After 9/11, George W Bush said in a joint address to Congress, “Either you are with us or you are with the terrorists.” For a nation grieving after the worst domestic terrorist attack in its history, most of the United States has acquiesced in some of the most absurd ways, from bashing the Dixie Chicks to changing the name of French Fries due to opposition. from France to Iraq. War.
Of course, this line in the sand allowed the Bush administration to send the nation to war in Iraq over unsubstantiated claims that Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction. Bush may be out of office and best known for his dog paintings these days – likewise Secretary of State Colin Powell and Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld may be long gone – but the he legacy of their lies, from soldiers who were killed or seriously injured to Iraqis who saw their country shattered, will live on long after he and Dick Cheney are in their graves.
Anger and frustration at the continued lies about Iraq peddled by a Republican White House are part of the reason Americans elected Barack Obama president. But on Thursday, the Biden administration looked more like the White House of 2002 than the White House of 2022 when asked about two distinct parts of its foreign policy agenda.
During a press briefing aboard Air Force One, NPR reporter Ayesha Roscoe asked if evidence would be released confirming that ISIS leader Abu Ibrahim al-Hashimi al-Qurayshi detonated a explosive device to kill himself during a raid by US forces in Syria this week. Roscoe said it was important to ask because “there may be people who are skeptical about what happened and what happened to civilians.” [in the area].”
It’s a very valid question. It’s also particularly relevant, given that the US military lied about such strikes as recently as last year, when forces carried out an ill-fated drone strike in Afghanistan. The audience was then informed that the strike had taken out an Isis-K target; only later did officials admit the strike killed 10 civilians, including a man who worked for a US aid group that provided food and aid to refugees.
These deaths should have created some humility in the Biden administration, perhaps even a desire to appear particularly open about making the evidence available to the public. Instead, PSAki seemed incredulous that an American journalist would ask such a thing. She responded by saying, “Sceptical about the assessment of the US military when they went to eliminate a terror of Isis – the leader of Isis?”
PSAKI acted outraged that anyone would dare to question the actions of the US military, as if there wasn’t a long and sordid history of government officials lying about military conduct. Instead, she pointed out that US forces had killed an ISIS terrorist leader, as if to challenge Roscoe to ask again. Its aim was to falsely contrast the search for truth with the valliance of American forces, making it seem that even asking for evidence suggested a lack of patriotism.
PSAki’s response to Roscoe would have been quite disturbing. But as The Washington Post Felicia Sonmez (who, full disclosure, is a colleague and friend) tweeted, journalists have also repeatedly asked State Department spokesman Ned Price for evidence that Russia was planning to create a false flag propaganda video as a prelude to the invasion of Ukraine. Instead of not commenting or just telling the truth, Price countered that “if you doubt the credibility of the US government, the UK government, other governments and you want, you know, to find solace in the information that the Russians broadcast, it’s up to you.
Again, it’s the Biden administration dealing with fake equivalencies. It is entirely possible to be concerned about Russia’s aggression – or to take it as a net positive that a horrible figure like al-Qurayshi is dead – while not blindly taking the government’s words at the foot of the letter.
On the contrary, asking questions and being able to question the processes of our government makes the American form of government far superior to Vladimir Putin’s Russia or Isis. While these organizations seek to crush dissent, the U.S. Constitution trusts citizens enough to allow them to question what their government says or does on their behalf, and there is no more impressive and controversial power. than his ability to kill other people.
The fact that the United States has a military so powerful that it can annihilate fighters in seconds requires tight control and a strong, free press.
In the years since the start of the War on Terror, Americans have become understandably skeptical of any kind of foreign intervention. Even if Putin legitimately encroaches on an ally like Ukraine, or if a known terrorist continues to wreak havoc, it absolves the government of accountability.
Likewise, the Americans realized that the cancellation of the Chicks (as they changed their name recently, in order to get rid of the Dixie nickname) was a mistake and that their position on the war in Iraq was correct. And those Freedom Fries? Walter Jones, the congressman who renamed the House Cafeteria Potatoes, came to regret his Iraq War vote and wrote letters to the families of fallen soldiers before his death in 2019 .