The Atlantic: The Risks of Obama’s Immoral Drone War

Now here’s something I’m really worried about and have been for a long time. Something that makes me more uncomfortable than just about any US Geopolitical or Military action in my lifetime: the expansion of the “Drone War”, particularly the covert version run by the CIA. Link to this excellent article:

The Risks of Obama’s Immoral Drone War

As a longtime student of military history and a proponent of actual armed combat when absolutely necessary, I have a serious problem with the United States feeling that it is perfectly within its rights to run a remote-controlled war in countries where we have no business being. The very thought of someone sitting comfortably at a desk in Langley, VA operating a robot weapon a continent away is something completely appalling. Is it really okay running military and foreign policy like a video game?

The constitutional, not to say moral implications, are staggering in my mind. Where’s the accountability? The transparency? The legality? The following of our constitutionally constructed separation of powers? Killing of American citizens without due process?

Here’s a particularly trenchant paragraph I quote from the article:

Put another way, this single C.I.A. program weakens the separation of powers, the Bill of Rights, and the accountability of America’s leaders to its citizenry. It weakens the separation of powers by diluting Congress’ role in declaring war and shaping foreign policy, as the executive branch operates in any country it sees fit; it weakens the Bill of Rights insofar as it has targeted and will continue to target American citizens for assassination without any due process; and it diminishes the degree to which government is accountable to voters in three ways. 1) It vests substantial power in an opaque bureaucratic agency whose leadership is unaccountable to voters; 2) insofar as it diminishes the Congressional role in foreign policy, it also lessens the people’s influence, especially  as exercised through the House of Representatives; 3) by operating in secrecy, it prevents voters from having enough information to judge even the behavior of the president, who has an incentive to hide not just acts that are sensitive for national security reasons, but behavior that would hurt or inconvenience him politically.

The article’s title is a bit provocative and could be construed as being partisan, so let’s be sure to say that the drone programs were begun under President Bush–but they have been radically expanded under “Hope & Change”, Nobel Peace Prize-winning President Obama. Is this really what the morons in Stockholm expected when they jumped the gun and awarded him that prize simply for being elected and not actually doing anything? This is also a perfect example of what folks at the Cato Institute frequently call the “Bush-Obama” years–the political party doesn’t matter at all, it’s the entrenched and over-sized federal government that is breaking all the rules, disregarding constitutionality and radically reshaping the way the US operates.

“But we’re at war!” Or perhaps, “But the terrorists are dangerous and should be taken out”, you might protest.

Bullshit. We’ve gotten completely carried away fighting people in places we have no business being (like Libya–you know, so that our Peace Prize-winning president can parade yet another murdered enemy to the genuflecting press).

If we indeed want to fight, let’s at least be ethical about it by putting boots on the ground and getting after the bad guys, not simply let some CIA agents–trained by playing years of first-person shooters on their PS2s and XBoxes–reduce it to just another game fought during office hours, followed by a nice dinner at home with the family and a beer on the couch in front of the evening news.

As I remember reading in some other online post about this (sorry I can’t recall where), if the US president now has the ability to order the remote-controlled execution of American citizens and others in places like Pakistan or Somalia–why not Chicago? Or Dallas?

No, I’m extremely disturbed by the very idea of remote-controlled warfare…

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