In favor of Obama’s drone strikes

Congress has declared war on Al Quaeda, its affiliates, its franchisees, its allies, and its sponsors, a vague and ill defined group, a nebulous category.  This gives the president the legal authority to assassinate lots of people in lots of places on the basis of vague and secret evidence, some of them American citizens.

But it does not, however, give the president authority to assassinate abortion clinic bombers, or even Islamic terrorists who are not allied or affiliated to Al Quaeda, for example Hezbollah terrorists.  Seems narrow enough to me.  Congress could have, and arguably should have, declared war on Islam.

If anything government does is legal, if there is any legitimate purpose of government whatsoever, that purpose is making war.  Congress has declared war in a completely constitutional fashion in response to an extraordinary act of aggression.  Thus nothing the US government does could be more legal, more properly constitutional, than Obama ordering a drone strike on a US citizen on the basis of Obama’s reasonable and plausible suspicion that that US citizen is an Al Quaeda franchisee.

Just about everything the US government does is illegal and unconstitutional.  Assassinating America’s enemies in accordance with a congressional declaration of war is one of the very few legal and constitutional things it does.

For this to be a legal precedent for launching a drone strike on me, Congress would need to declare war on “enemies of equality” or some such.  Which it may well do, but I don’t think that assassinating real enemies in a real war makes this any more or less likely.

18 Responses to “In favor of Obama’s drone strikes”

  1. guest says:

    (There are many links in this post. I hope that’s OK.)

    The government isn’t allowed to assume someone is guilty of a crime. American citizens, whether having chosen to join al Quaeda or not, are entitled to defend themselves in court against their accuser:

    Federalist 84

    The creation of crimes after the commission of the fact, or, in other words, the subjecting of men to punishment for things which, when they were done, were breaches of no law, and the practice of arbitrary imprisonments, have been, in all ages, the favorite and most formidable instruments of tyranny. The observations of the judicious Blackstone,1 in reference to the latter, are well worthy of recital: “To bereave a man of life, [says he] or by violence to confiscate his estate, without accusation or trial, would be so gross and notorious an act of despotism, as must at once convey the alarm of tyranny throughout the whole nation; but confinement of the person, by secretly hurrying him to jail, where his sufferings are unknown or forgotten, is a less public, a less striking, and therefore a more dangerous engine of arbitrary government.” And as a remedy for this fatal evil he is everywhere peculiarly emphatical in his encomiums on the habeas corpus act, which in one place he calls “the BULWARK of the British Constitution.”2

    Ron Paul explains his opposition to the NDAA 12/19/11
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=z8bbuMQLlqs

    Ron Paul Condemns Killing of al Qaeda’s Awlaki
    http://blogs.wsj.com/washwire/2011/09/30/ron-paul-condemns-killing-of-al-qaedas-awlaki/

    Ron Paul on “Letters of Marque and Reprisal”
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YSP9NteApqI

    Besides, it doesn’t help our situation that we cause a lot of our own problems due to the fact that we don’t follow our Constitution. Here are some resources for perusal:

    Ron Paul Predicted 9/11 a Decade Ago!!!!!!!!!!!!
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4hJTisovvjc

    Is Ron Paul serious? Blowback in 1979 from a 1953 coup?
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ldgbOxDX6DE

    The Pearl Harbor Myth: Rethinking the Unthinkable
    http://lewrockwell.com/rep3/pearl-harbor-myth.html

    Closing Hormuz
    http://lewrockwell.com/block/block193.html

    Ron Paul’s Texas Straight Talk 8-6-12 ~ Sanctions On Iran And Syria: Closer To Another War
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xeGIx9wq66s

    Ron Paul Fan Ben Swann vs U.S. Foreign Policy – Part 1 – Reality Check: Libya Attack is Blowback
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GP5NelVvGB4

    Ron Paul Fan Ben Swann vs U.S. Foreign Policy – Part 2 – Reality Check: U.S. is Funding Al Qaeda
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xz2mw3mATHo

    • jim says:

      The government isn’t allowed to assume someone is guilty of a crime. American citizens, whether having chosen to join al Quaeda or not, are entitled to defend themselves in court against their accuser:

      This is war. Congress has said so. It is legal for governments to go to war. That is what they are for.

      The relevant section of the constitution is:

      Article I, Section 8 – Powers of Congress

      […]

      To declare War, grant Letters of Marque and Reprisal, and make Rules concerning Captures on Land and Water;

      To raise and support Armies, […]

      To provide and maintain a Navy;

      To make Rules for the Government and Regulation of the land and naval Forces;

      […]

      Article II, Section 2

      The President shall be Commander in Chief of the Army and Navy of the United States, and of the Militia of the several States, when called into the actual Service of the United States;

      So if congress declares war on some group of people, the president can, and should, kill them as opportunity arises.

