I believe (?) Serwer is ultimately agreeing that his position is that members of Al Qaeda deserve neither rights as soldiers nor rights as criminals, which I just find inconsistent with a belief in universal human rights. There's a lot you could say, but the crux of it is this, I guess:
DeBoer takes the approach that even if the killing were consistent with the law, it doesn't matter because he believes there are no circumstances in which the government is justified in killing anyone. I don't take that view, and I particularly don't take the view that American service members are just "the government" and so cannot act in their own defense while those who are trying to kill them are part of the unbreakable circle of life.Not true. I'm not, actually, a pacifist myself. I am protective of pacifists and frequently convinced that the are better people than I. I maintain a belief that any liberal claiming that the defense of torture is the moral equivalent of pacifism is, frankly, dangerously deluded. I also think that the refusal to stand with people like radical pacifists is a symptom of precisely why the American left is toothless. Mainstream liberals capitulate and capitulate and capitulate to the right wing in moving the center-- and the extremes define the center-- and then find it difficult to enact the policy platforms they want when the American mainstream is too far to the right. Forget about whether this is more liberal or less; as a matter of practical success, it's a disaster. And it teaches young leftists everywhere that whatever else is true, their movement counterparts won't stick up for them.
I don't know if the killing of bin Laden was legal or not. What I do know is that criminals should be captured with nonlethal force whenever that is possible and given fair and public trials to determine their guilt. If a drug dealer starts shooting at the cops, they have a right to use lethal force to subdue him. They don't have the right to burst into his home, kill many unarmed people, and shoot him despite the fact that he was unarmed, elderly, and sick. So tell me: is a situation like the one that our best available evidence tells us occurred in Abbottabad a situation where a reasonable attempt was made to use nonlethal force? It's hard to tell, given that the people responsible for the raid keep lying about it. But I don't find the idea that such an attempt was made even minimally convincing, given the facts, and many are saying plainly that this was simply a kill mission.
I suppose we'll just have to remain in the dark when it comes to whether the Obama administration and the team that raided made a reasonable effort to apprehend bin Laden without killing him. It seens clear to me, though, that if they didn't (there are elections to think of, after all) then bin Laden's killing was inconsistent with the legal framework for fighting terrorism, and in my opinion, a moral lapse.