Don’t Change Horses in the Middle of the Stream

Don’t Change Horses in the Middle of the Stream October 26, 2012

In response to defenses of Obama’s drone war on Pakistani four year old girls I am getting from both “pragmatic” Lefties (you may remember them as the “anti-war Left”) and kill-crazy conservatives (you may remember them as the “prolife Right”) who agree with Romney’s enthusiastic support for the President’s policies here, I may be nearing a political conversion.  How’s this for an endorsement for Obama on the one policy of his–secret, unilateral, lawless murder of civilians–everybody on both sides of the aisle seems to agree on:

We need to be open to new and fresh ways to murder civilians.  This is the Third Millennium after all.  Hope and Change.  Romney simply means to continue the policies of secret unilateral murder pioneered by Obama.  He is not an original thinker and is notoriously timid and changeable in his convictions.  Why not let the man who really blazed the trail into a whole new species of war crime continue and *finish* the job of transforming the Executive into a lawless killocrat instead of handing the work over to a dull plodder who might even, in response to negative polls, stop blowing up four year olds (albeit reluctantly, judging from his debate performance).  We can’t take that chance. This is a job that calls for ideological rigor and moral certitude, not Romney’s amoral cynicism.  Don’t go soft now, America.

Obama 2012: And make certain not one 4 year old Pakistani girl is left alive for Al Quaida to recruit!

I think this really says it all about American unity behind the President.  Call him Hitler, Stalin, Mao, and the imminent inaugurator of a Communist Shariah Atheist Islamic Police State how they may, the “Prolife Right” has no problem handing over to Obama the power to lawlessly murder whoever he pleases when it’s a matter of guarding our precious freedom from attack by Pakistani four year old girls.  Similarly, the Left has no problem ignoring the ACLU and bending over for the One when he seizes that power.  We are one nation after all!

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  • Blog Goliard

    Here’s an honest question (I’m asking because I don’t know, not because I’m trying to prove a point with the question): What was the Catholic response, both at the time and in the immediate post-war years, to the firebombing of Germany in World War II?

    How were military men and politicians who ordered and carried out raids like the one on Dresden treated by the Church and by moral philosophers?

    How many religious persons refused to vote for Eisenhower for President on issues related to civilian casualties in World War II?

    • Ted Seeber

      From the theologically suspect America Magazine’s article on Operation Gemorrah in WWII:

      From the beginning of World War II, however, with the bombing of Warsaw, Pope Pius XII had repeatedly condemned the bombing of civilian centers. In this he was joined by George Bell, the Anglican bishop of Chichester, who would join him again in condemning weapons of indiscriminate destruction during the oncoming nuclear era.

      Their opposition to the use of indiscriminate weaponry was, and still is, significant. During the cold war, it undercut the argument of some moralists that since the Soviet Union was a totalitarian society all of its citizens were, in effect, combatants. A similar argument is being used today by terrorists fighting in Iraq, Israel and Lebanon in an attempt to justify morally the killing of civilians to achieve war aims. The church’s teaching on indiscriminate bombing and its just war principles continue to offer moral guidance in these conflicts as they did in World War II.

      • Blog Goliard

        Thanks, Ted…that’s the sort of info I’d been looking for. But I’m still curious as to whether religious persons in Britain who condemned indiscriminate bombings, like that Anglican bishop, hold those bombing campaigns against politicians in the General Election of 1945?

        • Bob

          Elizabeth Anscombe argued that WWII wasn’t a just war, on the basis that the British wouldn’t give unconditional assurance that they wouldn’t bomb civilians, but were prepared to bomb German civilian centres if the Germans attacked first. She put forward an essay called The Justice of the Present War Examined. Her bishop, apparently, made her withdraw it. It is published in one of her collections of papers, Ethics, Religion, and Politics. She also, later, protested the awarding of an honorary degree to Truman, and was arrested twice protesting before an abortion clinic. A consistent pro-lifer.

          • Blog Goliard

            Sounds like my kinda gal. I’ll have to study up on her. Thanks for the tip!

            • Bob

              I forgot to mention. This was in 1939, and she was in her teens, I think. She only died recently, in 2001. Here’s an essay she wrote just after Humanae Vitae.