      It is one of the very few things that the US Government is doing that is actually legal and constitutional.

      • Jake says:

        The “blowback” theory promoted by Ron Paul is contradicted by the fact that the US has not been deeply involved in the Middle East for most of its history. Outside of the coup in Iran in 1953, for the entire Cold War period there is not a single case where American intervention can even be alleged, much less proven. (The US considered a plan to oust the Iraqi dictator Qasim in 1960 by sending him a poisoned handkerchief, but it may have been aborted, and declassified CIA records confirm that his overthrow three years later was “an event we had nothing to do with” although they had “excellent reports on the plotting.”) And even then, the US was deeply reluctant to approve the overthrow of the deranged Iranian demagogue Mohammed Mossadegh (who, contra Paul, did not really receive 99.9% of the vote). The Truman administration repeatedly refused British requests to stage a coup, and some CIA officers refused to participate.

        Compared to the massive US role fighting communism in Latin America, Korea, and Indochina (and earlier US involvement in Europe and Asia during the World Wars); American involvement in the Muslim world has historically been minimal. US officials have always been very sensitive about offending Islamic culture. The US foolishly saved Nasser from the British, French, and Israelis during the Suez crisis; steadfastly refused to support the 1965 purge of communists in Indonesia; rejected a British plan to oust Qaddafi in 1969; bent over backwards to appease the Iranian fundamentalists; saved Arafat from being assassinated by Israel in 1982; withdrew from Lebanon after we were attacked; withdrew from Somalia after we were attacked (despite saving the lives of hundreds of thousands of Muslims); failed to seriously support Kurdish revolts against the Iraqi Ba’athists in 1975 or 1991; took no action against Iraq or Syria for backing the other side during the Cold War; supported Arab Iraq against Persian Iran during the Iran-Iraq war; stopped ethnic cleansing of Muslims in Bosnia and Kosovo; and missed numerous opportunities to kill bin Laden because we were concerned about his civil liberties. Even after 9/11, President Bush still went out of his way to prevent a planned Israeli strike on Iranian nuclear facilities in 2007.

        Why did the Afghans hate us? We helped them resist a brutal, murderous, and criminal Soviet occupation–and then were the leading provider of humanitarian aid in the 1990s, saving the country from famine. The US only evicted the Iraqis from Kuwait after a great deal of hand-wringing, under UN auspices, and with the support of most Arab nations (including Syria!). Paul’s credulous embrace of hysterical Iraqi propaganda about the UN sanctions ignores the reality that Iraqis ate much better than people in neighboring countries, childhood obesity was an epidemic in Iraq in the 1990s, no independent observers were allowed to assess living conditions, Amatzia Baram reported no difference in the rate of Iraq’s population growth, and the oil-for-food program (first offered to Iraq in 1992) essentially gave Saddam $3 billion a year in extra revenue. The sanctions regime ensured that all Iraqis had access to decent rations of food, that Saddam could not use food as a weapon, and that the Iraqi government spent at least 72% of its income providing for its people (it had never previously spent more than 25%); mortality improved from what it had been before the Gulf War in northern Iraq, even though south and central Iraq had access to far more per capita income and the north was under a separate blockade. The UN spent billions providing for the entire population of Iraq, rebuilding thousands of villages and embarking on vast water sanitation projects, while Saddam exported food to raise money to buy weapons.

        If Ron Paul really believes that 9/11 was revenge for, or perhaps even justified by, the 1953 coup in Iran; he needs to have his head examined. Islamic terrorists have been attacking the US since the days of Thomas Jefferson. The US only intervened in the Gulf War in response to Iraqi aggression against Kuwait, after tolerating Iraqi terrorism for many years, and even then refused to march on to Baghdad. The US clearly has gotten more deeply involved in the Middle East in response to terrorist atrocities—not the reverse. Our post-9/11 drive to democratize Afghanistan, Iraq, and Libya may be unprecedented, but it is still a response to 9/11.

        Total war does not bring “blowback”, but lasting peace, as the case of Japan clearly demonstrates. Our enemies are not motivated by any legitimate criticism of American foreign policy, but by their fanatical ideology.

