Thank God for Jimmy Carter. In today’s N.Y. Times he catalogues and warns against America’s current violations of basic human rights.  He lists the growing number of atrocious U.S. abuses against the 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the rule of law.

Carter voices the indignation citizens experience when we see our own government practicing targeted assassinations, arbitrary detentions, use of torture, drone missile attacks, ever diminishing civil liberties and increasing claims of executive power.

Those of us who are Consistent Pro-Life advocates can be particularly appalled to see the full range of Church social justice teachings repudiated. Beyond abortion, beyond concerns for religious liberty, drone attacks and assassinations are unjust and immoral killings.  As with abortion, targeted drone attacks consist of the privileged taking of human lives by violence.  Drone attacks also misfire and regularly kill innocent bystanders-- women, children and families who are conveniently designated as “collateral damage.”  No wonder we are hated abroad.

Democratic Pro Lifers who support Obama’s efforts to welcome immigrants and provide health care for all Americans can be deeply alarmed over the military turn and encroaching executive privileges of this administration.  Are our civil liberties becoming irrevocably eroded, and/or corrupted by money?  We have a duty to speak out.  Carter does not hesitate to admonish his own party on behalf of the common good.  

Now I too must count myself a deeply disappointed Democratic who thinks that a Nobel Peace Prize winner and former constitutional law professor should be doing better than this.  Yet Consistent Pro Life advocates can feel trapped.  We are committed to a more just society for the poor and the 99%, and yet protest the devastation wrought by our foreign war policies and the rule of the rich.  Romney’s Republican proposals and positions, however, seem more unjust and disastrous. .

It seems wrong as well, to sit out the struggle and not choose the lesser evil or the more promising path.  All in all, disillusioned or not, Obama can appear the far, far better option. Where else can we go?     

 

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Comments

Gabriel Marcella | 6/27/2012 - 12:49pm
Kevin,
Your point is very clear and very much appreciated, but please change my gender and call me Gabriel.
joseph o'leary | 6/27/2012 - 12:15am
Mr. Carter said: "This development began after the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, and has been sanctioned and escalated by bipartisan executive and legislative actions, without dissent from the general public." (Italics mine)

Where else can we go? is maybe the wrong question. Are we effectively communicating the importance of social justice to our neighbors? is. The answer is probably, no.

There are good reasons to vote. But voting (or not voting) does not let us off the hook on this one.


Gabriel Marcella | 6/26/2012 - 2:29pm
"It seems wrong as well, to sit out the struggle and not choose the lesser evil or the more promising path.  All in all, disillusioned or not, Obama can appear the far, far better option. Where else can we go?'

Sidney,
I feel your angst. Yet, there is a difference in discrimination between drones and abortion, drones are easily more discriminating. Some 60 million abortions have been performed in the US since 1972, against complete innocents. The number of deaths caused by drones don't come close. Moreover, the intended targets are not innocents, they are making war on the US. The Obama administration is probably the most pro-abortion in American history, a reality that some Catholics do not wish to recognize.

On "Obama can appear the far, far better option." This comes close to being a political endorsement. One of the great attributes of America is it's nonpartisan quality. Let's hope it stays that way.
    
Rick Fueyo | 6/26/2012 - 1:37pm
Tom, your points are very well taken.  That is why I referenced the "due discrimination", also known as "distinction", which is also prohibited under international humanitarian law.

There is no doubt that it happens. But that is a separate issue from the use of drones strikes, in less one contends that drones strikes by nature show less distinction.

So my qualified acceptance of drones strikes is not based upon presumptions that they act in perfect distinction. 
Beth Cioffoletti | 6/26/2012 - 11:08am
Doesn't it seem like the radical notion of Christianity - love your enemy, put down your weapons - has never been more needed in the world, but so seldomly proclaimed or heard?
Thomas Rooney OFS | 6/26/2012 - 9:28am
Drones disquiet me on so many levels.  To think that these things will be kept in storage to be used "only in case of justified war" is pretty much ludricrous in my opinion. 

From the ever-growing possibility of assasination technology to the hard in-your-face reality of the government's ability to collect information on whomever they choose in whatever manner they choose frightens me.

The human cost of war is being forgotten.  Our government will be able to impose its will anywhere in the world for any reason it sees fit - which it already does, let's face it.  But now with the drone technology growing by leaps and bounds, it will be able to do so without all the fuss of troops and debate in Congress and that pesky media and public opinion quagmire. 

Press a button.  Eliminate a target.  No fuss, no muss. Easy-peasy lemon squeezy.  Assasination will become the new diplomacy.  And that will be the end of our free society.

Rick Fueyo | 6/25/2012 - 5:33pm
In judging drone attacks, one must consider the alternative.  We have invaded two nations in the last 10 years. I believe the President was clear during his 2008 campaign that he intended to target the actual enemy, i.e., extremists that sought to harm Americans, which was in distinction to his predecessor, who announced the doctrine of regime change for states deemed inappropriately sympathetic to anti-American interest. That can be appropriate on occasion, albeit very limited occasion.

But if one presumes that there are actual enemies out there, it is far more humane to use the drone attacks than invasions or regular bombings.

The due discrimination requirement of Just War which requires all possible measures to avoid innocent deaths may arguably be violated by this policy.  But if it is, than almost any form of aerial attack is similarly impermissible. Consider the aerial support provided in Libya which prevented the slaughter of the civilian population in Benghazi. It is simply impossible to use any form of force and guarantee that no innocent parties would be affected. Air power used to be among the least discriminating, but has become progressively more discriminating.

