Politically, I could probably be described as liberal, leaning towards socialist. If I were to get into a policy discussion with someone on almost any topic, they would likely assume I am a Democrat and plan to vote for President Barack Obama in November. However, given his indifference to international law, war crimes, and accountability for such actions, I cannot in good conscience give him my vote. His failure to make good on many domestic policy promises notwithstanding, I believe Obama has committed international war crimes and protected others that do the same.
In recent memory alone, Obama has given the go-ahead for at least two extra-judicial assassinations, one of which was of an American citizen. The first, and much better known, was that of former Al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden. Based on the lack of defenses in Bin Laden’s compound, the Navy SEALs who violated Pakistani national sovereignty to infiltrate it were likely given a shoot-on-sight command, one which could only come from the president himself. The most obvious reason for this seems to be to avoid the messiness and publicity of a fair trial. I am not saying I did not wish to see bin Laden apprehended, but murdering him while unarmed was not exactly what I had in mind. To quote the esteemed Noam Chomsky, “We might ask ourselves how we would be reacting if Iraqi commandos landed at George W. Bush’s compound, assassinated him, and dumped his body in the Atlantic.”
Not five months later, Obama approved another assassination, this time of Anwar Al-Awlaki, an American-Yemeni citizen suspected of preaching to Al-Qaeda affiliates and helping to plan a failed plane bombing. Evidence in this case was particularly weak, and apparently Obama once again can not be troubled with due process of law, regardless of American citizenship, when it comes to suspected Muslim terrorists.
Domestically, Obama has waged a war on governmental transparency since being sworn in. He has overseen the conviction of six individuals with the charge of espionage and aiding the enemy for leaking information to a journalist. This is twice as many as all other presidents in history combined. Many of those charged leaked damning information regarding atrocities committed by high-ranking U.S. officials, such as John Kiriakou and Wikileaks mole Bradley Manning. Concurrently, individuals such as Staff Sgt. Frank Wuterich, implicated in the Haditha Massacre in which 24 Iraqi civilians were murdered, are all but acquitted. As Mazahir Hussein put it, “Bradley Manning should've really considered committing some war crimes instead of exposing them.” Accordingly, Obama has decided to get in bed with ultra-paranoid U.S. intelligence officials, who begin shaking in their boots at the mere mention of transparency, instead of holding real perpetrators accountable.
With all of this in mind, I cannot stomach the idea of casting a vote for someone who so cavalierly disregards basic standards of international law. While I by no means wish to see a Republican win the presidency, and sadly am forced to prefer Obama over the alternatives, my residency in New York allows me to selfishly rest easy knowing that regardless of what box I check (or decline to check) in November, the electoral votes that claim to represent me will support the ever-so-slightly lesser of two evils.
Photo Credit: An Honorable German