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View Diary: Republicans plan their October Surprise. Obama, and Pentagon, may well be planning a different sort. (221 comments)

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  •  I remain EXTREMELY dubious (32+ / 0-)

    that killing people with drone strikes motivates their survivors to become terrorists more than killing them with M-16's does.

    Romney economics: Feed our seed corn to the fattest pigs and trust them to poop out jobs.

    by blue aardvark on Tue Oct 02, 2012 at 02:48:09 PM PDT

    [ Parent ]

    •  You should read Jane Mayer's New Yorker (9+ / 0-)

      article about drones - if you are open to persusion on this issue at all, you might feel differently aftwards.

      •  Link? (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Blue Dream, Smoh

        Romney economics: Feed our seed corn to the fattest pigs and trust them to poop out jobs.

        by blue aardvark on Tue Oct 02, 2012 at 02:55:51 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Puzzle me this (21+ / 0-)

          Would Dick Cheney's M16-toting assassination squad been * this * bad?

          Still, the recent campaign to kill Baitullah Mehsud offers a sobering case study of the hazards of robotic warfare. It appears to have taken sixteen missile strikes, and fourteen months, before the C.I.A. succeeded in killing him. During this hunt, between two hundred and seven and three hundred and twenty-one additional people were killed,
          Read more

          And what's worse - hearing the drones buzzing around 24/7 or being killed by missiles w/o warning when they happento be out of earshot range?

          On June 23rd, the C.I.A. reportedly killed between two and six unidentified militants outside Makeen, and then killed dozens more people—possibly as many as eighty-six—during funeral prayers for the earlier casualties. An account in the Pakistani publication The News described ten of the dead as children. Four were identified as elderly tribal leaders. One eyewitness, who lost his right leg during the bombing, told Agence France-Presse that the mourners suspected what was coming: “After the prayers ended, people were asking each other to leave the area, as drones were hovering.” The drones, which make a buzzing noise, are nicknamed machay (“wasps”) by the Pashtun natives, and can sometimes be seen and heard, depending on weather conditions.
          just saying, not sure we'd put up with all that all that much here in the USA

          Read more

          •  Thanks (5+ / 0-)

            I will read those links later.

            Romney economics: Feed our seed corn to the fattest pigs and trust them to poop out jobs.

            by blue aardvark on Tue Oct 02, 2012 at 03:06:52 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  They're actually the same link . . . (2+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              divineorder, blue aardvark

              I guess it came along each time I cut and pasted from the source (it's strange how some websites do that nowadays, it totally freaks me out).

              •  OK, I read that article (2+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                SadieSue, Roadbed Guy

                If you accept the idea of asymmetric warfare ... that Al Qaeda is fighting unconventional war against the United States and some of our allies (including allies of convenience, such as Pakistan) ... then the Pentagon using drones rather than manned aircraft to attack "enemy troops" is not controversial, and the article notes that such use probably meets the UN legal restrictions.

                "Probably" is noted. Room for debate exists.

                The CIA operating them in cooperation with Pakistani intelligence as a means of fighting the Taliban and drug lords is both legally and morally questionable. Which is, in fact, what the CIA Operations directorate was created to do. To quote Al Gore about a raid during the Clinton years: "Of course it's illegal. That's why it's covert". That's not an excuse, it's an observation that the CIA operations directorate exists to do nasty stuff, and we've had one since the OSS went away. A reasonable debate would be if we still need one. I would support pulling their leash, hard. It seems they are getting too big for their britches.

                The article also makes clear that the drones are in fact very effective as a tool of asymmetric warfare against US enemies, such as Al Qaeda and the Taliban. I believe the article described them as "The only game in town". If you make me choose between Pentagon drones and leaving Al Qaeda alone, I chose drones.

                As I noted elsewhere in these comments, groups like AQ routinely live among civilians, and the line between "civilian" and "terrorist" can be blurry. If President Obama had taken the Pentagon's advice, we'd have gone after Osama bin Laden with B-2 bombers - two of them - full bomb load. He'd have been extremely dead, and so would his wives, children, bodyguards, aides, and any neighbor who was walking the dog at the wrong time. Would Osama bin Laden's wife count as a civilian? Would a son aged 12? 15? 17 and 364 days?

                My conclusion: drones are useful in asymmetric warfare, but the CIA operating a huge fleet of them and using them to help the Pakistani government maintain control of their tribal regions is not OK. The CIA drone program should be ended and moved under military control and regulations.

