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Posts Tagged ‘drone strikes’

In the morning, I will be voting for Barack Obama.

I won’t go over all the specific policies and reasons why, if you read this blog you already know them.

But there are two things I’d like to bring up. This won’t be a particularly well written piece because its late and I’m tired, but I want to toss it out there before the polls open.

First, the issue of foreign policy and civil liberties. This is where I think the strongest case against Obama can be made, and so I’d like to take a brief second to refute it somewhat. Obama’s record in this area has been dismal, but I do not think this is a reason to vote against him. Mitt Romney would be far, far worse.

Obama’s policy towards Iran has been about as measured and calm as can be expected. Were Mitt Romney president right now, I don’t think it’s a stretch to say that we would be in a full scale war with Iran.

While he has not held anyone accountable for the US torture regime, Barack Obama has ended it. Mitt Romney would not only re-instate it, but expand it! When asked if he considered water boarding torture, he indicated that he did not, and that he would seek to increase the list of techniques used by interrogators. Barack Obama attempted to close Guantanamo Bay and hold actual trials for detainees, but was stymied by congress. Mitt Romney wants to double Guantanamo. You may not like Obama’s record on these issues, but Mitt Romney would be so much worse. If you truly think there is no difference between them on these issues, you’re fooling yourself.

Secondly, and more importantly, I will be voting for Barack Obama because we absolutely must take a stand against the GOP of the past four years. If they win, it will be an affirmation of their tactics. It will show that the public is accepting of putting party before country. It will vindicate the strategy of rank, baseless obstructionism. The GOP has not been even remotely interested in actual governing, except where they see an opportunity to score partisan points. From day one, their primary goal has been to make Barack Obama a one term president. If Mitt Romney wins, they will have been proven right. We will be telling them that their irresponsible, reprehensible strategy was correct, effective, and acceptable.

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Is this self parody? Sometimes I think he’s actually trying to piss us off: 

In the official view of the Obama administration, it’s totally possible that the drone that killed Anwar al-Awlaki was owned and operated by the Yemen government.

 

The drone was Yemen’s? Seriously, that’s the excuse you’re going with? 

We obviously have drones. We obviously use them to kill terrorists. The President is obviously OK with this. Regardless of what you think about those things, can we all agree that statements like the one above are just downright insulting at this point? And if we take it at face value (which obviously is stupid) wouldn’t it be a bit disconcerting that we wouldn’t know whose (non-existent) flying death robot blew up the guy we were (not) trying to blow up?

Head, meet desk. 

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Kevin Drum has been excerpting a new book about Obama’s evolution on national security and terrorism policy, and its fascinating. Today he talks about Gitmo and drone strikes. My feelings on the former are clear, I’m not even slightly upset with the president for failing to close it because presidents are restrained by congress and in this case they made their views very, very clear. I continue to believe Gitmo has to go and am upset its still open, its a national disgrace, but the blame for its non-closure lies with congress.

Drone strikes, however, are a different story. Obama seems to whole heartedly embrace them. If you are of the opinion that America should be killing terrorists, then drone strikes are the superior option. They don’t endanger American soldiers, they reduce collateral damage and civillian casualties (relative to bombing runs, and yes I said reduce, not eliminate), and they’re a hell of a lot better than a full bore invasion to physically go get the bad guys with ground troops. Of course, that’s if you’re of the opinion that America should be killing terrorists. As for me, I’m conflicted.

(the following is me thinking out loud, and not meant to be a coherent argument)

Generally, I don’t think we should be running around blowing up people in countries were not involved in. I am very sympathetic to the blowback arguments, as I myself have made them in the past. But at the same time, I can’t help but feel that at this point we can’t really go back. Were in the middle east now and we won’t be leaving ever, if history is any guide. I’d love to say we should just stop blowing stuff up and go home (and I think we should) but I’m afraid that’s just not realistic. I wish it were. But if we are going to keep blowing up terrorists, drones seem to be the best option. I’m not as hawkish here as Andrew Sullivan, but I agree that drone strikes may just be the least bad of a lot of bad options. I wish they weren’t.

Like I said, I’m conflicted.

Does someone have some more coherent thoughts here? I’m very much open to them.

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