Isn’t the problem the drones, and not the Americans?
February 6, 2013 18 Comments
At risk of excommunication from my political tribe, I have to admit an inability to get worked up about the ‘Obama killing Americans with drones’ issue.
To be clear: this is not to say I don’t understand the questioning of the drone-warfare policy overall (UPDATE: Which began under Bush, I believe). Indeed, I think it merits serious discussion and raises very thorny and troubling issues. Others (e.g. PostLibertarian) have written more passionately and knowledgeably on the subject than I and I continue to try to read about it.
But here, once the principle seems to be granted in passing that it’s basically ok to engage in drone strikes against non-conventional-force targets inside countries with which we have no formal or informal state of war, then really, what the heck do I care if some of the targets have American citizenship?
As far as I can tell, according to the terms of most conventional debate, drone warfare is just another type of warfare now. At least, this is not being heavily questioned outside of left & right libertarian circles. Well then, drone warfare targets are therefore (by assumption) identified enemies. American citizens who get killed by a US drone strike unintentionally are therefore just collateral damage, like a reporter in a war zone; American citizens targeted intentionally by a drone strike are (by assumption) enemies in a legitimate war being conducted by legitimate means, like a WWI-era German-American who went home to go fight for the Kaiser.
In short, once the legitimacy of drone-warfare has been granted, and if it’s not questioned, I just feel robbed of any real intellectual or logical grounds on which to object to some of its targets having US citizenship. I can’t thread that needle. Sorry.
Again, though, drone warfare the way we’ve been conducting it – that itself is really, really questionable.