US military has international assistance in “kill decisions”

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The New York Times reports “When President Obama declared that the American combat mission in Afghanistan would end on Dec. 31, 2014, becoming a training mission instead, exceptions were made for two situations: counterterrorism and force protection. The counterterrorism mission was intended to continue hunting militants with Al Qaeda hiding in Afghanistan, and force protection would allow for attacks on Taliban insurgents if they posed a threat to American or NATO forces.”

Part of the counterterrorism mission has included drone strikes. Strikes which have killed between 3800 and 6100 people in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Somalia and Yemen, the vast majority of the slain are never actually identified and simply labeled suspected terrorists. Of those who are identified, nearly 1 out of every 6 people killed is identified as a “civilian,” and the US military admitted earlier in the year to killing a pair of hostages in a drone strike. If it’s not bad enough that the US military is killing people whom they can’t identify, it was recently revealed that other countries are being urged to help decide whom to kill with drone strikes.

A senior official, who has direct knowledge of the operation but spoke on the condition of anonymity because of the classified nature of the targeting process, said: “They go around the table and say, ‘If you see any women or children, raise your hand,’ and that includes German and Swedish officers who are not supposed to be involved in counterterrorism. A lot of NATO officials are pretty upset about it.”

Another senior official, who similarly spoke on the condition of anonymity, said: “This is the last thing NATO wanted to be involved in, but the Americans seemed to want everyone in on it. I guess they felt it gave them political cover.”

Antiwar.com reports, “Tellingly, German Foreign Ministry spokesman Konrad Lax issued a statement initially denying the claims, saying no German personnel were anywhere near the facility where the roundtable was held. He later withdrew his denial, however, saying he may have been ‘misinformed’ and saying the Defense Ministry would be the one to ask. He followed this up with a third statement confirming that the German military did in fact have personnel at the site.” Adding, involvement in making kill decisions “could set the stage for a huge constitutional crisis in Germany, as the nation is explicitly forbidden since WW2 from carrying out offensive military operations.”

I’m under no delusions that such a proposal would actually stop the US military from using pre-emptive force, however I think a similar constitutional prohibition on offensive military action should be added to the US Constitution. I don’t think it would actually prevent the Congress from authorizing funds for such purposes, nor do I believe it would prevent the President from ordering such military action. However, simply having Congressional hearings on the proposal would hopefully begin a national discussion on the expansion of the American Empire.