Should the brother of a war criminal be permitted to run for president? The curious case of Jeb Bush

Quite a few people seem to be supporting Jeb Bush’s bid for the US presidency. Oddly enough, they seem to be some of the very people who found nothing wrong with either the JSOC execution of Khalid bin Laden along with his father at the family compound in Abbottabad, Pakistan, or the drone killing of Abdulrahman al-Awlaki not long after his father was taken out by a Hellfire missile in Yemen.

Given these data points, we must ask: Are the relatives of alleged terrorists guilty by association or not? When the US government dispatched Khalid bin Laden along with his father, was this not because they regarded him as guilty by association? When the US government killed Abdulrahman al-Awlaki shortly after his sixteenth birthday (making him fair game according to the definition of all “military-age males” as combatants), was this not because they found him potentially guilty by association? Was it not because they feared that he might make a good terrorist, given what they took to be the nature of his father?

If the killing of Abdulrahman al-Awlaki was actually a mistake, and only coincidentally carried out shortly after his sixteenth birthday—a bizarre shot-in-the-dark missile aiming at someone else entirely—then the perpetrators may write it off as collateral damage. But how else can the intentional, premeditated killing of the unarmed son of Osama bin Laden be understood? This case (or pattern, if Abdulrahman was intentionally slain) suggests that US officials consider blood relations fair game for targeting because of their potential to become active terrorists in the future.

In consistency, should not the brother of a war criminal who actively terrorized millions and slaughtered hundreds of thousands of people, mostly innocent, at the very least be considered disqualified from being a candidate for the office of US president?

Why is Jeb Bush even a contender?


For more information and related criticism, see We Kill Because We Can, Chapter 6: The New Banality of Killing