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View Diary: Drones are the napalm of our time. (96 comments)

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  •  Use your imagination (5+ / 0-)

    a little.


    "Justice is a commodity"

    by joanneleon on Tue Dec 03, 2013 at 08:18:59 AM PST

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    •  Since your imagination is obviously superior... (3+ / 0-)

      ...to mine, then, please do enlighten a bore like me as to how conventional-explosive missiles launched from drones are qualitatively more similar to napalm than to conventional-explosive missiles launched from manned jets.

      "When I give food to the poor, they call me a saint. When I ask why the poor have no food, they call me a communist." --Dom Helder Camara, archbishop of Recife

      by JamesGG on Tue Dec 03, 2013 at 08:30:56 AM PST

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      •  Yes, napalm & drones are quite different (15+ / 0-)

        in the physical nature of the horror they unleash.

        Their use by the American military as instruments of terror against largely civilian populations is all-too-similar.

        When you triangulate everything, you can't even roll downhill...

        by PhilJD on Tue Dec 03, 2013 at 08:38:35 AM PST

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        •  That's a policy thing, not inherent to the weapon. (3+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          PhilJD, high uintas, AmericanAnt

          The American military could, if it so desired, use conventional bombs launched by manned airplanes as an instrument of terror against largely civilian populations. Or, for that matter, use infantry as an instrument of terror against largely civilian populations. There exists no shortage of historical examples in which conventional bombs from manned planes or infantry were instruments of terror used against largely civilian populations.

          So unless you're making the claim that conventional bombs from manned planes and infantry are also inherently immoral on the same level as napalm, then it must follow that the immorality of the use of a weapon as an instrument of terror against a largely civilian population is not in itself sufficient to declare a weapon inherently immoral, on the same level as napalm.

          Let's look at this from a different angle: If the US military had engaged in the same missile attacks, with the same explosives, against the same targets, but done it with manned jets instead of drones, would you find those attacks more moral because there happened to be a person in the plane that launched the missiles that killed civilians?

          Again, please don't construe me as agreeing with the US military's current use of drones to engage in air strikes against the targets they choose. I find their use extremely problematic.

          However, I don't think it would be any less morally problematic were they to use manned jets or cruise missiles to engage in those strikes, because the experience of the victims would not be even the slightest bit different.

          That wouldn't be the case if the American military were attacking the same targets with napalm instead of conventional weapons; the casualty count would be much higher, and the victims of the attacks would have undergone significantly more suffering and pain prior to death.

          I think the problem is the policy, not the weapon.

          "When I give food to the poor, they call me a saint. When I ask why the poor have no food, they call me a communist." --Dom Helder Camara, archbishop of Recife

          by JamesGG on Tue Dec 03, 2013 at 08:56:27 AM PST

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          •  I think if we launched bombers on pakistan today (9+ / 0-)

            to bomb people, it would not be viewed the same in this country as the drone strikes are.

            I think concentrating on drones is needed. It needs to be called out as the assassination and bombing weapon it is.

            If you want to equate it to bombing, that is good as well. I have no problem with that either.

            But we certainly need to call out drones for what they are doing.

            Growth for the sake of growth is the ideology of the cancer cell. --Edward Abbey

            by greenbastard on Tue Dec 03, 2013 at 09:05:21 AM PST

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            •  I think that might be a problem in itself. (2+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              PhilJD, high uintas
              I think if we launched bombers on pakistan today to bomb people, it would not be viewed the same in this country as the drone strikes are.
              If that's the case, then I think that's also a problem. Why would we find it more acceptable to launch the same missiles at the same targets, just because the person hitting the button happened to be in the airplane itself rather than controlling it remotely?

              The experience of the victims would be no different; they would be just as dead or maimed, their buildings just as destroyed, their security just as shattered, as if the missile was launched by a drone.

              But we certainly need to call out drones for what they are doing.
              But the drones aren't doing it. Drones are inanimate objects, lacking any semblance of intelligence or will. Sit a drone on the ground without someone controlling it, and it can no more bomb a civilian target than it can make a soufflé.

              It is the people controlling the drones that are doing it, at the order of the people who are deciding on the targets and making the decision to go ahead. The problem is the orders those people are giving—orders that would be no less problematic if they were being given to pilots scrambling bomber jets instead of drone controllers.

              "When I give food to the poor, they call me a saint. When I ask why the poor have no food, they call me a communist." --Dom Helder Camara, archbishop of Recife

              by JamesGG on Tue Dec 03, 2013 at 09:17:22 AM PST

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              •  they are getting away with bombing pakistan (6+ / 0-)

                because they are using drones.

                Since bombing Pakistan is an act of war, how are they getting away with it? Because the govt only talks about drones. Not bombing, not killing. That's why, in my opinion, they all have to be linked together, as in:

                here are the tools they are using, and this is what they are doing with those tools.

                That's why we highlight how the drones are being used, so when you hear drones, you know what it means.

                but I agree with you, I just don't have a problem with naming the tool as well as the act.

                Growth for the sake of growth is the ideology of the cancer cell. --Edward Abbey

                by greenbastard on Tue Dec 03, 2013 at 10:09:08 AM PST

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                •  I'm not sure this is the case. (0+ / 0-)
                  they are getting away with bombing pakistan because they are using drones.

                  Since bombing Pakistan is an act of war, how are they getting away with it? Because the govt only talks about drones. Not bombing, not killing.

                  "Getting away with it" according to whom? What audience are you trying to reach here?

