The Daily Banter

There’s Evidently No Room for Nuance on Drones

My Thursday column:

They say if you move far enough to the left, you end up on the right. As such, throughout the last four or five years I’ve witnessed this phenomenon on way too many occasions, the most recent one being yesterday’s reactions to the article I wrote about the Justice Department’s white paper regarding the targeted killing of American citizens suspected of being high level al-Qaida operatives.

I discovered quite quickly that one of the common traits among the far-right and the far-left is a total inability to accept compromise — or even concessions to their point of view.

To recap, I essentially called for one or both of the following actions. 1) The elimination of drone missions against U.S. citizens who happen to be enemy combatants via ending the war on terror and rescinding the disgusting Authorization for Use of Military Force (AUMF). And, 2) the strict regulation of drones and how they’re used by establishing law enforcement-style rules and oversight.

Not good enough. [continue reading here]

  • i_a_c

    This is terrific, really. You make many of the points I’ve made myself. The reality is that AUMF is the law of the land whether we like it or not. Due process is more relevant to criminal law and less for preventative military action as you point out. And killing Americans involved in armed conflict against their own country is not new, not whatsoever.* Do I think it’s wonderful? Far from it, I’d rather we not kill anyone, but I’m not shedding tears over one of our own that joined al Qaeda. The public supports this policy by huge majorities, and I definitely can see the rationale for wanting to take out al Qaeda leadership, both from a practical and political standpoint.

    I still don’t agree that somehow the use of drones will escalate out of control because of their convenience. If you would provide a more fleshed out argument I may entertain that idea. But we’re also free to disagree on that point.

    But no, there is no room for having a nuanced viewpoint on anything if you ask the absolutists. The law is far from black and white, and there are more considerations than just the law. I know that Greenwald types would like presidents to toe the civil libertarian line all the time, and to hell with everything else, but that’s just not reality, never has been, and never will be.

    And I love your destruction of resident conservatroll joseph2004. That made my morning.

    *As a moral comparison, FDR executed Japanese-American citizens locked in internment camps with no due process, not even so much as habeas corpus. Somehow that ranks as much worse in my eyes. But he’s a hero and Obama’s worse than Bush. Gimme a break.

  • trgahan

    The truly sad thing is these anti-drone zealots currently have a President, if addressed by conventional means, would probably support a discussion and action toward on limiting and regulating drones.

    Yeah, there is likely no stopping their use, but historically conventional political avenues have made strides in limiting/removing other weapons of war (chemical weapons, landmines, etc). Instead, they intentionally set the bar beyond current political reality because they really just want to feel good about the moral justness of their stance.

  • KABoink_after_wingnut_hacker

    Here we go again with the “killing American citizens” argument, as if Americans are the only ones with a right to live.
    And this drone stuff is getting tiresome.
    The great USA has been screwing around in foreign countries and killing people since long before I was even born, so what’s the big news here?
    America has bombed nations secretly, sold huge stockpiles of weapons to rebel groups, actively plotted to overthrow governments, bombed innocent civilians, invaded countries without any provocation, supported brutal dictators and all-in-all has been responsible for millions upon millions of deaths.
    So excuse me if I don’t get too worked up about this drone nonsense, because it just ‘child’s play’ compared to the lies, deceit, death and destruction the US has perpetrated in the past.

    • nicole


  • GrafZeppelin127

    Bob, I think this has a lot to do with the desire to feel heroic that I’ve written so much about in the past, usually in the context of trying to explain Tea Party™ crazy but it applies to far-left Liberal™ crazy as well. Every attempt to understand or explain this behavior leads back to that. Everyone is the central figure in his or her own hero-myth; a valiant struggle against an intractable enemy which only the hero has the knowledge, wisdom and fundamental goodness to prevail.

