The Killing of Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi: Illegal, Disgusting and Degenerate

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            As a society degenerates, life cheapens. The rhetoric that follows death coarsens. Respect paid to fallen rivals is replaced by triumphalism.

            Historians observed this trend in ancient Rome. As republic turned to empire and domain expanded and so also arrogance and hubris, vanquished chieftains who previously might have been allowed to keep their thrones as the head of a vassal state were gruesomely executed at public triumphs. Early Christians got tossed to the lions. Gladiatorial combat became all the rage.

            The assassination of Islamic State leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi by U.S. special forces operating under orders from President Trump reminds us that ours is a nation in moral decline—bloodthirsty and crass, functioning more like a vengeful crime family sending a message to its rivals than a nation of laws, a hell pit so devoid of basic ethics that it doesn’t even occur to its ruling party’s adversaries to raise the question of legality.

            Nor does it cross the minds of journalists to mention the United States’ responsibility for the rise of ISIS. Rather than defend the secular socialist government of Bashar al-Assad or staying out of it, the Obama Administration armed and funded the Free Syria Army, parts of which allied with ISIS. This began the civil war. By most accounts al-Baghdadi was radicalized by his time in a hellish prison in U.S.-occupied Iraq—that’s on George W. Bush.

            Inserting the caveat that ISIS committed many terrible crimes under al-Baghdadi ought not to be necessary here. Alas, such is the depth of our depravity that to omit such a mention is to risk being accused of approving of ISIS, its religious extremism, its kidnapping, enslavement, torturing and beheading because one suggests, as I do here, that a culture that had not lost its moral moorings would not tolerate what Trump did, what the media fails to question and what even those on what passes for the “left” not only tolerate but cheer.

            So here: ISIS sucks. Moving on:

            “Thank you and congratulations to our special operations forces and others involved in tracking and getting rid of ISIS/Daesh leader Baghdadi,” tweeted Tulsi Gabbard.

            Getting rid of.

            Gabbard is, by far, the least militaristic candidate for president.

            “In tone and substance,” Vox noted, “the announcements of the deaths of Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi and Osama bin Laden couldn’t have been more different.” In 2011 Barack Obama used “nearly clinical tones” in his taped statement; Trump made fun of the dead jihadi, dubiously claiming that he left this world “whimpering and crying and screaming all the way” before detonating a suicide vest. He “died like a dog, died like a coward,” Trump told a press conference. Perhaps Caesar had something similarly classy to say about Vercingetorix.

            If ISIS had been defeated as the president previously stated, the death of al-Baghdadi wasn’t a military victory. Worse than the BS was the undiluted repulsiveness of the president’s statement. Trump’s degeneracy did not spring out of thin air; rather, it was the culmination of his predecessors’ increasingly shameless contempt for the human lives we have given them the power to snuff out, and their discovery that holding up a severed head as a trophy can get you votes.
            Obama played it cool. He put his surrogates in charge of his death-gloating. “If you are looking for a bumper sticker to sum up how President Obama has handled what we inherited, it’s pretty simple: Osama bin Laden is dead and General Motors is alive,” Vice President Joe Biden bragged as he stumped for Obama in 2012. No one in the media questioned the White House about the lack of legal justification for the operation.

            “We came, we saw, he died,” Secretary of State Hillary Clinton cackled in 2011 after she watched on TV as a U.S. drone missile hit the Moammar Khaddafi’s car, driving him into the hands of American-armed radical Islamists who sodomized the Libyan leader with a bayonet. Running for president in 2016, she reminded audiences that she’d been in the Situation Room watching bin Laden being whacked.

            “Good riddance,” George W. Bush said after Iraqi President Saddam Hussein was hung and decapitated. Bush invaded Iraq on the pretext that Saddam had weapons of mass destruction. In fact, Colin Powell admitted to associates that the evidence he presented in a ballyhooed speech to the United Nations was “bullshit.” Saddam never threatened the U.S. Impeaching Bush for conning America into war, Nancy Pelosi said in 2006, was “off the table.”

            We have come a long way since 1981, when Ronald Reagan, a conservative Republican, signed Executive Order 12333, which states: “No person employed by or acting on behalf of the United States Government shall engage in, or conspire to engage in, assassination.”

            E.O. 12333—which remains in force—was part of the aftermath of the Church Committee hearings of the 1970s, which exposed assassinations and other illegal acts committed by the CIA in Latin America and elsewhere at the height of the Cold War. American spooks conspired to murder political adversaries and heads of state, mainly on the left, all over the world. Back then, the political class had the grace to pretend to be ashamed.

