Spoiler Alert: If you have not read the third book in the hunger Games trilogy, Mockingjay, and you do not want to know a significant plot detail, do not read this blog.
The upcoming presidential debate of foreign policy ought to be full of fire and bluster as President Obama attempts to paint Governor Romney as clueless regarding diplomacy and the challenges America faces in the world, and Governor Romney attempts to paint President Obama as projecting weakness that invites our enemies to disrespect us and our allies to doubt that we can truly help them. We will hear about Afghanistan withdrawal timelines (secret and otherwise), killing Osama Bin Laden, the tragedy at the American consulate in Benghazi, the rising tension in Syria, arguments about who is the “true” supporter of Israel, and the dawning of the apocalypse should Iran get a nuclear bomb.
With all of that to discuss, I doubt we will get a serious question or reflection on American drone strikes. That would be a shame, because this policy most threatens America’s credibility around the world. As I wrote previously here, the policy of drone strikes makes me question whether President Obama is still reading Reinhold Niebuhr, purportedly his favorite theologian. What we need is an open discussion whether the “security” we think we have developed by employing this policy is worth the moral guilt we incur for its collateral damage.
After reading the disturbing details of the report more closely, one thing has become clear: President Obama is responsible for killing Primrose Everdeen. Let me explain.
Spoiler Alert! In the conclusion to the Hunger Games trilogy, the Capitol employs a desperate strategy in its waning hours that is eerily similar to the strategy employed by American drone strikes. The Capitol launches a bomb that damages an advancing troop regiment. Then after the field medics come to treat the injured troops, the Capitol launches a subsequent bomb, killing the remaining troops and field medics. Primrose, Katniss’s sister, the one whom Katniss replaced to fight in the Hunger Games, is one of the medics caught in the Capitol’s double-tap strike.
This desperate attack epitomizes the immoral nature of the Capitol’s reign over Panem. Ironically, Katniss’s allies had planned to commit a similar tactic against the Capitol, should they ever get the chance. Katniss is ambivalent towards their plans, but Peeta rightfully thinks it unconscionable.
Is the double-tap strike philosophy any less morally grey just because it is employed by the “good” guys, rather than the “bad” guys? I don’t think we can justify any action in the name of keeping America safe. I think the president ought to answer for this policy without hiding behind this rhetoric of “keeping America safe.” The same slippery argument was used to justify torture in our name by the previous administration. If that justification for torture wasn’t good enough for the American and global communities, this justification for double-tap drone strikes is not sufficient either.
While a presidential debate focusing on foreign policy would be a perfect opportunity to have this discussion, I doubt that the question will come up. Even if it did, given Governor Romney’s bluster about flexing American power abroad, I would expect him to move to the right of the President on this and call for double, double strikes! I expect to be disappointed about after this debate, as both candidates seem to be too willing to protect America at the cost of its soul.