On Thursday, August 4, an Istanbul court issued an arrest warrant against former imam Fethullah Gulen. The preacher, exiled in the United States since 1999, is accused of being behind the July 15 attempted coup.

This is not Turkey’s first attempt to get Gulen extradited from the United States to Turkey. Turkish President Erdogan has been requesting Gulen’s extradition from the U.S. for at least two years, on the ground that he has been subverting the Turkish government while harbored by the U.S. Thus far, the U.S. is refusing, with Secretary of State John Kerry demanding of Turkey: “Give us the evidence, show us the evidence. We need a solid legal foundation that meets the standard of extradition.”

This stand-off got me thinking. What if Turkey decided to send in troops or spies to kill Gulen? Or what if Turkey set a drone with a missile attached at shot it at Gulen in an effort to kill him, someone they view as a terrorist?

The United States has used thousands of drones to kill suspected terrorists in Pakistan, Afghanistan, Yemen, Somalia, and other countries.

According to the Council on Foreign Relations, “According to a UN special report on the subject, targeted killings are premeditated acts of lethal force employed by states in times of peace or during armed conflict to eliminate specific individuals outside their custody. ‘Targeted killing’ is not a term distinctly defined under international law, but gained currency in 2000 after Israel made public a policy of targeting alleged terrorists in the Palestinian territories. The particular act of lethal force, usually undertaken by a nation’s intelligence or armed services, can vary widely—from cruise missiles to drone strikes to special operations raids.”

Again, from the CFR, “The George W. Bush and Obama administrations have sought to justify targeted killings under both domestic and international law. The domestic legal underpinning for U.S. counterterrorism operations and the targeted killing of members of the Taliban and al-Qaeda and its affiliates across the globe is the 2001 Authorization for the Use of Military Force (AUMF), which the U.S. Congress passed just days after 9/11. The statute empowers the president ‘to use all necessary and appropriate force’ in pursuit of those responsible for the terrorist attacks….

“The White House maintains that the U.S. right to self-defense, as laid out in Article 51 of the UN charter, may include the targeted killing of persons such as high-level al-Qaeda leaders who are planning attacks, both in and out of declared theaters of war. The administration’s posture includes the prerogative to unilaterally pursue targets in states without prior consent if that country is unwilling or unable to deal effectively with the threat—exemplified by the Navy SEAL raid that killed Osama bin Laden.”

Now, suppose the Turkish Parliament adopted a “Authorization for the Use of Military Force” against the perpetrators and conspirators of the July coup attempt and claimed that the right of self-defense laid out in Article 51 of the UN Charter included the right to target and kill the attempted coup leaders regardless of whether they were inside or outside declared theaters of war. And then suppose that Turkey sent a drone and fired a missile at Gulen. Whether anyone was killed for not, what do you suppose the United States’ reaction would be?

I suppose the reaction would be a dismissal of Turkey’s claims to protect itself. I suppose the reaction would be to see Turkey’s action as an act of war. I suppose the reaction would be a cry for vengeance. I suppose we might even declare war on our NATO ally Turkey.

I just wonder if anyone would see the hypocrisy of condemning Turkey for its actions without condemning the United States for ours.

Advertisements