The hysteria about “killing Americans”
Both the left and the opportunistic, anti-Obama right are having conniptions about Obama’s claim to have the right to kill “American citizens,” or, more simply, to kill “Americans.” It’s a fraudulent issue, just as the overheated complaints about the killing of the “American” Anwar Awlaki in Yemen a couple of years ago were fraudulent. The individuals whom Obama claims the power to kill by drone are members of al Qaeda, people who are waging terrorist war against the United States. Whether they are American citizens are not is irrelevant to whether they may be killed. Obama’s critics have no problem with Obama killing non-U.S. citizens who are waging terrorist war against America. But in reality the U.S. has no more a right to kill non-U.S. citizens than U.S. citizens, just as the U.S. has no more a right to arrest and imprison non-U.S. citizens than U.S. citizens. Non-U.S. citizens who are waging war against the United States and organizing terrorist attacks against the United States from a foreign country may be killed, and U.S. citizens who are waging war against the United States and organizing terrorist attacks against the United States from a foreign country may be killed.
Americans, particularly conservatives, tend to be fanatically legalistic in their thinking and fail to see substantive reality. Thus they absurdly demanded a legal proceeding stripping Awlaki of his citizenship or finding him guilty of treason before he could be killed by drone in Yemen. Read the September 2011 VFR thread in which I show how pathetically weak are the arguments that it was wrong for the U.S. to kill Awlaki. In that thread I repeatedly ask my main interlocutor what difference would it make whether Awlaki was a U.S. citizen or not a U.S. citizen, and I don’t get an answer.
I repeat: the U.S. has no more right to deprive a non-citizen of his liberty or his life without due process of law than it has to deprive a citizen of his liberty or life without due process of law. Since the opponents of targeted killings of U.S. citizens are so legalistic, they should be aware that the U.S. Constitution, and particularly the Fourteenth Amendment, protects the life and liberty of “persons,” all persons, not just the life and liberty of U.S. citizens.
(Other entries about the Awlaki issue are here.)
On a side note, it is no longer necessary to put Awlaki’s nationality in scare quotes. In the age of Obama someone like Awlaki is far more representative of America than either you or I (an Anglo-American with ancestory in North America that dates back to the 1620s).N. writes:
People I know who are in an uproar about the assassination of nominal American citizens are mainly concerned about the precedent being set: that the President may decide, unilaterally, that some individual somewhere on the planet must die, and that death sentence may be carried out. They are concerned about the possibility of drone strikes against U.S. citizens within the continental U.S. as a “next step.”LA replies:
But haven’t the left been rather loudly criticizing the use of drones?February 7
You are correct, both morally and legally.February 9
Ken Hechtman writes:
You asked: “But haven’t the left been rather loudly criticizing the use of drones?”LA replies:
The discussion on this topic continues here.
Posted by Lawrence Auster at February 06, 2013 09:13 AM | Send