Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Come at me, bro

In a March 2010 address before the American Society of International Law, Harold Koh, the U.S. State Department's top legal rationalizer, explained why Barack Obama believes he is entitled to kill anyone in the world he chooses.

"[T]he United States is in an armed conflict with al-Qaeda, as well as the Taliban and associated forces, in response to the horrific 9/11 attacks, and may use force consistent with its inherent right to self-defense under international law," Koh patiently explained. And that right enables the U.S. government to carry out anywhere in the world “lethal operations conducted with the use of unmanned aerial vehicles.”

So drones, according to Koh, are essentially the U.S. government's industrial-strength pepper spray, the inhabitants of the rest of the world its swarthy would-be rapists. Yeah . . . about that, courtesy The Washington Post:
Somalia, where the militant group al-Shabab is based, is surrounded by American drone installations. And officials said that JSOC has repeatedly lobbied for authority to strike al-Shabab training camps that have attracted some Somali Americans. 
But the administration has allowed only a handful of strikes, out of concern that a broader campaign could turn al-Shabab from a regional menace into an adversary determined to carry out attacks on U.S. soil.
As it turns out, firing missiles at poor foreigners from unmanned killing machines has nothing to do with Defending America, U.S. officials readily conceding that al-Shabab is but a "regional menace." But firing missiles at poor foreigners from unmanned killing machines could cause said foreigners to strike back, meaning -- god this is good -- that in the future there may actually be something to the U.S.'s claims to be acting in self-defense, albeit only to counter a threat it created.

"Sweet," says every military contractor and general in Washington.

It's a good thing there isn't the same threat of blowback from the U.S. government's broad campaign of drone warfare in Pakistan or Afghanistan, otherwise we might be in trouble!


  1. thurnandtaxis12:32 PM

    Sure, I could get worried about blowback if the US were engaging in hostilities in Somalia, but all I'm reading about here is slaughter from invulnerable air space and I'm pretty sure the U.S. State Department's top legal rationalizer has explained to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee how that doesn't qualify.

  2. Great post. What a shabby performancy from Harold Koh-- not for nothing does Gene Healey of Cato call him "the Gollum of Foggy Bottom," a being whose essence has been corrupted irredeemably by proximity to power. My own take on Koh & his noxious 2010 speech in the basement of the DC Ritz-Carlton is here in The American Conservative and in CounterPunch

    The title, "How Liberals Kill," is NOT my own but my editors; I have nothing good to say about liberals like Koh but I'm against the demonization of all liberals which is bad for all of us.