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Tue Feb 19, 2013, 12:40 PM

Targeted killings: OK if Obama does it?

Civil libertarians have worried that some of President Obama’s comparatively hawkish national security policies are silencing “liberal” Democrats who would have opposed such measures under President Bush or another Republican. Now there’s new evidence that Obama’s support for such policies isn’t just silencing them — it’s winning them over.

That’s the finding of new research by Brown University political scientist Michael Tesler, who studies what he calls the “racialization” of political issues in the age of Obama: mainly, the way voters’ attitudes about race can make them more or less likely to support policies once they know those policies are supported by Obama. Last year he made headlines with an American Journal of Political Science article about the way racial attitudes shaped opinions on the Affordable Care Act.

.......

Coincidentally I learned of Tesler’s research around the time the New York Times revealed the existence of a secret Obama “kill list” authorizing the use of drones and other measures to kill suspected terrorists last June. I wondered whether Obama supporters would be more likely to back such measures under this president than they would otherwise. I asked Tesler if he had any data on national security, and he promised to add some questions on those issues to his ongoing polling in partnership with the Internet polling group YouGov. In another coincidence, he sent me his findings the week after NBC’s Michael Isikoff revealed the unconvincing Office of Legal Counsel “white paper” summarizing the legal grounds for targeted assassination of American citizens.

In a YouGov poll of 1,000 voters last August, Tesler found significantly more support for targeted killing of suspected terrorists among white “racial liberals” (i.e., those liberal on issues of race) and African Americans when they were told that Obama supported such a policy than when they were not told it was the president’s policy. Only 27 percent of white racial liberals in a control group supported the targeted killing policy, but that jumped to 48 percent among such voters who were told Obama had conducted such targeted killings (which Tesler refers to as the “Obama cue.”) He found a similar difference among African Americans, but cautions that the sample size, of 60 in a control group and another 60 who were given the “Obama cue,” is small. “We can be pretty confident that blacks are more supportive when given the Obama cue, but not at all confident about how precisely large that difference is,” he told me via email.


http://www.salon.com/2013/02/19/targeted_killings_ok_if_obama_does_it/

7 replies, 672 views

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Reply Targeted killings: OK if Obama does it? (Original post)
Redfairen Feb 2013 OP
pansypoo53219 Feb 2013 #1
bowens43 Feb 2013 #3
EastKYLiberal Feb 2013 #4
G_j Feb 2013 #6
geek tragedy Feb 2013 #2
msongs Feb 2013 #5
dmallind Feb 2013 #7

Response to Redfairen (Original post)

Tue Feb 19, 2013, 01:26 PM

1. so, you prefer indiscriminate war killing?

like invading iWaq?

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Response to pansypoo53219 (Reply #1)

Tue Feb 19, 2013, 01:54 PM

3. You havent been paying attention, it is indiscriminate killing.....

besides that it's completely unwarranted. But don't call it criminal or your post will be deleted.

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Response to bowens43 (Reply #3)

Tue Feb 19, 2013, 01:58 PM

4. As it should be.

 

The DOJ has provided a satisfying legal framework for these targeted operations.

To call it criminal is dishonest.

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Response to EastKYLiberal (Reply #4)

Tue Feb 19, 2013, 02:09 PM

6. satisfying

maybe to some...

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Response to Redfairen (Original post)

Tue Feb 19, 2013, 01:28 PM

2. Honestly, targeting overseas terrorists with drones would be popular

under any President.

That's just how Americans roll.

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Response to Redfairen (Original post)

Tue Feb 19, 2013, 02:02 PM

5. dear Redfairen: bush did it = bad, obama does it = good nt

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Response to Redfairen (Original post)

Tue Feb 19, 2013, 03:01 PM

7. Wrong question

The moral good of targeted killings depends exclusively on the target, not the chooser of the target. Under any sane moral philosophy, the identity of the moral agent is immaterial.

Some people - be it naively, idealistically, or religiously, believe in moral absolutes - that actions are either right or wrong regardless of their results or alternative options (few actually will act in this way in extremis however. The next time you hear somebody pontificating about moral relativism, ask them if stealing is wrong and then if they would let their child starve to death if the only alternative were stealing the food of a well-fed family. All deontologists act teleologically). But even these people do not assess the rightness of an action by the actor. Gandhi killing an innocent child is morally wrong. Ed Gein killing a madman about to poison the civic water supply to lethal levels when nothing else would stop him is morally right. The names change nothing. Can change nothing.

For those of us who accept the reality of teleological morality, the only relevant question is whether the negative results of the act, drones I assume in this case, outweigh the positive results, and if any viable alternative would swing that calculus further to the positive.

So are targeted killing right if Obama does them? Depends who is killed, what other death/damage results, what the killing prevents, and what other options there were to prevent the same. Since all of us are either ignorant of those details or, in perhaps a very few cases certainly NOT including me, informed about them but most certainly not allowed to disxuss them, the only answer we can give is "no clue".

But to move from that to "he should never kill people in this way at all" falsely assumes either that we do have that information, are pretending to be moral absolutists, or foolishly assume that no killings are ever warranted.

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