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The Obama Drone War


Like Ta-Nehisi Coates and others, I am pretty disgusted that the Obama Administration has defined any male of military age killed by a drone bombing to be a combatant. This is morally bankrupt and is a cheap way to justify the huge number of collateral casualties from drone strikes and other imprecise military actions. Coates:

The Obama administration considers any military-age male in the vicinity of a bombing to be a combatant. That is an amazing standard that shares an ugly synergy with the sort of broad-swath logic that we see employed in Stop and Frisk, with NYPD national spy network, with the killer of Trayvon Martin.

I am not one to say that there’s no difference between Obama and Romney on foreign policy; that would be stupid. After all, look at all the crazy things Romney is saying. However, on this issue, there is sadly likely to be very little that separates them.

And let’s face it–when the U.S. is killing innocent people from the air, it’s really hard to see how our actions are less a form of terrorism than the Al-Qaeda killing of civilians we have found so offensive in the last decade. Certainly it is helping terrorists recruit new members. Why not join when an American drone strike has killed your sister? I know that any anti-terrorist actions are deeply problematic and the drone strikes have eliminated a number of top targets who meant to do our nation harm. But the embrace of drone strikes, the assumption that everyone killed by a bombing is an enemy combatant, and the number of dead innocent people are deeply problematic from both a moral and strategic perspective.

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