Politics

Moral authority on the streets of Chicago to the tribal areas of Pakistan

Gary Younge at the Guardian makes an important point in his recent article (“Barack Obama is pushing gun control at home, but he’s a killer abroad”):

Over the last few weeks there has been a distinct incongruity – to say the least – between the agenda Obama is promoting at home and the one he defends abroad. His justification for targeted killings and drone strikes in foreign parts, prompted by his nomination of a CIA director, has coincided with his advocacy for stiffer gun control and appeals to respect human life following mass shootings. The result is an administration raising life and death issues in its actions and pronouncements but being unable to talk with any moral authority or ethical consistency on either.

Younge continues:

One moment the Obamas are mourning the tragic loss of Hadiya Pendleton, the 15-year-old girl who attended his inauguration. She was shot less than a mile from their Chicago home while sheltering from the rain in a park. The first lady, Michelle Obama, who attended Hadiya’s funeral on Saturday, said, through a spokeswoman: “Too many times, we’ve seen young people struck down with so much of their lives ahead of them.”

Meanwhile, in Pakistan…

According to the Bureau of Investigative Journalism, between 2004 and 2013 drone strikes have killed up to 893 civilians (including 176 children) in Pakistan, 178 civilians (including 37 children) in Yemen, and 57 civilians (including three children) in Somalia (while these started under Bush they were accelerated under Obama). According to the New York Times, his ambassador to Pakistan, Cameron Munter, complained to colleagues that “he didn’t realise his main job was to kill people”, a colleague said.

He concludes:

“[America can be] a moral power,” said Martin Luther King – on whose Bible Obama swore in as president – during the Vietnam war. “A power harnessed to the service of peace and human beings, not an inhumane power unleashed against defenceless people.” That’s as true on the streets of Chicago as it is in the border regions of Pakistan.

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