Thursday, July 18, 2019
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It’s only been a decade?

Happy anniversary. Ten years ago our country, your country, invaded another for no real reason. The president at the time, George Bush, listened to his neo-con cronies and literally made up reasons to invade Iraq. When told Iraq had no ties to the 9-11 attacks just weeks after those attacks, Bush ignored that information from the country’s intelligence agencies.
A study out this month from Brown University shows this failed war has cost us $2.2 trillion with more expense on the way. Talk about opportunity to balance a budget. 190,000 people have been killed from the U.S. action. The majority of those killed were civilians. Iraq is considered to be a weak 112th out of 165 democratic countries in the world. Where Iraq once checked Iran in the region, Iran is now on the brink of nuclear weapons.
The Bush administration began a campaign of fear that remains with us today in a sort of dream state, a constant fuzzy orange alert or a fog of fear that remains always in the background as we eat dinner or fill out our March Madness brackets. “Radical Islam” became the buzz phrase. “Imminent Threat,” “the War on Terror,” and “Constant Warfare” became a new American reality.
A decade later, President Obama uses similar language while he excuses the use of drones flown by 20-somethings with joy sticks in Florida to kill people on the other side of the world. Some of those killed are likely really bad guys with designs to kill Americans. Others are families walking home from the market. And for each person we kill with our drones, every study indicates that America turns more and more people into enemies. More and more people fail to see the promise and lightness of America and instead want to strike out at us in revenge.
It can’t be easy to make these hard decisions in the Oval Office. And the one thing a president must feel cannot happen on his or her watch is another huge loss of life from terror. But to change our culture into one that is so fearful that we actively engage in “pre-emptive attacks” in the name of safety is a blot on our American principles. And as Obama expands the use of surveillance on Americans, as he begins to train more drone operators than aircraft pilots, as he secretly outlines justification to kill American citizens without trial, we must stay aware and understand that the slippery slope might eventually impact all of us directly. Don’t be surprised to find your Facebook account being monitored; after all, it is for the national good. Don’t look into the sky with shock when you see a drone buzzing overhead; after all, the government is just trying to keep you safe. We are letting it happen right now.
The last two presidents have relied on secret legal memos to do things that circumvent the government of checks and balances that once gave us unique governmental and moral values in a complicated world. Whether it is a Bush or an Obama, the chipping away of civil liberties under the guise of safety and national defense is a path that will ultimately put us in more danger than any false war in Iraq could ever have saved us from.
Happy anniversary.

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