address today at the National Defense University, President Obama explained what he viewed as his responsibilities as a war-time commander, and how he hoped to end what he described as the "perpetual war" against a noun ("terror").
In the course of explaining what he said were decisions that would haunt him the rest of his life, in other words ordering drone strikes that ended up killing innocent civilians, Obama explained that in his view the alternative, which he characterized as doing nothing, would have resulted in "far more civilian casualties."
Obama also said that drone, or robot airstrikes, were the least risky and most precise option of the ones he has available when he makes the decision to assassinate suspected terrorists.
The President tried to defend the civilian casualties caused by drone strikes, by saying in comparison to the huge numbers of civilians killed in the Vietnam and Iraq wars, drones weren't so bad.
Lastly, in addressing his decision to assassinate American citizen, Anwar al-Awlaki, Obama accused Awlaki of being an important figure in al-Qaeda, who was "actively plotting to kill U.S. citizens" and also that Awlaki was inconvenient to capture.
Obama said that Awlaki was a known host for Muslim extremists, and helped a would-be terrorist "tape a martyrdom video", and approved of his "suicide mission."
Whether or not these things, or the state alleging that someone has done these things, justifies assassination of an American citizen is answered by Obama in his suggestion that according to the AUMF (Authorization for the Use of Military Force), a US president has "unbound powers".
While insisting that the United States was legally entitled to conduct the wars it had engaged in, in the manner it engaged in them, Obama seemed to say he was tired of possessing war powers, and responsibilities, as he noted:
"I look forward to engaging Congress and the American people in efforts to refine, and ultimately repeal, the AUMF’s mandate. And I will not sign laws designed to expand this mandate further...this war, like all wars, must end."Before his speech ended, Obama was interrupted and lectured to by a woman who explained to him why his fear that history may judge the USA harshly for the Terror Wars, was well founded. Obama let the woman, reportedly Code Pink founder Medea Benjamin, finish most of what she had to say before she was escorted away, and afterward he said "her voice is worth paying attention to."