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Droning on

Lots of talk lately about the Obama administration’s policy of drone strikes on terrorists.

“Bush did it too”, but Obama has escalated the number of these strikes, and also conducted the first strike ever against an American citizen (Anwar al-Awlaki).

I’m not sure yet if these strikes are right (i.e., legitimate combat / battlefield strikes), or wrong (i.e., more like extrajudicial killings; possibly war crimes, when they hit civilians on non-battlefields). But I do know that they provide a fascinating window into left-wing hypocrisy. I’ll tally some examples.

  • When Bush was President, these strikes were, to lefties, a sign of American darkness. But now that Obama is President, … ?
  • Obama does more of these killings than Bush did. But aren’t they worse than waterboarding?
  • When it looked like Romney might win the 2012 election, Obama wanted rules to govern when these strikes are done on Americans. But since Obama won, he doesn’t feel the need for rules. Huh?
  • White House counterterrorism adviser John Brennan said these strikes are part of “the inherent right of self-defense.” But the Obama administration wants to restrict Americans’ gun rights. So, the State has a right of self-defense… and not individuals? (Obama will empower the State, every time.)
  • Obama’s Justice department has called for a “broader concept of imminence” in assessing threats that would justify these strikes. Wait: wasn’t a “broader concept of imminence” bad, according to lefties, when Bush was assessing the threat of Saddam Hussein?

Feel free to add any that I’ve missed.

And not to beat a dead horse, but… when will Obama get around to closing Guantanamo? Isn’t its existence supposed to be a moral affront like a Nazi gulag, or something?

FROM THE COMMENTS: Paul brings up Hillary Clinton laughing over the death of Gaddafi, “We came, we saw, he died!”
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I think it goes beyond the question of hypocrisy, “What kind of conniptions would the Left have had, if Bush did it?” Bush wouldn’t have. Lefties, take a good look: If Hillary’s moment there (specifically enjoying an enemy’s death, notwithstanding the collateral damage on civilians and kids that was involved) doesn’t show a repugnant lust for power, what ever would?



  1. Obama, on this, has evolved! The Pennsylvania Dutch have an expression that describes Obama, ¨too soon we grow old, too late, shmart.¨

    Comment by Roberto — February 7, 2013 @ 3:04 pm - February 7, 2013

  2. It says a lot about the morality of the Progressives that their sole and sufficient justification for doing a thing is that somebody else did it before them. The rightness or wrongness of the thing never enters into it.

    …hit civilians on non-battlefields[.]

    Define “battlefield.” I tend to be a total war kind of guy. Since they attacked my country, and without provocation (i.e., not preemptively in anticipation of an attack by us), I have to conclude that their entire reason for attacking my country is to destroy it utterly. (Carthage, for instance, paid the price of thinking otherwise.) Thus, for me, a battlefield is wherever my enemy is, and there are no civilian participants in the war–those who are supporting the war on my country are combatants or terrorists. Including those who are nominally citizens of the US. These have forfeited their rights by taking up arms against their own country–an enormous betrayal.

    The “wherever” part is consistent with the Bush Doctrine, if that doctrine was itself inconsistently prosecuted.

    As to the drone strikes themselves, my own dismay with them centers on the casual sacrifice of the intel value gained from taking some of the targets alive and extracting what they know from them.

    Eric Hines

    Comment by E Hines — February 7, 2013 @ 4:32 pm - February 7, 2013

  3. I’m not so pure as to believe that citizenship confers absolute immunity on someone who takes up arms against the country but I think some strict oversight is needed. (Isn’t there some sort of Executive Order going back some years prohibiting assassinations of foreign leaders? But citizens are OK?)

    Congress has no idea of what justifies assassination. The judiciary has no idea. I thought we had three co-equal branches of government. I must’ve missed something.

    I heard a soundbite today (on Laura Ingraham?) of some ditz on MSNBC prattling on about how these drone attacks make Obama look stronger. Really? I guess that’s typical leftist cant – OK with assassinating US citizens on the orders of Dear Leader since Dear Leader is one of them. I suspect that killing is what a lot of these people needed but it’s not anything to be happy about and it’s tacky to parade bloody scalps just to nudge the polls.

    The hypocrisy is galling.

    Comment by SoCalRobert — February 7, 2013 @ 5:54 pm - February 7, 2013

  4. a battlefield is wherever my enemy is, and there are no civilian participants in the war–those who are supporting the war on my country are combatants or terrorists.

