Devaluing Life

In August 2001, President George W. Bush told Americans that he worried about “a culture that devalues life,” and that he believed that, as President of the United States, he has “an important obligation to foster and encourage respect for life in America and throughout the world.”

That belief lay behind Bush’s denial of federal government funds for stem-cell research that could encourage the destruction of human embryos. Although the Bush administration acknowledged that some scientists believe stem cell research could offer new ways of treating diseases that affect 128 million Americans, this prospect evidently did not, in Bush’s view, justify destroying human embryos.

Last month, the military forces that this same president commands aimed a missile at a house in Damadola, a Pakistani village near the Afghanistan border. Eighteen people were killed, among them five children. The target of the attack, Al Qaeda’s number two man, Ayman al-Zawahiri, was not among the dead, although lesser figures in the terrorist organization reportedly were.

Bush did not apologize for the attack, nor did he reprimand those who ordered it. Apparently, he believes that the chance of killing an important terrorist leader is sufficient justification for firing a missile that will almost certainly kill innocent human beings.