‘Why Did You Wait?’: Moral Emptiness and Drone Strikes

Last week, the Washington Post reported a disturbing anecdote about President Trump’s visit to the CIA on his first full day in office:

[W]hen the agency’s head of drone operations explained that the CIA had developed special munitions to limit civilian casualties, the president seemed unimpressed. Watching a previously recorded strike [in Syria] in which the agency held off on firing until the target had wandered away from a house with his family inside, Trump asked, “Why did you wait?” one participant in the meeting recalled.

Trump also requested that the CIA return to conducting drone strikes itself within Syria rather than only collecting intelligence to pass to the Pentagon to conduct strikes.

The president’s question—“Why did you wait?”—is not surprising. It is, after all, entirely consistent with Trump’s campaign-trail statement that battling suspected terrorists requires “tak[ing] out their families.” But it is nevertheless

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