commerce, or other international relations.  Granted this is an open-ended definition, but I would lump what this agreement does with Afghanistan into the alliance category (against terrorists) and into other international relations (foreign aid).  Thus, why is the Senate not required to ratify this treaty as specified by Article 2 Section 2 of the U.S. Constitution?

Beyond the illegality of the agreement, it also just doesn’t make sense for our president to commit us financially or otherwise to Afghanistan.  On Sunday, U.S. ambassador, Ryan Crocker told Afghanistan’s national security council that the United States was pledged to helping Afghanistan as “a unified, democratic, stable and secure state”.  The question is when has Afghanistan ever been “a unified, democratic, stable and secure state”? After over a decade of American occupation She is still crippled by sectarianism, nepotism, instability, and corruption.  The agreement looks more like a scheme to prop up the Karzai government as the only long term option American policymakers have for Afghanistan.  This tactic has been repeated over and over again with American foreign aid all over the world.  It’s never worked effectively.   Why do we think it will be different this time?  Why do we think that our money won’t end up in the Swiss bank accounts of Afghani officials or even Karzai himself?

Entering into a long-term agreement with Afghanistan will simply bog us down in another no-win situation in that country.  It will no doubt contribute to more hostilities toward America and inflame the resolve of our current enemies.  Americans will be called upon to pay even more to prop up the frail Karzai regime or worse yet sacrifice their lives for this unworthy cause.

It is past the time for the United States to cut its losses in Afghanistan.  Financially, physically, and mentally we can no longer continue to support this historical lost cause.  What we couldn’t accomplish in the last decade with boots on the ground we will not be able to achieve with money after the boots have gone home.  That is a historical fact.  It’s time to turn off the lights and close the door on this part of our nation’s history.

Modern Nazis

August 12, 2011

Guest Blog: Chris Jacobine

On the night of May 1st, 2011, I witnessed thousands take to the streets in State College, Pennsylvania, to celebrate the death of one of the most iconic, evil figures in modern history.  The death of Osama Bin Laden served as a statement to the enemies of the “free world” that the United States and her allies had reach enough to extract a man who had evaded capture for nearly ten years and who, for a brief period of time, brought the colossal empire of America to a rigid halt.  The end of Osama’s reign can be characterized by the gleeful demonstrations that took place across the United States on receiving word of his downfall, as a symbol of the prevailing nature of the so called “forces of good”.  However, the United States as a country has failed to gain from this ordeal. Osama’s death has served only to absolve a decade of vindictive emotions and express that no foul play will remain unpunished as long as the enemies of “freedom” draw breath.

I would like to preface this piece by highlighting that the thoughts presented in this essay are entirely subjective, and written from the point of view of an American citizen whose opinions may differ greatly from my peers.  The function of this piece is not to evoke an emotional response, but rather to express an alternate opinion that I feel has been omitted from the spotlight. Feel free to disagree with any of my points; in fact, I encourage you to.

From a historical perspective, there will always be a measure of bias concerning the retelling of any course of events.  The documented perspective of nearly every critical event in history is that of the victor, and for that reason, opinions concerning historical figures tend to lack diversity.  The most prominent example is Adolf Hitler, who is one of the most referenced historical figures of negative connotation in modern culture.  Imagine, for the sake of argument, that Hitler’s forces had been victorious in their conquests of Europe, and that the subsequent peace left the entire continent under German rule.  The historical data retained and distributed to the average citizen concerning the war, in this circumstance, would contain a very pro-Nazi bias.  And if the programs implemented in Germany, such as Hitler’s Youths, and the functional nature of fascism had spread to Germany’s colonies and experienced the same successes that they brought to Germany, perhaps the distrust of Hitler and the Nazi regime would wither over time.  Generations of students would read textbooks that commend the Third Reich on its accomplishments and offer no alternate viewpoint.  Certainly this idea is disconcerting for those who recognize the implications of Hitler’s aspirations, yet parallels can be drawn between this scenario and the American empire as it stands today.

