War on Terror
Today is Trinity Sunday. Centuries ago words were written to be a call and a spur to the faithful servants of Truth and Justice: “Arm yourselves, and be ye men of valour, and be in readiness for the conflict; for it is better for us to perish in battle than to look upon the Outrage of our nation and our altar. As the Will of God is in Heaven, even so let it be.
Winston Churchill, Radio Address, June 19, 1940. Churchill was quoting, slightly altered by him, I Maccabees 3: 58-60
58. And Judas said, Arm yourselves, and be valiant men, and see that ye be in readiness against the morning, that ye may fight with these nations, that are assembled together against us to destroy us and our sanctuary: 59. For it is better for us to die in battle, than to behold the calamities of our people and our sanctuary. 60. Nevertheless, as the will of God is in heaven, so let him do.
There have been worries expressed on both sides of the political spectrum about the use of drone killings against Al Qaeda, and more especially so as it’s come out that the Obama Administration has a secret “kill list” which even includes American citizens who are working with Al Qaeda overseas (as was the recently killed Anwar al-Awlaki).
It seems to be that there is a legitimate worry here. In a sense, drones are the modern American equivalent of pillars of the Victorian British Empire such as Charles “Chinese” Gordon — gallivanting about the world to put down disturbances wherever they occur. However, they’re also relative unobtrusive and cheap. Thus, I would imagine that there is more danger of them being used to embroil us in conflicts that we really don’t want to be in. (Which, come to that, is more or less what Gordon managed to do for the British Empire on an occasion or two.) While I think that US hegemonic power, like that of others such as the British and Romans in the past, is generally a positive force in the world, power is often a temptation to over reaching. Putting international intervention only a joystick away, without any need for congressional approval or oversight, seems to put just a bit too much power in the hands of an already imperial presidency.