No doubt the drone attacks have killed innocents, and the definition of any military age male in the vicinity as a combat is an embarrassing attempt at limiting civilian casualties.

But one must consider the alternative. This President's predecessor believed in invading states, and much of the movement that advised him, which I will oversimplify by calling the neocons, felt it was perfectly appropriate to invade almost any Muslim country to send a message. Against that backdrop, the drone attacks can actually be argued to represent moral progress.
Joe Kash | 6/25/2012 - 5:04pm
I am not one to defend the Obama Drone attacks which I do have significant problem but when you say ''Drone attacks also misfire and regularly kill innocent bystanders'' then you also clearly differentiate drone attacks from abortion since abortion does not ''misfire'' and result in the killing of innocent bystanders but abortion directly targets the innocent child.
Beth Cioffoletti | 6/25/2012 - 4:06pm
(is drone killing even a Catholic issue?)
Beth Cioffoletti | 6/25/2012 - 4:00pm
Drone killing is the Catholic issue that would take me to the streets.  I'd love to see Obama so confronted.
T BLACKBURN | 6/25/2012 - 3:08pm
Sidney, Fr. Kavanaugh has been there and suffered through it in his column in the June 18 issue. The column reads my mind. He comes down in favor of ''neither.'' One thing he said is still reverberating in my mind. The only reasons he had left for voting for President Obama's  reelection is that he is likable, and it's appalling to think of being in any way aligned with his enemies.

The second reason bothers me. If Bishop Romney prevails, Obama wil have lost because, as leftist with anticolonialism in his blood, he pushed a socialist-communist agenda that was out of touch with American values. The fact that Obama is about as socialistic as J. P. Morgan used to be is beside the point. Modern American political analysis is all about the ''narrative'' and has no particular use for facts. The Obama narrative is that he is way to the left. Newt Gingrich, who seeved in Congress with Bernie Sanders, has never seen someone so far to the left as Obama. Migosh, he makes Trotsky look like one of the Waltons. Where is J. Edgar when we need him?

Or so the story will be told. It matters not that President Nixon's domestic policy was way to the left of Obama's. So was Otto von Bismark's. Now, I would dearly love to see Obama defeated for making assassinations part of U.S. foreign policy and carrying them out. But the story will be told as him being hung on the trumped-up charges, and the deadliest  crimes will be overlooked so Bishop Romney can continue them unmoslested by critics.  Still, that's not enough to vote for him. We don't need more Obama to avoid Karl Rove. We need more critics like Carter.
Stanley Kopacz | 6/25/2012 - 1:47pm
Although both parties support evil, I have been helped in my choice.  Gog and Magog Koch are assembling a cabal of billionaires to raise a half billion for their boy Romney.  That tells me there is a difference and I must vote for Obama.  As far as abortion is concerned, the present Supreme Court has five Republican appointees and abortion is doing quite well, thank you very much.  So are narrow corporate interests.
J Cosgrove | 6/28/2012 - 9:32am
''I hope it is clear to site visitors that the many contributors to this blog, God preserve them, are expressing their own opinions and not the position of America magazine, the Jesuits, etc.''


The editors of America choose the authors and this implicitly supports or accepts what is being published.  They also do not publish certain opinions so both editorial techniques represent a choice by the editors.  Just as when a specific author cites the words of another source in the OP or does not neutrally present contrary opinions of others, the author chose the words or opinions to print or not print and is therefore responsible for the opinions so chosen. 
J Cosgrove | 6/28/2012 - 9:24am
There is a discussion of this issue in the current Atlantic Magazine.  Most of the back and forth is in the comments.


http://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2012/06/why-is-nobody-listening-to-jimmy-carters-searing-critique-of-america/259031/


I have question.  Namely, how is a drone attack different from anytime the military launches or drops an explosive in a war time situation?  Drone attacks are far less lethal and more discriminatory than any bombing by war planes, artillery or mortar attack in a battle situation.  Or from any siege of a city in past war situation where fire, bombardment, or arrows were launched at others indiscriminately.  


It is difficult to single out opposing combatants when they are mixed amongst civilians  and not in open formation on a battle field.  Does that mean in a war time situation that one is not allowed to kill them especially when there is no reciprocation of this tactic by the enemy.


Few like the killing of others but sometimes the situation drives the tactics which are in normal times seen as undesirable.  And if one says that it is leading to a slippery slope, then we have plenty of instances when we have returned as there was no habeas corpus during the civil war and there were mass internments in both WWI and WWII here in the US when we executed large scale killings of innocents.  


So are the drone strikes a step forward or a step backward and why especially when compared to past tactics in wars.
T BLACKBURN | 6/25/2012 - 9:49pm
"But if one presumes that there are actual enemies out there, it is far more humane to use the drone attacks than invasions or regular bombings."

But, Rick, one must also presume that the CIA (which never makes mistakes) has accurately identified someone who really is going to be a threat to the U.S. of A. (not just a wannabe, of the sort which the FBI regularlty nails with great noise) and that the president has acute mind-reading capabilities as a result of his election and that no president will ever, ever target someone just to get Congress off his back. And you have to assume the missiles on the drones will always hit who they are aimed at and not random wedding parties. And, frankly, I am not prepared to make all of those presumptions. And, furthermore, never in the history of the world has a sovereign nation been willing to give another couontry the benefit of the doubt if it determines it wants to kill people in the aforesaid sovereign nation.

And, finally, assassination, when you boil it down past the State Department explanations, is murder.