Don’t Look For “Change” In Obama’s Drone Doctrine

On June 1, 2012, 12:07 PM by

Obama-authorized drone strikes are ineffective and lawless; when will he be called on it?


We see it in the headlines every day: Obama will be on the right side of history. In the social stratosphere, he righted himself recently via “coming out” of his own moderate and pragmatic closet in favor of gay marriage (albeit at the state level). To justly associate himself with the “99%” majority, Obama aligned himself with aging plutocratic dissenter Warren Buffett while his wife Michelle sat next to Buffett’s now-famous secretary at the State of the Union Address. Meanwhile, his fumbling attempt at affordable healthcare—one whose roots can easily be traced to the work of none other than presidential hopeful Mitt Romney—awaits its fate this June. This is the hope and change that Shepard Fairey so colorfully promised back in 2008, right?

Not necessarily. Amid the flurry of Obama’s so-called “novel” policies and plays on the political chess board, many of the same strategies of fact manipulation, deceit and political posturing spring eternal. No, he’s not Bush—and thank God for that. But in terms of counter-terrorism, when the Obama administration’s strategies employ the same disregard for dehumanized civilians via drone strikes and the simultaneous generation of misleading nomenclature to soften the political blowback that would occur if, God forbid, Americans really knew how their tax dollars were being spent in the name of “freedom,” one has to wonder how different the two presidents actually are. Yes, we’re scheduled to exit Afghanistan and Iraq for good in the coming years, but when the administration’s drone war only emblazons the cause of the same groups against whom American troops fought extensively and expensively for nearly a decade, what have we really accomplished?

Recently, the New York Times released a troubling story regarding Obama’s seemingly above-the-law approach to counter-terrorism throughout the Middle East. While Obama counter-terrorism adviser John Brennan lauds the alleged sensibility and precision of drone strikes against “specific individuals,” the facts belie the false praise. In Yemen, where the US has recently steeped its drone strikes, the Times reports that the Defense Department can actually target suspects whose names they don’t even know.

It’s just as bad in Pakistan. There, “Mr. Obama had approved not only “personality” strikes aimed at named, high-value terrorists, but “signature” strikes that targeted training camps and suspicious compounds in areas controlled by militants.” By the way, these are the same “militants” that the Obama administration defines not by their illustrated and imposing threat to national security but rather by their mere appearance as military age males unfortunate enough to be located within a strike zone.

Thus the administration substitutes hard intelligence for indefensible hunches: if a guy looks like he’s up to no good, he probably isn’t and should be dealt with accordingly. It is curious, though, that the stereotyping the Obama administration came out so vehemently against regarding the death of Trayvon Martin doesn’t really apply outside of US soil—or at least when they’re the ones doing it. In this case, then, it seems that the only “change” the Obama administration actually provides lies within its ever-shifting moral code.



Savannah is a summa cum laude graduate from Bellarmine University, where she earned two degrees in Foreign Languages and International Studies and Political Science. This fall, Savannah will work for the Spanish Ministry of Education in Madrid.





RSS Tumblr