Many, if not most, Americans believe that we are part of the most prolific and successful nation that the world has ever seen, whose power and status is unquestioned around the globe. This notion is unfounded.  Certainly the American economy is the most productive and powerful in world history, and our military has a near perfect record, but no country in the world has a weaker semblance of culture.  Our lives are built around modern engines and materialism, with the belief that success in our lifetimes can only be achieved if we live the American Dream that has become the object of our desires.  By embellishing in modern luxuries, the structure of life has become a progression that feeds on our greed and latent desires, only pausing briefly to boast our own worth to induce jealousy in others.  Pride plugs our senses and limits any chance that we have of learning things from other people and cultures.

It is for this reason, in conjunction with the sheer might of America as a country, that I feel justified in saying that the bias that the American culture asserts, both inwardly and as a perspective toward the rest of the world, is comparably alarming as the idea of a victorious Nazi regime in World War II.  The ideals that we take to be factual are simply our own cultural axioms, which are no truer from a universal sense than any other culture’s beliefs.  The people of Germany believed that their cause was just when they went to war in 1939, as did the Americans when we bombed Baghdad`. Too often, we mistake consensus for fact, and are unrelenting in our defense of these beliefs. And although culture as a concept is built from this notion of agreement within a community, the idea that our beliefs are absolutely true has bred widespread contempt toward the United States

Asserting that any one culture’s way of life is ideal is an insult to the global community.  One of the fundamental principles of life is that the experiences of a human during their lifetime cannot be defined by any distinguishable quality.  Although we would believe that a wealthy individual who lives a long and prosperous life in a Western country has led a more fulfilled life than an orphan child in a third world nation, the two are interchangeable.  Our backgrounds, family history and social status are all arbitrary in nature, and the opportunities given to different people are based on chance.  There is no failure in the orphan’s life, as there is no success in that of the wealthy man.  As the Italian proverb goes, “When the game is over, the king and the pawn go into the same box.”  The actions that we take while we are alive are our own to choose, and by attempting to quantify whose life is more fulfilled or who lived a happier life, we lose our ability to empathize.

The extent of the knowledge that the majority of people around the globe have concerning current events is limited to the information and opinions presented by the media. This is an inadequacy that is overlooked by many, as we prefer to think that we have been given ample information and that our opinions are both insightful and knowledgeable. But just because a concept is the preferable option doesn’t make it true. Complacency breeds complacency and for our country to progress, we need to accept our limitations and embrace modesty so that we may think critically about our environment and build our own, individual opinions about a variety of global issues.

This notion is relevant in the discussion of the September 11th attacks. As with every dispute, there are multiple points of view, though the alternate viewpoint in this circumstance is often overlooked. We assume that there can be no logical reason for such destruction, and for that reason, it is presumed that the attackers are irrational in thought. However, to enact a plan so extreme, an excessive amount of logical thought must have been given to the issue. So the question becomes, what did we do to evoke such emotions? How have our actions influenced the world to the extent that institutions of people loathe us enough to inflict such pain? And ultimately, are we partially to blame for the September 11th attacks?

And so, as I watched thousands of people celebrate the death of a man none of them have ever met, I refused to partake on principle. I do not think the death of Osama Bin Laden is a cause for celebration, but rather disappointment. This decade-long culmination of efforts only succeeded in ending one man’s life. We have not learned anything from this ordeal, nor did we attempt to. Our resolve now is as strong as it was ten years ago, and our inflated ego blinds us from distinguishing between fact and opinion, instead relying on the adage that ignorance is bliss.

The victims of terrorism have not been done justice by the murder of Osama Bin Laden. If we ignore tragedy as an opportunity to learn from our mistakes, then every victim of the September 11th attacks died in vain.

