News commentary is abuzz about New York Times assertion that President Obama has a kill list of people targeted by U.S. Drones in the war on terrorism. Some commentators describe the list as a stunning, unprincipled, and unchecked use of presidential power. Just when I presume news reporting in the United States and American readers' gullibility reached the limits of absurdity, both prove me wrong.
The Constitution names the President Commander of all of America's armed forces and responsible for national defense. Americans are contradictory that hold Obama responsible for duties not assigned by the Constitution like unemployment rates, stock market prices, and public school quality, but criticize his use of constitutional and Congress granted powers to wage war against America's enemies.
On September 14, 2001, the U.S. Congress issued a "Joint Resolution: To authorize the use of United States Armed Forces against those responsible for the recent attacks launched against the United States."
"IN GENERAL- That the President is authorized to use all necessary and appropriate force against those nations, organizations, or persons he determines planned, authorized, committed, or aided the terrorist attacks that occurred on September 11, 2001, or harbored such organizations or persons, in order to prevent any future acts of international terrorism against the United States by such nations, organizations or persons."
Clearly, this resolution authorizes the President as Commander of the U.S. Armed Forces to make a list of terrorist enemies and to use U.S. armed forces to kill them. Some people might contend the resolution authorized the President only to stop future attacks and not necessarily kill people. They argue he could arrest America's enemies and bring them to trial. This may be possible sometime. Nevertheless, the U.S. Armed Forces are a war making force organized to destroy and to kill when normal policing and judicial processes in defense of security fail. Congress signaled its conclusion that war was the best defense strategy against terrorism by approving uses of the military force against it. Whether correct or mistaken, this was the mandate of Congress for presidential action that it has not revoked. Therefore, some Americans characterizing Obama a president with a personal kill list outside the demands of war is wrong and bordering on subversion.
I suggested when Congress passed the September 14, 2001 Resolution that it was unnecessarily irresponsible by its broadness. It was different from past declarations of war against identified nations. Instead, it extended authority to President George W. Bush to identify terrorist enemies and to use military force against them anywhere in the world no matter their involvement. Bush announced Operation Enduring Freedom as war on global terrorism that would not distinguish between terrorist organizations and nations or governments that harbored them.
People are hypocritical that believe the waves of B-1, B-2 and B-52 bombers; F-14 and F/A fighters and Tomahawk cruise missiles Bush ordered against Afghanistan October 7, 2001 were moral killing and the drone strikes approved by Obama are personal and immoral. They forget orders by previous Presidents for military uses of bombs, napalm, and Agent Orange herbicide on enemy and noncombatants during the Vietnam War. They forget Presidents' WWII decisions that targeted German and Japanese cities for regular, incendiary and atomic bomb attacks. The difference is that during October 2001, the shock from destructive attacks on the American homeland still dulled most Americans' concerns for the plight of noncombatants in those attacks.
No matter the 9/11 attacks, most Americans still do not recognize the full horrors of war as an ongoing experience. Except occasionally, few of them consider the death and injury our armed forces members face daily. They ignore that President Obama faces the terrible burden of war decisions daily that may or may not be correct, but will result in death or injury for terrorists, noncombatants, or American military members. There are no safe, easy moral decisions for a president at war.
I understand some Americans disagree with some war strategy or with continuing the war. I do too. They have the right as free citizens to discuss their concerns on that basis and to petition Congress to end the war. However, many of them lack the moral courage to state forthrightly the U.S. Armed Forces achieved its mission and it is time to end the killing. They fear a new terrorist attack the next day may prove them wrong and subject them to condemnation. Instead, they construct safe attacks against the integrity of the President who does not have the option of ambivalence. People are contemptible that cowardly construct their criticism of the war as an attack on the integrity of Obama as if he were a mob boss executing a vicious personal hit list.