Is God Against Drones?

Mark Tooley is President of the Institute on Religion and Democracy (www.theird.org) and author of Methodism and Politics in the Twentieth Century. Follow him on Twitter: @markdtooley.


The Religious Left does not like drones and even under the current administration has sounded their alarm.  Give them some credit for consistency in that they are reliably opposed to whatever tools are currently deployed in defending America. Some Religious Left critics have tried to exploit Just War teaching against drones, though they are themselves at best skeptical of Just War and are typically pacifists, explicitly or functionally.

David Gushee, a liberal Baptist ethicist at Mercer University, recently opined against drones as exemplifying a “disturbing combination of American arrogance and self-righteousness.”  In a recent “Washington Post” online op-ed, he faults them on America’s false notion of itself as the “exceptional nation, the beacon of freedom and justice, [which] can be trusted with the power to kill our own and others around the world in the name of national self-defense (and global security).”

The Religious Left never likes thinking of America as “exceptional,” though their own demands and unique expectations of America showcase their own vivid but unconfessed form of American exceptionalism.  Call it what you will, the United States is the most powerful nation. And with this power flows responsibility not just for the security of our own people but also a wider duty for upholding a global peace, to the extent possible.  Absent a global police force, the United States is the final arbiter of an approximate global stability.  That stability requires America to deter, contain and sometimes deploy lethal force against renegade states and terror groups.

Gushee complains that America would never accept China or Russia launching drone attacks inside the U.S. Indeed not, but is Gushee unaware of the significant distinctions between the U.S. and Afghanistan or even Pakistan, which are unable to police their own nations, and whose governments privately if not publicly consent to U.S. drone strikes?  And in the rush to reject American exceptionalism, Gushee and the Religious Left typically refuse to distinguish U.S. and Western strategic actions from pariah states.  Germany invaded France in 1940, and the U.S. and Britain invaded in France in 1944.  Were American and Britain therefore morally indistinguishable from Nazi Germany?

Typically in Just War thinking, intent is key.  U.S. drone strikes on homicidal terrorists operating freely in a failed nation state is quite different from communist China theoretically launching drones against Chinese dissidents residing in the U.S.  Could the Religious Left ever comprehend this distinction, or does their seething anti-Americanism blind them to discerning moral judgment?

Gushee complains of the U.S. “self-perception of being in an endless war on terror” is an excuse to overlook moral restraints.  Does he dispute that the U.S. is locked in an ongoing conflict with terror groups dedicated to killing Americans and many others?  In some sense, the world is always at war and always has been.  Fortunately, the current open wars, although vicious, are largely contained in places like Afghanistan, Somalia and Sudan.  American power, among other forces, helps to keep them contained, and to deter the explosion of other conflicts that could become more widespread and threatening. This American power provides an approximate peace for most of the world, although there have always been and will always be forces of disorder working against peace and stability.  Such is the bent of human nature, which Gushee and the Religious Left are loath to admit.

Similar to Gushee is another Religious Leftist, Susan Brooks Thistlethwaite, former president of Chicago Theological Seminary, and now a fellow at the Center for American Progress.  In her recent online op-ed in “The Washington Post” against drones, she complained that some drone targets do not actually present an “imminent” threat.   She likens drone strikes against terrorists for whom there is not necessarily explicit evidence of an immediate planned attack to the U.S. preemptive war on Iraq.  And she cites civilian deaths in some drone attacks, without pondering alternatives that would inevitably entail far more civilian deaths.  Thistlethwaite is “grieved” that President Obama is not living up to the lofty promises of his 2009 Nobel Peace Prize speech to wage “just peace.”  Doubtless she will be “grieved” by all U.S. chief executives sworn to defend the American people, with lethal force inevitably at times.

Echoing Thistlethwaite, and praising Gushee, liberal Baptist columnist Jonathan Merritt really liked Gushee’s comparison of U.S. drone attacks to China or Russia launching strikes in the U.S, exclaiming: “Hard to disagree with that!”  Why don’t these Religious Left critics just go ahead and liken U.S.  drones to Nazi Germany’s v rocket attacks on London?   Merritt is really upset that U.S. drones are launched against targets in Yemen, a “sovereign nation,” opining:  “Last time I checked, America is not at war with Yemen.”  Maybe Merritt should check on Yemen’s latest political situation, which is less than rosy, with a very weak “sovereign” government that is not routinely able to act effectively against terrorists.   U.S. drone strikes typically occur in nations whose regimes cannot fully police their own territory; otherwise terrorists would not have encamped there. Those regimes usually back U.S. drone strikes privately, even while sometimes denouncing them publicly, unable to admit their own impotence.  But Merritt and the Religious Left seem to prefer the pretense that weak or non-existent governments are “sovereign” if it facilitates arguments against decisive U.S. action.

