Friday, December 28, 2012

Opening the Aperture: Targeting the Holy Innocents

“Herod is going to search for the child and destroy him…”
Mathew 2:13
“I’m looking for children with potential hostile intent…”
Lt Col Marion Carrington

It is Christmas time 2012. It is that time of the year when we celebrate the birth of a particular child in manger and lift up children everywhere. However, in the Catholic and Anglican calendar December 28 is also the Feast of the Holy Innocents or Feast of the Martyrs. The church commemorates this day as a way to remember the children Herod ordered murdered because they were a threat to his throne, his imperial power. He ordered his troops to kill every male child under two years old thus the slaughter of the innocents.  Though we name and some remember this Feast Day, the US Catholic bishops’ Conference omits verses 16-18 from Mathew’s gospel describing the massacre. Too bloody?  Too much like the present killing or targeting of children? Cultures of death can never stand cultures of life?

In April of this year at the Woodrow Wilson Center John Brennan made the case for a change in our counterterrorism policy from ‘imminent threat to ‘significant threat’ which essentially means we can go after or target anyone who we think might do something against the US interests.  The aperture for the use of lethal force widened.
In his speech in Oslo accepting the Nobel Peace Prize he said, “Where force is necessary, we have a moral and strategic interest in binding ourselves to certain rules of conflict. And even as we confront a vicious adversary that abides by no rules, I believe the United States of America must remain a standard-bearer in the conduct of war. That is what makes us different from those whom we fight. That is a source of our strength.”
In early December Lt. Col Marion Carrington told the Marine Corp Times that children as well as “military-age males” had been identified as potential threats because they were being used by the Taliban to assist in attacks against Afghan and coalition forces. “It opens our aperture” said Carrington, to “looking for children with potential hostile intent.”
The aperture has indeed been opened even further, 178 children were killed by drone strikes this year. All significant threats?  All children with potential hostile intentions?
“Herod is going to search for the child and destroy him.” We are going to search for the child and blow him or her up. Are we prepared to say that such violence visited upon these children this year is somehow the price of freedom we are fighting for? Is this the new standard that America wants to put forward to the world? Is this not the old standard, killing children because they are a potential threat to established power?  Are we any different from our terrorist enemies who use children to kill if we target children who might have hostile intent?
If the prince of peace has really come and the birth of Christ is a proclamation that God’s peace and justice will be victorious then we need to begin to act like it were so, we need to begin to expose the false charges of threats---imminent or significant and begin to unmask militarism for what it is. We need to face our own Herods and demand that this aperture be closed.
One way is to refuse the move from imminent to significant threat that allows for lethal force against children. The other way is to call on the US House of Representatives to debate and pass Rep. Dennis Kucinich’s bill that calls for more transparency regarding U.S. drone strike policy.
Watch’s new video below to learn about the children who have died. The video names some of the children who have died in these strikes and the American policies that have been created to cover up these civilian casualties:

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