    Putative heroes on both sides share the same basic attitude about whatever it is they’re railing against. No one gets it but me. Everyone but me is blinded by partisanship. Everyone but me is brainwashed. No one but me cares about the people and things that should be cared about. No one but me wants to punish the bad people for doing bad things. If you knew what I know, and cared about the right things and the right people, like I do, you’d feel the right way about things, but you don’t, so you’re an ignorant fool blindly following whoever or whatever you’re following.

    I had a left-winger on Daily Kos tell me it was “astonishing” to suggest that the Second Amendment remains intact as long as one is able to “keep and bear arms” of one kind or another. This was, according to him/her, “precisely the attitude of forced birthers” with respect to abortion rights and restrictions (you know, because background checks and transvaginal ultrasounds are exactly the same). Therefore, according to him/her, “people with my beliefs know damned good and well that people with your beliefs have no intention of functioning in this dispute with honesty and the circumspection due a constitutional right.”

    What explains this behavior except for an intense, all-consuming desire to feel aggrieved, threatened, victimized, and alone in one’s moral superiority? Why bother to try understanding things when playing the hero of your own epic myth is so much easier, and so much more emotionally satisfying?

  • GOVCHRIS1988

    P.S. Have you also noticed that this also has gotten the coverage of the Gun Debate and the Immigration Debate and the Voter suppression tactics of the GOP. You know…..everything that made the GOP not look so good. Couple that with the President’s rising approval rating and you’ll see why our media is now talking about drones with Joe Scarborough suddenly becoming a hippie. Don’t fall for the bullshit.

  • ranger11

    I guess I have to plead guilty in that I really don’t understand this issue. These things sound bad so maybe they should be monitored. Just do not want the Left to go completely down this rabbit hole as an obsession of sorts. I remember the late 90’s when I was supposed to be concerned about Mumia and Plan Columbia. Couldn’t really fake the emotion for that stuff.

    • i_a_c

      Just do not want the Left to go completely down this rabbit hole as an obsession of sorts.

      too late

  • GOVCHRIS1988

    This whole drone bullshit is nothing but a ploy to bring Barack Obama into George Bush level approval support. This is all it is. I believe that some right winger leaked that memo out to Mike Isakoff, then correctly expected every Liberal on the planet to not have any nuance in this situation to then go on the left wing attack plan and indiscriminately attack President Obama just like they did with President Bush. If you are not a Liberal that conforms to the “must attack the Democrat for principles sake” then you’re either attacked as a hypocrite by a right winger or by a left winger.

    You’ll start seeing the replace Obama with Bush crap pop up everywhere because apparently Liberals disagreed with everything indiscriminately that GWB did just like Conservatives disagree indiscriminately with President Obama. Of course, we didn’t, but don’t tell any conservative that who REALLY doesn’t want to admit that they were wrong about supporting a man who ballooned our deficit in the first place with these pieces of unpaid for legislation between 2001-2009, but don’t tell them that since I need to stop blaming Bush for shit he did and blame Obama for all of that as if an Illinois State Senator REALLY had anything to do with not reading that August 6, 2001 memo and doing anything about it, or not being concerned with Bin Laden, or signing unpaid for legislation which did more to help defense contractors and pharmaceutical companies than the regular American person. Oh no, I would be in the wrong there. And plus its for every Liberal who always believes in being seen as a non sycophant to a politician instead of actually assessing the problem and logically coming to a conclusion.

    Bob, this is a game that unfortunately, some of the PL Media fall into every time. If they couldn’t defeat him going right, they will suddenly become the Republican version of Occupy Wall St. and go left. It happened during Carter, it happened during Clinton, and now, its Obama’s turn.

    • ranger11

      As a semi-student of history it also happened to FDR, Truman, and JFK. LBJ kind of did it to himself. Are we in Vietnam yet?

      • GOVCHRIS1988

        Yep, thats how they defeated Carter in 1980. Not saying he would have won that year, but it didn’t help when his left flank abandoned him before the fateful fight against Reagan. Same with LBJ which led him to decline running in 68, giving former VP Nixon the office. Then they did it to Gore in 2000, jumping on the Nader bandwagon. Always the same every time.