Pretense is the utopian Religious Left’s often favored pose.  They prefer to imagine the world as though a family board game, with each player patiently waiting for his or her cards to be dealt.  Anybody caught cheating gets a quick slap on the wrist and the friendly game moves forward amicably. In the Religious Left imagination, it’s America that typically cheats, and the Religious Left’s prophetic role is to be the wrist slapper.

The real world is quite different from the imagined board game, and thoughtful Christians are called to develop policies that acknowledge the world for what it is, and to seek an imperfect, approximate justice by the flawed available means.  Even in the best circumstances, wars still happen, and the innocent horribly suffer.  The goal is to limit the suffering wherever possible, which often demands that legitimate governments must act forcefully and lethally.

People of faith trust that God, in His own time, will fully redeem the world and defeat evil forever.   But the utopian Religious Left sometimes wants to pretend their policies can preempt God. Fortunately, their counsel is mostly ignored, on drones, and virtually on every other issue.

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  • http://www.adinakutnicki.com adinakutnicki

    The Christian left marches in lock step with Islamists and violent anarchists, and this is a fact. As they preach "human rights" and "brotherly love", at the same time they protect violent "freedom fighters" and wail about innocents protecting themselves with defensive measures!

    Need proof? Here's more than enough to drown a leftist – http://adinakutnicki.com/2013/02/03/the-nexus-bet

    Encouraging the "Palestinization" of the thousands yr old Jewish homeland, they have also become virulently anti-American, even as they opine otherwise.
    Adina Kutnicki, Israel http://adinakutnicki.com/

    • Texas Chris

      Strange, when I tell people I’m against the government licensing gay marriage, they call me a conservative. When I say I against the drug war they call me a libertarian. When Is ay I’m against drone strikes (without a declaration of war), then I’m from the “Christian left”…

      What I really am is a guy that just wants to be left alone.

    • johnnyunited

      The Christian right (with the exception of Michael Savage) hasn't yet figured out how stupid they were to betray their Iraqi Christian brethren by supporting the Iraq war. Iraq went from being a fascist state that at least someone protected its Christian minority to an Islamofascist, Iran supporting, Sharia law constitutional state that actively persecutes Christians.

      • objectivefactsmatter

        "The Christian right (with the exception of Michael Savage) hasn't yet figured out how stupid they were to betray their Iraqi Christian brethren by supporting the Iraq war. "

        The Christian right hasn't yet figured out how stupid they were to betray their Iraqi Christian brethren and the world by caving in to leftists over the Iraq war.

  • Sam Kephart

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ssoOASanKao

    Published Feb 2013

    Emmy-winning journalist, Shad Olson, explores the controversy over U.S. drone policy, both at home and abroad.

    While technological sky supremacy gives America strategic superiority on the battlefield, the prospect of drone proliferation over U.S. cities is causing concern about loss of privacy, an end to Habeas Corpus and judicial due process and the destruction of Constitutional rights.

    South Dakota U.S. Senator John Thune and former U.S. Senate candidate, Sam Kephart share their views about the consequences of domestic drone deployment in the fight against terrorism.

    Originally aired on KNBN-TV, (NBC) NewsCenter1, Rapid City, South Dakota in February 2013.

  • Sam Kephart

    Amazing video captures the angst folks have about domestic drone deployment…
    http://vimeo.com/59689349

  • http://www.4simpsons.wordpress.com Neil

    The religious Left are the biggest hypocrites. They are uniformly pro-abortion (read the Democrats' platform where they want to increase abortions at any stage by requiring taxpayers to fund them: "The Democratic Party strongly and unequivocally supports Roe v. Wade and a woman’s right to make decisions regarding her pregnancy, including a safe and legal abortion, regardless of ability to pay. We oppose any and all efforts to weaken or undermine that right."). But they pretend to be non-violent! If abortion isn't violent, nothing is violent. It is all about killing innocent but unwanted human beings, and the figures (3,000+ per day in the U.S.) dwarf any war deaths.

    • Flick

      True, but the Christian right is no less hypocritical. They claim to support life by opposing abortion, but they cheer and offer praises to God when our rogue federal government murders people overseas who are not under its jurisdiction and have not committed an act of war against America. The level of soldier worship among the Christian right is apalling and idolatrous.

      • http://www.4simpsons.wordpress.com Neil

        Yep, all those Christian right people fully supporting Obama . . oh, wait, never mind.