                 I would be interested in seeing statistics on civilian casualties vice enemy combatants broken down by Pentagon / CIA control. I will bet the spooks are a lot less careful, especially because a lot of their attacks seem to be driven by Pakistani internal politics.

                Romney economics: Feed our seed corn to the fattest pigs and trust them to poop out jobs.

                by blue aardvark on Wed Oct 03, 2012 at 08:23:27 AM PDT

                [ Parent ]

                •  I guess this is just something we fundamentally (1+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  blue aardvark

                  disagree about.

                  To me, as much as I despised Clinton, his handling of the terrorist threat was light years ahead of this shit.  The bottom line is that those being targeted by the drones pose essentially zero threat to the USA (as compared to those who might - e.g., if 9.11 is any guide, are located in places like San Diego, Saudi Arabia, Hamburg, and Florida - do you REALLY expect drone strikes in those places to take out people who can actually harm us?)

                  Plus, do you really think that in the long term there will be no blow back?  In particular, the video game - err, drone operators - in the NoVa suburbs, or Las Vegas (or wherever they end up being located) won't be targeted by a few of the wedding massacre survivors?  And if history is any guide, these survivors won't be targeting geniuses (genii?) and will probably get the wrong house, maybe yours.

                  Again, it seems like we are existing in completely different realities on this matter - on the plus side, I suppose that the MIC does do it's part in keeping the US economy limping along . .. .

                  •  Clinton fired cruise missiles (0+ / 0-)

                    Several times.

                    A drone is less likely to kill a civilian than a cruise missile, which flies a pre-programmed route loaded in prior to launch. And then explodes with a warhead typically larger than that loaded onto a Hellfire, causing more collateral damage.

                    I think that the story of 9-11 includes planning involvement by Osama bin Laden and Al-Zawahari back in Afghanistan, not to mention KSM. The idea that we need to worry about the guy in Hamburg but not the guy in Helmand makes no sense.

                    Romney economics: Feed our seed corn to the fattest pigs and trust them to poop out jobs.

                    by blue aardvark on Wed Oct 03, 2012 at 12:03:06 PM PDT

                    [ Parent ]

                    •  By several I assume you mean 2 or 3? (0+ / 0-)

                      As compared to at least once a week?

                      and IIRC, he was roundly excoriated for doing so . .. .

                      In any event, I totally realize that the (completely bipartisan)  government propaganda has overwhelmed in rational discourse on this matter, and I'm just a crazy old man tilting against windmills (or whatever that saying is) but again a New Yorker article nicely illustrates just how peripheral OBL was in the 9.11 attacks (and by extension, just how idiotic our war against Afghanistan has been . .. ).

                      •  ObL was peripheral in 9-11 (0+ / 0-)

                        like Mitt Romney was peripheral in Bain.

                        He founded an organization, recruit the senior leadership, acted as the spokesman, drew new recruits via his name, set the tone, described the goals, and did the majority of the fundraising, it is just insane to describe him as "peripheral".

                        He was a CEO or commanding general, not a operational commander. That doesn't make him peripheral; it makes him essential and capable of generating the same sort of thing again and again.

                        Romney economics: Feed our seed corn to the fattest pigs and trust them to poop out jobs.

                        by blue aardvark on Wed Oct 03, 2012 at 12:14:26 PM PDT

                        [ Parent ]

                        •  If you read the New Yorker article (0+ / 0-)

                          it is crystal clear that he was in the loop insofar as Khalid Sheikh Mohammed solicited his help in planning 9.11 - but KSM obtained in essence no operational benefit from OBL (probably because - other than being ensconced in a pornography laden, but otherwise impotent, lair - circumstances prevented OBL  from offering any help).

                          Another way to look at this is that OBL had just about the same level of responsibility for 9.11 as Jesus Christ has for starting the Iraq War of 2003.  The reference being that George W. Bush is on record as saying that Jesus Christ told him to start the war, but does that make any sense at all in any real sense?  No, of course not.  Similarly, any rational evaluation of 9.11 makes it clear that it was planned and executed by KSM with no meaningful input from OBL at all.

          •  ask the people of fallujah about that (3+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Mnemosyne, Larsstephens, Creosote

            atrocities can be done from the air or on the ground. the problem is the slaughter of innocents, not the manner in which they are slaughtered.

            •  Fallujah is not a comparable situation (0+ / 0-)

              it was in a well recognized war zone, where atrocities are well known, in fact expected, to occur because of the very nature of war.

              Drones are instead used for for what is all intents and purposes law enforcement purposes - and it make the human cost on our side way too low and on the receiving end way to high.

