Obama's unending war
“When the president does it, that means that it is not illegal.”
So said Richard Nixon in his interviews with David Frost. Nixon was talking about wiretaps and surreptitious entries to protect lives and safeguard national security in a violent and anarchic war decade.
The Nixon haters pronounced themselves morally sickened.
Fast-forward to our new century. Since 9/11, we have heard more extravagant claims by American presidents.
Under George W. Bush, it was presidential authority to waterboard, torture and hold enemy aliens in indefinite detention at Guantanamo.
Under Barack Obama, we don't have a Nixon “enemies list” of folks who are not to be invited to White House dinners. Rather, we have a “kill list” — a menu from which our constitutional law professor president selects individuals to be executed abroad. And not just foreigners but Americans, too.
When may Obama order an American killed?
According to a Justice Department “white paper,” any “informed high-level official” can decide a target is a ranking operative of al-Qaida, who “poses an imminent threat of violent attack against the United States,” and if we cannot apprehend him, order him eradicated with a Hellfire missile.
And they called Nixon the imperial president.
With 3,000 to 4,500 now killed by drones in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Somalia and Yemen over 10 years, and an estimated 200 children and other civilians among the “collateral damage,” it is past time for a debate on where we are going in this “war on terror.”
A question raised by former Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld years ago — Are we creating more terrorists than we are killing? — needs re-raising. For if these drone strikes that kill innocent and guilty alike are creating new millions of sympathizers for al-Qaida (and recruiting new thousands of volunteers willing to dedicate their lives to taking revenge against us), we have entered upon a war that may never end.
Al-Qaida in Afghanistan is said to be ravaged and on the run. Yet we read of al-Qaida affiliates cropping up not only in Pakistan, Yemen and Somalia, but Iraq, Syria, Libya and Mali. How many of these new cells were inspired by past drone strikes to destroy old al-Qaida cells?
The New York Times and The Washington Post have admitted they acceded to White House requests not to publish their discovery that we had established a drone base in Saudi Arabia for attacks in Yemen.
But planting a U.S. drone base on Saudi soil is no small matter. Osama bin Laden gave as a primary cause for his declaration of war on America that we had defiled the sacred soil of Arabia that is home to Mecca and Medina by planting our infidel bases there.
Is any benefit we derive from a drone base just north of Yemen worth enraging much of an Islamic world of 1.5 billion?
Congress, the administration and the American people need to ask: Why have we been unable to bring this war on terror to a “swift end”?
As U.S. citizens are forced to submit to intrusive searches before boarding airliners, one wonders: How long before the republic becomes a garrison state? If we do not end this war, this war will one day bring an end to the freedom for which the Founders fought.
Pat Buchanan is the author of “Suicide of a Superpower: Will America Survive to 2025?”
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Man found dead in Lower Burrell
- Plum students protest orders to keep mum about sex cases
- Injured Penguins optimistic about returning next season
- Crosby, Malkin want to remain in Pittsburgh
- Lawyers present procedural arguments for AG Kane’s contempt hearing
- Pirates notebook: Wainwright injury doesn’t sway Hurdle on DH
- Coach Johnston trying to figure out why Penguins ‘fell off a cliff’
- Washington’s Shelton grows into big role, looks forward to draft
- Mylan rejects Teva’s $40 billion takeover bid
- Behind starter Liriano, Pirates complete sweep of Diamondbacks
- Reports grim for Pennsylvania’s state-run veterans homes