        Nice dodge.

        • Paul Rothbard

          Dodge? Just how critical have you been about Bush's…er…Obama's foreign policy?

          You can rail against Obamacare all day, but there's not a peep out of the right or the left, except a few yips about Israel.

          • objectivefactsmatter

            "Dodge? Just how critical have you been about Bush's…er…Obama's foreign policy? "

            Criticism requires logic and reason, not "equal time" or superficial appearances of equality.

            "You can rail against Obamacare all day, but there's not a peep out of the right or the left, except a few yips about Israel."

            You're simply confused. You do realize we don't pick which articles you read on the web?

          • Paul Rothbard

            Fine. Pretend that you are just as objective when it comes to foreign policy and you read all these critical foreign policy articles. Fell free to list a couple criticisms, but your "you don't know me" defense is hollow.

          • objectivefactsmatter

            "Pretend that you are just as objective when it comes to foreign policy and you read all these critical foreign policy articles."

            I'm confused about the point you're trying to make.

            "Fell free to list a couple criticisms"

            Bush caved in to leftists and allowed the Middle Eastern wars to get out of control. He's also deceived by Saudi royals and their true agenda. He's a dupe of the "Arab Spring." He's also gone so it's not as valuable to attack him when our sitting president is the most radical anti-American president in history by any measure.

            "but your "you don't know me" defense is hollow."

            I wasn't talking about me, but now you are. I'm simply pointing out that if you don't see something, that's not evidence that it doesn't exist.

      • objectivefactsmatter

        "They claim to support life by opposing abortion, but they cheer and offer praises to God when our rogue federal government murders people overseas who are not under its jurisdiction and have not committed an act of war against America."

        Only according to leftists. Care to quote anyone else?

        "The level of soldier worship among the Christian right is apalling and idolatrous."

        Soldier worship. That's a new one. You're a leftist for sure, trying to invent new "shame language." Just remember, the future must not belong to those who slander the prophet of Islam, but you'll do just fine.

  • SCREW SOCIALISM

    The "christian" Left should try preaching to the masses in Saudi Arabia.

    Let's see how that turns out.

    • C.R.

      WELL FOR THE MOST–THESE PEOPLE ARE NOT CHRISTIAN–BUT YOU PROBABLY KNOW THIS!

      • objectivefactsmatter

        "BUT YOU PROBABLY KNOW THIS!"

        Indeed we do. They're cultural Christians. Their churches are the cultural heirs of various factions, some of who also attended meetings in the same or similar buildings, which is the central point…to them.

    • objectivefactsmatter

      "The "christian" Left should try preaching to the masses in Saudi Arabia."

      The Christian left honors them as fellows who also worship the god of the bible and stuff.

  • C.R.

    THE SO CALLED RELIGIOUS [MARXIST] LEFT–ARE TYPICALLY A GODLESS GROUP.

    FROM A GENUINE CHRISTIAN PERSPECTIVE–GOD IS NOT AGAINST THE USE OF DRONES FOR GOOD–BUT HE IS AGAINST THE USE OF THEM FOR EVIL–LIKE SPYING ON AMERICANS–WHICH IS AGAINST THE LAW [CONSTITUTION]!

    • objectivefactsmatter

      "FROM A GENUINE CHRISTIAN PERSPECTIVE–GOD IS NOT AGAINST THE USE OF DRONES FOR GOOD–BUT HE IS AGAINST THE USE OF THEM FOR EVIL–LIKE SPYING ON AMERICANS–WHICH IS AGAINST THE LAW [CONSTITUTION]!"

      One might easily say that God is simply for justice and against evil. I don't think he has a problem with various technologies that can be used for either. He cares about their applications.

  • Lex Concord

    And he spake unto them saying “Rain death from the skies indiscriminately, and ye shall surely be blessed by my father who art in heaven. For it is written, ‘thou shalt kill without fear of retribution so long as thou carriest the banner of the state. No man deemed evil by the annointed ones shall be given quarter, nor shall any man who challengeth their edicts be given hearing.”

    • Rifleman

      We're not the ones raining "death from the skies indiscriminately," though we'd be justified in doing so.

  • Kate Curry

    Christian Left – Isn't that an oxymoron?

    • Paul Rothbard

      Probably, but there is also a Christian non-Right that has much to say about the contradictions those Christians accepting to justify what Republicans tell you as Biblical truth.

      • Kate Curry

        Well, Non-thinking Christian is NOT an oxymoron. :)

        • Kate Curry

          Not to say that I, personally, have Christian objections to military drones being used to defend our lives, liberty and pursuit of happiness. It was a war that secured these God-given rights to me, a war in which my Scottish Covenanter ancestors fought..

