From June, 2012. It’s interesting for me to re-read this in post-2016 Democratic primary world.
June 4, 2012:
What do we do with Obama’s drone war?
From the New York Times:
Mr. Obama is the liberal law professor who campaigned against the Iraq war and torture, and then insisted on approving every new name on an expanding “kill list,” poring over terrorist suspects’ biographies on what one official calls the macabre “baseball cards” of an unconventional war. When a rare opportunity for a drone strike at a top terrorist arises — but his family is with him — it is the president who has reserved to himself the final moral calculation.
“He is determined that he will make these decisions about how far and wide these operations will go,” said Thomas E. Donilon, his national security adviser. “His view is that he’s responsible for the position of the United States in the world.” He added, “He’s determined to keep the tether pretty short.”
If you thought for one hot second that the NYT piece is calling Obama out for the covert drone war or his decision that he is fit to decide when to kill the families of suspected terrorists, Charles Krauthammer is here to tell you:
The article could have been titled “Barack Obama: Drone Warrior.” Great detail on how Obama personally runs the assassination campaign. On-the-record quotes from the highest officials. This was no leak. This was a White House press release.Why? To portray Obama as tough guy. And why now? Because in crisis after recent crisis, Obama has looked particularly weak: standing helplessly by as thousands are massacred in Syria; being played by Iran in nuclear negotiations, now reeling with the collapse of the latest round in Baghdad; being treated with contempt by Vladimir Putin, who blocks any action on Syria or Iran and adds personal insult by standing up Obama at the latter’s G-8 and NATO summits.
The Obama camp thought that any political problem with foreign policy would be cured by the Osama bin Laden operation. But the administration’s attempt to politically exploit the raid’s one-year anniversary backfired, earning ridicule and condemnation for its crude appropriation of the heroic acts of others.
Who gets to live and die in Yemen? Don’t worry, world, it’s in the hands of Barack Obama, Decider.
Barack Obama, The Decider. Did you ever think it would come to this?
Since the president is comfortable likening these decisions to game-play, let’s play a game of our own, shall we? A political and ethical Mad Libs of sorts. Take every “Obama” out of these pieces and replace it with “George W. Bush.” Makes you want to vomit, right? Barack Obama better fly from your gullet just as fast. Jeremy Scahill doesn’t mince words.
Mad Libs. Hey, see what I did there? Obama’s a mad liberal, and you know this because he’s a tough drone warrior now. He’s the concierge at Guantanamo Bay. But shouldn’t other liberals be mad that the Peace Prize President is doing these things? No, Timmy, you’re thinking of progressives.
If only ending these campaigns were as easy as electing Mitt Romney. But does anyone think Romney wouldn’t do the same thing? Now listen, liberals, don’t go saying “well, Obama is doing it less that Romney, and he’s keeping us safe, so it’s um, er, okay.”
This is what happens when establishment incumbents face no challenges from within their own party or purported ideology. Oh, for a credible challenge to Obama from a progressive. Oh for an Obama 2008 to run against Obama 2012.
- Drone wars and state secrecy – how Barack Obama became a hardliner (guardian.co.uk)
- Krauthammer: Obama, the drone warrior (denverpost.com)
- Obama’s “kill list” and presidential power to murder at will (antonyloewenstein.com)
- Jeremy Scahill Says Obama Strikes In Yemen Constitute ‘Murder’ – Huffington Post (huffingtonpost.com)