There was a clear winner in Monday’s debate. It wasn’t Romney. It wasn’t Obama. The winner of the debate is the unobstructed continuation of America’s global interventionism. The presidential debate revealed that regardless of whether a Democrat or Republican is elected president, the U.S. war machine will grind on.
While speaking at the University of Michigan, Michael Hayden, the director of the CIA under Bush, said that despite his initial skepticism of Obama, he was relieved to find that Obama’s tactics used in the War on Terror have simply been a continuation of the policies of his predecessor, President George W. Bush.
The only difference between Bush and Obama? Obama kills more — usually with unmanned aerial vehicles. Drone strikes are President Obama’s favorite national security enforcer. CNN reports he’s already authorized 283 UAV strikes in Pakistan, six times more than during Bush’s eight years in office.
Why such an increase in drone strikes?
“We have made it so politically dangerous and so legally difficult that we don’t capture anyone anymore,” former CIA Director Hayden said. “We take another option: We kill them.”
The number of deaths from Obama’s drone strikes is four times more than it was during the Bush administration, with roughly 1,494 and 2,618 killed. Yay America! Die Terrorists! Right?
Not quite. Last Wednesday, Pakistan’s Interior Minister, Rehman Malik, speaking to the media outside of parliament, revealed that 80 percent of those killed in American drone attacks are innocent civilians.
This runs in stark contradiction to previous statements by the Obama administration, which have claimed that the number of civilians killed in drone strikes is in the “single digits.” What explains this discrepancy? The New York Times reports that the Obama administration “counts all military-age males in a strike zone as combatants,” unless there’s explicit intelligence posthumously proving them innocent.
So if an innocent citizen happens to be caught in the blast of Obama’s drone strikes, the Obama administration just automatically categorizes them as an enemy combatant so they don’t have to count them as part of their civilian casualties. Why wasn’t this brought up in the debate at all?
Pakistan’s parliament has unanimously approved demands to end all drone strikes in their country, yet Obama and Romney both agree that we should be using even more of these sovereignty-ignoring UAVs.
Obama is one of the luckiest politicians in American history; Romney failed to call out the constitutionally questionable overreaches of federal power that the Obama administration has engaged in while fighting the War on Terror.
Why didn’t Romney hammer Obama on the increasing use of UAVs in American airspace? Department of Homeland Security Secretary Napolitano is anticipating over 30,000 UAVs in U.S. airspace by 2020, so this is an issue that particularly deserves attention.
There was no criticism of the Obama administration’s targeting and assassination of American citizens like Anwar al-Awlaki without due process — which our constitution specifies you cannot deprive somebody of life, liberty or property without.
There was no mention at all about the Patriot Act, which candidate Obama vowed to retract, yet under his administration the Patriot Act has been renewed and extended.
Most importantly, the single greatest constitutional issue facing this nation today was not brought up a single time in the debates: The National Defense Authorization Act. This despicable legislation — which already has an injunction against it by a federal judge — legalizes the indefinite detention of American citizens without charge or trial.
Romney did not challenge Obama on any of these issues: His silence can only be seen as compliance. This should surprise nobody. A Romney administration would be as much of a continuation of Bush-era foreign policy as Obama’s has. In fact, of Romney’s 24 foreign policy advisers, 17 served in the Bush administration.
Despite the fireworks on that debate stage, the American people were largely exposed to two identical foreign policies. Think about it: How many time did you hear the two candidates agree with each other?
Both candidates are unequivocal allies of Israel and support crippling sanctions against Iran and military action if necessary. Both Obama and Romney are proposing increases in military spending despite our titanic debt and the fact that the might American military already eclipses every other force on the planet.
Where is the voice advocating not bombing Iran or enforcing sanctions that do nothing but starve the civilian population? Where is the voice advocating non-intervention, peace and bringing our troops home?
Where is the voice raised in opposition to Obama’s drone war, his warrantless surveillance programs and legislation he signed allowing the indefinite detention of American citizens without charge or trial?
The truth is that there is no differentiation between the policies of Bush, Obama or even Romney when it comes to the War on Terror — when deciding between safety and liberty, they’ve all chosen safety, surveillance and control in place of freedom.
The real winner of the last presidential debate wasn’t either candidate, it was the military industrial complex and America’s global interventionism.
Editorial Editor Kevin Jensen is a senior English major. He is voting for Gary Johnson. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @kevinrjensen.