Did the U.S. go too far in killing Anwar al-Awlaki's teenage son? (video)

Oct 18, 2011

Join Brad Hirschfield as he talks about the ethical and moral issues raised by the week's biggest stories.

Hello and welcome. Today we'll discuss the airstrike that killed the 16-year-old son of al-Qaeda operative Anwar al-Awlaki. Did the U.S. go too far in killing the teenager?

We'll also discuss the push for "racial solidarity" among black voters. Is urging African-Americans to support President Obama a form of racism?

And we'll discuss the release of Gilad Shalit. What does the math of the exchange between Israel and Hamas say about the state of peace in the Middle East?

We'll also discuss other questions and comments you submit. Let's get started.

It is always unfortunate when a civilian, especially a young person, is killed, but why do they think the air strike was targeted at him? The reality is, Yemen is an extremely dangerous place where this kind of thing could happen. Sad perhaps, but not shocking.

Commenter MNUSA notes that "it's unfortunate that anyone has to die because of a drone strike," but adds that when the threat of terror exists, "the US government can't sit back and wait for it to happen. Terrorists take innocent men, women and children with them. Who apologizes for their behavior?"

Commenter becky58a writes "This man's life cause was to condemn others to die. Under the circumstances, he had to expect that he was risking his family's life all the time. And further, he was never worried about collateral damage or teenagers, or babies, or innocents when he acted. Sorry, I don't feel any mercy for him or his family."  Is the killing the result of a risk al-Awlaki took with his alleged crimes?

Twitter user ThunderRain8 says the U.S. did not go too far in killing al-Awlaki's son, tweeting "No, he was being trained by his father. Good job U.S." If Abdulrahman al-Awlaki was being groomed for terrorism, how does this change the debate around his death?

What do you think about the response from the al-Awlaki family? Commenter ChampsEleves writes: "What is striking is the defiant response of the family. Al-awaki was a sworn enemy of his country, a classic definition of a traitor. His son, even if a 16 year old innocent, was old enough to know that he should not get within 100 yards of his father. Both were killed. Instead of feeling the shame, the family is offended."

How can you see this as racism? They are not supporting Herman Cain. Ultimately it comes down to which politicians seem more sympathetic to people's plights and will create policies to address them.. While President Obama has been disappointing, he still offers more for many compared to his opponents.

Commenter clydejnwlinkcom posted on this issue -- how do you react?

"As a white man who worked very hard in the '60s to support the civil rights movement, I find it very discouraging to see all the overt racism today on the part of blacks. I so much wanted to see a color-blind society emerge in America. I know that there is much covert racism on the part of whites in America today, but it pales in the face of overt racism on the part of many blacks."

The exchange rate is very disturbing. How is this going to improve Israel's security? Isn't this more about diverting attention from Abbas and the the U.N vote?

I am afraid you miss the point of the objection to the prisoner swap. Back during a previous intafada, Israel noticed that attacks dropped as the bomb makers died off. This resulted in lower deaths on each side. If it were just  mere foot soldiers returned to Hamas, your reasoning would make sense. However when you knowingly return leaders to your enemy, you are asking for problems.  This was too much to give up for just one life.

Last question: 

Commenter myonecent offered this explanation for the prisoner swap: 

"The U.S. Marines do not leave their own on the field when injured or dead. The Israelis do not leave their own in enemy prisons or on the field as well. It is called national fraternity and honor. Don't look for any other answers as there are none."

In This Chat
Brad Hirschfield
Brad Hirschfield is the president of Clal - The National Jewish Center for Learning and Leadership. He writes the For God's Sake blog for The Washington Post. A regular on Lou Dobbs Tonight on the Fox Business Network. he appears frequently on NPR, PBS, and CNN, and is routinely listed as one of America?s "most influential rabbis." His most recent book is You Don't Have To Be Wrong For Me To Be Right: Finding Faith Without Fanaticism.
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