          • Paul Rothbard

            That's why there are just and unjust wars. Bombing them because they hate us is not the same as defending against tyranny. To pretend that troops are defending our lives and liberty in back woods nations on the other side of the world is believing double-speak out of 1984. Don't forget, "War is Peace."

          • objectivefactsmatter

            "To pretend that troops are defending our lives and liberty in back woods nations on the other side of the world is believing double-speak out of 1984. "

            Where did the WTC attacks of 9/11/2001 originate?

          • Paul Rothbard

            Are they preventing 9/11 attacks every day? Every month? Every year?

            We got Osama Bin Laden and a lot of others that weren't even involved, but go ahead and use that to continue signing a blank check for the NEXT 10 years to fight "terror" all over the world.

            In the mean time, you are more likely to be struck by lightning than killed by a terrorist.

          • objectivefactsmatter

            "Are they preventing 9/11 attacks every day? Every month? Every year? "

            In theory, yes. Do I agree with how the operations are run, no. I'm saying we need to be there. I don't agree on how the operations are executed. Staying home like a turtle is not the answer.

            "We got Osama Bin Laden and a lot of others that weren't even involved, but go ahead and use that to continue signing a blank check for the NEXT 10 years to fight "terror" all over the world."

            You're ranting at me as if you know my views.

            "In the mean time, you are more likely to be struck by lightning than killed by a terrorist."

            That's not especially relevant. Lightning doesn't terrorize people in to accepting compromises with radical Islamic colonialists.

    • objectivefactsmatter

      "Christian Left – Isn't that an oxymoron?"

      You got that right.

  • Paul Rothbard

    I need Bible verses if you are going to justify certain murders as the better "Christian" option to the "religious left's" criticisms.

    • Rifleman

      What murders? They declared war on us. Hunting the enemy down and killing them is self-defense in war, and a war is not over until the surviving enemy agrees it's over.

      • csmallo

        A sane immigration policy and there would be no need to hunt them down. 9/11 happened because we have open borders.

        • Rifleman

          9/11 wasn't the first time AQ mass murdered Americans, and good luck getting a sane immigration policy, and there's no way the democrat party will allow our southern border to be secured.

    • objectivefactsmatter

      "Probably, but there is also a Christian non-Right that has much to say about the contradictions those Christians accepting to justify what Republicans tell you as Biblical truth."

      OK. I'm looking forward to that. I have to wonder if you know what it means to be on the political right in the USA, but I'll reserve judgment until I hear what you have to say.

      • Paul Rothbard

        I do know what it means to be on the right. You could call me Old-Right now, because while I'm very conservative fiscally and in my personal life, I will no longer support unconstitutional wars because talk radio tells me there is a boogeyman on the other side of the planet.

        Whether you agree or not, I still want Bible verses to back up killing children as collateral damage.

        • objectivefactsmatter

          "I will no longer support unconstitutional wars"

          I never did.

          "Whether you agree or not, I still want Bible verses to back up killing children as collateral damage."

          It's not easy to make a prima fascia case for some acceptance that collateral damage is inevitable and acceptable in some cases, but you could use precedents from the OT. It's not commanded to kill innocents and we're to strive for justice for all. But letting militants kill many people in order to make sure no collateral innocents are killed does not serve justice either. This paradox then leads to the fact that only God can achieve perfect justice. You're confusion about this leads me to think you've been infected too much by leftists, whether or not you actually sympathize with many of their overtly stated positions.

          • Paul Rothbard

            You support and make excuses for unconstitutional wars every day.

            You also are willing to spare no expense and are willing to break as many eggs as you need to make your omelet.

            "But letting militants kill many people in order to make sure no collateral innocents are killed does not serve justice either."

            Since your idea of justice is so subjective, you should probably be donating your own money to bring it forth rather than voting to use mine. Go ahead make your extra checks payable to the US government and write "good intentions for justice."

          • objectivefactsmatter

            "You support and make excuses for unconstitutional wars every day."

            You're going to have to quote me if you want to try that.

            "You also are willing to spare no expense and are willing to break as many eggs as you need to make your omelet. "

            Your powers of prophecy are failing. Are you sure you're a prophet?

            "Since your idea of justice is so subjective, you should probably be donating your own money to bring it forth rather than voting to use mine."

            You don't really need me for this conversation. You've got both sides of the narrative worked out to replace the words of anyone who disagrees with you. You're not a very good listener. Did anyone ever inform you of this? You probably didn't hear them.

