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The killing of Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi: illegal, disgusting and degenerate

Ted Rall on

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 operations forces operating under orders from President Donald 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 Syrian 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, and 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.

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