Sunday, April 26, 2009

The Banality of 'Evil' in US Foreign Policy

My published NYTimes comment # 273.
April 26, 2009 11:43 am


April 26th, 2009 9:58 am
The Banality of Bush & Obama White House Evil

"The Banality of Bush White House Evil" is being continued and it is cut from the same cloth, as Obama's daily drone raids in the western areas of the South Asia region. The plan to send tens of thousands more troops into South Asia will undoubtedly exacerbate that evil, make it more banal -- until we recoil from it, usually too late.

What makes Obama's drones banal is that they have become part of the everyday operations of the US in my region. The drones kill, maim, terrify innocents and they unleash the pathological anger, fear and violence of the Taliban who were, lest we forget, the Mujahideen of the Soviet-era 80's, trained and armed by the US with its allies:
1) Suadi Arabia, that pillar of Democracy,
2)a US-weakened Pakistan
3)warlord factions in Afghanistan.

Clearly, evil then, is socially constructed and cumulative, as we can see from two administrations touted as 'different' in style and substance. (I never voted for either of the Bush(es) and I did vote for Obama knowing I was voting for the lesser of the two evils). Obama is at least (still) open to persuasion and humane logical reasoning.

The sense that something or someone is Evil carries a complex, evolved set of emotions like horror and revulsion (even reflexes like gagging).We evolved to agree to define evil as pathological and antisocial, capable of crimes against our species. That sense that evil exists was essential, so that we could persevere in building social groups on the basis of cooperation and collaboration, rather than sadistic annihilation.

I get the sense from this article that torture behavior is somehow to be set apart. But it is part of the horror repertoire of military adventurism in the 50+ year context of White House evil from Nixon to Obama.

Of course a history of slavery and genocide as earlier banalities of evil helps us to understand the current context.

Can we persevere to move past evil? Yes we can.

Chithra KarunaKaran
Ethical Democracy As Lived Practice
New York Times copyright
Op-Ed Columnist: The Banality of Bush White House Evil

Torture was a tool in the campaign to exploit 9/11 so that fearful Americans would support a war that had nothing to do with Al Qaeda.

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