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Saturday, December 17, 2016


Rodrigo Duterte is the president of the Philippines.  He was trained as a lawyer and was a prosecutor in the town of Davao before becoming mayor of that city.  He is much in the news because he cleaned up drug trafficking in Davao by the  rather brutal expedient of shooting drug dealers without benefit of any judicial procedure.  At present he is doing the same for all of the Philippines.  Just recently (December 2016) he announced that he killed drug dealers in Davao with his own hand.  This has shocked the world and politicians all over the world are decrying his actions and his hands-on involvement.

It is interesting to compare and contrast the actions of Duterte in killing drug dealers and those of Presidents Obama and Bush in ordering drone strikes against people they define as terrorists. Incidentally, Obama has ordered many more hits that Bush did.   First the similarities.

In both cases, these are extra-judicial killings.  No trial was carried out, no time was provided to examine the facts and determine if the person was guilty of the crime in question (as defined by the executioner) and no judge and/or jury was involved.  No defense was mounted.   No reference was made to international standards of justice.

In both cases, the killing was carried out in the name of protecting the population from a threat.  In the case of the Philippines, against the clear and present horror of drugs.  In the case of America against the threat of future terrorism.

Now the differences.
Duterte actually carried out at least some of these killings himself.  By admitting he is carrying out this policy and  admitting he has done some of the killing himself.  He has put himself in personal danger by personally confronting drug dealers. 
The American presidents have set others to do the killing who in turn pass the job on to their subordinates who then pass the job on to their underlings.  Even the drone operators are in no danger.  They operate the drones from the comfort of their bases somewhere in the USA.

Duterte, familiar with his local scene, is likely to be hitting the drug dealers he is targeting.  Of course, once you start extra-judicial killings; basically vigilantism; there will be killings of non drug dealers to settle old scores, for pecuniary motivations (protection rackets) and so forth.  Extra-judicial killings are reprehensible on many levels. 
Judging from recent failures of American intelligence, it is likely that the drone attacks are often targeting people with no connection with what America defines as terrorism.  In addition, recent revelations show that America is very casual about hitting innocent by standers.  Bradley Manning is in a military prison, Edward Snowdon is in self imposed exile in Russia and Julian Asange is holed up in an Ecuadorian embassy because of their revelations of these facts.

Duterte, as far as can be determined, has had no part in the drug trade he is hitting.  He is not and has never been a drug trafficker.
America has created the freedom fighter/terrorists she is hitting.    The most recent war in Iraq was based on lie after lie.  Afghanistan create another bunch of so called terrs.  Following the Iraq war, America refuse to let anyone who was a Baathist take part in the administration of their own country.  Since you had to be a Baathist to get a job as dog catcher, this involved pretty well anyone of ability and experience.  What did this cadre of experienced administrators and military men do.  They formed Isis.  So now, America can expend lots of ammunition, make lots of profits for her arms industries, keep her military occupied, justify asking for more of the money from America tax payers and so forth as she kills her own creation.  In the mean time she is into her next war in Yemen, this time by proxy.  She supplies arms and intelligence to the Saudis who are actually carrying out the war.  More terrs being created to keep America ticking over into the future.  The plight of the people of Yemen is heart wrenching.

Extra-judicial killing are reprehensible on many levels.  Much modern thought says any killings, even ones sanctioned by the judicial system are reprehensible.  Here we are comparing the bad with the even worse.  You judge which is the greater crime.

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