When the president and his key officials look at the drone program, they undoubtedly don't "see" women and children. Instead, they are caught up in a Hollywood-style vision of imminent danger from terrorists and of the kind of salvation that a missile launched from thousands of miles away provides.
The drone war will be as much Obama's legacy as health care or reshaping of the Supreme Court. The program may have been born under the George W Bush administration, but it has expanded and grown to be the focal point of the GWOT over the past seven years.
Trump's pledge to murder the civilian relatives of terrorists could be considered quite modest -- and, in its bluntness, refreshingly candid -- when compared to President Obama's ongoing policy of loosing drones and U.S. Special Operations forces in the Greater Middle East.
The debate on drones may never be resolved, primarily because it is the wrong debate. Rather than focus on the morality of a weapons system, discussion should consider how and why it is being employed.
For more than a year, U.S. drones flying out of Djibouti waged a secret war against the Islamic State. For more than a year, it went unreported on the nightly news, in the country's flagship newspapers, or evidently anywhere else.
Both papers have substantially underrepresented the number of civilians killed in drone strikes in Pakistan and Yemen, failed to correct the public record when evidence emerged that their reporting was wrong and ignored the importance of international law.
We may look back on this week as one of the true nadirs in America's post-9/11 efforts to lead the world, a series of events that make the failures of America's shallow strategies, of both Republican and Democratic administrations. It is a particular low point for President Obama.