When Did We Lose Our Moral Compass?

I would love to have feedback on the words I am about to write. Our country has never had totally pure motives when dealing with other countries or even our own citizens. However, I have always been able to rationalize our actions by telling myself, at least our “code of morality” is no worse than that of any other country, but I am starting to have serious doubts and it’s very troubling.

You are no doubt familiar with the drone attack, ordered by President Obama, to take out Anwar al-Awlaki in Yemen. Al-Awlaki was an American citizen who had moved to Yemen and was advocating terrorist attacks on the U.S. and U.S. citizens. Being a threat to America, his voice was silenced once and for all with the drone attack.

When this attack was reported in the news, the debate began over whether or not the President had the Constitutional authority to order the execution of a U.S. citizen without any “due process” as required by law. That debate continues but it is likely that nothing will come of it. I am not a lawyer and feel unqualified to question the legality of the President’s action against a self-described enemy of this country. But debating the legality of this attack is missing a bigger issue regarding what our government did in Yemen.

Al-Awlaki’s 16 year-old son, an American citizen, who had moved from Denver to Yemen to live with his cousins was targeted two weeks later and killed along with four of his relatives while having dinner 250 miles away. Why? Roger Gibbs, former White House Press Secretary, suggested the boy would not have been murdered if he had a more responsible father.

For me, this is not a “constitutional issue” but a “moral issue.” Evidently the President expressed regret about what happened to the son, but no one is being held accountable. You might think that as the world’s only super power we would have the opportunity to show not just our military might, but to also show moral leadership. Unfortunately we seem to be headed in the opposite direction.


Filed under Life, Politics

6 responses to “When Did We Lose Our Moral Compass?

  1. Pat Sweeny

    A very touchy subject indeed. Speaking strictly for myself and not my firm, I too am troubled by these actions, regardless of which party controls the White House. Soldiers who consort with the enemy go through a military process that is presumably nearly as old as our nation. Private citizens who do the same also have a process they must go through – our court system. I lose no sleep over these particular individuals but I do lose sleep over the larger question, where is the line on how the government decides which of its citizens die without due process and who specifically makes that decision? Certainly not a jury of our peers in this case.

    • Frank Lehane

      When we speak of having a moral compass in regards to ours or any country’s political leadership we tread on thin ice. On the one hand, we decry one offense yet to wink at others. What’s the moral outrage of the day? Cruelty to animals? Murder of the unborn? Famine victims in Sudan? .

  2. Peter Kitzerow

    We seem to have a morality of convenience.

  3. Doug Nelson

    Hi Dan,
    I tend to agree that in these apparent times of “take what you want” we in the US could rise above it and set the high moral ground instead of “doing what we believe other nations would do”. The time for world leadership is now and bombs are not the answer.


    Douglas L. Nelson, CPA, PFS
    215 W San Francisco Street, Suite 202C, Santa Fe, NM 87501| phone 505-982-3808
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  4. I think the problem of institutional evil has been around for ever. We just have access to more information today.
    You may have heard of the big band leader Glenn Miller. He was an entertainer bigger than any rock star today. He died when his plane went missing in December of 1944. His disappearance was not announced for 9 days. Today an airliner bound for China disappears and it is headlines for a month.

  5. Guy KIEFFER

    Dear Dan,

    I always read with great interest your blog. There are a lot of subjects out there about the our relationship with the US and the image you give to the world. The latest spying affairs in Europe have definitively changed the opinion of a lot of European citizens. My parents where dreaming about USA and I’m really afraid about your country…

    We are still having a fantastic experience with Dimensional Fund Advisors and our clients are so happy. We love our job.

    Hope you enjoy life.



    Guy Kieffer
    Partner / Associé
    Tareno (Luxembourg) S.A.
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