Drones for Dummies

I despise Charles Krauthammer’s reflexive and mindless bashing of the President — he’s bright enough to know that much of what he says is pure BS.  But I’m with Charles 110% on the drone war.  I’m just sorry that he manages to justify Obama’s policy without giving Obama any credit for following it.

From “In defense of Obama’s drone war,” WaPo:

“1. By what right does the president order the killing by drone of enemies abroad? What criteria justify assassination?

“Answer: (a) imminent threat, under the doctrine of self-defense, and (b) affiliation with al-Qaeda, under the laws of war.

“Imminent threat is obvious. If we know a freelance jihadist cell in Yemen is actively plotting an attack, we don’t have to wait until after the fact. Elementary self-defense justifies attacking first.

“Al-Qaeda is a different matter. We are in a mutual state of war. Osama bin Laden issued his fatwa declaring war on the United States in 1996; we reciprocated three days after 9/11 with Congress’s Authorization for Use of Military Force — against al-Qaeda and those who harbor and abet it.

“Regarding al-Qaeda, therefore, imminence is not required. Its members are legitimate targets, day or night, awake or asleep. Nothing new here. In World War II, we bombed German and Japanese barracks without hesitation.

“2. But Awlaki was no ordinary enemy. He was a U.S. citizen. By what right does the president order the killing by drone of an American? Where’s the due process?

“Answer: Once you take up arms against the United States, you become an enemy combatant, thereby forfeiting the privileges of citizenship and the protections of the Constitution, including due process. You retain only the protection of the laws of war — no more and no less than those of your foreign comrades-in-arms.

“3. Who has the authority to decide life-and-death targeting?

“In war, the ultimate authority is always the commander in chief and those in the lawful chain of command to whom he has delegated such authority.

“This looks troubling. Obama sitting alone in the Oval Office deciding which individuals to kill. But how is that different from Lyndon Johnson sitting in his office choosing bombing targets in North Vietnam?

“Moreover, we firebombed entire cities in World War II. Who chose? Commanders under the ultimate authority of the president. No judicial review, no outside legislative committee, no secret court, no authority above the president.

“Okay, you say. But today’s war is entirely different: no front line, no end in sight.

“So what? It’s the jihadists who decided to make the world a battlefield and to wage war in perpetuity. Until they abandon the field, what choice do we have but to carry the fight to them?”

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