But two issues that are in the news these days, attracting left wing attention as well as providing an opportunity for the right to get on with its usual wailing and shrieking, don't seem to have a lot of substance to me:
First, the issue of the use of drones in combat: My understanding of war (however fragmentary it may be) is that the whole point of it is to kill as many of the enemy as you can, while getting as few of your own guys killed in the process. I suspect that there is something of a very outmoded form of chivalry involved with those who are against drones- it just doesn't seem fair to reduce the likelihood that you will get killed in battle to zero. And maybe someone wants to make the case that, without casualties and the consequent alienation of their populations, there is no brake on governments using warfare as a standard tactic of diplomacy. Fine, that makes some sense, but I don't think it is what is being argued here. War is horrible and we should never resort to it except as a last resort, but is drone warfare really any more abominable than any other form of warfare? I can't answer this question one way or the other, but I suspect that, to the victim, getting killed by a drone is noworse than getting killed by a manned fighter plane, or a shell from a tank.
Second, there is the tremendous outrage over the fact that the President might authorize the killing of American civilians who have chosen to fight with our enemies. This issue bothers me even more than the drone thing, for here I see nothing at work but pure national chauvinism. If an American citizen has truly gone over to the service of a clear enemy, why should his life be any more precious than if he were Iraqi or Iranian, people who have true grievances against the United States?
An Iranian might very justly tell himself that he is taking up arms against the country that destroyed his country's democracy and replaced it with a vicious dictatorship; and where major factions in the government are openly agitating for more unjustified military aggression directed toward his people. Is that not a causus belli, or do they have to wait over there until the next time that the Cheneys and the McCains seize control of our government, and direct a few hundred million dollars worth of explosives toward their country, before they have a right to be angry at us?
The few Americans who have become our targets, on the other hand, seem to me to be mostly juveniles who have let their macho, violent fantasies overtake their reason (not unlike lots of their gun-toting right wing compadres in this country,) and who really have little more to complain about if they fall victim to their idiocy, than a would-be suicide bomber who blows himself up making a bomb.
Well...maybe there's something really defective with my moral standards, but these two things have been bothering me as I hear more and more pontificating on the matter. Am I way off base? I just don't know.