“Is that who we are?” Obama’s Speech on Drones and Preventive and Indefinite Detention
By Dennis Loo (5/23/13)
Update at the end
Today in his major address about his drone and detention policies, Obama said:
“Imagine a future – ten years from now, or twenty years from now – when the United States of America is still holding people who have been charged with no crime on a piece of land that is not a part of our country. Look at the current situation, where we are force-feeding detainees who are holding a hunger strike. Is that who we are? Is that something that our Founders foresaw? Is that the America we want to leave to our children?”
Last Thursday, May 16, 2013: "Asked at a Senate hearing today how long the war on terrorism will last, Michael Sheehan, the assistant secretary of defense for special operations and low-intensity conflict, answered, 'At least 10 to 20 years.' . . . A spokeswoman, Army Col. Anne Edgecomb, clarified that Sheehan meant the conflict is likely to last 10 to 20 more years from today - atop the 12 years that the conflict has already lasted. Welcome to America's Thirty Years War."
In other words, Obama in his speech today, May 23, 2013, was not speaking figuratively when he said, “Imagine a future – ten years from now, or twenty years from now – when the United States of America is still holding people…” He meant this literally.
Obama's "Limiting" His Drone Strikes?
By Dennis Loo (5/23/13)
In today's NYT, the lead in to the lead article states "A day after admitting the killing of four Americans in drone strikes, the president will announce new limits on the program of targeted attacks. Mr. Obama also plans to renew his effort to close Guantánamo prison." The article itself is headlined: "Obama, in a shift, to limit targets of drone strikes."
When one proceeds to actually read the article, however, the news regarding drones is that he is transferring control over some of the drone strikes to the Pentagon and out of the CIA's direct control. How is giving some of the drone strikes to the military rather than the paramilitary CIA a "limit" on the use of drones?
The article goes on to cite AG Holder's letter in response to Sen. Rand Paul's complaints about the drone program after Holder stated that the POTUS regarded it as perfectly possible that he would drone to death American citizens: "Lethal force will be used only against targets who pose 'a continuing, imminent threat to Americans' and cannot feasibly be captured, Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. said in a letter to Congress, suggesting that threats to a partner like Afghanistan or Yemen alone would not be enough to justify being targeted." It is not clear from the article what role if any this letter from Holder plays in Obama's speech today. Perhaps Obama will cite this in his speech? In any case, as I've written previously about this letter from Holder, this is a semantic distinction only.
What the New York Times Ad “CLOSE GUANATANMO NOW!” Signifies
“It is up to the people to stand up for principle and morality when their institutions and public officials refuse to do so. The fates of those who are maimed or killed by our government's policies are inextricably intertwined with our own; we must listen and respond to their cry for justice.” (From the Close Guantanamo Now! Statement)
By Dennis Loo (5/20/13)
This week World Can’t Wait will be running a full-page advocacy ad in The New York Times, “the paper of record.”
This major statement calling for Guantanamo’s closure, an end to torture and to the attacks on fundamental civil liberties could not be timelier. It will be published very close in time to Obama’s nationwide speech this Thursday in which he is expected to defend his drone and detention policies.
The GTMO prisoners on hunger strike have passed 100 days in their strike and their lives hang in the balance. The battle to shut down Guantanamo is also part of a larger picture, which the statement also speaks directly to: you cannot separate GTMO from the overall so-called “war on terror.”
The WCW statement has already been signed by over 1100 people from all walks of life, including a truly impressive, sizable, and growing list of famous and highly respected individuals such as Cornel West, Glenn Greenwald, Alice Walker, Daniel Ellsberg, Michael Moore, S. Brian Willson, Noam Chomsky, Ray McGovern, M. Cherif Bassiouni (the “godfather of international law”), Mark Ruffalo, Moby, Bianca Jagger, Wallace Shawn, Dave Eggers, Oliver Stone, Ron Kovic, Tom Morello, Andy Worthington, Denis Haliday (former UN Assistant Secretary-General), Junot Diaz, Carl Dix, Cindy Sheehan, Boots Reilly, Rev. Michael Lerner, Harper’s Editor Jeff Sharlet, Margaret Ratner Kunstler, Outernational, Le Tigre, attorneys for GTMO detainees, and so on. See here for the names as of this writing.
This growing list of endorsers is extremely significant for a number of reasons.
This site aims to accomplish two related goals. First, it complements Dennis Loo's book Globalization and the Demolition of Society so that people reading the book can get more deeply into it. (See navigation bar above, labeled "GDS Book Annotations"). We believe that his book is a landmark, providing a solid foundation for politics of a new path. Taking such a path is critical to humanity and the planet's future. As his book's dust jacket states:
[F]ree market fundamentalism - also known as neoliberalism - makes us not more secure or prosperous: it tears the social fabric and undermines security, leading inevitably to disasters on the individual, regional, and global levels.
Neoliberalism is based on the mantra that market forces should run everything. It aims to eliminate job and income security, the social safety net (including welfare and other social guarantees), unions, pensions, public services, and the governmental regulation of corporations. It consequently undermines the basis for people to voluntarily cooperate with authority as almost everyone is increasingly left by themselves to face gargantuan private interests, with governmental and corporate authority ever more indifferent to the public’s welfare.
Those in charge of our collective fates in government and business personify a heartless system based on profit and plunder. They have been relentlessly instituting profoundly immoral and unjust policies even while they insist that they are doing the opposite. We, on the other hand, stand for and are fighting for a radically different system and set of values than this.
Defeating the empire is not something that occurs only on the literal battlefield. It is also something that is determined throughout the continuum of battles over many issues, including: ideas; philosophy; forms of organization and leadership in economy, politics, and other realms; ways of arguing; ways of responding to and respecting empirical data; interest in truth as opposed to expedience; how people and the environment should be treated; the nature of relations among people (e.g., between women and men, different races and ethnicities, rich and poor countries, etc.); ways of responding to criticism and ideas that are not your own; ways of handling one’s own errors and those of others; and more, all the way up through how warfare is carried out. The contrast between the methods and goals of the neoliberals and those of us who seek an entirely different world is stark. (Globalization and the Demolition of Society, Pp. 326-7)