On Al-Awalaki

The American government has hunted down and killed an American citizen. This was done without charges filled or trial held. It was a deliberate, intentional targeting and, very arguably, outside the realm of law.

The person killed was Anwar Al-Awalaki, an American citizen who was working for al-Qaeda and hiding in Yemen. He was, no doubt, a very unpleasant person who, because he was born in America and lived here for the first seven years of his life, then came back to go to college, was able to get his evil message out in a language that was easier to understand for American audiences. In this way he was rather like Tokyo Rose.

Al-Awalaki was, as I said, someone who pushed an evil message, and the world is better for that message being stopped. But I cannot escape the fact that in this case the American government hunted down and murdered a US citizen against whom no charges were filed.

According to what I’ve read, he was killed when missiles were fired into a vehicle he was in. I must ask, if we knew where he was and were able to target him, shouldn’t we have been able to drop in some troops to take him into custody? Yes, it might have been a bit risky, and he might have gotten away, but anytime police go in to arrest suspects it’s a bit risky and the suspect might escape. That doesn’t mean that the cops get to shoot said suspect as soon as they are spotted.

I’m not displeased that Al-Awalaki is dead. The world is better without him being in it. But there are ways to do these things, and if we’re going to be a country of laws, and if we’re going to have the moral high ground, we need to find ways other than killing American citizens without charges or trial.


Fum Times in Yemen

Things have been going pretty badly in Yemen lately. It’s yet another one of those countries where we support a dictator in return for him providing us with an illusion of security. It’s kind of a win/win/lose. He gets to keep power, we get to pretend we’re safer and the people who actually live in the country in question suffer under a horrible, brutal regime backed by a country that claims to love freedom and democracy.

Not that I’m bitter.

Anyhow, there’s been a crapload of demonstrations and protests lately, much like there has been in the rest of the Arab world. In the case of Yemen, President Ali Abdullah Saleh announced that he would be leaving power in 2013. Then he changed that to the middle of June. Then he changed his mind entirely. Well, this pissed off everyone and his palace was attacked (always a bad sign, by the way, when your president lives in a palace), leaving him injured. He quickly got out of Dodge and wound up in Saudi Arabia, apparently to get medical care.

Of course what’s really happened is that he’s done a runner. We won’t see him back in power. In fact someone else has already taken over as acting president, so, yeah. So much for Saleh. Some people think he’ll come back, but I doubt it. If he wasn’t going to leave permanently, he would have likely had a doctor flown in to treat him rather than him flying away.

I hope this means good things are ahead for Yemen. Yes, without the dictator, it’s possible we’ll see Al Qaeda gain more power and Muslim extremists take charge. It could happen. But it could also happen that we get a more friendly, free and open regime. We might end up with another free nation in the area, and I’m willing to take the chance. Every true American should be. We cannot accept the notion that for us to be safe, others must be oppressed. That virtually guarantees that we’re going to have trouble down the line, and it’s just not moral.

Right Now, Egypt. Next Up, Yemen!

We’ve all seen what happened when Tunisians took the streets and took their country back from the authoritarian regime that was controlling it. Now the same appears to be close to happening in Egypt where CNN is running non-stop coverage of events unfolding there. With any luck, by the end of the week Hosni Mubarak will be gone and a democratic government will be taking control. Also over the last couple days there’s been protests in Yemen. This is wonderful news, since that’s a state that harbors a lot of terrorists and its reform would be a great blessing to the world.

Now there’s been people here in the USA complaining that we shouldn’t be supporting these movements in case the new democratic governments wind up putting Islamic extremists in charge. Well, bollocks to that. First, it’s not likely that will happen. Second, if it does, well, democracy isn’t always pretty and doesn’t always give us what we want. We have to accept that as a possibility. It’s more important that the people of these nations (and Algeria, Libya, Syria, etc), get the same sorts of rights we enjoy than it is that they exercise those rights in a way that will make us happy.

Good luck to those in Egypt and Yemen! May you guys get the governments you deserve instead of the ones you have.

Letter Bomb Gets Stopped Before it Gets Delivered

That’s the message to take away from all this. It was, essentially, a letter bomb. They suck, but they happen a lot and we deal with them. It’s not anything worth getting overly concerned over. Hell, remember back in the day when the Unabomber was running around? This is basically the same thing and nothing to really get worried about.

I say this because the way the media is covering it, you’d think dozens were dead and America was having a huge crisis. CNN has spent several hours covering this story and only this story. So, please, get a little perspective here. Nothing happened. The system worked as it was supposed to, the bomb never even reached American soil and no one was killed. Even if they had been, well, it’s a letter bomb. It’s bad, but not as bad as all that.

So can we please stop pretending this is a major event and quickly move on?

On Yemen

Over at cominganarchy.com, Curzon has written a post about the history an geography of Yemen. It’s a fascinating, well-written article that gives a lot of useful information about a country that’s far less important to Americans than it really should be. Check it!