Targeted Killing defines the war on terror

In an article related to previous posts, Scott Shane of the New York Times reports on the Obama administration’s preference to kill (with drones) rather than capture terrorist suspects.

The story rounds out with a quote from President Obama, who is “struggling” with the drone strikes. The U.S. Commander-in-Chief said that “If you don’t [struggle], then it’s very easy to slip into a situation in which you end up bending rules thinking that the ends always justify the means”.

But is it not precisely the case that the means have transformed the ends? That drones have transformed the shape and extent of state violence?

This policy on targeted killing, according to experts on counterterrorism inside and outside the government, is shaped by several factors: the availability of a weapon that does not risk American casualties; the resistance of the authorities in Pakistan and Yemen to even brief incursions by American troops; and the decreasing urgency of interrogation at a time when the terrorist threat has diminished and the United States has deep intelligence on its enemies.

Though no official will publicly acknowledge it, the bottom line is clear: killing is more convenient than capture for both the United States and the foreign countries where the strikes occur.

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