Let me paint a picture for you. You are a U.S citizen, sitting in your living room, eating a snack. Suddenly the neighboring house explodes into flame, showering your lawn with dust and debris. Later, after the smoke has cleared, you hear on the news that your neighbor was wanted by North Korea for acts of terrorism. Instead of waiting for his unlikely extradition, the North Korean Government sent a drone to kill him, as they have waging a “War On Terror” for some time. The drone was incredibly accurate, limiting the explosion to just his house. Unfortunately, Mr. Gwon was having a pizza delivered at the time of the drone strike, and the delivery boy sustained serious burns to the left side of his body. North Korea said they could legally use force consistent with their right to self-defense, and therefore their strike was justified. If you agree and would be fine with 60 of these strikes, all targeting supposed terrorists, taking place around your country, then please stop reading. If you believe that these strikes are completely illegal, frightening, and abhorrent, then I pose to you the following question.
Aren’t we doing the same thing? The United States is in an armed conflict with Al Qaeda and the Taliban and has been targeting their members mainly in Pakistan, but also Yemen. It is easy to shake off the gravity of these strikes with a “that’s what they get”, but I urge you to take a second look. How can we justify these strikes? I will even assume that we are indeed killing dangerous terrorists (although they might be U.S citizens). We still do not have the right to police the world, to dole out justice, to flagrantly violate a country’s sovereignty in order to protect our own. Spiderman’s uncle once said, “with great power comes great responsibility”. Just because we have the power to enforce our version of justice does not make it right. Even if the world would be better off with these people dead (I’m not even going to touch on the right of habeas corpus), the ends do not always justify the means. We have become an empire, It is time for us to retire from our role as global watchdog. Preemptive justice, while effective, is not just at all. Let’s take those resources spent in military conflict and bring them home. Improve our homeland security, tighten our borders, and preserve welfare. With every “terrorist” we kill we create twenty more. Let’s adjust our image in the world so as to not be the target of these attacks. We cannot eradicate every terrorist from the world, so let’s try our best to create as few as possible. Let me take you back one final time to the picture of the drone strike next door. Imagine how many potential threats North Korea created by eliminating one: the pizza boy, friends, family, and neighbors, all with a newfound hatred for a country that previously they held no grudge against. We have enough domestic problems without creating them abroad.