"We're like the bullies of the world" - Bill Hicks, foreign policy and the U.S. Presidency

2 Mar 2013

I recently watched some of Bill Hicks comedic routines – and a particular quote stuck in my mind: “The reason I didn’t vote for George Bush is because George Bush, along with Ronald Reagan, preceded over an admiration whose policies towards South America was genocide – the reason I didn’t vote for him was because he’s a mass murderer”. The mass murderer part is sadly relevant today – I can’t help but feel Obama's passionate stance on gun control (And I agree with gun control) is ever so hypocritical, as he uses drone strikes incredibly liberally abroad. 


Am I one of the few people who see this? The drone strikes are grossly, grossly wrong – the civilian casualties are far too high. One statistic I uncovered from the think-tank the Brookings Institution was that for every 1 militant a drone killed – 10 civilians were murdered as a result.  And in 2011 the Bureau of Investigative Journalism found that 160 children were killed in these drone strikes. 

What ever happened to U.S Presidents choosing the peaceful option? Who knows what would have happened if John F. Kennedy was as gung-ho on foreign policy as Obama or George W. Bush during the Cuban Missile Crisis? It seems that post-J.F.K a disturbingly high number of Presidents have either dabbled in arms corruption or outright engaged in wars that had huge civilian casualties. Lyndon Johnson - Iraq, Reagan – Iran-Contra, George H.W Bush – The Gulf War (whose militants the U.S fought with the U.S supplied arms to), George W. Bush – Iraq and Barack Obama now joins these ranks with his usage of drones in Pakistan. 

And what strikes me with some of the examples I used above was the illegality of them – Iran-Contra for instance should have seen Reagan impeached or put before trial- and the fact they fund those who they eventually fight with. Bill Hicks once again accurately depicted this when he likened the foreign policy of America as a man throwing a gun on the floor, demanding another person to pick it up. When the person picks up the gun the man who threw it shoots the person to the floor – saying “you all saw him, he had a gun!” The Gulf War for instance – in 1982 the U.S upped its support towards the Iraqi government during the Iran-Iraq war, who they would be then fighting against only a short 9 years later and then again in 2003, it looks like the Iraqi government here ‘picked up the gun’, as Bill Hicks said. 

It seems to be that the U.S Presidency has lost its moral fibre in foreign affairs that is previously had with John F. Kennedy – with exceptions such as Bill Clinton who made great strides in the peace effort of Israel-Palestine. The U.S Presidency has been engaging in corrupt actions, or forging alliances with factions that they would later wage war upon, that usually leads to civilian casualties which are sometimes disturbingly high. It’s why, even as an advocate for gun control, I can’t help but point out the hypocrisy of Obama, and it’s why it leads me to believe that Bill Hicks depiction of Presidents as “mass murderers” is one that is, sadly, accurate.

By Rory Claydon

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