              The link I provided gives just a couple examples - on of them is that it took 14 strikes to get one suspected terrorist, in the meantime 300 other people died.   Now, puzzle yourself why 13 strikes based on bad intelligence were allowed to happen?   Basically, because from our end it is perceived that there is no more danger than essentially playing a video came, so go ahead a send in the missiles, collateral damage be damned.   By contrast if it came down to putting actual American lives at stake (say, in the form of Cheney's much reviled/mocked death squads), I'm willing to bet that the intelligence would have to be much, much better before an operation was undertaken.

        •  Found it (3+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          JayBat, blue aardvark, CuriousBoston

          Move Single Payer Forward? Join 18,000 Doctors of PNHP and 185,000 member National Nurses United

          by divineorder on Tue Oct 02, 2012 at 03:18:39 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

    •  its not about the baddies (10+ / 0-)

      its about the fact that drone strike KILL 100's of INNOCENT people per every "bad guy" we go after.  How do you not understand that?

      FYI- Killing/murdering innocent people with m-16 is not a good idea either.

      Bad is never good until worse happens

      by dark daze on Tue Oct 02, 2012 at 02:55:01 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  I didn't say it did (14+ / 0-)

      All forms of American violence, esp. the violence of occupation, produce anti-American violence; but drones are the trendy form of American violence these days and a major, if not the major, cause of hatred of the United States.

      But a M-16 sniper attack or a Special Ops raid at least doesn't terrorize entire populations the way drones do in some areas, constantly hovering, forcing children to stay indoors, preventing them from going to school, etc.

      It's just asinine, the notion that we can kill terrorism away, but hey, the MIC is happy, the money keeps flowing, a self-perpetuating money machine, the war on terrorism.

      •  Do you recall Somalia / Black Hawk down? (20+ / 0-)

        The efforts to rescue those downed soldiers caused an entire neighborhood to be shot up with no one knows or was able to count how many civilian casualties.

        No one has yet figured out how to go after people who deliberately locate themselves among civilians with zero danger to the civilians. That is exactly what terrorists / militants / revolutionaries always do.

        Other than not fighting them at all, what do you suggest?

        Romney economics: Feed our seed corn to the fattest pigs and trust them to poop out jobs.

        by blue aardvark on Tue Oct 02, 2012 at 03:03:28 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Sadly I think some people on this site don't care. (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          CuriousBoston, erush1345

          If we lose a drone, we've lost a hilariously expensive piece of equipment.  Lose a fixed-wing aircraft or a chopper, we deliver folded flags to moms and dads and husbands and wives across the country.

          I would much rather lose the hilariously expensive piece of equipment.

          "The first drawback of anger is that it destroys your inner peace; the second is that it distorts your view of reality. If you come to understand that anger is really unhelpful, you can begin to distance yourself from anger." - The Dalai Lama

          by auron renouille on Tue Oct 02, 2012 at 08:15:37 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

        •  Just don't fight them (0+ / 0-)

          If its too dangerous, pull our people out.  What's the benefit of staying there and getting embroiled in another endless ground war?

          "Mitt Romney is Dick Cheney with more charisma"

          by Betty Pinson on Tue Oct 02, 2012 at 09:06:41 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

      •  Then where are the Iraqi terrorists? (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        mkor7, wu ming

        When was the last time there was a terrorist attack against the US by Afghans?

        In reality, the vast majority of such attacks are carried out by people from countries, like Egypt and Saudi Arabia, who are our allies.

        Not one of the 9/11 attackers, for instance, was from a country the United States had ever waged war against.

        Art is the handmaid of human good.

        by joe from Lowell on Tue Oct 02, 2012 at 04:05:46 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  I usually agree with you, joe, but... (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          wishingwell, erush1345

          what about the US troops being killed by Afghanis in uniform, those "insider" attacks?

          Perhaps I misunderstood you.

          The sh*t those people [republicans] say just makes me weep for humanity! - Woody Harrelson

          by SoCalSal on Tue Oct 02, 2012 at 06:09:15 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  those troops aren't being killed in america (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            little lion

            when you occupy a country by force, and slaughter its civilians with great regularity, some small proportion of the people of that country will not be willing to serve as your puppet army.

            see also: the history of every colonized or occupied country in the world.

            •  So... (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:

              you're saying that the purpose of training Afghan forces by American soldiers is to have the Afghan military serve as puppet army to the USA?

              I don't think so.

