As the outrage over the Obama drone program escalates, one fact has crystallized:
America has a short term memory problem.
Whether it comes to who tanked the U.S. economy and racked up the debt (W. not Obama), or 3,000 Americans dying on 9/11, it seems a debacle or tragedy more than six months old just doesn’t weigh into today’s discussion.
And in terms of the drone program, I am talking about 9/11.
9/11 changed the game. When 3,000 Americans are killed, in large part because of government inaction, vigilance and protection of lives is paramount, even at the expense of some civil liberties. After all, an American can’t have liberty if they’re killed by the hands of al-Qaeda.
And even though that horrible day happened over a decade ago, we must force ourselves to keep it fresh in our minds as if it happened yesterday, especially when making decisions on how to prevent a sequel.
Civil liberties and justice are important values of America, and I do not believe in government becoming drunk on power or a president acting as king. However, President Obama and his defense team have done neither.
The civil liberties crowd hollering about the drone program act as if Obama and his team are a fraternity house, rocking out to Nirvana on the boom box, guzzling 40 ounce beers and playing call of duty with short breaks to decide which terrorists to kill. And the picture they paint of said terrorists, particularly American-born ones like Anwar Al-Awlaki, is a naive one, as if for all we know, they are overseas writing a screenplay.
This type of naivety and lack of urgency is what led to 9/11, and we can’t choose terrorists liberties, American born or not, over saving innocent American lives.
The criticism that President Obama is arbitrarily deciding which Americans to kill is a stretch, as this president has proven time and time again to be a relentless analyst, thinking and analyzing an issue or action from every angle before taking impulsive action unlike his cowboy predecessor.
One of those decisions was to kill the aforementioned Al-Awlaki, who was indeed American born. He also had ties to al-Qaeda, three of the 9/11 attackers, the Ft. Hood shooter, the Christmas Day bomber and more. So when learning of this terrorist’s location, the choice for President Obama and presidents that will follow becomes:
Kill this American linked with terrorists, or risk wasting time going to a Judge or Congress while he and his allies plot to kill thousands of Americans.
To me that choice is simple.
Although I see where drone detractors are coming from, I believe joining or being affiliated with a group responsible for the murder of 3,000 Americans, and countless others across the globe, makes your citizenship secondary and your intent paramount.
Have there been a lot of innocent lives lost due to drone attacks killing nearby civilians.
Yes, and it is tragic.
Unfortunately, this is the cost of war, and whether it is an army invading a country or a drone targeting a specific terrorist for assassination, we are at war. And war always comes with casualties, both evil and innocents.
With national defense, the choice is usually between two or three terrible options, with moral grey areas for all. But for the future, I for one prefer drone warfare, where we’re sending a robot from the sky rather than 100,000 young Americans on the ground in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Because if someone has to die, let it be an American-born terrorist overseas rather than an innocent American at work on a sunny Tuesday morning in New York City.
Jordan Chariton is a politics, media and culture writer. He has previously produced for Foxnews.com’s “Strategy Room,” Fox Business Network’s “Freedom Watch,” and MSNBC Dayside. Tweet him @JordanChariton.