“Al-Qaeda’s affiliate in Yemen has confirmed the deaths of American-born cleric Anwar al-Awlaki and Samir Khan, the young American propagandist killed alongside him in a U.S. drone strike late last month.Who knew that Yemeni terrorists were so devoted to human rights and the rule of American law? This, of course, is mostly a matter of our being called a bunch of hypocrites by people who think that they’re more faithful to their own ideals than we are ours. Yet I don’t think it’s only that.
“Al-Qaeda has also criticized the Obama administration for killing U.S. citizens, saying doing so ‘contradicts’ American law.
“‘Where are what they keep talking about regarding freedom, justice, human rights and respect of freedoms?!’ the statement says, according to a translation by SITE Intelligence Group, which monitors jihadist Web sites.”
The maddening thing about jihadists is that they enjoy a kind of dual moral citizenship. By virtue of inhabiting what they regard as the one true religion, they think they’re entitled to subordinate our interests, indeed our lives, to their religious vocation. And by virtue of inhabiting a world order in which we’re still the hegemonic power, they think that they're not only entitled to all the protections afforded them by our moral standards, but that they retain the moral standing to invoke our standards in their own behalf. And in the latter respect, as much as it pains us, we agree with them in principle (even if most of us don't agree about how our moral and legal standards apply to this case in particular).
The asymmetry in "asymmetrical warfare" is not only strategic, it's moral.