Tom Junod takes on President Barack Obama’s “lethal presidency” in the latest issue of Esquire. If you’re interested in the war on terror, drone strikes, and targeted killings, it’s a must-read. Here’s a teaser to get you started:
Sure, we as a nation have always killed people. A lot of people. But no president has ever waged war by killing enemies one by one, targeting them individually for execution, wherever they are. The Obama administration has taken pains to tell us, over and over again, that they are careful, scrupulous of our laws, and determined to avoid the loss of collateral, innocent lives. They’re careful because when it comes to waging war on individuals, the distinction between war and murder becomes a fine one. Especially when, on occasion, the individuals we target are Americans and when, in one instance, the collateral damage was an American boy.
Read on. Junod does a service in the piece by refocusing the discussion from Anwar al-Awlaki, the American-born Al Qaeda propagandist who was killed in a drone strike last September, to Awlaki’s 16-year-old, American-born son Abdulrahman, who was also killed in a drone strike later that month. What happens when a drone strike kills an American teenager? We already know: nothing. Here’s another choice bit:
In every single utterance of the Lethal Presidency on the subject of its own lethality, it has offered the same narrative: that although it claims the power to kill, its combination of legal restraint and personal scruple makes the exercise of this power extremely difficult. The Lethal Presidency — and the Lethal President — wants us to know that killing is hard. It has spent months telling us this story because there is another story, a counterstory voiced off the record by administration members and confirmed by everything human beings have learned about killing in their bloody history:
That killing individuals identified as our enemies isn’t hard at all.
That it’s the easiest thing humans — particularly humans in power — can do.
The rest is here.