Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Enough About Drones, Already

The nice thing about having a blog that nobody - and I do mean nobody - reads is that I can say anything I want here without arousing a cacophony of scolds from people I normally side with.

Case in point, Joan Walsh's diatribe on the Obama Administration's use of drones in targeted assassinations, and her disdain of liberals who aren't shocked by it. OK, it isn't just Walsh. Shannyn Moore is pissed off about them on Facebook. There was a lot of traffic from pissed-off liberals about the leaked DOJ memo on Twitter yesterday; I won't try to hunt all of those down; if you read this blog (though nobody does), you follow the same people I do. Well, sorry, pissed-off liberals. I'm liberal, but I'm just not as pissed off as you think I should be. Scold me.

Drones come in a variety of configurations. Some are used only for surveillance, while others are armed. They don't carry pilots, but they are operated by technicians who decide whether or when to pull the trigger. They have far more control over what they hit than a WWII bombardier operating out of a B-17. I am thus hard pressed to comprehend why there is anything about them that's more evil than any other weapon of war.

But I don't think the mechanics of the killings are what my fellow liberals are upset about. Rather, it's the lack of due process afforded to Americans who decided to move overseas and take up arms against other Americans. It's easy, and also proper, to be high-minded about things like due process. But there are plenty of people within the borders of the U.S. who are routinely deprived of it.

What's hard for me to comprehend is why we're not just as pissed off about that. Where were the Federal officials who could have been safeguarding the rights of these protesters, for instance? When was the Federal civil rights indictment handed down? Why is the Obama Administration silent about stuff like this?

Honestly, I don't know, just as I don't know why they feel it's necessary to take out roving bad guys with weapons that seem to come straight out of The Terminator. However, I am going to allow that there are reasons I don't know. Reasons that are very good and proper. I should not know about everything the Administration does or fails to do, because it might not be good for any of us if that sort of information were made public.

I have been reading Showdown, reporter David Corn's account of Obama's string of victories over teabagging Republicans in recent years. This book is the antidote to liberal angst over Obama's dealings with Republicans (and many congressional Democrats) if you can read it without clinging to the lefty narrative that Obama is a fake liberal who caves to the GOP at every step and turn. If there is one thing this book will convince you of, it's that Obama always has in his heart the interests of the greatest number of Americans, and that he's always playing the long game. And he plays it very well.

What does this have to do with drone strikes? All I can say is that there are plenty of liberals who are as relentless in their criticism of Obama's domestic, economic policies as they are in his handling of the ongoing conflicts in the Middle East and counterterrorism. In fact, they're pretty much the same ones. I'm convinced they are mistaken about Obama with respect to these domestic, economic policies. Unswervingly convinced. Although I can't be quite so convinced about his counterterrorism policies, I do know that:

  1. The Iraq war ended on his watch.
  2. The war in Afghanistan will end on his watch.
  3. He is not going to start another war in the region. Witness Libya: limited air strikes, quick in and out, no U.S. casualties, no boots on the ground, no neoconservative nation-building.
The greatest good for the greatest number of Americans. The long game. If David Corn is planning to write a book about Obama's counterterrorism policies, I'll be sure to preorder it. In the interim, fellow liberals - those of you who, like me, aren't as upset as Joan Walsh wants you to be about drones, don't feel guilty about it.

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