Former President Jimmy Carter had some rather harsh words and questions for the Obama administration in an op-ed yesterday as he attacked the administration’s record on human rights violations over the past three years. Despite the fact these points deserve answers from the administration, we will likely get none. But one part of Carter’s op-ed caught my attention:
Our nation’s violation of human rights…began after the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, and has been sanctioned and escalated by bipartisan executive and legislative actions, without dissent from the general public. As a result, our country can no longer speak with moral authority on these critical issues.
A couple of things should be noted here. One is that this has clearly been a bipartisan effort since Democrats had the chance to change much of this after the ’08 election and chose to do virtually nothing. In fact, as Carter argues, the violations have even been expanded in some ways with the use of drone strikes and the ridiculous declaration that any man of a certain age killed by one is a terrorist. Another is we long ago lost our moral authority on any of these issues around the world and only anger people when our government officials try to throw stones at others behaving badly in foreign affairs, for instance Russia arming Assad in Syria.
But what should be the most eye-opening phrase from Carter is “without dissent from the general public.” Now, I’m assuming Carter’s definition of this does not mean what it seems on the surface. Of course, there has been dissent in the American populace as to the human rights violations by the U.S. government since the War on Terror began and I would take it for granted Carter knows this. What I assume he means is there has been no dissent shown by voters through punishing elected officials at the polls. We have continued to vote for many of the same people who supported these programs and have done nothing to pressure them to change the outcome. In this sense, he is very correct and for people on the outside of the United States looking in, they have seen very little dissent.
We have seen other elected governments get punished because of their abhorrent positions on the War on Terror, Spain being one of the most famous. The question is, will this ever happen in America in a way where the dissent is truly visible? Unfortunately, it seems doubtful.