I'm not a happy camper. The drone policy of President Obama bothers me on humanitarian grounds. It isn't so much that it allows drones to target specific American citizens, but more because it depersonalizes death and killing. When a person at a computer screen with a joystick is operating a drone that is going to blow up human beings, it seems too much like a teenager at a video game console killing as many of the computer generated enemy as possible. It is too easy. Don't get me wrong. These are bad people we're going up against. They wouldn't hesitate to kill you and I. Killing becomes a virtue for them. It shouldn't for us.
Now for the ethical conundrum that I am in. The use of drones significantly cuts down on the number of American military casualties in war zones. That is good. I would like to see that number down to zero. Second, the use of drones, when used judiciously, cuts down on the overall number of collateral casualties. Again, that is good. We should be trying to bring that number down to zero too. Third, the President, as Commander In Chief of our Armed Forces should take the heat for this policy. Our president has been willing to do so and not approach the issue surreptitiously.
I find it interesting that the conservative media is screaming loud and long about the use of these drones against individuals who may happen to be American citizens as an act of political tyranny. They are trying to use the civil libertarian argument that every American, no matter how heinous the crime may be, has the right to the full due process of law under our constitution. This has always been a valued ethic for most Americans, but the question here is somewhat different. Do the rights of Americans who actively work against Americans in times of war change? Is an American who is attempting to kill other Americans on behalf of enemy combatants subject to general American law? For the life of me, I cannot see these traitors receiving the same rights as loyal Americans.
I wonder whether any Americans would have objected to the summary execution of Americans who would have been actively killing Americans on behalf of Adolf Hitler during World War II? I wonder if any American would feel that an American citizen who, acting as an agent for North Korea, was attempting to plan to bring a suitcase nuclear bomb into the United States in order to kill American citizens, was unlawfully killed if shot by American agents? I don't think so. Yet, because anti-American terrorists are frequently stateless, we are assigning special wartime rights to them just because they're American citizens. I'm confused. What do you think?