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Thu Feb 7, 2013, 08:10 PM

Teaching a Neocon Exactly How WWII Is Different From the War on Terror

Over at The Corner, National Review's group blog, there is an unexplained feature that I like to call "Krauthammer: '_________.'" It consists of a junior staffer taking YouTube clips of pundit Charles Krauthammer on Fox News, embedding them in a post, and then summarizing the clip in text. Taken as individual blog posts, none is particularly weird, but I am amused that they appear day after day, as if the fact that Charles Krauthammer says something is itself a newsworthy occurrence.

Yesterday's installment of "Krauthammer: '______.'" concerned drones:

Here's the video clip, and the summary:
On Special Report tonight, Charles Krauthammer explained why he was unfazed by the use of drones to kill Americans without a trial. He pointed out that, "thousands of Americans died at Antietam without due process" and "when we stormed the beaches at Normandy on D-Day, and Americans approached a German bunker, I don't think anyone asked, 'Is there a German-American here? I want to read you the Miranda rights.'" Unfortunately, the administration's guidelines "were probably written by someone in the lower quintile of his law school class" because "they want to pretend that you can only hit an American al-Qaeda operative who is an imminent threat and then define him as a threat out of existence by saying al-Qaeda is continually hatching plots so he's always an imminent threat."
Left out of that summary is his passing acknowledgment that the War on Terror is different than past wars. What Krauthammer doesn't realize is that identifying how the wars are different goes a long way toward demonstrating that drone critics are being reasonable, not hysterical.

The Civil War and World War II were discrete, declared wars against specific enemies who fought the U.S. on geographically predictable battlefields. At Antietam or Normandy, it would have been very difficult for Presidents Lincoln or Roosevelt to abuse their power by killing an innocent American they falsely labeled an enemy combatant -- they didn't send a kill list of individuals into battle, and the odds that a given innocent they wanted to kill would just happen to be there were rather low. Finally, quite apart from every other argument, there was literally no way to afford anyone due process on the battlefield at Antietam or on the beaches of Normandy.

In contrast, the War on Terrorism is a never-ending conflict against an amorphous, un-uniformed enemy fought in secret, often far from any traditional battlefield, with opaque rules of engagement carried out by the CIA rather than the armed forces. If drone strikes are constrained only by a secret executive-branch process wherein any American is treated as an enemy combatant on the mere say-so of a "high-level official," and requires no evidence that the target is planning an attack any time in the near future, it would be very easy for the power to be abused. Lots of innocent people just happen to be walking around on the battlefield in the War on Terror, as it's defined by the CIA, because the battlefield encompasses the whole earth. And it would be very easy to afford guys like Anwar al-Awlaki more due process than Obama has extended -- in that case, the militant cleric likely could've been tried in absentia, convicted, and killed.

MORE...

http://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2013/02/teaching-a-neocon-exactly-how-wwii-is-different-from-the-war-on-terror/272948/

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Reply Teaching a Neocon Exactly How WWII Is Different From the War on Terror (Original post)
Purveyor Feb 2013 OP
Ash_F Feb 2013 #1
cbrer Feb 2013 #2

Response to Purveyor (Original post)

Thu Feb 7, 2013, 10:19 PM

1. It's not even this

"In contrast, the War on Terrorism is a never-ending conflict against an amorphous, un-uniformed enemy fought in secret, often far from any traditional battlefield, with opaque rules of engagement carried out by the CIA rather than the armed forces."

Even this is an exaggeration. In the case of case of Pakistan, its an internal political dispute that has little to do with the US. And people are being killed just for being on one side of it. In Iraq and Afghanistan, people were imprisoned by the US military just for having reading material that spoke out against the puppet regimes. Bradley Manning spoke that the incident that convinced him he had to do something was that, when studying a group of Iraqi's wanted for anti-government literature, he found that they were merely tracking a corruption scandal within the Iraqi government. He reported this to his superiors and they basically told him to shut up.

I'm going to go ahead and counter the usual inane blathering response of "BUT THEY KILLED THEIR OWN PEOPLE". Just because someone, somewhere, killed someone from a political party, then that means that party should never have any political opposition ever again? Anybody who opposes them, even allegedly, should be summarily killed without due process?

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Response to Purveyor (Original post)

Fri Feb 8, 2013, 04:49 AM

2. A nebulous enemy?

 

Mostly based in fear? Compared to the Nazis?

This doesn't even rate a comparison, except possibly in terms of creating more fear. During the four years I've spent waging the "wars" in Iraq and Afghanistan, we've been sustaining the action. Not trying to win anything. And after we leave (whenever that turns out to be) Afghanistan will revert to Taliban rule. Karzai and co. will be marginalized if not outright shot.

And BTW, this is an American action. Not a Democratic or Republican action. The fact that our citizens have not risen up to halt this outrageous and preposterous usurpation of power speaks volumes.

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