U.S. Cannot Learn from Past Mistakes

May 17, 2011

The fact of the matter is that the terrorist attacks of 911 had more to do with the U.S. government’s meddling in the affairs of the Middle East for decades than it did as George W. Bush would have us believe because we are free.  All one needs to do is compare say Luxembourg or Lichtenstein with the U.S.  In many ways the two European nations are freer than the U.S. especially economically, but don’t interfere in and bomb Arab nations.  Thus, even a casual observer could deduce that radical Islamists attacked us not because of our political or economic system but because for decades America has supported either directly or indirectly wholesale violence against Muslim people.

You would think we would learn from our mistakes.  But, one thing our government is good at is making enemies and one thing Americans are good at is believing their government even when it is to their detriment.  Take the latest two military actions undertaken by Washington against Muslim people.  The U.S. military is currently engaged directly in two illegal wars against Muslim people.  In Pakistan, our unmanned drones have been striking terrorist targets since at least 2004.  These attacks are justified by Washington as necessary to root out terrorists and thereby make us safer.  The war against Pakistan is illegal because it is being perpetrated against a sovereign nation that has not threatened U.S. security in any way.

The same can be said of our military actions through NATO in Libya.  Yes, Qaddafi is a nut and has had a terrorist past, but all that seemed to be water under the bridge until NATO led by the U.S. decided to set up a so-called “no-fly zone” over Libya to “protect” rebels and civilians from extermination at the hands of the brutal dictator’s forces.  Again, Libya posed no threat to American security, but in the name of protecting Libyans Obama launched his illegal military action against Libya.

Besides the illegality inherent in both missions, on the surface the actions of U.S. forces in Pakistan and Libya seem reasonable given the dangers posed by terrorism and Qaddafi against his own people.  But, make no mistake about it both missions will prove to make us more vulnerable to terrorist attack than if we had not gotten involved in them in the first place.

Since becoming president, Obama has ordered the CIA to carry out more drone strikes in Pakistan than George W. Bush did in his entire eight years in office, killing more than 500 people since 2009.  Roughly a third of this number was innocent civilians. Recently, Obama authorized Seal Team 6 to violate Pakistani sovereignty to allegedly murder Osama bin Laden.  Consequences of the latter U.S. action in Pakistan have already resulted in the dual suicide bombings that killed 80 Pakistani paramilitary recruits in northwest Pakistan.  Threats of revenge for bin Laden’s alleged killing have been made against all navy seals and their families due to the notoriety they as a group have received for allegedly murdering bin Laden.  Hell, Al Qaeda has even made threats against Obama’s step-grandmother in Kenya.  The point is U.S. induced violence in Pakistan puts all Americans at risk of future blowback from terrorists in that country.

Of course, many Pakistanis are seething with anger over the indiscriminate bombing of their country by American forces.  Many Pakistanis view their own government as complicit in the matter.  Is Pakistan getting ripe for a violent overthrow?  Given its strategic location and nuclear arsenal, our leaders will certainly be compelled to intervene with boots on the ground.  How many Americans will lose their lives in the bloodbath that would result?

And the situation is not much better for us in Libya.  The so-called no-fly zone has proven to be a farce.  NATO is in the conflict to cause regime change.  Many innocent civilians have already been killed in NATO bombings of “military targets”.  Just last week 11 imams were killed in a bombing in the eastern Libyan city of Brega.  These deaths strike at the heart of Muslims.  In fact, speaking at a press conference in Tripoli late last Friday, fellow imams urged Muslims across the world to kill “1,000 people for each dead imam” across the world, namely in “France, Italy, Denmark, Britain, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates.”  Once again U.S. forces under the guise of NATO are seen as Muslim killers – and worst yet Muslim holy men killers.  What blowback will result from this event?