  • Confederate Papist

    I don’t know about Germany, but I’ve heard from uncles who served in Italy in WWII and have also read about where Germans were holed up in churches and monasteries in the Italian country side and the Allies had permission from the local and diocesan prelates (endorsed by the Vatican, I’m sure) to bomb the heck out of the Germans in those places.

    I guess it’s different than cities with civilians, but this type of thing has been going on for many, many years…which is why it’s only been within the last 25~30 years that Southerners started overwhelmingly voting for the GOP as they were the ones that endorse the burning of Southern cities and killing Southern women, children and elderly…both races…

    • Blog Goliard

      I’m having trouble understanding that second graf. Are you being sarcastic, or criticizing Southerners, or criticizing Republicans…?

      • Will

        I would guess he is referring to what Sherman did to Atlanta and other places in “the late upleasantness”.

  • Peggy R

    I don’t know of any “kill-crazy” rank and file or publications on the conservative side.

    • Mark Shea

      From Romney’s enthusiastic endorsement of Obama’s curent drone policy to the strategic silence and support of the otherwise hysterical about every breath Obama takes Right, the very clear message is that this policy of reckless war on civilians has the clear support of the Right. Blowing up children on the theory that somebody they are standing next to might be a terrorist is kill crazy.

      • Peggy R

        I have read several posts at NRO this week criticizing the drone policy for reasons of human life as well as some practical reasons: loss of intelligence and angering other nations. I admit they would seem to endorse the policy if it were more carefully conducted with regard to innocent human life as well as international sensitivities, in addition to respect constitutional rights of American citizens who are on the “kill list.” In they end, they don’t think it’s a good idea just to go and kill all the baddies and miss out on intelligence–even if innocents were spared. I am summarizing what I’ve read this week.

        • Blog Goliard

          Yes, Peggy…and that’s a good sign.

          But we should keep in mind that a primary motivation for these pieces is that Romney pointedly endorsed many aspects of the Administration’s foreign policy in the last debate…including drone strikes, which he didn’t even pretend to see a downside to, despite the soothing-but-of-no-consequences “we can’t kill our way out of this” remark.

          I hope that, if Romney wins, most such people will continue speaking out in this way…and hey, call me a wild dreamer, but I even hold out hope that he might listen a little to them. The man may be rather unmoored when it comes to political and philosophical principles, but he’s not a monster. There’s always hope that such men can be persuaded to turn away from monstrous deeds.

          (Not that I’m betting even one thin dime, mind. The Washington hive mind is a powerful thing.)

          • Peggy R

            I hope that people do continue to speak out and Romney thinks this over more carefully if he is elected. We know that re-electing O won’t change this or anything else that is morally abhorrent to us today.

      • Pathfinder

        Mr. Shea, with all due respect sir: while it is never a good thing (of course, wars aren’t good things under the best circumstances — so, maybe start there), it is a fact that the terrorists do congregate around civilian populations (sometimes against the civilians’ wishes by force, but sometimes the civilians are actively aiding and abetting the terrorists). Sometimes the military can’t help but kill civilians while targeting terrorists.
        And going after them mano a mano, as some want, will cost us more in blood and treasure. Besides, that was one of the reasons why they shifted to drone strikes: because people back home were screaming on one hand about the expense of blood and treasure and on the other that “poor, innocent civilians” were getting killed by our troops (even though the scenario I stated above was operative still). Our troops got saddled with an ROE that can only be described as suicidal, the policy shifted to drones, and still it’s not good enough.
        We can either keep it up, switch to using ground forces, or pull out completely (but as I stated before, each one comes with its own consequence)…and if something happens, then the hue and cry among the populace is once again “do something!”.

        • Pathfinder

          …after all, in a sense those military guys are essentially only there to represent you by proxy…they’re just doing what the government (and by extension, the people) ordered them to do.

          The people wanted a war that cost less (hey, I can certainly go along with that — as a taxpayer and as somebody who has been on the tip of the spear and has family there now); this is what they came up with.

