The Obama administration seems to have signed off on the execution of Anwar al-Awlaki, an American citizen who fled to Yemen from where he mobilized terrorists in order to attack America. A few months ago, Osama bin Laden, arch-terrorist master-mind was also killed in an operation in Abbottabad in Pakistan.
Both these events are a cause of concern for human rights activists and right-thinking people around the world. The question is this: if the American government opens the door to extra-judicial executions of its enemies, what prevents other countries and other non-state actors from pursuing this same line of activity? The US has opened a very dangerous door in its actions and this threatens global security. My fear is that if this becomes a pattern, very soon there will be similar retaliation against US citizens in a similar manner. This is the slippery slope to the law of the jungle and it will very soon become difficult to put the genie back in the bottle again.
Apprehending criminals and bad guys is the duty of all law-abiding citizens and societies. But how we apprehend them and bring them to justice is more important than the penalty meted out in the final instance.
What one cannot fail to notice is that days after the unpopular president of Yemen, Ali Abdullah Salih returns to San’aa after several months of recuperation in Saudi Arabia, his forces in cooperation with US forces target Awlaki. Is Salih trying to buy some time for himself? Did he make a deal with Washington? Did he tell Washington: Don’t press me to implement democracy and do not reproach me when my armed forces kill unarmed and peaceful protesters!! One wonders. All this does not augur well for America’s role in encouraging democracy in the Middle East when US security concerns trumps long-term regional security and flourishing.