    • objectivefactsmatter

      "I need Bible verses if you are going to justify certain murders as the better "Christian" option to the "religious left's" criticisms."

      Straw argument. Nobody claimed that any murder was Christian.

  • tagalog

    I hope and am pretty sure that most of the people who post here aren't misidentifying the Christian religion with people who use Christianity as a tool to advance some political agenda (whether that agenda is right-wing or left-wing).

    • Jim_C

      Except the author of this article, of course, and as usual.

      • tagalog

        Who's excepting the author of the article?

  • Michael

    The topic of this article shoudl have been '"Is the US Constitution Aganst Drones?". But the author was too busy building straw men and engaging in ad-hominem attacks to do any thinking. The facts are, undeclared wars violate the Constitution. Killing citizens without a trial violates the Constitution. Killing foreign nationals thousands of miles away in a sovereign nation without their permission not only violates the Constution, but creates more terrorists. Killing innocents with your drone strikes and smirking about 'collateral damage' creates more terrorists. It used to be that conservatives were the reponsible ones who questioned the government and tried to limit its power. I suppose those days are over, and the glory days of "bomb the brown people" are here to stay.

  • Paul Rothbard

    When did Jesus call us to bomb those that hate us just in case they may do us harm in the future?

    I think that there is more than enough Biblical proof that He is more concerned with our salvation than our security.

    • objectivefactsmatter

      "When did Jesus call us to bomb those that hate us just in case they may do us harm in the future? I think that there is more than enough Biblical proof that He is more concerned with our salvation than our security."

      Then why are you so concerned about a sovereign protecting its citizens?

      • Paul Rothbard

        Because it matters HOW a nation protects its citizens. It may not matter to you what the state does in your name, but it maters to God.

        • objectivefactsmatter

          Sorry, I should have limited the quote.

          You said: " I think that there is more than enough Biblical proof that He is more concerned with our salvation than our security."

          My question was why you were so concerned about a sovereign protecting its citizens in any case?

          "Because it matters HOW a nation protects its citizens. It may not matter to you what the state does in your name, but it maters to God."

          I was not arguing that it didn't or doesn't matter. I was pointing out that you care for more than your words imply you should. By not being selective enough I confused you in to thinking that I accept your characterization; "bomb those that hate us just in case they may do us harm in the future." That is miss-stating my position. I think that the standards and requirements for attack should be very high. We should always strive for the highest justice possible. Doing nothing is often more unjust. But these are decisions the sovereign must make. Christians are not obligated to get involved unless they can make specific arguments that for them to stand aside, they would be serving evil. Can you make that case?

          I think that what really shocks me is that the objections are raised most loudly about technologies that allow far more precision and deliberation than any other in history. These are technologies that facilitate justice much closer to perfect than ever before. We're spending ENORMOUS amounts of money in pursuing a just peace, as a matter of doctrine and pursuit of our cultural values.

          The objections against "drones" don't make sense unless you have specific policy application objections. The technologies generally lead to much fewer innocents dying and in some cases no innocents die when before that simply wasn't possible. Who spent all that money just to be so precise? Do you know what we used to be compelled to do?

          Nuclear weapons became a threat to peace when the Soviets successfully stole the technology. The arms race had arrived at a critical phase where any technology that increases intelligence and precision leads to our ability to prosecute with more intelligence, deliberation and precision. How is that unjust? Precision here means reduction of collateral damage more than anything else. Precision is directly correlated with smaller, less destructive devices. The ultimate end would be the ability to target a single human after a judge orders his execution, and the payload would be unable to harm anyone else. We're not there yet, but "drone" technology and precision guidance technologies get us infinitely closer than ever.

          Your objections depend on emotional arguments, not rational ones. If you're not concerned about defending the USA, that's fine. But at least try to understand the arguments before you're suckered in to supporting positions for emotional reasons.

          • Paul Rothbard

            "Christians are not obligated to get involved unless they can make specific arguments that for them to stand aside, they would be serving evil."

            Again, you use this as a blank check for the US military and ignore all unintended consequences. Even though, our intervention has done huge damage to the Christian church in Iraq as our newly appointed regime is much less secular and much less tolerant of people who occupy their country and claim to be Christians.

          • objectivefactsmatter

            "Again, you use this as a blank check for the US military and ignore all unintended consequences."

            Only in your mind.

            "Even though, our intervention has done huge damage to the Christian church in Iraq as our newly appointed regime is much less secular and much less tolerant of people who occupy their country and claim to be Christians."

            I'm very critical of HOW we handled it, not that we did something. You do know there are often more than 2 discrete choices?

