So Many Strawmen, So Many Words To Knock Them Down

Shorter Glenn Greenwald: Eric Holder is asserting the president has the right to kill US citizens, contrary to what he said while Bush was president, therefore ALL Democrats have abandoned their principles regarding the War on Terror. And  I declare my position to be on the fringe, so I’m courageous. Also, too.

I’ve had my eyes opened to Glenn Greenwald’s persistent intellectual dishonesty a while now, but since President Obama brought Osama bin Laden to justice, Greenwald has gone full-on Pinocchio. Every column he’s produced since then has been an exercise in constructing self-aggrandising, supercilious strawmen. Take his latest, where 3/4 of the column is spent pointing out things administration figures and liberals have said supporting the idea of Terrorists (capitalisation is Greenwald’s – evocative of his permanent snideness) being tried and convicted like the criminals they are, before pronouncing:

“That view now, of course — once the centerpiece of the Democratic Party’s Terrorism arguments — is decreed to be a fringe and radical view.”

He then proceeds to offer not one shred of evidence showing that this is the case.  This is unsurprising, for no one either in the Obama Administration, the Democratic Party (save perhaps Joe Lieberman, and he is hardly a Democrat) or any mainstream liberal figures have ‘decreed’ this, much less changed their minds that trying and convicting terrorists is the ideal, and right path to take. And in his haste to pin down Eric Holder for hypocrisy, Greenwald chooses to forget that this is the same Eric Holder who fought very hard to bring KSM to trial, in a civilian court, in New York, because that would blow the straw right out of Glenn’s hands. By supporting Awlaki’s assassination, Holder isn’t so much guilty of hypocrisy as of accommodating to reality, which to an ideologue like Greenwald is the worst sin of all.

The problem with Greenwald’s defence of  Awlaki’s right to a trial and his opposition to bin Laden’s killing is that both these men repeatedly proved by their own words and deeds that they are indeed terrorists, or serving the terrorist cause. Bin Laden repeatedly and gleefully admitted to being behind 9/11. Awlaki doesn’t consider himself American and calls for attacks against America and the death of Americans. The man has to all intents and purposes renounced his citizenship. Both called for jihad against America, are/were an active and present danger to America and so the American president has every right to treat them as enemy combatants. Furthermore America has killed citizens who threaten other US citizens’ lives all the time – how many hostage situations have ended with the shooter being shot dead? Plenty. This is neither as abhorrent, nor as singular, nor as dangerous as Greenwald would like you to believe.

6 comments on “So Many Strawmen, So Many Words To Knock Them Down

  1. About that last paragraph:

    There is no univerally accepted definition of “terrorist.” What the AUMF does is give the president the authority to take action against those responsible for 9/11.

    Al-Awlaki had nothing to do with 9/11. There’s no public evidence that he’s even a leader in al-Qaeda.

    The fact that al-Awlaki calls for attacks against America and the death of Americans makes him just like Donald “take their oil” Trump. Does Libya have the right to bomb Trump and kill a number of innocent Americans in the process?

    Where is your proof that al-Awlaki poses any more of “an active and present danger” than The Donald? The alleged evidence against al-Awlaki has not been made public.

    If the American president has a right to treat al-Awlaki as an enemy combatant without disclosing the evidence who can he NOT treat as an enemy combatant?

    Finally, as you say, hundreds of Americans a year are shot by police for threatening other citizens, even when non-lethal force would have sufficed. Does that make it right or is it still abhorrent behavior that we should continue to root out? I rest my case.

    • Of course we’d like to avoid using lethal force in any situation, and firmly believe it should be a last resort, but my point is that sometimes there really is no other choice but to kill.

      I’m seeing this ‘slippery slope’ idea a lot these days – “If he has the authority to kill this US citizen, he could kill ANY US citizen” and people don’t seem to realise it’s a fallacy, not an argument. There is precedent for presidents committing morally dubious acts in the name of national security without leading to direr consequences – take FDR, who had Japanese Americans wrongfully detained in camps when America went to war against Japan. Have any minority groups belonging to countries America’s at war with been rounded up since then? Nope.

      And nowhere did I say Awlaki had anything to do with 9/11 – nice job building a strawman in response to a post about strawmen. You want proof Awlaki is a clear and present danger to the US, read here. The guy clearly states he chose being an Islamic extremist over being American, essentially renouncing his status as an American, and exhorts his fellow Muslims to commit jihad against America. In other words, he’s inciting people to murder Americans. He is no different from bin Laden.

      And the Donald’s an idiot, but ‘take their oil’ is imperialist bullshit, not incitement to murder. Big, big difference.

    • All first time posters get automatically put into moderation, and the whole blog’s been up for a little less than 24 hours – nothing to do with your opinion :) And I’ll respond to your main post when I have some spare time on my hands.

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