After President Obama reported that he had killed Osama bin Laden, Americans danced in the streets while chanting U.S.A.! U.S.A.!  They were celebrating as if the “War on Terror” was finally over.  I couldn’t help but think how idiotic and premature the celebrating was. For one thing, didn’t we expect Al Qaeda to retaliate for the death of its martyred leader?  For another, were all those delirious Americans not mindful that we are still engaged in military operations in Iraq, Afghanistan, Yemen, Pakistan, and Libya?  Did they not understand that their celebrations would be used to recruit even more terrorists to the cause of Al Qaeda?

From the CIA overthrow of popularly elected Iranian Prime Minister Mohammad Mossadegh in 1953 to Bill Clinton’s ordered bombing of a Sudanese pharmaceutical factory in the 1990s, the U.S. government’s long and sordid history of hostile acts against Muslims has resulted in loads of resentment against us which has manifested itself in terror networks like Al Qaeda.  With the most recent actions of our government in Pakistan and Libya, more resentment and increased terrorist activity are sure to transpire.  You would think our leaders would learn from past mistakes or maybe it is they don’t want to?

Kenn Jacobine teaches internationally and maintains a summer residence in North Carolina

“Where’s the Beef”?

May 4, 2011

Those of us that are old enough and fond of TV commercial history remember the famous Wendy’s hamburger chain commercials of the 1980s.  You might remember they featured three fickle old ladies that enter a burger joint and are disappointed at the size of the patty on the bun.   The old biddies’ appearance in that commercial ends with the refrain from one of them, “where’s the beef”?  Overnight, “where’s the beef”? became a popular nationwide response for anything lacking in substance.  It was even used to chastise a presidential candidate for lack of details in his campaign platform.

Let’s fast forward to yesterday and the amazing news that the U.S. military finally brought Osama bin Laden to justice.  Bin Laden has allegedly been on the run from U.S. forces since President Bush sent our military into Afghanistan shortly after 911.  I say allegedly because no one could be sure if bin Laden was dead or alive all this time.  True, he appeared to star in videos from his remote cave hideouts that were disseminated to the world by Al Jazeera.  Our intelligence agencies inspected the videos and assured us of their authenticity.  But still, who could tell.  After all, didn’t Saddam Hussein have several different doubles?

So, President Obama goes on TV last night and announces that yes, when he took office in 2009 he made it a first priority in the War on Terror to capture bin Laden dead or alive.  He stated that for several weeks his administration sifted through intelligence reports of bin Laden’s whereabouts meticulously.  Finally, when there was a certain guarantee of launching a successful capture of bin Laden the president as commander in chief gave the order to execute the plan.  And we were told that the plan came off flawlessly.  A fire fight was involved and when the smoke cleared the dead corpse of the world’s most wanted man was in the custody of the Navy Seals.  Hollywood could not have scripted a better movie.

The only problem is “where’s the beef”?  Where is bin Laden’s body to corroborate the president’s fish story.  An administration official has indicated that in accordance with Islamic practice, which the U.S. military respects very much (forget for a moment about Abu Ghraib), bin Laden’s body was buried at sea.  You see the U.S. military didn’t have time to parade his body in public for the world to see like it did when it executed Saddam Hussein.  Saddam’s corpse was shown to the Iraqi people to quell their fears that there was any chance he would be coming back.  As an American whose government has spent trillions trying to capture bin Laden and who has had constitutional rights taken away and been sexually molested at airports because of the danger he posed, don’t I have a right to see his bullet riddled body to quell my fears that he is never coming back?

Anyway, here is what I think might be the truth.  Bin Laden died years ago at the hands of American bombers in the mountains of Afghanistan.  It made sense for the U.S. government to not publicize his death given it would be used to recruit new members to Al Qaeda and encourage attacks on U.S. interests.  However, today the economy is in the toilet, we are involved in at least three recognized wars, and Barrack Obama’s approval rating is dismal.  Having just launched his reelection campaign the president needed some good news.  Since capturing bin Laden was the first priority of his in fighting the War on Terror, why not go for the gusto.  Make the whole thing up.  Fabricate the story that our forces just killed him last night.  Claim his body had to be disposed of within twenty-four hours out of respect for Islam and we couldn’t bury him on land, like Saddam Hussein was, for fear his followers would go there to honor him as a martyr.  Americans will be dancing in the streets, the dollar will strengthen, the stock market will rise, and Obama will look like a strong leader which will bode well for his reelection chances.  Conspiracy theory you say?  Maybe, but the discerning observer should still ask “where’s the beef”?  Why couldn’t we have seen the body to verify the story?  After all, isn’t a murder case on shaky ground without the body?