            When asked whether they had ordered extrajudicial assassinations, presidents of that era issued what came to be known as the Glomar response: they refused to confirm or deny. They would never have admitted, much less boasted about, murdering people. The press would never have looked the other way. If they had, the American people would not have tolerated either the politicians or the journalists.

(Ted Rall (Twitter: @tedrall), the political cartoonist, columnist and graphic novelist, is the author of “Francis: The People’s Pope.” You can support Ted’s hard-hitting political cartoons and columns and see his work first by sponsoring his work on Patreon.)

14 thoughts on “The Killing of Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi: Illegal, Disgusting and Degenerate

  1. The current crop of behavior is no small part of why I simply can’t get worked up about Donald Trump, Existential Threat Extraordinaire. He isn’t even our most blood-soaked Maniac-in-Chief. And he’s certainly murdered fewer brown children during his time in office than any of the recent inhabitants.

    And I’m sure George W. Bush and Pres. Cheney were relieved when Saddam Hussein got executed. One less witness.

    • P.S. Ted, I think I’ve figured out the “awaiting moderation” thing. It’s random.

      • Looks like that happened to me. I tried to post a comment congratulating our host for pointing out this was an extrajudicial assassination and it’s stuck in moderation. Seems capricious.

    • That’s where I’m at too, Alex.

      Only the most unthinking idiots could conclude that I am a Trump fan because I find nothing to cheer about in the Democrats’ intramural fights with Republicans.

      • Ditto. They’re all terrible, all ordered hundreds of thousands of innocents murdered for reasons that make absolutely no sense.
        Sorry. They do make sense. Bomb a man’s house while he’s out in the field, he comes home to find his wife and children dead, he becomes a jihadi and justifies a bigger defence budget. Mission accomplished.
        But all Trump’s predecessors had ever word they said or wrote checked and re-checked by teams of experts, so they gave high-sounding speeches that, as Mr Rall says, made the death of Osama clinical, while Trump says and tweets copious covfefe on a daily basis.

  2. How is it that Mr. Rall is the only writer to point out this was an extra-judicial assassination? We’ve come to expect Trump’s juvenile posture, but with the press so incurious we are at great peril..

  3. It will be interesting to see how the announcement of the killing of al-Baghdadi works out in the poll figures ; will Mr Trump get a boost ?…


    PS : Speaking of cowardice and «dying like a dog» – do bone spurs preclude one from wearing and detnotaing a suicide vest ?…

  4. Think your safe at home…..not really
    Greenwood Village, Colo:
    An armed criminal sneaks into a house and hides. For 19 hours, the suspect holed up in a bathroom as a SWAT team fired gas munition and 40-millimeter rounds through the windows, drove an armored vehicle through the doors, tossed flash-bang grenades inside and used explosives to blow out the walls.

    The house is in TOTAL ruins, the family that lived in the house want restitution. The family in need was offered $5000 in relocation funds. The house had to be demolished by the city

    The family sued, a federal appeals court has decided what else the city owes the Lech family for destroying their house more than four years ago: nothing.

    On Tuesday, a three-judge panel for the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 10th Circuit unanimously ruled that the city is not required to compensate the Lech family for their lost home because it was destroyed by police while they were trying to enforce the law, rather than taken by eminent domain.

      • The other home owners naturally did not want to pay extra taxes even for rebuilding a house from one of their own.

        That sounds too much like public insurance – you know, socialism.

        I mean, it could happen to anyone – but it didn’t, it happened to that schmock over there, so… what? me? worry?

        Also I guess the city budget was already depleted from paying for all the munitions and fuel for the armored car and such.

  5. Obama played it cool. He put his surrogates in charge of his death-gloating.[…] Vice President Joe Biden […]

    The official story about the death of ObL also contained about as much truth as that moving but false war story recounted by Joe Biden.

    Sy Hersh ended up needing a whole book to unspin the mess (The Killing of Osama Bin Laden, 2016).

    • A book blocked in the establishment media, most Americans have never heard of it and believe the Obama version was Gospel. And I cannot imagine any way to force a tinge of truth upon them.

  6. Re: “Illegal, Disgusting and Degenerate”

    So what’s NEW for the exceptionally
    indispensible empire?

    • The thing that hath been, it is that which shall be; and that which is done is that which shall be done: and there is no new thing under the sun.