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Al-Shabab fighters march with their weapons during military exercises on the outskirts of Mogadishu, Somalia, Feb. 17, 2011 (AP photo by Mohamed Sheikh Nor).

‘Take Out Their Families’: Trump, Terrorists and Overly Broad Rules of Engagement

Monday, April 23, 2018

On the campaign trail, candidate Donald Trump said that to defeat the self-proclaimed Islamic State, the United States had to “take out their families.” As president, his attitude hasn’t changed. According to an account in The Washington Post, Trump was shown footage of a CIA drone strike in which the operators had refrained from firing “until the target had wandered away from a house with his family inside.” Trump reportedly asked, “Why did you wait?”

Collective punishment is not only morally depraved, it is also illegal and counterproductive. But while Trump’s drone comments rightfully deserve scrutiny, most reactions to them miss an important point. U.S. targeting practices and policies already fail the tests of international law and strategic logic—and that’s without a formal decision to permit the deliberate targeting of spouses and children of terrorist suspects. ...

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