Some good commentary on the president’s drone war here and here.

I think the prevalence of drones is easily explicable: they’re easy. Easy to use, don’t put personnel at risk. But the cost of it is that it’s easier to make mistakes, easier to aggregate power, easier for war to become routinized. TNC puts it well, “And there is no real sense of an ‘end.’ Has there ever been a point since America’s inception when someone, somewhere, wasn’t plotting our downfall?”

He gets close to something I write about every so often. I think it’s pretty plain that Obama has prioritized healing the divisions in the country pretty highly. But internal divisions tend to be high when there’s a war on. There hasn’t been a single war in our country’s history of any length that didn’t lead to ugly divisiveness (and yes, WWII is included: just look at how nasty a campaign Tom Dewey ran against FDR in 1944 if you doubt that, implying he knew that Pearl Harbor was going to be bombed and such). OTOH, the number of times in US history in which you saw unrest and divisiveness like this in peacetime are much rarer–the Populist era, perhaps, or the lead-up to the Civil War which is the exception that proves the rule. Until we are truly at peace, there is no possibility of our political divides being altered in any way. I’m not saying that ending the wars will automatically lead to healing, but it could happen. After both World Wars, the political situation quickly morphed into new peacetime consensuses.

And yes, I realize that he’s ended our involvement in Iraq and seems to be serious about getting us out of Afghanistan. But Coates is right: there’s no indication he’s interested in refocusing the war on terror. To the extent he wants unity to be his legacy, he’s sabotaging himself deeply with his increasingly cavalier use of drones. I might be willing to buy the idea that the political consensus of the moment makes a retreat from the war on terror concept difficult, but escalating it in this way makes it much more difficult to move on. Or easier–perhaps the whole thing will reach absurd proportions. Arguably it already has.

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