In a foreign policy speech at the National Defense University on May 23, President Obama set out his “comprehensive counterterrorism strategy,” including a plan for the future development of the deadly drone war being waged throughout the Middle East and North Africa.
Pakistani media described the president’s promises to rein in the rain of missiles fired from U.S. drones as too little too late.
The same could be said about Attorney General Eric Holder’s admission that four Americans have been assassinated on the order of the president.
In his address, the president reported that the United States has been “at war for over a decade.” This is an odd statement from a purported law professor who should know that only Congress can declare war and no such declaration has been made since the beginning of World War II.
Undaunted by his lack of constitutional understanding, President Obama went on to admit: “From our use of drones to the detention of terrorist suspects, the decisions that we are making now will define the type of nation — and world — that we leave to our children.”
This statement certainly qualifies as too little too late and begs the question: What of the decisions of the past twelve years? What message have our decisions sent to our children and to the world? As the president sits in the Oval Office with his advisors and looks over names of people deciding whether or not to order their summary execution, will the rising generation somehow come to view such lethal autocracy as unacceptable? Have the missiles fired from drones killing thousands — regardless of their nationality — made the world safer?
The answer to both questions is no.
Blowback is a very real consequence of the way consecutive presidential administrations have executed the “War on Terror.”
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Photo of President Obama at the National Defense University: AP Images