  • Flick

    Is God against those who unwittingly use His name to promote a statist agenda? No doubt Mark Tooley believes there's an American flag hanging prominently in God's throne room. And isn't "American exceptionalism" really just an excuse to be racist?

    I agree with Paul Rothbard; I'd like to see Tooley attempt citing scripture that supports his statist ideas, because there's plenty that comes readily to mind to counter it. For starters, how about the Golden Rule?

    • tagalog

      Can you provide some rational connection between the concept of "American exceptionalism" and racism?

      Are Americans NOT exceptional, at least as they were once? If not, why are so many people coming to this country? For the jobs and the money, right? What is it that created the jobs and the money from a howling wilderness populated by nomadic warrior savages if not exceptionalism?

      If Americans are so horrible racially, how come America is populated, and continues to see its population increased daily, by ever-growing groups of people who fall into the "protected classifications"? They're so eager to be here that they spend years of savings to smuggle themselves in illegally. Do they do that so they can be mistreated on racial and ethnic grounds?

      • Paul Rothbard

        What makes us exceptional? Are we born with super-human strength?

        If we all bleed red, then something external makes us exceptional, like a freedom unknown to human history. Unfortunately, we now have the biggest government in the world and American exceptionalism is used to justify whatever government support and wars they want.

        Hollering "we're number one!" is the same now for TEAM USA as it is for cheering for your favorite local sports team. The only difference is that Bears and Packers fans cheer together.

        • tagalog

          What makes (or made) us exceptional was self-reliance and personal accountability coupled with personal liberty. Government was a side issue, a necessary evil that was mostly disregarded except by those who dedicated themselves to government, not the general run of Americans. Those factors exist among others elsewhere, it's true, but the U.S. is the first place where those values were melded together to make a New Man.

          We've forgotten about liberty in the great rush for equality of outcome, and we've abandoned personal responsibility for dependence on the government, a huge mistake in my opinion. That's why it can be argued that Americans have lost their exceptionalism since the FDR presidency.

          If you don't think that people in the past thought the American Way was real, and that it made a new person, read de Toqueville along with many other contemporary European observers (Edmund Burke and Thomas Carlyle, for two examples) of the U.S. in the 19th Century.

          • Paul Rothbard

            I don't argue that people in the past were exceptional. At least the one's that valued liberty and self-reliance. In that we agree.

            But with takers outnumbering the makers after a good hundred years of bad policy, people surely can't be as exceptional. I don't get how people can say that in spite Social Security, Medicare, Obamacare, unfunded and unconstitutional wars, The Patriot Act (take your freedom to protect your freedom), shameful public schools, and a debtor nation, "WE ARE NUBER ONE, GOD BLESS AMERICA!".

          • objectivefactsmatter

            "WE ARE NUBER ONE, GOD BLESS AMERICA!".

            Based on our laws, our ideals and our potential ability to return to all the made us great, and to do it even better than ever.

        • objectivefactsmatter

          "What makes us exceptional? Are we born with super-human strength?"

          The constitution. Why do people flock to immigrate? Check out global immigration statistics over any time period. Of course we're exceptional. You can argue over the details and values, but to argue that the US is not exceptional is delusional. That's as polite as I can be without lying.

          "If we all bleed red, then something external makes us exceptional"

          Well yeah.

          "like a freedom unknown to human history."
          Right.

          "Unfortunately, we now have the biggest government in the world and American exceptionalism is used to justify whatever government support and wars they want."

          The ones doing it harm are doing it in the name of "anti-colonialism" and downsizing American hegemony as if historically we caused all of the problems. Your own testimony says you disagree about that. Why do you support those who lie about it?

          "Hollering "we're number one!" is the same now for TEAM USA as it is for cheering for your favorite local sports team."

          You object to blatant jingoism. Don't conflate that with rational just defense policies.

    • objectivefactsmatter

      "And isn't "American exceptionalism" really just an excuse to be racist?"

      No. Your question is racist though.

      "For starters, how about the Golden Rule?"

      The golden rule is for individual believers, not sovereigns. I'll protect the nation for the sake of the citizens just as I'd expect them to do the same for my sake. That's the golden rule for sovereigns.

  • NO Verde

    RE: "Is God Against Drones?"

    I dunno.

    Can you Hum a specific Biblical verse.

  • NO Verde

    RE: David Gushee, a liberal Baptist ethicist at Mercer University……..

    Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton are "liberal Baptist ethicists."

