Tuesday, February 05, 2013

Game of drones

There isn't a word in any language to describe how depressing I find listening to a Democratic administration justifying extra-judicial drone kills. Been thinking about it all day and here's the thing. On principle and belief, I'm anti-war. I'm against all acts of violence. Especially killing people.

Yet, to paraphrase Dave Weigel on the twitter, it's a false choice but given it's going to happen and nothing I can do is going to stop it in the short term, I prefer drone warfare to sending in hundreds of thousands of ground troops. On a scale of which does the least human damage to the troops, the innocent population and physical damage to our planet, there's no contest.

That being said, the idea our government can virtually codify executive death sentences outside the realm of the judicial system by bypassing the legislature terrifies me to "confronted by an actual zombie" level. As Charlie Pierce already explained (do read it all), there's danger in this snail paced slide into unilateral executive power:
What matters more to me is that we seem to be slow-playing ourselves into a situation in which the presidency becomes an institution primarily concerned with foreign affairs and, specifically, with where we make war, and against whom, and why, and all of those according to reasons that the presidency can decline to share with the rest of us. This puts more distance between the president — any president — and the people who put him in office. It hamstrings the president's power to do anything about the issues most immediate to the people in this country, but it unleashes him to do anything he wants anywhere else in the world. It is a deformative reinvention of the office, and it will come to no good end.
Truthfully, al-Awlaki notwithstanding, I trust Obama not to abuse the power. I don't trust it won't be abused in the future. Not a precedent that should be allowed to set. Ever.

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