During the campaign (we learned after the election), the Obama administration undertook to devise guidelines for the use of unmanned aerial vehicles or drones. “There was a concern that the levers might no longer be in our hands,” an official told the New York Times. In other words, a Republican president would need guidelines for the use of Hellfire missiles, but with President Obama in the White House, safeguards are unnecessary. His unerring judgment is all that’s required. The president has presided over the deaths of an estimated 2,500 individuals — including some American citizens — through the drone program of targeted assassinations. Isn’t the press interested in what sort of guidelines the administration recommends imposing on its successor? On itself? Oh, wait, with the election safely past, the guidelines are on hold.
Finally, this isn’t a scandal, an abuse of power, or an example of hypocrisy, but it’s such a blatant display of moral confusion that it begs for questioning. The Syrian dictator Bashar Assad (about whom the next secretary of state was so wrong) has killed roughly 25,000 civilians and uprooted 1.2 million more. Human Rights Watch reported that there are 27 known torture centers run by the Syrian military. Yet the president has said that only the use of chemical weapons represents a “red line” that Syria must not cross. “If you make the tragic mistake of using these weapons,” he warned earlier this month, “there will be consequences and you will be held accountable.” Question: Doesn’t that mean that Assad will not be held accountable for the rest? What is the logic of that?