Congressman Peter King (R-N.Y.) is no stranger to political controversy. After the Boston Marathon bombings, King suggested that the U.S. put all Muslims under surveillance, and after Obama’s recent counterterrorism speech at the National Defense University, King stated that he was “offended” that Obama mentioned morality at all.
Because there’s apparently no place for moral, human concerns within U.S. foreign policy.
On ABC’s The Week on Sunday, King mentioned that he was “bothered” by Obama’s speech, which stated that he wanted to end the war on terror and that there would be more transparency concerning future drone operations. Many are voicing legitimate concerns about some of Obama’s security positions, but the fact that the president considered morality in his views is not a reason for offense.
As to his reasoning, King stated, “Our country has done more than any country in the history of the world to limit civilian casualties so that just offended me, the whole tone of it.”
Limiting U.S. civilian casualties, yes. In fact, the American public is far less involved with the multiple wars that the U.S. is currently embroiled in than in past wars, partly because we almost never have to deal with the reality of the costs of war. Think about the sacrifices that were demanded during the world wars: everything from growing victory gardens to donating stockings to make parachutes for soldiers. Nothing was asked of Americans when we went to war in 2001 and again in 2003, but we’re certainly paying for it now.
On the other hand, do we emphasize limiting civilian casualties in other countries? Not really, especially when you look at our current drone program, which kills 50 civilians for every intended target. That’s an abysmal ratio, and it’s hard to argue that we’ve done more than “any country in the history of the world” in light of it.
But what about other security issues like indefinite detention without charges in Guantanamo Bay? “I’m offended by the moralizing. He could have done a lot more … rather than just moralizing.”
“Just moralizing?” Since when was morality an afterthought, or an insignificant add-on? While morality may not be the first and foremost concern on our politicians’ minds, it should be extremely relevant. The mindset that the ends justify the means is purely Machiavellian, and if our government really ran on such a system, it would be called fascism.
King ended with the declaration that we need to “stop apologizing for America.” That attitude is disgusting and incredibly problematic. Treating the American government and all its actions as infallible or necessary makes it impossible to have progress at all. If we never question the government’s actions, we’ll never distinguish between right and wrong, and when we lose our moral compass, we’re no longer fit to lead the free world.