Thursday, May 23, 2013

This Is What We Call Our Foreign Policy

The president is expected to make give a major foreign policy speech today.  He is expected to announce new limits on the use of drones and renew his efforts to close Gitmo.
For those of you who may have forgotten… we are at war.  In fact we have been at war for over a decade. 
Weird, huh?  
There is in fact an ongoing military conflict in country called Afghanistan where tens of thousands of American soldiers have seen action.  There are zero prospects of us winning this war so we are trying to get out as gracefully as we can.  We are training the Afghans in the art of military warfare so they can defend themselves.  Some of the Afghans shoot and kill their American trainers.  Our partner in Afghanistan is a guy named Hamid Kharzai.  He is the Afghan president.  We pay him millions of dollars to say the he likes us.  He says he likes our enemies better.   But he encourages us to continue to pay him millions of dollars because, well, you never know. 
We are also engaged in military operations in a bunch of countries against whom we have not bothered to officially declare war.  We are engaging those enemies through the use of “drones.”  Drones are remote controlled unmanned aircraft capable of firing deadly missiles with less than precision accuracy.  The president reviews a “hit list” and personally authorizes these drone attacks.   Sometimes the drones kill innocent bystanders.  Sometimes they kill Americans.  While this is unfortunate it is deemed preferable to putting more American boots on the ground.
There is a place called Gitmo where we incarcerate people that we call enemy combatants.  We call them “enemy combatants” so we can hold them there indefinitely without filing any charges against them.  Sometimes we go to extreme measures to get them to get to tell us their military secrets.  The international community calls these measures torture.  We call them enhanced interrogation techniques.  We don’t call them torture because torturing people would be a violation of international law.  We would never violate international law because we are a nation of laws.  We like to say that a lot.  There is no evidence that these “enhanced interrogation techniques” provide us with any useful information…but we use them anyway.
At any rate, the president wants to close Gitmo because he thinks we should be trying these people in our federal courts and incarcerating the guilty in our federal prisons.  But his opponents don’t want to try these people in our courts because they might have to reveal a whole mess of secret stuff to get a conviction…like the fact that we torture people.
This is what we call our “foreign policy.” It’s all kind of a mess. 
The president is going to talk about it today.   


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