Barack Obama’s divine authority

Rash B. Havior Freelance Writer
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President Obama studies the files of potential terrorists, compiles a “kill list” and personally makes the final decision on “strikes” — which, at last count, have resulted in the deaths of at least 269 people in Pakistan and 38 in Yemen. No congressional, judicial or other governmental entities appear to be involved in the final “kill list” authorizations — just the president. It is not clear at all how a kill or no-kill decision is made or on what basis, and the media doesn’t seem all that interested.

Although President Obama has no military or intelligence experience, he does possess a Nobel Peace Prize, a law degree and a bachelor’s degree in political science. It is widely understood that the president is a uniquely intelligent man who lectured on due process at the University of Chicago Law School. Perhaps most importantly, however — according to press reports — aides claim the president is a student of St. Augustine and St. Thomas Aquinas and that he considers their views when deciding whether to order someone’s death.

This must be a great relief to anyone who may be concerned that the president of the United States is personally ordering people’s deaths, because, you see, both Aquinas and Augustine are pro-death penalty. Aquinas explained his position this way: “The life of certain pestiferous men is an impediment to the common good which is the concord of human society. Therefore, certain men must be removed by death from the society of men.”

Many conservatives will therefore support the president in this venture and take great comfort in the fact that, if we can cap a designated Pakistani at will, there should certainly be no real qualms about humanely executing a confessed child murderer in Texas. One might think that liberals would have a problem with the killing thing, but since Obama is a student of the classics and is a liberal, he — being the aforementioned uniquely intelligent man — seems to have things covered on the liberal front.

But wait, there’s a fly in the ointment — both Aquinas and Augustine wrote that the death penalty should be conditional on “God’s will” or “God’s authorization.” Aquinas held that the death penalty is an acceptable practice as delivered by those in authority over such things, provided that the government is divinely appointed as to God’s will. St. Augustine argued, “The same divine authority that forbids the killing of a human being establishes certain exceptions, as when God authorizes killing by a general law …”

So, you need the God thing to reconcile the killing thing. Unfortunately, there is no clear evidence in the Constitution, Federal Register or executive orders of any U.S. government receiver for or interpreter of God’s will. The pope may have that direct pipeline, but given the Catholic issues with the present administration, it is doubtful the pope has allowed President Obama to pick up an extension line. But even if God does approve, it’s not clear where the Constitution or federal law authorizes such a “kill list.” But don’t worry, it’s probably there somewhere.

So, the president has personally assumed the task of recognizing divine authority and appointment himself, which legitimizes his determinations of who to order killed and who to let live. Fortunately, he is that uniquely intelligent man who lectured on due process at law school. And he’s certainly got a lot to do. Assuming that the president does not whack every possible candidate, President Obama must have made many hundreds of kill list determinations.

How does President Obama glean his divine authority? He’s not saying, but in his Nobel Peace Prize acceptance speech, he said, “Where force is necessary, we have a moral and strategic interest in binding ourselves to certain rules of conduct. And even as we confront a vicious adversary that abides by no rules, I believe that the United States of America must remain a standard bearer in the conduct of war. That is what makes us different from those whom we fight. That is a source of our strength.” He went on to distinguish the U.S. from those countries that have distorted and defiled religion and kill in the name of God.

Perhaps the president’s experience in due process has enabled him to distill his divine authority determinations to a set of helpful standards. Since there must be “certain rules” and standards, and he is a due process kind of guy, I’m sure the president has developed really good criteria for who will live or die, and for when God is down with killing. So — somewhere — there are probably “rules of conduct” that are the “source of our strength.” No one knows what those criteria may be and, again, it’s not at all clear that the Constitution or federal law authorizes any of this, but we are all pretty darn sure that this is all okay.

Americans seem to be more concerned about how the kill list’s existence was leaked than they are about the fact that the president of the United States is ordering personal missile strikes on people, with no clear legal authorization or restrictions.

But maybe they’re right not to worry. Barack Obama’s moral and strategic interest in binding rules of conduct are based on his own superior divine understanding — that is, he really, really knows what God wants.

Not like those terrorists who kill based on the Koran …

Rash B. Havior is the pseudonym of a writer living in the Washington, D.C. area. Prior to writing in Washington, Rash covered law enforcement and the railroad industry in Canada. Earlier, he was an instructor at the Foil D’Agen fencing school at the Hilton Hotel in the Sudan.