Obama’s Unlimited Right to Kill?

Is there any limit to the killing that a U.S. president can initiate as long as he claims benevolent motives? Over the past dozen years, three presidents commenced bombing nations that posed no threat to the U.S. The only “restraint” seems to be whether presidential speechwriters can stitch together phrases to portray the president as doing God’s work.


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10 Responses to Obama’s Unlimited Right to Kill?

  1. Kevin Carson March 25, 2011 at 4:32 pm #

    Virtually every act of aggression by modern powers, since the emergence of a mass press, has been justified either as “self-defense” or a “humanitarian intervention.”

    The poor oppressed Sudeten Germans in Czechoslovakia. The harrassment of Germans in Danzig by Polish troops (or rather German troops in Polish uniforms). The Japanese counterinsurgency campaign in Manchuria, which 1) was fought on essentially the same pattern as that of the U.S. in Vietnam, with what amounted to strategic hamlets and free fire zones and 2) was justified by officers writing home to their families as Japan’s selfless effort to protect global civilization from the commie threat.

  2. William Anderson March 25, 2011 at 8:04 pm #

    Where I work, the people who were protesting against the Iraq war suddenly have become supporters of our “humanitarian” effort in Libya. Gee, I’m shocked.

  3. Jim March 25, 2011 at 8:21 pm #

    Kevin, if all the acts were sold that way, does that mean they were all justified?
    Thanks for the excellent historical thumbnail. I wasn’t aware of the Japanese pretext for Manchuria.

  4. Jim March 25, 2011 at 8:22 pm #

    Bill, maybe your fellow professors’ brains haven’t thawed out yet from the cold winter up in the mountains???

    I hope you’re enjoying yanking their chains.

  5. Dirk Sabin March 26, 2011 at 10:04 am #

    Every American should understand that each time they see one of those million dollar missiles sputter off a gazillion dollar naval vessel that their human rights are sailing off with it, missile by missile. If this is a humanitarian effort, the AMC Gremlin was a monument to American Automotive Design.

  6. alpowolf March 26, 2011 at 5:20 pm #

    This is also an excellent example of American Exceptionalism at work. When I mention that the president lacks the Constitutional authority to start a war, both liberals and neocons object that it’s not really a war, so the separation of powers issue “doesn’t count”.

    I ask them if they would consider aerial and cruise missile bombardment an act of war if it were done to the U.S. They squirm and dodge, as we all know damn well they would scream “act of war!” if a foreign soldier fired so much as a Red Ryder BB gun across the U.S. border.

    IOW it’s only okay if “we” do it. (Yeah, they can leave me out of their “we”.)

  7. Jim March 26, 2011 at 5:38 pm #

    alpowolf, I find it difficult to find an honest interventionist – or at least who doesn’t admit that the US government is entitled to absolute power here and abroad.

  8. Jim March 26, 2011 at 5:39 pm #

    Dirk, I’ve done a lot of dumb things in my time but I never bought a Gremlin. Might have gotten stuck with it once or twice as a rental car, but… That was the kind of car that almost makes a Yugo look good.

  9. The Infamous Oregon Lawhobbit March 28, 2011 at 9:27 am #

    *sigh* All these responses, yet nobody has bothered to answer the question. Good thing there’s a lawyer here.


    “Is there any limit to the killing that a U.S. president can initiate as long as he claims benevolent motives?”

    Nope. None at all. I believe even Kucinich has backed off his weak-tea “impeachment” threats.

    Of course, it’s only fair, because there’s no amount of killing that a U.S. President can initiate so long as he claims it’s for “national security,” either.

    Whoo-hoo! I’m sharing a thread with Bill Anderson AND Jim Bovard! If we could just get Brian Wilson in here (okay, and Tom Woods, Tom DiLorenzo, Walter Block and Claire Wolfe) it’d be almost perfect! 😀


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