At the end of the day whatever was left of Barrack Obama’s credibility is at the bottom of the sea with bin Laden’s corpse.  One of two things happened.  Either the whole thing is a fraud for political ends like George W. Bush pulled claiming Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction and ties to Al Qaeda so he could invade Iraq.  Or Obama is not smart enough to realize you need evidence to prove fish stories.  Whatever the case, given how much Americans have sacrificed for the War on Terror don’t we deserve better?

Article first published as “Where’s the Beef”? on Blogcritics.

Kenn Jacobine teaches internationally and maintains a summer residence in North Carolina

U.S. and Israel Unfortunately Share Common Values

February 9, 2011 defines values as “the ideals and customs of a society toward which the people of the group have an affective regard.  Values may be positive, as cleanliness, freedom, or education, or negative, as cruelty, crime, or blasphemy”.

Our leaders often tells us that the main reason the U.S. supports Israel, it often seems unconditionally, is because more than any other country in the region we share important values.   We are led to believe that these values include a respect for human rights and adoration for democracy.  Given both governments’ handling of the Egyptian crisis it does seem the U.S. and Israel have common values, but unfortunately not positive ones.

Israel’s position on whether Egyptians should enjoy the same civil rights and democratic government that Israelis enjoy was expressed last week in an urgent message Tel Aviv sent to its allies encouraging them to save Mubarak and his dictatorial regime.  In spite of Mubarak’s anti-democratic, anti-human rights measures the Netanyahu government has become his biggest fan club.  I mean we are talking about a man who has brutally squashed dissent, tortured people sometimes at the behest of our own government, and stolen elections by intimidation and fraudulent vote counting.  Just recently he sent his goons into Tahrir Square to harass and beat protesters and journalists.  By all definitions Mubarak’s 30 year reign in Cairo has been a dictatorship.  But Israel, who allegedly cherishes democracy, not only would like to see Mubarak remain in power in Egypt but is leading the foreign efforts to make it happen.

The Obama Administration’s response to the crisis has been more subtle but no less egregious.  Why we just can’t leave Egypt’s affairs for Egyptians to decide is beyond me?  But, of course the U.S. government has to get involved.  Currently it is attempting to broker a deal whereby Mubarak steps down immediately and eventual constitutional reforms, free and fair elections, and a renewed respect for civil rights would take place.  This sounds good, however the U.S. plan is unacceptable because the man chosen to take control of the government in the transitional phase is Mubarak’s handpicked vice president Omar Suleiman.  Suleiman is the former head of Egypt’s spy agency, an alleged “CIA point man” and the go to guy for Egypt’s rendition program – whereby terror suspects caught by the U.S. were taken to Egypt for extraordinary interrogation sessions.  In other words Suleiman is even more of a thug than Mubarak and could not be trusted to follow through on reforms.

At the end of the day this whole situation is the same old same old.  You can hardly fault Israel for supporting Mubarak.  He is a brutal dictator to Egyptians, but he has been a loyal friend to Israel.  He has adhered to Egypt’s 1979 peace treaty with Israel.  He has protected Israel politically from demands that Tel Aviv obey international law and halt new settlements in East Jerusalem.  Lastly, he has worked closely with Israel in its campaign to eradicate Hamas in Gaza.  Thus, in the name of self-preservation Israel is acting like any other self-respecting nation-state.