        • guest says:

          We shouldn’t be helping other countries at all:

          Third Annual Message to Congress by Thomas Jefferson
          http://www.teachingamericanhistory.org/library/index.asp?document=664

          We have seen with sincere concern the flames of war lighted up again in Europe, and nations with which we have the most friendly and useful relations engaged in mutual destruction. While we regret the miseries in which we see others involved let us bow with gratitude to that kind Providence which, inspiring with wisdom and moderation our late legislative councils while placed under the urgency of the greatest wrongs, guarded us from hastily entering into the sanguinary contest, and left us only to look on and to pity its ravages. These will be heaviest on those immediately engaged. Yet the nations pursuing peace will not be exempt from all evil. In the course of this conflict, let it be our endeavor, as it is our interest and desire, to cultivate the friendship of the belligerent nations by every act of justice and of incessant kindness; to receive their armed vessels with hospitality from the distresses of the sea, but to administer the means of annoyance to none; to establish in our harbors such a police as may maintain law and order; to restrain our citizens from embarking individually in a war in which their country takes no part; to punish severely those persons, citizen or alien, who shall usurp the cover of our flag for vessels not entitled to it, infecting thereby with suspicion those of real Americans, and committing us into controversies for the redress of wrongs not our own;

          Washington’s Farewell Address
          http://www.heritage.org/initiatives/first-principles/primary-sources/washingtons-farewell-address

          The great rule of conduct for us in regard to foreign nations is in extending our commercial relations, to have with them as little political connection as possible. So far as we have already formed engagements, let them be fulfilled with perfect good faith. Here let us stop. Europe has a set of primary interests which to us have none; or a very remote relation. Hence she must be engaged in frequent controversies, the causes of which are essentially foreign to our concerns. Hence, therefore, it must be unwise in us to implicate ourselves by artificial ties in the ordinary vicissitudes of her politics, or the ordinary combinations and collisions of her friendships or enmities.

          We think we’re following our Constitution on the issue of declarations of war, but a declaration of war is more than Congress members giving their assent;

          A declaration of war is supposed to be formal for a reason: You don’t want the government to go around picking fights in your name under the mere pretense of a threat, or because of false flags.

          Here are some resources on the issue of Constitutional war, for perusal:

          The Phony Case for Presidential War Powers
          http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QkZT96zJrUQ

          Presidential War Powers: The Constitutional Answer
          http://www.libertyclassroom.com/warpowers/

          • jim says:

            We shouldn’t be helping other countries at all:

            In the case of the drone strikes, we are not helping other countries at all: We are actively harming Pakistan, we are only helping the Yemeni government in the sense that they are at war with Al Quaeda and we are at war with Al Quaeda, and Alshaba seems to think that they are only being bombed to the extent that they give shelter to particular Al Quaeda members that we are keen on. Drone strikes in Libya are primarily air support against enemies directly attacking US assets.

            A declaration of war is supposed to be formal for a reason

            We have a formal, official, declaration of war by congress. They have dotted their ‘i’s and crossed their ‘t’s. Congress declared war on Al Quaeda, Al Quaeda’s kitchen sink, and their little dog too.

            While pretty much everything else Obama is doing is flagrantly unconstitutional, he has been strictly punctilious in observing the old constitution when it comes to making war.

          • guest says:

            They should use Letters of Marque and Reprisal for al Qaeda, because they’re not a country.

            We can’t just barge into other countries who are not at war with us.

            • jim says:

              The Peace of Westphalia is dead. We are back in the regime of wars of religion, when you could, and routinely did, barge into countries. Countries are becoming less and less real. When congress declared war on an entity not geographically defined, it blew off the peace of Westphalia – again. But no one has taken the peace of Westphalia very seriously since the long telegram.

          • guest says:

            Also, our government created al Qaeda in the past, sticking its nose where it didn’t belong, and our government is currently funding them in today’s unconstitutional wars:

            Ben Swann’s Reality Check: The U.S. Government Created Al Qaeda
            http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=R7G4p0a_DNs

        • Mike Mellor says:

          Thankyou Jake, that’s a pretty good analysis. It provides much to think about. My naive take on Gulf War II is that WMD or not, Saddam was a genocidal maniac, similar to Hitler, who needed to be deposed. Your much more subtle interpretation reveals, if not the master puppeteer pulling the strings, then at least his shadow. In the next few days I’ll be spending a lot of time researching the leads you gave us.

  2. Jehu says:

    Yes, I think it is hard for many to grasp that:

    Legal and constitutional and
    Prudent and moral

    Are NOT the same thing or even equivalent. Just as unconstitutional doesn’t mean evil, constitutional doesn’t mean virtuous. Jim is quite correct about what war means. What is insane is the notion of such an open-ended declaration of war as has been made, at least de facto.