  • EBounding

    "Typically in Just War thinking, intent is key. U.S. drone strikes on homicidal terrorists operating freely in a failed nation state is quite different from communist China theoretically launching drones against Chinese dissidents residing in the U.S."

    How is the intent any different? In both scenarios the intent is to kill an individual.

    How does bombing with drones stop terrorism? In a conventional war you bomb the opposing country until their government surrenders. So if there is no government how do you get the Al-Qaida to surrender? If a senior al Qaida is killed along with 20 innocents, is it possible that the families of those killed might be encouraged to oppose the US?

    • Loyal Achates

      Intent is also unknowable and so impossible to prove. I can bomb your house and say my 'intent' was to stop terrorism, or spread democracy, or cook spaghetti, and how do you know I'm lying?

      • objectivefactsmatter

        "Intent is also unknowable and so impossible to prove. I can bomb your house and say my 'intent' was to stop terrorism, or spread democracy, or cook spaghetti, and how do you know I'm lying?"

        We're talking about the actions of a sovereign government (the USA) with decisions made by elected officials. The decisions are for the most part made collectively and it's reasonable to expect that we can ascertain intent in these cases.

        Nobody said you get drones for your own use.

        • csmallo

          If a citizen cannot use armed drones, then the government has no power to use them either. We live in a nation of delegated powers. Or we did, I guess now we live in a fascist tyranny.

          • objectivefactsmatter

            "If a citizen cannot use armed drones, then the government has no power to use them either."

            Citizens can use them as directed according to the law. Citizens can not use them for personal reasons based on their personal intent. We use them collectively, not personally. We empower the government to use them according to our laws.

            "We live in a nation of delegated powers."

            Which you seem to not fully understand.

            "I guess now we live in a fascist tyranny."

            That's a separate discussion.

    • objectivefactsmatter

      >"Typically in Just War thinking, intent is key. U.S. drone strikes on homicidal terrorists operating freely in a failed nation state is quite different from communist China theoretically launching drones against Chinese dissidents residing in the U.S."

      "How is the intent any different? In both scenarios the intent is to kill an individual. "

      Obviously the strategic intent is not the same. Destroying Islamic terrorists is not morally equal to killing non-violent political dissidents. And we in the USA have a judicial system and bilateral relationship with China that allows them to pursue their interests that way. We tried that with Afghanistan you leftist revisionist.

      "How does bombing with drones stop terrorism?"

      It removes militants from their operating status to non-operational. It might also have a strategic effect. By the way, drones are air planes that have remote pilots, so the costs are lower. That's it. They're not robots from Star Wars making their own decisions. What's your problem? We could spend more money and use piloted craft but with pressure from leftists we've spent ourselves past the point of allowing that to be practical.

      " In a conventional war you bomb the opposing country until their government surrenders."

      What does that have to do with distinguishing between drones and conventional air attacks?

      "So if there is no government how do you get the Al-Qaida to surrender?"

      Eliminate their will and or ability to continue.

      "If a senior al Qaida is killed along with 20 innocents, is it possible that the families of those killed might be encouraged to oppose the US?"

      In theory yes. That is why our victories must be clearly decisive, to create disincentives for them too. It's always been that way. It's part of human nature that has nothing, absolutely nothing to do with any technology.

      • csmallo

        Or we could just stop letting them come to the United States. That removes the threat to the United States entirely. They have no air forces or navies to cross the oceans. I don't think they will trek through Siberia and wait for the next ice bridge. 9/11 happened because of our open borders.

        • objectivefactsmatter

          "Or we could just stop letting them come to the United States."

          Yes, we could do that.

          "That removes the threat to the United States entirely"

          It reduces the threat but does NOT remove it entirely.

          "They have no air forces or navies to cross the oceans. "

          Oh you want sealed borders, quarantine the seas too. You're not at all delusional.

          "9/11 happened because of our open borders."

          Some of the tactics exploited our ridiculously poor border control and visa policies. But that doesn't mean they could not succeed if we put all of our hopes on "closed" borders.

      • EBounding

        "It removes militants from their operating status to non-operational. It might also have a strategic effect. By the way, drones are air planes that have remote pilots, so the costs are lower. That's it. They're not robots from Star Wars making their own decisions. What's your problem? We could spend more money and use piloted craft but with pressure from leftists we've spent ourselves past the point of allowing that to be practical. "

        My problem with drones is how they're being used. In a "conventional war", any state with a halfway decent defense can shoot these things out of the sky no problem. So they're not being used to conduct war (conflict between states), they're being used to assassinate. It's only a matter of time before they're used on us once the Government disarms us. Maybe not to bomb us (maybe), but to watch our movements and behavior. It wouldn't surprise me if the middle east is just the "sandbox" to test their abilities.