But what justifies the actions of the U.S. government?  Nothing.  Our government is once again looking at a major world crisis through a narrow black and white lense.  You are either for us or against us.  What’s a shame is that this could have been Obama’s big chance to actually bring promised “change” to our foreign policy.  But, once again Washington is supporting the wrong side in a pivotal crisis.  Like Tel Aviv, Washington speaks with a forked tongue.   We talk a good game about supporting democracy, but when push comes to shove we support the next brutal dictator in waiting all because he can be purchased to fall in line behind the so-called “War on Terror”.

So, yes, Israel and the U.S. share common values and unfortunately they are not good ones.  All the verbiage about respect for human rights and adoration for democracy is just rhetoric.  The bottom line is that both governments support despots at the expense of democratic movements.  Israel has an excuse.  It’s called self preservation.  The U.S. has no such excuse.  We pursue policies that support only Israel to our own peril.  And we wonder why we have a terrorism problem.

Kenn Jacobine teaches internationally and maintains a summer residence in North Carolina

Putting Things in Perspective

January 21, 2011

To be sure the shooting in Tucson, Arizona a couple of weeks ago was a horrific incident.  A U.S. Congresswoman and many of her constituents shot in broad daylight at essentially point blank range is enough to make many wonder just how ill American society has become.  Certainly, as a nation we should mourn the loss of human life especially the loss of child innocence – the tragic death of eleven year old Christina Taylor Green.

The reaction of America to the shootings from the President to the media to ordinary Americans has been predictable especially as it pertains to Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords.  On a daily basis the media informs us about her improving condition.  We are updated on the ever expanding memorial of well wishes located outside of her hospital room window.  The President and her colleagues in Congress are forever telling us that she is a person of strong will, a hero, and someone who is dedicated to public service.  Many, including President Obama, have called the shooting a “national tragedy”.

The problem with this overindulgence day after day is that it lacks perspective.  Congresswoman Giffords was the victim of an act that through her votes in Congress she has helped perpetrate on others.  Since being sworn into the House of Representatives in 2007 Giffords has fully supported funding for the wars in Iraq, Afghanistan, and wherever else our military adventurers have taken their road show.  The result of this funding has been carnage and chaos for millions in those war zones.

According to Pulitzer Prize winning journalist Seymour Hersh who I heard speak in Doha this week, the U.S. war machine has not lightened up and its violations of the Geneva Conventions have not lessened during the Obama Administration.  Hersh claims that we continue to torture prisoners at secret prisons in North Africa.  Assassinations through unmanned drone attacks in Pakistan have doubled causing increased innocent civilian casualties.  And those prisoners that are lucky enough not to be held and tortured are usually released only to be shot in the back as they leave the site of their captivity.  Ms. Giffords votes fund these activities.

Additionally, Hersh explained how the U.S spreads even more misery on local populations by supporting tyrannical rulers in the Middle East.  The U.S. gets natural resources and support in fighting the War on Terror and in exchange the autocrats are allowed to continue their despotic ways with the backing of our government.  Again, Congresswoman Gifford’s support of the War on Terror contributes to the agony of the millions living under dictators in the region.

Hersh wrapped up his speech in Doha by talking about Obama’s speech in Tucson.  He said, “I wish he (Obama) had the same compassion for civilians and the military on both sides in Afghanistan that he had for the slain in Tucson”.  And that is really the point of this article.  While the victims in Tucson should be mourned, Americans should reconsider our international crusade to rid the world of terrorism.  Do our policies encourage the same behavior they are meant to eradicate?  Are we any better than the terrorists if we perpetuate the same atrocities?  Is it just to kill and mistreat literally millions of innocent people in an effort to bolster our own security?  After all, they too were children, the elderly, and people who left behind others that miss them very much.  Personally, I believe President Obama was wrong.  The shooting of Congresswoman Giffords in Tucson, Arizona was not a “national tragedy”.  The national tragedy is the military actions of our federal government at the behest of the American people.  As a country, we need a perspective change.