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Trump, Obama and the future of targeted killing


Trump, Obama and the future of targeted killing

Jack Serle, Abigail Fielding-Smith

Barack Obama’s foreign policy legacy is often discussed in terms of things he didn’t do: intervene in Syria, reset with Russia, get out of Afghanistan.

In one area however, Obama developed and expanded a defining policy architecture which his successor Donald Trump now inherits: the ability to kill suspected terrorists anywhere without US personnel having to leave their bases.


It is disturbing to hear this sort of killing weaseled over and passed off as "targeted," even when the author does appear to be against them. These involve bombing gatherings because someone's cellphone is reported present. In some sense that is "targeted," given that the bombers have nothing much against killing civilians, but of course a thief who points a pistol at the cashier of a 7-11 is targeting more finely. Were he to toss a grenade into the store and then stroll in to rob it, the level of targeting would be similar.

It is more disturbing to hear this sort of killing treated as though it were somehow at least partly acceptable until it might come into the control of of Donald Trump. The implicit argument seems to be that the present group of bomb-hurling killers are more moderate or prone to exercise better judgment. Are we to say, then, that hurling bombs to kill innocents for reasons that have nothing to do with self-defense does not reflect badly on one's judgment?

Were I to throw a grenade into a 7-11 and rob it, should the police or prosecutors really be asking whether I voted Democrat or Republican?


President Trump does not seem to know himself what he will or will not do. Like many who have Narcissistic Personality Disorder he believes that he means what he says while he's saying it and is able to brush away having it pointed out to him that what he said contradicted something said earlier.

It amazes me that so many believe he is God's answered prayer and somehow think he has almost magical abilities to talk the country's problems into self dissolving. Supporters have become his emotional twins, reacting with indignation and hurt feelings when we who don't and won't become true believing acolytes and believe he really can do all that he has promised he will do.

How this will play out doesn't depend on him, or us, but, as Ralph Waldo Emerson said, "Events are in the saddle and ride mankind." This has never been truer than it is starting now.


It all depends on whether the internet chatter about the Masters of the Hidden Deep State really are worried about having him in there and are trying to figure out how to remove him without letting loose opposing mobs fighting it out in the streets. Will the weather precipitate a large Katrina sized catastrophe with government help becoming mandatory and needing skilled coordination and real leadership? What if one of the many warlike hotspots breaks out into pitch battle and put US people and investments at risk?

The real miracle will be if these or one of any number of other crises doesn't happen before time comes for Herr Trump has to decide if he wants to try for another four, to "finish the work he started."


Nothing Dick Cheney did in response to 9/11 should ever have been continued by the Obama administration. Thankfully, overt torture was ended; that form of fighting terror by terrorizing the terrorists seems to have been too up-close and personal for the gentle-souled Obama to stomach. But the Cheney Doctrine (that the Bill of Rights is suspended for counter-terror programs) lives on. Drone terror was more Obama's style -- just POOF! and you're gone! With drones there is no need to capture and Mirandize suspects, and build a case against them, and all that messy bother. Just collect metadata from zillions of phone records, deduce who seems to be spending a suspicious amount of time with "know terrorists," ask the President's kind permission, aim a drone at the offending smartphone, and then ........ POOF! What could go wrong? Who knows what the Donald will do with this handy tool of international justice. He may decide to respond to sassy reporters with something more than tweets. We must wait and see. In the meantime I have both strawberry and chocolate chip ice cream in the freezer, so I'm ready for the inauguration.


I'm a bit surprised that the alt-right apologists haven't sown up on this thread yet to tell us that Putin did it.


President Obama is responsible for the murder of many innocent civilian men, women, and children that have occurred under his drone killing program, his crowd killing program of murdering unknown people, and his sociopathic special operations mass murder program. In addition, he has embraced the practice of cyber warfare (remember stuxnet) and ramped up the US militaries development of Lethal Autonomous Weapons - weapons which use algorithms to select targets and murder them and all those who are unlucky enough to be nearby. He should be prosecuted for his crimes against humanity.

On top of the brutal and horrendous murder and destruction, what I also find disturbing is the degree to which the Obama administration has been able to delude the majority people in political power, the majority of the media, US academics, and the majority of the US population, that his murder programs are not only acceptable practice, but a preferred means of addressing problems associated with international crises.

Now, there is all but universal embrace of the notion that rather than engaging in long term comprehensive effort at promoting social justice and peace, the US government's only option is to engage in some degree of military assault in order to confront international opposition.