        So while you may fear some Islamist hiding out in some worthless cave/desert, I'm personally much more worried about the government taking away our liberty under the guise of "safety".

        • objectivefactsmatter

          "My problem with drones is how they're being used."

          OK.

          " In a "conventional war", any state with a halfway decent defense can shoot these things out of the sky no problem."

          Not if deployed correctly. They're designed as spy planes.

          " So they're not being used to conduct war (conflict between states)"

          That is debatable but let's say that your criticism is limited to conflict with non-state entities.

          "they're being used to assassinate."

          Are you using that word in a pejorative sense? I don't know enough about 0'Bama's uses to criticize him, but I don't trust his judgment in anyone I've ever known about. My problem is with him, not with any specific technology, especially one as misunderstood as planes guided by pilots who are not onboard during the flights. You call them "drones." Some times militants need to be killed and these planes are useful tools that if used judiciously are the best way to minimize collateral deaths.

          "It's only a matter of time before they're used on us once the Government disarms us."

          That has nothing to do with drone criticism. The US military already controls sufficient weapons to annihilate its population. If you don't trust our military, that's another argument.

          "Maybe not to bomb us (maybe), but to watch our movements and behavior."

          You do know about spy satellites in earth's orbit I assume. Those are far more effective for applications against static populations.

          "It wouldn't surprise me if the middle east is just the "sandbox" to test their abilities."

          If there is a conspiracy, it's not systemic. There are legitimate reasons for deploying these machines as they are deployed, without commenting on specific mission decisions that I don't have information about.

          "So while you may fear some Islamist hiding out in some worthless cave/desert, I'm personally much more worried about the government taking away our liberty under the guise of "safety"."

          I'm aware of both threats, I'll put it like that.

  • http://twitter.com/Urbane_Gorilla @Urbane_Gorilla

    Just chuck a Bible under the seat…It's good enough for any Bible thumping gun nut..It should be OK for the rest of the US. ….It's what Jesus would do.

  • objectivefactsmatter

    "Gushee complains that America would never accept China or Russia launching drone attacks inside the U.S."

    Holy cow. These people are brainless.

  • csmallo

    It is not the responsibility of the United States to police the world or to rein in renegade states. With a sane immigration policy, a moratorium on ALL immigration for at least 40 years, we would face no threats to the safety of the United States.

    • johnnyunited

      You may not know just how close you are to the truth. The Bush administration's "Visa express" policy paved the way for some of the terrorists to come in to the U.S. See: http://www.usnews.com/usnews/news/terror/articles… The Bush/Cheney administration, whether through incompetence or malfeasance, was responsible for 9/11.

      • objectivefactsmatter

        " The Bush/Cheney administration, whether through incompetence or malfeasance, was responsible for 9/11."

        Of course all of those radical changes from the sensible policies of Clinton. Not that Bush wasn't a Saudi Islamic dupe. But to criticize out of context is a bit silly. It's leftist ideology that leads to these problems. Every politician that accepts Saudi funding is a dupe or a traitor.

    • objectivefactsmatter

      "It is not the responsibility of the United States to police the world or to rein in renegade states. With a sane immigration policy, a moratorium on ALL immigration for at least 40 years, we would face no threats to the safety of the United States."

      You'd have to implement a full quarantine, ans till patrol the oceans. Global trade would shrink to the point that we could not even afford to do that. So there is no real way to do what you'd like. Nothing wrong with the theory itself other than that.

      But we could manage all of these risks a lot better than we do now, without any doubt at all.

  • bluffcreek1967

    No, God isn't against drones – especially when they land on certain Muslim and Taliban leaders and their outposts. I pray each day that they will land on many of them. I'm happy when this occurs. I sleep well at night too.

    I would like more of those same drones to land on certain 'enemies within' here in America, but I cannot publicly name them now because I might get a special visit from you-know-who. But I can always hope and pray. Excuse me, I must enter my prayer closet now.

  • Nemo_from_Erhwon

    I have a hard time understanding how drones come into this discussion. A policy of who to attack and why can be debated, and strong moral positions taken — but why does it matter which tool is used?

    I become convinced that this is the international corollary to the discussions of “assault weapons” in domestic politics: that is, using a scary term to make a weak argument seem stronger. But if I am in error, if there really is some significant moral difference to striking a target with a drone, or with a missile fired from a ship or plane, I’d be interested to see it explained.

  • Charlie

    yeah, Robert George and First Things are part of the "religious left" http://www.firstthings.com/blogs/firstthoughts/20