dik-tat: 1. : a harsh settlement, unilaterally imposed (as on a defeated nation); 2. : decree, order
Two seemingly unrelated events in the past few days gives me reason to dust this term off. The first was the use of drones to hunt down former LAPD officer Christopher Dorner. He ended-up in a stand-off with L.A. County deputy sheriffs. The cabin has was in mysteriously burned to the ground. Reports are now surfacing that he was killed by a single gunshot to the head. Diktat.
The other event was the announcement of the Distinguished Warfare Medal (DWM) on Thursday. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta has said, “This award recognizes the reality of the kind of technological warfare we are engaged in the 21st century.” The Defense Warfare Medal will soon become the fourth highest combat decoration in order of precedence pushing the Bronze Star down a notch to the fifth highest combat decoration.
Combat decorations are just that, awards for those who have served in combat. For the first time, servicemen and servicewomen can be awarded medals for killing an enemy without ever being on the combat field. Killing by remote control by "warriors" who get to go home at night. Diktat.
We are rapidly being conditioned to accept drones as common place without considering the wider implications. Risking our own bodies in service of our country is what makes troops different. In comparison to drone operators, look at what it took for SSGT Clinton Romesha to earn the Congressional Medal of Honor. We both admire his bravery and cringe at the loss of life of his comrades and those enemy combatants he had to kill. It is brutal, dirty and ugly.
Drone strikes, on the other hand, are "surgical in their approach" being clean, efficient and most of all, anonymous. Drones can be used anywhere (at let me stress that again, ANYWHERE) and anytime. President Obama and his future successors will not longer have to face an angry public filled with the family members of the fallen. He or she will be able to smile and bestow medals on warriors who have never left the country. More than ever, President Obama and his successors (or for that matter, any high-level administration official) will be able to conduct "warfare" without the public become any wiser.
A report by Michael Isikoff of NBC News, reveals that the Obama administration believes that high-level administration officials -- not just the president -- may order the killing of “senior operational leaders” of al Qaeda or an associated force even without evidence they are actively plotting against the U.S. “A lawful killing in self-defense is not an assassination,” states the Justice Department white paper quoted by Isikoff. Diktat.
The same article points out "Attorney General Eric Holder specifically endorsed the constitutionality of targeted killings of Americans, saying they could be justified if government officials determine the target poses “an imminent threat of violent attack.” Based on this, I truly felt Dorner was going to become the first test case of Holder's opinion. The next serial killer or would-be terrorist that high tails it into the woods may be taken out by a drone strike. Diktat.
The Obama administration has realized something Kennedy/Johnson/Nixon could only have dreamed of during Vietnam; a sanitized way of killing your enemies. And medals still get to be handed out.