I was thinking this morning about how Trump hadn’t even lasted a week before he had blood on his hands–which, of course, isn’t surprising, more is the pity–and it really occurred to me what an extraordinary amount of power American presidents hold, so it’s no wonder they all become mass murdering lunatics.
These are people who can kill someone with only a nod. One nod, and a drone drops a bomb in Yemen, killing the target and probably a few civilians with it. One nod, and the military invades a sovereign nation. One nod, and an enemy combatant is sent to Guantanamo Bay to be tortured and incarcerated without a trial.
I can’t even imagine essentially having the power to point at someone and then watch them die, with no one able to do anything about it. The only people who possibly could do anything about it are overwhelmingly uninterested in the whole affair, even when 230 civilians are murdered, while they have no problem showing interest and devoting attention to the firing of a random waitress from a Cracker Barrel. And even if the American President did have to explain his actions to Congress or the American People, all he has to do is say “ISIS!” and that’s it.
Press a button, enter a launch code, hundreds of thousands die.
Nod, hundreds die.
Give a thumbs up, dozens die.
My world is unaffected.
That’s the most dangerous part of all of this. There is a reason that Trump wouldn’t nod his approval for a drone strike in China or Russia–those nations could fight back. China and Russia could return the “favor” by dropping bombs on American cities. Oh, it would be a bloodbath, and no one would have an easy time of it, but it would certainly happen. Iraq, Syria, Yemen, Somalia, Sudan, Pakistan, and all these others that we’ve attacked, however, are incapable of striking American cities. But if bombs started falling on American cities, we would sue for peace quickly against these nations. The only reason that we’re so uninterested is that we are unaffected.
Even North Korea, perhaps the most advanced of our self-created enemies, doesn’t have the ability to strike American cities. There’s no chance that any of these less-advanced Middle Eastern countries in whose affairs we’ve interfered for decades, often via wars that devastated their economies, could possibly retaliate except through guerilla terrorist tactics.
The invading aliens are too advanced to be destroyed with weapons. The only hope is to infect them with bacteria.
When I’m God, everyone dies.
Considering how much like a religion statism is, and the faith we place in government that it holds the answer to all life’s problems, and given how extraordinarily powerful the American head of state is, the metaphor is more appropriate than one might think.
Of course, all of this was true for Obama, as well–notorious winner of the Nobel Peace Prize who went on to be responsible for more deaths than Fidel Fucking Castro. It applies to every American President going back a very long time. They’re omnipotent, for all intents and purposes, sitting at the very top of humanity’s pyramid. If it truly came to blows, it’s doubtful that China and Russia could combine to take out the United States, after all, and individually neither stands a chance.
The biggest, toughest, strongest man in the prison, and he’s also a black belt.
And the only people he must answer to are only semi-resistant of this atrocity, with only about 7% of them resistant to it regardless of who is making the world smaller. There’s another 15% or so that are resistant to it, but their resistance depends upon who is exerting the power. If a Republican, then Democrats resist. If a Democrat, then Republicans resist. Nearly half the population doesn’t care enough to find out what’s going on.
Meanwhile, the world just keeps getting smaller.
I’m no Constitutionalist, but we do have constraints within the Constitution that would actually prevent the president from having this power to assassinate pretty much anyone he wants: Congress has the authority to create Letters of Marque and Reprisal. These are used in lieu of declarations of war, and are much more limited in scope. A letter of marque against Osama Bin Laden, for example, would have prevented the 16-year-long War in Afghanistan and the 14-year-long War in Iraq. It’s basically Congressional permission for authorized people–privateers, although, in an era of the standing army, it’s not inconceivable that the marque could be carried out by the military–to capture or kill someone, if capture is impossible.
I don’t know about you, but when someone says, “Hey, we could have avoided this war that has lasted sixteen goddamned years,” my interest is usually piqued. This war has lasted more than half of my life. Throughout more than half of my life, we have been fighting in Afghanistan, and the situation doesn’t look like it’s going to change any time soon. It’s worse now than it’s ever been–truly a victory for statism, since now we must keep the military there in an insane attempt to fix the problems caused by our military fighting there.
Congress really shouldn’t have the power to point at people and say, “Die!” either, like Lord Soth or something, but at least we know how dysfunctional Congress is. The dysfunction is a good thing, because it prevents these power-hungry lunatics from accomplishing anything. It’s more egregious than ever, too, with a reasonably decent Supreme Court Justice having a hard time getting the cloture vote. These people can’t agree on anything. There’s no chance that the Senate could get sixty votes authorizing an invasion of another country, or authorizing a drone strike. It would be considerably easier to authorize a letter of marque, given how much less responsibility that places directly on them, but they’d still have a difficult time accomplishing anything.
And when we’re talking about the power to point at a spot on the map and drop a bomb there, we want there to be lots of roadblocks built into the system, almost so many that it’s impossible to get them actually drop the bomb. Personally, I’d prefer it to be legitimately impossible, but…
Regardless, we should all be able to agree that no one person should have this sort of power. We’re worried about the power that Kim Jong Un unilaterally wields in his own nation, yet the power our president wields absolutely dwarfs that of North Korea’s. Kim Jong Un can point at a North Korean citizen and sentence them to death for whatever reason he wants, and that’s terrible, but the American President can point at anyone and sentence them to death for whatever reason he wants. And the only people to whom he has to justify it are overwhelmingly uninterested in even hearing the justification, because waitresses are getting fired from Cracker Barrel and transgender people are having a hard time finding restrooms.