Monday, May 2, 2011

...And Unlawful Humans

It certainly was a productive weekend - first, precision-guided NATO bunker-buster bombs take out Saif Gaddhafi and three of Moammar's grandsons, then a SEAL team with sharpshooters scores Big Daddy, Osama Bin Laden, with a bullet in the left temple, and he is unceremoniously dumped at sea. And stock markets are up, jubilation is universal, and.... Ooops, here's CNN's correspondent in Pakistan, not only explicitly using the word "assassination," but saying that the civilian government of Pakistan wanted to make sure everyone knew that its agents were involved on the ground with the SEALs - and the Pakistan government was trumpeting the word "assassination" in public. In the 1970s, the CIA was raked over the coals for aiming at Patrice Lumumba and Fidel Castro by name. Now, the targeted assassination is a useful tool in the quiver, recognized as legitimate the world over.

Full disclosure - although I am a peace activist, I am not a pacifist, because I do indeed believe that there are many people on the planet who look better dead, and I'd place all members of al-Qaeda and most members of the Ghaddafi family in that category. But my concern with semantical trends began with the Bush administration's use of the term "unlawful combatants" following the Sept. 11 attacks, which I discussed in a blog item last week. I am convinced that, should Moammar Ghaddafi attempt to bring up the killing of his son before some UN body as a "war crime", the U.S. and many of its Western partners (not just NATO members), would defend the new methods of targeted assassination as addressing "unlawful humans." And just as an unlawful combatant does not deserve the protection of Geneva conventions on POW treatment, an unlawful human has forfeited his/her human rights. Be aware how willing many world leaders are to expand the scope of the targeted assassination. Vladimir Putin thinks that any believer in a Salafist/Wahhabist school of Islam has forfeited human rights, and has no defense to suggest remaining alive. And, as I suggested in this blog a year or two ago, what happens if the U.S. develops a weapon that can disrupt brain cells based on analysis of brain-wave patterns showing adherence to a catastrophist religious/political doctrine. Can we conduct assassination on the grounds of the unthinkable thought?

The poem below was a droll image of the head on a pike, the result of watching Game of Thrones at the same time as watching the presidential mesage of May 1. Yet it's not so far off. An artist from a Christian organization circulated a triumphalist image of a U.S. soldier carrying the bloodied head of Bin Laden. Onward Christian soldiers, we've got plenty of unlawful humans out there. But how often do some of us have to whisper, whine, scream, "Be careful what you wish for!"

Mixed Messages Amongst Crusaders

Two Bose speakers, sinusoidal cancellation of sound
The third episode of Game of Thrones
A president talking about SEALs gone wild
The only image through the bandpass filter
is that of a head on a pike,
marched around a cobblestone square.

Loring Wirbel
May 1, 2011

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