        • Mark Shea

          Just for starters, I don’t see why it would be necessary to send troops *or* drones to attack funerals. Funerals are not military operations. So the choice “Drone or troops?” to go blow up funeral processions seems to me to be a false one. The Administration’s policy of blowing up civilian gatherings on the theory that some of the people in the gathering might be terrorists is what I question. There are, no doubt, legitimate uses for drones. But blowing up civilians in the hope that some of them might not be civilians is not one of them.

          • Absolutely “spot on” comment, Mark! The “drone or troops” choice is an inherently false dichotomy. And no one whom I have heard or read (anywhere) has suggested simply denying anyone from that part of the world passage out of their own country. It will be very hard for a terrorist to perpetrate an attack on the U.S. if they can’t get within weapon range of the target.

            That may sound like a severe measure to take, but it is clearly less morally problematic than killing innocent non-terrorists by means of indiscriminate weapons, of which drones are but one example.

            Pax et bonum,
            Keith Töpfer

  • J

    I’ve certainly encountered the defenses of the “pragmatic Lefties.” Point out Obama’s power to assassinate and detain U.S. citizens without trial by executive fiat and what sort of response do you get? A couple choice quotes:

    “When the right flexes their tiny man parts over terrorists they are red, white and awesome. When a predator drone turns some 14th century religious lunatic into pink mist he has added to a ‘kill list’.” [But remember, the Left isn’t Racist(tm)!]

    “Get a grip. Every (and I do mean every) administration has blood on their hands. We live in a fallen world and are really given only a fraction of what the government knows.” [There’s a stirring defense of the president who promised the most transparent administration ever!]

    Ahhh, the compassionate, tolerant Left.

  • Mark, have you seen this piece by Jack Hunter at The American Conservative?

    I think he makes a good point: how can we call ourselves pro-life Christians and be apologizing for drone warfare that indiscriminately and disproportionately maims and kills civilians, including children?

  • Blog Goliard

    I would just like to say that I’m in terrible suspense here…was the title of this post meant to be a reference to Wag the Dog, or not?

    • Mark Shea

      Actually, it was one of Lincoln’s slogans for the 1864 election. Since Obama is, as he constantly assures us, Lincolnesque.

  • Puck

    You are not hearing from “kill-crazy conservatives.” There is no such thing – except in your imagination – fueled by talk-show stereotypes.

    • Mark Shea

      Conservatives spent years and years and years defending torture. Now they are strategically silent (and affirming) of Obama’s drone wars. Yes, there are kill crazy conservatives. Approval for slaughtering 4 year olds is kill crazy. And when it become Romney policy, the silent support for Obama will become as loud and verbal Joe Klein’s.

    • Chris M

      Many of my conservative friends, acquaintances and even family are of the “nuke em all” school of international relations. So yeah. There are kill-crazy conservatives. Just google “conservative tee shirts” if you’d like to see examples. They don’t make those unless people are buying em.

  • Tommy

    Drone use against anyone whether it is weddings or known Taliban is not a strategy. And since we no longer have a plan or strategy I think their exclusive use and the deployment of minimal troop numbers is immoral and cannot be a just war. I know we have done our best under but the US’s failure to develop a workable strategy over the past 11 years has led to politically expedient methods such as drones and troops patrolling the cities and countryside without an attainable purpose is wrong and leads to failure. But also to needless deaths on both sides of the fight. It is time to develop a strategy for the entire region that does not exclusively involve warfare then go home.

  • Peggy R

    1. This Atlantic Monthly writer opposes Obama and promises to keep up the heat if Romney is elected. Good to see some one on the left oppose Obama’s immoral policy.
    2. The UN is going to get on the case.
    3. At this link, an NRO writer is dismayed by the lack of an “exit strategy” ie, an end to drone use. She links a WaPost article that is very disturbing because it indicates that the professional staff of government likes and wants to continue drone use to continue indefinitely. The permanent staff of government should concern us greatly.
    4. Just googling drones this a/m, I see that the drumbeat of concern about O’s use or R’s continuation of drones is getting louder and louder. This is good news.

  • Mike Walsh

    One result of a Romney win is that the mainstream press will discover the government’s use of drones, and the resulting collateral damage. They will also discover the existence of hordes of homeless people. Can anyone think of other things a mainstream media –re-invigorated by a Romney win– will discover?