The hidden war

MC2 Katerine Noll

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The hidden war is a battle that continues as the others end.  It is a war that still exists even as President Obama said, “We, the people, still believe that enduring security and lasting peace do not require perpetual war.”

I am not speaking of the wars that the President spoke of in his inaugural speech- the ground wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.  I am referring to the war that is being perpetuated in countries where we are not supposed to be, like Pakistan, Somalia and Yemen.  I am speaking of the ongoing war.  I am speaking of the hidden war.  I am speaking of the invisible war that is being fought against invisible enemies.  I am speaking of the war whose latest event came just a couple days ago, when three men were identified as militants and killed by an American drone.  I am speaking of the war that the President did NOT speak about.

It was but two months ago that the Obama Administration characterized the use of drone strikes as a war, and subsequently asserted that it was inherently just.  In a speech delivered at Oxford in England, Jeh Johnson, the general counsel for the Department of Defense stated that, “the United States government is in an armed conflict against Al Qaeda and associated forces, to which the laws of armed conflict apply.”  He continued to say that, “it is an unconventional war against an unconventional enemy,” but that “President Obama… has insisted our efforts in pursuit of this enemy stay firmly rooted in conventional legal principles.”

Then why is it that President Obama’s inaugural speech didn’t reflect on any of this?  Why did he say that the  “decade of war” prompted by Al Qaeda’s attack on America is ending, when his Administration continues to bolster the hidden war?  It is because he can; and he can because he has chosen to cast this war as a war against war itself.  He does so because his investment in secrecy has yielded an incredible return.  No one expected him to speak about drone strikes in a speech rhetorically riddled with economic band-aids that looked towards a better future.  However, it is certain that NO ONE expected him to denounce our wars away, when our soldiers are still being killed in Afghanistan and when we are still killing people– and, in the name of “peace”, reserving the right to keep killing people– all over the world.

Dissimilar to interrogation, drone strikes DO accomplish their job.  It is what they take with them that are immoral.  Often referred to as “collateral damage”, drone strikes have taken the lives of countless citizens.  From 2004 up until 2012, it has been reported that in Pakistan alone, targeted killing attacks have killed 2562 – 3325 people, 474 – 881 of which were innocent civilians.  This makes me question our Government and its policies.  Are the lives of those civilians worth to be sacrificed just to assassinate a militant?  Sure, it may save lives from attacks that those militants would launch, but where do we draw our moral line?  When does it stop being “war against war,” and start being an act of terrorism?  It is also worth noting that drone strikes increase the amount of militancy in the country it is used.  For every civilian killed in a drone strike, there is an alienated family, a new desire for revenge, and more recruits for a militant movement that has grown exponentially even as drone strikes have increased.

President Obama’s second inaugural speech was supposed to be reminiscent of Lincoln’s: the speech of a man exhausted from the incessant war, and eager to move the nation beyond its past.  In actuality, though, it was the speech of a man who has perfected a form of war that can be classified as a kind of peace.  Obama, however, is not the only one guilty of this.  George W. Bush, the man that preceded Obama, used drone strikes consistently, and never talked about them.  The topic is simply a flaw in our entire government.  Not only is targeted killing not morally permissible, it is disgusting that our government refuses to talk about it, as if it is an unimportant act.

We are ending a frivolous war in which American’s have gotten and are getting killed, but we are persisting the war in which American’s alone are doing the killing.  The fact that the President of the United States will not even address the war represents its danger.  At his inaugural speech, President Obama told the American citizens that a decade of war was ending, proving that the most important casualty in this war is the truth.

Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the official position of the Parkway School District.

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