– Begun the Drone Wars Have (Huffington Post, Nov 27, 2012):
With drones from the beginning there has been a kind of technological determinism associated with the idea that since the United States possesses this relatively new technology it should use it. Facing the uncertainty of reelection, President Obama became so concerned about the lawlessness of his drone killings he sought hastily to codify the rules governing their use. What began in the Bush era as a means for targeting al Qaeda leaders hiding in remote areas has become a vast “amorphous” death machine targeting suspected “militants” in Yemen, Somalia, and Pakistan. Now we’ve learned that, in addition to “personality strikes” aimed at individuals deemed enemies of the United States, there are now what’s called “signature strikes” where any congregation of suspicious looking military-age men is open game.
The Obama administration apparently views drones as the cheapest and easiest way to kill “militants” while keeping American casualties low to non-existent. This seeming techno-supremacy has the added political benefit of getting around a war-weary electorate. But future presidents might not quibble about using drones as judiciously as our current president claims to be, hence his rush to clarify the rules of engagement.