John Bolton Praises Obama Drone Policy

President Obama’s drone policy has received an unlikely endorsement:

Appearing on Fox’s Happening Now this morning, former U.N. Ambassador John Bolton took to defending President Obama’s program of targeted assassinations of Americans abroad, calling it what it is: an extension of Bush-era policies.

“It seems to me that the approach that the Obama administration is following is consistent with and really derived from the Bush administration approach to the War on Terror,” Bolton told host Jenna Lee. “And I think it is entirely sensible. Whether it is foreign citizens who are involved with Al Qaeda or American citizens, we are in a war. They have attacked us. We have a congressional authorization to use military force in response. And that’s what’s at stake here.”

In a laughable analogy, Bolton then said, “This is not, you know, robbing the 7-Eleven down on the corner. These people are engaged in war against the United States.”

Except, you know, when they’re not. Take, for instance, 16-year-old Abdulrahman al-Awlaki who, despite showing no signs of taking up arms against the U.S., was killed for being the son of a terrorist leader. Or, perhaps, the hundreds of women and children killed during strikes on weddings, funerals, etc.

Nevertheless, the Bushie neocon went on to say: “This is not robbing the local Starbucks down at the corner. This is not a criminal law matter. This is an issue that falls under the paradigm of the law of war where the commander-in-chief’s powers are plenary and where we don’t have judicial review of commander-in-chief decisions. And I think it’s a sound case.”

Well, I suppose it’s better than those on the right who have spent the last day or so criticizing the new revelations about the President’s policy while at the same time having spent the Bush years looking the other way while his Administration engaged in any number of policies ranging from enhanced interrogations to extraordinary renditions to the use of “black site” CIA outposts that were reportedly located in areas ranging from Eastern Europe to possibly even Libya under Gaddafi. Indeed, one might even say that Bolton is at least being intellectually consistent here given the fact that President Obama is merely taking the Bush Era policies to their logical conclusion. So, strike this up as one of those situations where politics makes strange bedfellows.

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Doug Mataconis
About Doug Mataconis
Doug Mataconis held a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May 2010 and contributed a staggering 16,483 posts before his retirement in January 2020. He passed far too young in July 2021.


  1. Ron Beasley says:

    No doubt about it now – the drone policy is evil!

  2. legion says:

    Well of course he does. It’s the single most appalling horrific thing Obama’s done – the one unequivocally unconstitutional act to his name. Naturally Bolton thinks it’s great.


  3. john personna says:

    Well, I get that by saying “unlikely” you are trying to evoke some irony.

    But in fact this was not unlikely at all, and was completely expected given that here, honestly is a “both sides do it” issue.

    You need to go out to Greens and Libertarians to find people off the drone reservation.

  4. Argon says:

    John Notlob, always to be on the wrong side of history.

  5. Jeremy R says:

    From that mediate article:

    Except, you know, when they’re not. Take, for instance, 16-year-old Abdulrahman al-Awlaki who, despite showing no signs of taking up arms against the U.S., was killed for being the son of a terrorist leader.

    That’s not right is it? As I recall he wasn’t targeted, but had run off from home to join his father in Yemen, and consequently had the misfortune of being at a militant encampment that was the actual target of the drone strike.

  6. Jeremy R says:

    @Jeremy R:

    In the days before a CIA drone strike killed al-Qaeda operative Anwar al-Awlaki last month, his 16-year-old son ran away from the family home in Yemen’s capital of Sanaa to try to find him, relatives say.

    Yemeni officials said the dead from the strike included Ibrahim al-Banna, the Egyptian media chief for al-Qaeda’s Yemeni affiliate, and also a brother of Fahd al-Quso, a senior al-Qaeda operative who was indicted in New York in the 2000 attack on the USS Cole in the port of Aden.

    The strike occurred near the town of Azzan, an Islamist stronghold. The Defense Ministry in Yemen described Banna as one of the “most dangerous operatives” in al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, often referred to by the acronym AQAP.

    ^ Yeah, the strike was targeting his father’s AQAP associates, and Ibrahim had run away from home and was with them at the strike’s location.

  7. Jeremy R says:

    @Jeremy R:

    Oops, I meant Abdulrahman not Ibrahim.

  8. PJ says:


    John Notlob, always to be on the wrong side of history.

    He’s south on a moral compass.

  9. al-Ameda says:

    Both Right and Left wing heads are exploding … Across the Universe.

  10. Mikey says:

    @Argon: He must be pining for the fjords.

  11. Tsar Nicholas says:

    Ah, the Internet. Cocoons are not merely for caterpillars.

    Speaking of which, obviously Bolton praised Obama’s drone war policies. Why wouldn’t he? Obama is deserving of rightful praise. And Bolton is not a liberal. He’s also not one of those faux conservative poseurs on the Internet. He’s a sentient and experienced conservative Republican. He doesn’t need reflexively to gainsay or to lash out at everything “the other side” or “the establishment” does and says. Rational adult professionals don’t operate that way.

  12. Franklin says:

    Well, let’s see, Bolton has:

    -opposed reparations for Japanese-Americans held in internment camps (by the way, my father was a friend of one of those held – despite being a solid Republican, this is something my father supported)

    -was involved in the Iran-Contra affair

    -lied about WMD and lied about lying about WMD in Iraq

    So, by all means, I await his further statements with great anticipation.

  13. OzarkHillbilly says:

    You know you’ve gone too far when….

  14. C. Clavin says:

    Lindsey “Butters” Graham praised it too.
    So you know this is f’ed up policy.

  15. legion says:

    @Tsar Nicholas:

    He doesn’t need reflexively to gainsay or to lash out at everything “the other side” or “the establishment” does and says. Rational adult professionals don’t operate that way.

    Have you ever heard of John Bolton before this very minute?

  16. bill says:

    @Franklin: reparations, really? are Japs joining the whiners who still need more and more…..and always will? i don’t think so, the Asian immigrants seemed to have figured out how to succeed here- we owe nobody anything for providing a “land of opportunity”.
    and drones are great- cheap, safe and effective. no wonder the left don’t like them.

  17. Franklin says:

    @bill: So you’re okay with it if we throw you in prison for a couple years for no reason? Good to know, it sounds like you need it.

  18. bill says:

    @Franklin: hey, it coulda been worse. if i was an American living in Japan at that time i’d expect nothing less.

  19. stephen e hansen says:

    @legion: drones kill some bad guys who need killing.