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Saturday, March 12, 2011


Against and for (!) (and against again) Obama

Two Obama items in the news this morning. On the one hand, the utterly disgusting news that Obama has come out foursquare in support of the military's treatment of the unconvicted, unaccused Bradley Manning. "I have actually asked the Pentagon whether or not the procedures that have been taken in terms of his confinement are appropriate and are meeting our basic standards,” says Obama. “They assure me that they are.” That would be these conditions, the ones which have been condemned by Amnesty International. Actually Obama's replay isn't that surprising from a "professor of Constitutional law" who believes that the U.S. has the right to simply lock people up and throw away the key without so much as a trial.

On the other hand, McClatchy writes today that "Likening Gadhafi's attacks to 1990s government attacks on people in the Balkans and in Rwanda, Obama said that the U.S. and the world have an obligation to protect innocent life." Actually, in his defense (again, !), that is not what he said, which was this [emphasis added]:

"I continue to believe that not only the United States but the international community has an obligation to do what it can to prevent a repeat of something like what occurred in the Balkans in the ‘90s, what occurred in Rwanda. And so part of, for example, maintaining 24-hour surveillance of the situation there is for us to have some sort of alert system if you start seeing defenseless civilians who are being massacred by Qaddafi’s forces."
So Obama did not "liken" the situation in Libya to anything else, and doesn't even concede in his remarks that "defenseless civilians" are being massacred by Gaddafi's forces. He doesn't even say that the U.S. has an obligation to prevent the deaths of all defenseless civilians, just deaths which occur in large numbers as was the case in Rwanda and (according to Obama, anyway) the Balkans.

Of course, the claim that the U.S. has any kind of "obligation" to safeguard defenseless civilians wouldn't ring quite so hollow if the U.S. weren't doing precisely that on a regular basis in Afghanistan and Pakistan, and hadn't done so in many orders of magnitude greater than anything happening in Libya when it invaded Iraq.

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