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Friday, December 11, 2009


Rethinking Obama's speech

Just on one point, don't get alarmed! I noted several times Obama's mentioning of civilian deaths, e.g, "In today's wars, many more civilians are killed than soldiers." He says "The resurgence of ethnic or sectarian conflicts; the growth of secessionist movements, insurgencies, and failed states -- all these things have increasingly trapped civilians in unending chaos."

And at first, I thought he was just saying these things as an indictment of war. But on thinking about it, I believe his message was quite different. It was his way of excusing civilian deaths in Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Somalia, and Gaza as well, his way of saying "look, folks, s**t happens in war, so don't blame us when civilians die, it's just a fact of life."

Of course it is no such thing. Yes, once in a blue moon civilians are really "killed in the crossfire," or die because "combatants were hiding behind them." But far more often than not, they're killed because those with the power, those with the bombs and the drones and the airplanes, just don't value the lives of their targets very much, and are willing to fire their tank shells and drop their bombs on the mere suspicion that they might accomplish some military goal. And even worse, they include (with Gaza and Yugoslavia being prime examples) amongst those "military goals" making the civilian population suffer enough to overthrow their own government.

That, in my opinion, was Obama's message. It was the opposite of any kind of apology or plea for such things to end. It was a justification for them to continue.

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