              The sh*t those people [republicans] say just makes me weep for humanity! - Woody Harrelson

              by SoCalSal on Tue Oct 02, 2012 at 09:51:52 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  yes (0+ / 0-)

                that is the entire point of training another country's army after having invaded and occupied said country for years, so that they can fight those elements of the country resisting your occupation so that one's own troops don't have to.

                afghanistan is no different than a zillion similar cases historically. naturally, the occupying country - in this case, us - claims it is selflessly training these troops to be a competent national army capable of protecting that country against nefarious outsiders who want to throw it into chaos, just as it claims that the invariably venal puppet ruler that it props up - in afghanistan's case wrapped up with both the drug trade and oil corporations - is a legitimate and independent representative of said nation.

    •  Have you been the target of either? (0+ / 0-)

      If not, then what basis do you have for this?

      "Liberty without virtue would be no blessing to us" - Benjamin Rush, 1777

      by kovie on Tue Oct 02, 2012 at 03:06:53 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  People have been waging war for centuries (6+ / 0-)

        Never heard of anyone caring about swords versus arrows, cannon versus musket, et cetera.

        Romney economics: Feed our seed corn to the fattest pigs and trust them to poop out jobs.

        by blue aardvark on Tue Oct 02, 2012 at 03:14:38 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  My mom has. /nt (0+ / 0-)

        "Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold...The best lack all conviction, while the worst Are full of passionate intensity" -W.B. Yeats

        by LucyandByron on Tue Oct 02, 2012 at 03:59:11 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  So has mine (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          joe from Lowell, Kevvboy

          Well, technically the butt end of a military rifle while watching her home get blown up at the age of 8. And my cousin almost got killed by a scud during the first gulf war. Luckily, no one was hurt, physically at least. Neither became a terrorist.

          Point being that just as I can't imagine what such experiences did to them and can't tell the difference in effect of these types of attacks, no one else can.

          "Liberty without virtue would be no blessing to us" - Benjamin Rush, 1777

          by kovie on Tue Oct 02, 2012 at 04:18:48 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  It's interesting to look at where... (3+ / 0-)

            terrorists come from.

            As it turns out, virtually none of the terrorists who have attacked the United States come from countries with whom we have been at war.  Rather, they virtually all come from dictatorships who are American allies, and against whom we have never been at war.

            The 9/11 hijackers were all Saudis, Egyptians, Yemenis, and Emiratis.  Bin Laden is Saudi, KSM Kuwaiti, Dr. Zawahiri Egyptian.  Yemenis carried out the Cole bombing.  The Underwear Bomber was Nigerian.  It is very, very rare to find anyone associated with al Qaeda who is Iraqi, Iranian, Afghan, or from country we have waged war against.

            War makes people want to take up arms, but that doesn't translate into wanting to slaughter random citizens of the other country.  The terrorist isn't an extreme version of the soldier, but of the political protester.

            Art is the handmaid of human good.

            by joe from Lowell on Tue Oct 02, 2012 at 04:31:16 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  We've been attacking Yemen for years now (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:

              which muddies your argument, but point taken. Plus, it's simplistic to assume that the actual victims of our attacks or their relatives will become terrorists. I suspect that merely seeing such attacks on TV turns people in other countries against the US, and makes excellent fodder for terrorist leaders to recruit such people.

              It's a law of unintended consequences thing. And the more egregious or egregious-seeming the action, be it guns, drones, bombs or supporting dictators, the more likely if harder to specifically predict the consequences. Let's just say that drones might not be worse than guns (although I suspect they are, because they're something really creepy about being attacked from invisible things in the sky), but they create yet another reason for people to be upset with us.

              How about no guns, drones, bombs OR supporting dictators?

              "Liberty without virtue would be no blessing to us" - Benjamin Rush, 1777

              by kovie on Tue Oct 02, 2012 at 04:41:59 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  And no Yemeni attacks since that began. (0+ / 0-)

                The Yemeni government is, and was, our ally.

                Again, the "unintended consequences" thing has a data problem.  If such attacks made terrorism against us more likely at all, then there would be some correlation.

                But there isn't such a correlation - and what's more, there is a strong negative correlation.

                There are very good reasons to argue against military action, but "creating terrorists who will attack us" just isn't one of them.

                Art is the handmaid of human good.

                by joe from Lowell on Fri Oct 05, 2012 at 10:48:16 AM PDT

                [ Parent ]

            •  part of what confuses the discussion (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              little lion

              is that america's government also has a history of calling people who shoot back at us when we occupy their country "terrorists."

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