Amy Davidson in The New Yorker on the 'kill list' Recent stories in Newsweek and The New York Times shed light on President Obama's "kill list" and his process for identifying targets for lethal drone attacks. "The 'kill list' story is a reminder of how much language matters, and how dangerous it is when the plain meaning of a word is ignored," Davidson writes. She runs through the list of silly words used with disregard for their true meaning, such as the "baseball cards" depicting possible nominees for death, and the important words, like "due process" whose meanings are being degraded. "Brennan and other officials interviewed by the Times and Newsweek said that Obama had enormous faith in himself. It would be more responsible, though, if he had less," Davidson writes. "The point isn't just the task, or burden, he takes on, but the machine he has built for his successors to use."
Michael Kinsley in Bloomberg View on foreign interventions As the nation debates our lack of intervention into the atrocities in Syria, Kinsley muses on the inconsistent and not strictly partisan standards we've developed for foreign interventions. "People used to make a great distinction between America's interests, America's values and purely humanitarian concerns. Intervention to protect the first was regarded as mandatory, serving the second and third was not," he writes. "In practice, at least in the Middle East, they all get muddled." He says we'll probably never settle on a simple standard, but most decisions will depend on context. "We will never have logically consistent rules about such things (to the frustration of people, including me, who tend to equate logical consistency with justice and good sense.)"