Does citizenship matter when it comes to killing?

I find it interesting that, in all the protests throughout the Middle East, the Iraq protests are the only ones protesting for “improved government services.” Everyone else in the Middle East is protesting to overthrow their government, except in Iraq. Supposedly they are happy with their new government, and they are taking to the streets for…for what, better sewers, better mass transit? I find this hard to believe.

Is the U.S. government and the media going to be the deciding factor as to which protests are valid and what they are really protesting about? Of course, protesting for the removal of a U.S.-backed government that has cost over $800 billion to install is not going to get the coverage and sympathy that protesting against a dictator — or a U.S. enemy dictator — is going to get.

Obama told the regimes in the Middle East where protests were taking place “to give protesters room.” Now this is funny, coming from the president of a country that put its own protesters, at the GOP convention in St. Paul, into a narrow fenced-in chain-link corridor, no more than 10 feet from side to side.

Our government will try to align and connect itself to nonviolent protesters, no matter what part of the world, as if they invented it. Yet our government’s actions over the past two decades in supporting the Egyptian government was an obstacle for the Egyptian citizens in achieving democracy — they overcame it all in spite of the U.S. government.

In regards to Libya, Secretary of State Clinton told the anti-government rebels, “The U.S. is reaching out to you to offer any kind of assistance.” Yes, just what our poor, stressed world needs, another armed rebellion that the U.S. will feed and escalate.

And why do they keep telling us that Qaddafi is attacking and killing his own citizens — would it be less wrong if they were not his citizens, if he was attacking the citizens of another country? This logic is based on a world set up and divided up between “us” and “them.” Qaddafi is not killing “them” — he is killing his own; and this doesn’t make sense, that you don’t kill your own.

But unjustly killing people is unjustly killing people…is the U.S. not as horrible as Qaddafi, because the U.S. is unjustly killing non-Americans in Iraq? The citizenship of those being killed does not matter.

But to believe that citizenship does matter in a situation like this is to believe that the world is divided up like a conference or league of sports teams that have violent conflicts. And one of “the rules” that makes you right, even when committing horrible wrongs, is you only kill members of the other team.

Being loyal to your team when killing people can never make you right or better than someone like Qaddafi who is not loyal to his team. Citizenship has no bearing on whether your violence is more or less acceptable. The dividing is all an illusion.

Frank Erickson lives in Minneapolis.