Monday, March 22, 2010

Kick@$$istan, You Say?

For about a  year, the people at indie comics house Devil's Due have been flogging their "Barack the Barbarian" series.  It concerns the leader of a savage land called Kickassistan and covers have shown the scantily-clad eponym locked in combat with no-less-scantily clad barbarian females who look suspiciously like a well-known wretched harridan who fibs about her church attendance, and more recently the ex-governor of Alaska.

Whether this works for you as satire will depend upon where you are coming from, politically and culturally.  (Delayed adolescent Fr. Anonymous finds it chuckle-worthy, but expects that the more mature Mother A. would wrinkle her lovely brow.)

But here's the thing:  Devil's Due may be on to more truth than they realize.  It turns out, according to the Economist's "Lexington," that Obama really does prove to be a savage warrior.  Debunking the customary claims of the right that Obama is tepid in his response to terrorism, he writes:

... [Although] Mr Obama is willing to admit his country’s failings, he is quite ruthless about blowing its enemies to scraps. American drones fired missiles at suspected Taliban and al-Qaeda leaders in Pakistan’s tribal areas 55 times last year, killing hundreds of jihadists and who knows how many civilians. This year, the killing has accelerated; so far more than a dozen strikes have been reported. 

Mr Obama orders assassinations at a far brisker pace than George Bush ever did. For some reason, his habit of blowing up alleged terrorists and bystanders from the air causes less global outrage than the smothering of a lone Hamas operative, allegedly by Israel, in a hotel room in Dubai. But whether you think it justified or not, it is hardly evidence that the president is “against killing terrorists”.

Whew.  Here's a case in point:

In September, for example, America tracked down a much-wanted terrorist in Somalia. Saleh Ali Nabhan was accused of helping to blow up the American embassies in Kenya and Tanzania in 1998, and was thought to have been the main liaison between al-Qaeda and its Somali ally, al-Shabab. Had he been captured and questioned, he could have been a mine of useful intelligence. But there is no functioning Somali government to hand him over to, so American helicopters vaporised him. [Emphasis added.] This seems to be the rule, not the exception. A recent Washington Post investigation of Mr Obama’s war against al-Qaeda leaders abroad found “dozens of targeted killings and no reports of high-value detentions” by American forces.

Now, there's is a cost to this muscularity.  Specifically, since Obama has been readier than Bush to hand prisoners over to the [repressive, authoritarian] governments of the nations in which they are apprehended, Lexington notes both the howls of anguish from human-rights activists and the the urgent need for a coherent detainee policy.

Those last bits are important, and will become more important as time goes by.  Here at the Egg, our editorial board has just concluded a bitter internal debate over the rights and wrongs of Obama's apparent defense policy.  Once the foam was wiped from our mouths, we came to this bipartite conclusion:  (1)  That we aren't exactly sure how we feel about living in Kickassistan; but (2) that as former residents of lower Manhattan, we like it more than living in Get-your-ass-kicked-istan.

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