Armen Chakmakjian

Drones

In Random on October 1, 2011 at 11:57 pm

So I’ve been contemplating the drone war, and in particular this recent killing of an American citizen in the midst of war. He was a Tim McVeigh …but the difference was whether he had had his rights abused in his killing.

I remember a op-ed piece in the WSJ back in 2004 when John Kerry was running for President. The opinion of the writer at the time was that Al Gore, being a Democrat and not a hawk, would have actually attacked Afghanistan in a week rather than in a month like the Bush Administration did. Why? The writer pointed out the Nixonian analogy. Only Nixon, the ardent anti-communist, could have the standing to go to China. In the case of Bush and October 2001 the writer meant that a Democrat would not have been criticized for acting too soon, since they weren’t associated with being “war-like”.

I thought about it at the time and sort of agreed. And I see the analogy now with the drone war. The Bush Administration was already accused of escalating conflict (with Iraq) beyond the reasonable. If they had called on an all out drone war (which they seem to have avoided in the waning days of the administration), they’d have been accused of all the crimes that they already had been. Obama has the cover of saying, “We’re leaving Iraq, We’re going to leave Afghanistan by December Nth” and then launching operations that were even more questionable in their propriety.

Anyway, I think that in this particular case, the Obama administration is doing the right thing. If we are truly at war (meaning congress has given the president the right to conduct operations), then killing Al Qaida operatives, especially high ranking ones, is no different than targeting Admiral Yamamoto as he flew in a plane in the Solomon Islands during WWII. However, if congress does NOT think we are at war, then the president is working outside his authority.

Really, this isn’t the administration’s call. The republican House and the Democratic Senate would have to say “No Terror War”, so that the President would have to stop. The likelihood of this is small, for a multitude of political reasons.

So killing Al-Alwaki (or whatever his name is), is justified in the context of war, unless and until the Congress (house and senate) tell the president to stop.

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