Sober critique of American ideals

Kaneohe, Hawaii

U.S. Rep. Keith Ellison’s Washington Post article, “Building a better U.S. drone policy,” which was printed in The Japan Times on Jan. 17, is a sober, elegant and erudite critique of the “drone wars.” That it is written by an American congressman is both encouraging and depressing.

It is encouraging because it shows that at least one member of that august body clearly understands the situation and is willing to say “the emperor has no clothes.” That means there may be other congressmen who will take their heads out of the sand and have the courage to speak and act out.

The article is depressing because it highlights the glaring and growing gap between America’s ideals and reality. The thought that other countries and nonstate actors will follow the U.S. lead in such targeted killings — including killings of American citizens — is frightening. What happened to “innocent until proven guilty,” due process and the public’s right to know?

What now separates “us” from “them”?

Having declared a “war on terror,” have we merely become high-tech terrorists and murderers ourselves?

And what of the innocent men, women and children that are expected to be — and are — killed and maimed in these drone strikes as “collateral damage”?

These deaths are not “accidents.” They are the result of careful, cynical and callous calculations. In short, what has happened to the morality of the United States?

It increasingly appears to me that the “terrorists” have won, as they have forced us to trod upon our most precious values and to join them in the moral gutter. Consequently, the U.S. is losing its credibility to preach to and lead the world.

mark j. valencia
kaneohe, hawaii

The opinions expressed in this letter to the editor are the writer’s own and do not necessarily reflect the policies of The Japan Times.