    Doing a drone strike inside the borders of another nation IS an act of war. Ask anyone but a post 1960s Westerner and they’ll agree. Some of my foreign friends from Eastern Europe are positively SHOCKED when I tell them that I understand that bombing anyone makes them pissed off at you, whether or not you had good reason to do so. So how many countries has our declaration of war caused us to give legitimate cause for war against so far?
    Of course few of them will actually declare war, but they will be pissed off at the humiliation, even if they are secretly relieved to be relieved of those smote by said drones.

  3. jim says:

    So how many countries has our declaration of war caused us to give legitimate cause for war against so far?

    Drone strikes have afflicted three countries: Pakistan, Yemen, and Somalia. The country that is most pissed because of drone strikes is Pakistan.

    US drone strikes in Pakistan were at the Pakistani equivalent of hillbilly rednecks in the Appalachian mountains, while Osama bin Laden was being wined and dined at the Pakistani equivalent of Harvard and Princeton.

    US drone strikes in Yemen have to be approved by the Yemeni government, which government does not trust its own troops, its own police, nor its own courts, thus often requests assassination of people who could theoretically be arrested and tried.

    There is no government, or far too many governments, in Somalia. It is probable that there have only been two drone strikes in Somalia. When Alshabab, the local Al Quaeda franchise, gets a drone strike, none of the other groupings seem particularly surprised or disturbed, or think that they should have been consulted. Indeed, even Alshabab reports the drone strikes in a way that seems astonishingly calm, civilized, dignified, and sportsmanlike, as if they were reporting that the opposing team had scored a goal.

  4. ( . Y . ) says:

    I thought Somalia was a Libertarian utopia?

    Anyway, how will we know when the war is over? Can it ever be over? Do Al Quaeda carry a badge or something? It’s over when they run out of badges? All the while here at home we are using this war to completely rubbish the constitution and small government ideals. That’ll show ’em over in the Stans that we me bidness! Scare us a little and we’ll do your dirty work for you!

    We’d be *ALOT* safer to nuke DC from orbit.

  5. Jake says:

    “Also, our government created al Qaeda in the past,”

    This is “not true” since CIA money “went exclusively to the Afghan mujahideen groups, not the Arab volunteers” (Jason Burke). Bin Laden was “outside of CIA eyesight” and there is “no record of any direct contact” (Steve Coll). There is “no evidence” of funding, “nor is there any evidence of CIA personnel meeting with bin Laden or anyone in his circle” (Peter Bergen). There is “no support” in any “reliable source” for “the claim that the CIA funded bin Laden or any of the other Arab volunteers who came to support the mujahideen” (Christopher Andrew and Vasili Mitrokhin).

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  7. Thales says:

    Jim, have you been following the Dorner case at all? Any observations there?

    • jim says:

      In his manifesto, he tells us that he assaulted a fellow officer for use of the word “nigger”, and got away with it. So it is the left versus the left.

      The most likely outcome is that Dorner gets killed “resisting arrest”, as he expects, but all his demands are fulfilled, as he expects, and the department moves further left.

      The specific dispute that got him fired was over use of force rules. Dorner wanted use of force rules to be enforced, in violation of the officially unofficial policy of ignoring them. Use of force rules are reasonable for dealing with middle and working class white males. They are impractical for dealing with women, crazies, and underclass. Where use of force rules are seriously enforced on police, the result is that the police give up enforcing the law on criminals, blacks, and mestizos, and enforce it primarily on working white males – anarcho tyranny.

      Here is a prediction. The cop that roughed up a suspect, the issue that Dorner complained, about will get an official reprimand. The cop that shot a little old lady who was driving a car vaguely similar to Dorner’s will not be.

      The violation of use of force rules that Dorner complained about was that the suspect was hurt as they were struggling to handcuff him while he was resisting arrest. Seems to me that a reasonable rule for resisting arrest is that you beat the hell out of the suspect till he damn well stops resisting.

      Dorner was fired for insisting on the enforcement of rules that police hypocritically pretend to obey, but these rules are unreasonable, contributing to anarcho tyranny.

      • Thales says:

        My observation, this all going down in my neck of the woods, is that the police are fairly incompetent at handling even a single guerilla. If it ever comes to guerrilla warfare with the Molon Labe crowd over gun confiscations, they would be ill-equipped to handle thousands of people firing back at cops, and those tasked with going house-to-house to confiscate would be most reluctant. Therefore, they will continue to push the disarmament agenda from well behind that thin blue line, the meme taking decades if necessary, in patient Gramscian fashion.

  8. nissan says:

    nissan…

    […]In favor of Obama’s drone strikes « Jim’s Blog[…]…

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