Posts Tagged ‘warfare

05
Oct
11

I’ll Take the Sniper over the Carpet Bombing, Thanks

Anwar al-Awlaki is dead.

Good.

But more on that in a moment.

First, let me apologize for being several days late to the party commenting on this story; I’ve been pretty busy

Second, let’s be clear. Yes, I lean fairly far to the left. I’m liberal, even if I also do have moderate tendencies. I’ve been called a secular progressive (which is funny since, believing in God and Jesus pretty firmly like I do, I’d be a Christian progressive). But I have my conservative moments, and this is one of them. Cry all you want about assassinating a U.S. citizen, but I have zero problem with this guy being killed.

Which brings me back to my original point: Good riddance to bad rubbish.

Now, I’ve seen some of my fellow liberal-leaning folks all in a fuss about how bad it is to set a precedent like this and kill a U.S. citizen without due process. First off, I’d rather spend time worrying about the probably thousands of people doing time in prison for crimes they didn’t commit (and possibly facing potential execution) because prosecutors and police lied or got lazy or because the person couldn’t get a decent defense. Or unarmed people who get tasered to death or shot dozens of times by police for no good reason. Screw one lone damned terrorist leader who made no bones about his intentions in the face of all that.

Because you know what, Anwar al-Awlaki was quite open about his hatred of the United States and his desire to kill. He didn’t just make vague comments about chickens coming home to roost like Malcolm X, who was actually more about justice and fairness and justifiable self-defense than people give him credit for. Anwar al-Awlaki wanted Americans dead and wanted to strike blows against the United States to, ideally, take it down. He was a terrorist.

Oh, yeah, and a U.S. citizen. Now, if I’m wrong, feel free to correct me, but the man left the U.S. in 2002 and became increasingly vocal about how you can’t trust non-Muslims and should rely on the bullet. He was preaching very publicly to others to encourage them to do violence to the United States and other non-Muslim nations. I’m sorry, but if that isn’t a tacit rejection of your citizenship, I don’t know what is. I’d feel the same about any white, right-wing terrorist who decided to drop out of mainstream American life to plot secret and violent attacks against people in this country. Frankly, I wouldn’t be surprised if some extra-angry “if ballots don’t work, bullets will” Tea Party types enter this category soon. I won’t cry if they get shot in a raid on their compound.

To be honest, al-Awlaki was the very definition of an “enemy combatant.” If you say you want to do some killing and plan to do some killing and plan to get other people to do some killing, you have declared war. If we get a chance to shoot you down, we should take it.

This, to me, is more honest, clean and just. I’d rather see a drone fire a missile at a vehicle containing this guy and a few terrorist friends than to see a bombing of some compound he lives in, where plenty of innocents, including children potentially, might be. I’d rather see an assassination like this than dragging our poor troops halfway across the world to wage war and cause all sorts of collateral damage that maims and kills tens of thousands of innocent folks.

So, whether a drone like in this case, or a sniper in some other case (past or future), I’ll take the targeted assassination of the leaders over the wholesale slaughter of the foot soldiers. Without people to plan organized assaults, you rarely have foot soldiers to deal with.

Frankly, the notion that we should have just dragged him back to the United States for a trial is ludicrous. Aside from the fact that would be a riskier operation to our own forces and to others, it just isn’t necessary. This isn’t a situation in which guilt is even in question. Anwar al-Awlaki was proud of his actions and happy to kill indiscriminately. I’d rather we kill selectively than engage in mass operations that sow untold destruction over years. (Are there downsides to assassination, and can it help foment hatred toward us? Sure. But far less so than occupying and razing great swaths of a nation.)

Do I trust my government to always do the right thing when it comes to assassination? No. But that’s nothing new. I’m tired of war, though, and tired of using a shotgun or a carpet bombing where a sniper or a missile-equipped drone can do the job much more cleanly.

30
Nov
09

Balanced, Not Superstitous

I’m sure this post will earn some guffaws and maybe some blow-back from my loyal readers who happen to be atheists or semi-militant agnostics, but here goes…

My belief in God, and Jesus for that matter, is not a sign of any of the following:

  • Fear of death
  • Insecurity
  • Superstition
  • Desire to belong to a group
  • An aching emptiness inside that I wanted to fill
  • Delusion
  • Idiocy
  • Lack of scientific awareness
  • Immaturity

In fact, I see a lot of maturity and balance in my worldview. And that is because I deny neither the scientific nor the spiritual. I’m not saying I have all the answers in life, but what I do have is a lot of internal security and well-being.

I don’t understand when entirely secular folks insist that to be fully mature, I must deny my belief in, and search for, spiritual meaning. Just as I don’t understand religious people who insist on ignoring science and reason.

Humans have sought spiritual discernment for a long time, and for quite a number of centuries (in fact, a couple millennia at least), it hasn’t been about explaining why it rains or how the sun moves across the sky or anything like that. It’s been about a deeper kind of meaning. People who dismiss religion as an artifact of ignorant ancient goat herders is doing a disservice to goat herders (many of whom, I am sure, had deeper thoughts than screwing their herd-stock and picking at their asses) and a disservice to spiritual seekers.

Yes, there was a time when religion was all about explaining worldly things. But as people have advanced, so has the depth and maturity of spiritual seeking. Sure, there are plenty of idiots in the world who follow religion and religious leaders blindly and skim only the surface of religious precepts, but most people seem to prefer following someone than thinking for themselves.

Funny thing is, spiritual seeking, while it cannot follow the scientific method, does still follow the same general progression as science. That is, as humans have advanced, so has the study. Science was once a pretty pathetically ignorant, simplistic and sketchy affair, just like religion.

The problem is that the more we figure out about the world, the more full of ourselves and our intelligence we become, and the more we think we don’t need God. We are not slowly disproving God, but simply pushing him aside unnecessarily.

If more believers would be mature about their spiritual seeking, and more non-believers would stop ridiculing those who are trying to find spiritual meaning, maybe religion wouldn’t be the mess it has become these days. Now, both sides, secular and religious, essentially call the other side a bunch of heretics, which solves nothing.

I can already see one retort coming.

But science is rational. Science doesn’t lead to oppression or wars!

Wrong.

Maybe it doesn’t have the same track record right now, but religion had a hell of a head start. People can blindly follow a scientific theory or finding as much as a biblical principle. Science and research can be twisted, skewed and misrepresented.

Hmmmm. Just like religion.

The Nazis based their genocidal campaign in World War II based on “science” that showed Aryans were superior. Noted intellects justified slavery by “proving” that Blacks weren’t as evolved or even as human as Whites. Medical science can downplay the horrors of abortion, even as it can also be used to overplay them. Research shows us that it isn’t cost-effective or “useful” to pay for certain types of medical screening or healthcare, and so insurance companies and hospital executives can oppress us to sickness or even death. Religious groups can call homosexuals deviant because they can point to a  lack of scientific proof that same-sex desires are inherited rather than learned or chosen. Need I go on?

Science is on pace to do everything that religion did and more. It can bring us together in understanding and truth and good guidance. And it can tear us apart.

Science is not the be-all and end-all of human experience, and it never will be. Nor shall religion or any kind of spiritual pursuit. I maintain that both are entirely necessary to being mature humans.




Deacon Blue is the blogging persona of editor and writer Jeffrey Bouley. The opinions of Jeff himself on this blog, and those expressed as Deacon Blue, in NO WAY should be construed as the opinions of anyone with whom he has worked, currently works, or will work with in the future. They are personal opinions and views, and are sometimes, frankly, expressed in more outrageous terms than I truly feel most days.

Jeff Bouley

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