    I don’t reject that line of argument out of hand; I’m sympathetic. But, as I understand these things, preserving the civilian-combatant distinction is important; part of what’s bad about terrorists, part of what makes them terrorists, is that they erase the distinction. If we’re drone-striking a terrorist/combatant in a civilian setting, and killing some civilians who actually don’t support what the terrorist is up to, I’m not 100% sure it’s right.

    Comment by ILoveCapitalism — February 7, 2013 @ 11:19 pm - February 7, 2013

  5. …killing some civilians who actually don’t support….

    But these are excluded by my underlying criterion: …no civilian participants in the war–those who are supporting the war….

    There are folks who don’t, and collateral damage limiting is always a good thing–both morally and saving the powder for the bad guys. But collateral damage, killing civilians, also is inevitable, and it’s suicide to sacrifice the war effort on the altar of perfect performance. But factory workers producing materiel for the war are combatants. Governments who harbor terrorists that are attacking us are legitimate targets. The factories are legitimate targets. The homes of those factory workers are targets.

    That’s what total war is, and that’s the war the terrorists and their apologists and supporters are waging against us. My country can live to answer charges, or it can die. I know which I prefer.

    Eric Hines

    Comment by E Hines — February 8, 2013 @ 12:13 am - February 8, 2013

  6. “We came, we saw, he died! ha ha ha” -Hillary Clinton after the Qaddafi assasination. I think that sums up the Obama administration. Death panels, death by drones, death by taxes, death by late term abortions, dying dollar, dying cities…

    Comment by Paul — February 8, 2013 @ 3:43 am - February 8, 2013

  7. Wasn’t there a hue and cry on the left about trying an AQ member as an adult when he was 16?

    And yet, when asked about an American minor being killed as collateral damage….

    GIBBS: I would suggest that you should have a far more responsible father if they are truly concerned about the well being of their children. I don’t think becoming an al Qaeda jihadist terrorist is the best way to go about doing your business

    So we can’t assassinate leaders of foreign countries, but we can American Citizens. (IIRC, Carter signed the ‘no disintigrations’ EO). We need to treat child terrorists with (pun intended) kid gloves, but innocent child Americans? Fair game.

    Comment by The_Livewire — February 8, 2013 @ 7:45 am - February 8, 2013

  8. Paul – Thanks, I’ve added Hillary’s moment there to the body of the post.

    Comment by ILoveCapitalism — February 8, 2013 @ 10:17 am - February 8, 2013

  9. You are not sure that giving a president carte blanche to order assassination of Americans abroad he thinks might be an enemy combatant without due process is wrong? Seriously?

    Comment by Niall — February 8, 2013 @ 10:24 am - February 8, 2013

  10. I thought this was a conservative site.

    Comment by Niall — February 8, 2013 @ 1:03 pm - February 8, 2013

  11. Niall, you’ve offered a straw man. Operative words, “carte blanche” and “he thinks” (subjectively). The President having (or claiming) that kind of power would be obviously wrong.

    But imagine that, say, Bush had the chance to get Anwar al-Awlaki in a drone strike. And that he arrived at the decision in a process grounded in rules, evidence, and consideration of relevant law – such as the processes that the Bush administration developed for deciding who stays at Guantanamo, for example, or who is waterboarded. Then it wouldn’t be *obviously* wrong. (It might still be wrong… but not obviously.) On a battlefield, one must strike. To avoid all of society becoming the battlefield, one has rules and laws which contain the battlefield, and some of which apply even on the battlefield. Following such rules and laws, battlefield actions *may* then be right.

    Comment by ILoveCapitalism — February 9, 2013 @ 1:18 am - February 9, 2013

  12. ILC, we have been in a state of perpetual war since 9/11. Unless there is a huge paradigm shift we will always be in a state of perpetual war. The next president-democrat or republican-is going to fight to keep the warfare state, and the next one after that, and the next after that.

    This is also about a sitting president attempting a power grab that meets none of the conditions in the constitution set forth in order to authorize such strikes. It also violates international law. The next president-democrat or republican-is going to seize this power and expand it, and the next one after that and the next one after that. This power Obama wants is unchecked. He does not have to offer any proof at all. This power will be used one day to spy on and execute political enemies as well as enemy combatants. It will happen.

    This is not a democrat versus republican issue. People who post here and other places looking for a “gotcha” moment miss the point. I am frankly appalled that any conservative who values liberty and the constitution could be in favor of any president being able to decide who lives and who does.

    There are always going to be people who need to be killed. Are you ready to give one man the power to decide how, when, and where to do this? I am not. I urge you to reconsider your stance on this issue. Thanks.

    Comment by Niall — February 11, 2013 @ 1:01 pm - February 11, 2013

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