Hi -- I'm back. Thank you to everyone who took time to post over the holiday while I was swanning off with the family.
I don't really have anything profound to say about this, except on a peripheral issue it raises:
Facing the possibility that President Obama might not win a second term, his administration accelerated work in the weeks before the election to develop explicit rules for the targeted killing of terrorists by unmanned drones, so that a new president would inherit clear standards and procedures, according to two administration officials....So Team Obama, at least, acknowledged the possibility that the president could lose. Did Team Romney feel the same way about its candidate? Not in the last month, from everything we've read.
The attempt to write a formal rule book for targeted killing began last summer.... Though national security officials insist that the process is meticulous and lawful, the president and top aides believe it should be institutionalized, a course of action that seemed particularly urgent when it appeared that Mitt Romney might win the presidency.
... Mr. Obama did not want to leave an "amorphous" program to his successor, the official said. The effort, which would have been rushed to completion by January had Mr. Romney won, will now be finished at a more leisurely pace, the official said....
I'm dancing around the issue of the drone attacks themselves because I have mixed feelings about them -- I think they're doing more harm than good, and yet I feel the problem isn't drones, it's war itself, which in the modern world invariably kills an extraordinary number of civilians. What we would need is the political will to withdraw from post-9/11, post-Bush combat altogether; maybe we're ready for that, but both left-wing war opposition and Paulite anti-militarism still seem like boutique tastes in American politics, rather than ideas that can command mass support. It's hard to make that case when America and other Western countries still seem to have violent enemies, and drones are inevitably going to seem more low-cost to most Americans than a full-scale commitment of troops. So, to me, hat's needed is a rethinking of fighting altogether. And I don't know what it would take to get us there.