                  If it's about the American audience, on what basis do you think the American public would find bombing Pakistan any different if it were being done by manned jets instead of drones? Also, it doesn't matter whether Americans view bombing Pakistan as an act of war; Americans aren't likely to say "well, since we're bombing Pakistan, let's go ahead and declare war on them too."

                  It's the Pakistani government's definition of the strikes that matters in that respect—and while populist politicians in Pakistan will talk a big game on the drone strikes, the folks in charge aren't about to jeopardize the $1.6 billion in aid their government is getting from the US by declaring war.

                  On what basis do you think the Pakistani government would make a bigger deal out of it if the American military were using manned bombers instead of drones?

                  "When I give food to the poor, they call me a saint. When I ask why the poor have no food, they call me a communist." --Dom Helder Camara, archbishop of Recife

                  by JamesGG on Tue Dec 03, 2013 at 10:20:17 AM PST

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                  •  my audience is you, I reckon (3+ / 0-)

                    since you are the one I'm talking to.

                    We are bombing people in a foreign land, the President talked about doing that more traditionally in Syria recently and what happened? There was an immediate backlash. People are tired of war. So, yes, I think people mistakenly view drone bombing differently than missile strikes, based on recent events.

                    but you say drone strikes in pakistan, and you people feel free to blow it off.

                    It is an act of war, whether the our govt, or the govt in Pakistan thinks killing their own people is worth the money.

                    And I bring up the act of war because if it were a war, congress would need to be consulted, but since it's just a drone, no worries.

                    lastly, if we sent bombers to drop bombs on the targeted sites, you don't think anyone would treat the bombings in Yemen and Pakistan differently? I do.

                    Growth for the sake of growth is the ideology of the cancer cell. --Edward Abbey

                    by greenbastard on Tue Dec 03, 2013 at 11:13:17 AM PST

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                    •  here's one of the people who see drones as no big (0+ / 0-)

                      right here in the comment thread

                      http://www.dailykos.com/...

                      Growth for the sake of growth is the ideology of the cancer cell. --Edward Abbey

                      by greenbastard on Tue Dec 03, 2013 at 11:22:32 AM PST

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                    •  I don't think the drones are the issue. (0+ / 0-)
                      my audience is you, I reckon... since you are the one I'm talking to.
                      Except that you're engaging in a discussion about how we should talk about these issues to a wider audience—and it seems to me that the audience in question is Americans.

                      If we're making drones the issue rather than the policies themselves, not only are we being inaccurate in blaming an inanimate object for our policy dilemmas, but also seems to me that any political pressure we do manage to produce will simply shift the attacks from drones to manned jets, cruise missiles, etc., rather than ending the attacks entirely.

                      It is an act of war, whether the our govt, or the govt in Pakistan thinks killing their own people is worth the money.
                      Not really, no; an act is only an "act of war" when it's interpreted as such by a body with the power to declare war, the idea being that such an act would justify the declaration of a defensive war on the part of the nation that was on the receiving end of said act. Neither the US government nor the Pakistani government consider drone strikes in Pakistan to be an "act of war."
                      And I bring up the act of war because if it were a war, congress would need to be consulted, but since it's just a drone, no worries.
                      Except that the strikes in Pakistan and Yemen were already authorized by Congress under the (far too broad) AUMF, which gave the executive branch broad powers to engage in military strikes against suspected members of al-Qaeda.

                      If the drone strikes are authorized under the AUMF, I don't see how manned jet strikes wouldn't be.

                      "When I give food to the poor, they call me a saint. When I ask why the poor have no food, they call me a communist." --Dom Helder Camara, archbishop of Recife

                      by JamesGG on Tue Dec 03, 2013 at 11:32:42 AM PST

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          •  B-52 crews were shot down in Viet Nam (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            SpecialKinFlag, PhilJD

            Manned bombers can be shot down by your target, although the more sophisticated the bomber relative to the target the less likely this is. In any case, having  US airmen killed bombing Pakistan would draw much more news coverage than is the case with drone attacks. Consequently, from a US policy standpoint there is a great difference between the weapons, even if the victims are just as dead.

            Drones make it much easier to fight an "out-of-sight/out-of-mind" war than is the case with manned planes.

            •  And yet, the technology in the drones... (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              PhilJD

              ...is potentially quite valuable to those who oppose American forces overseas as well.

              Even if we ignore the advanced weaponry and communications equipment the drones have on board—which could be very valuable in the wrong hands—reverse-engineering or other forms of analysis could potentially give them the ability to scramble or override the signals being sent to the drones.

              A drone getting shot down might not result in the bad press that an American airman getting shot down would result in—that is, if we're presuming that militants in those regions have the kind of weaponry that can take down a modern American fighter jet—but from the military's standpoint, it's still a substantial enough risk that I can't imagine they wouldn't think twice before sending drones into airspace where the US doesn't have superiority.

              "When I give food to the poor, they call me a saint. When I ask why the poor have no food, they call me a communist." --Dom Helder Camara, archbishop of Recife

              by JamesGG on Tue Dec 03, 2013 at 12:22:51 PM PST

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        •  So was it somehow justified when (3+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Don midwest, high uintas, AmericanAnt

          we used to carpet bomb civilian targets during our "good" wars?

          When we stop putting leaders from the past up on pedestals and ignoring their flaws, we can start seeing our present leaders for what they really are.

          by PhillyJeff on Tue Dec 03, 2013 at 08:59:45 AM PST

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          •  No. (6+ / 0-)

            When you triangulate everything, you can't even roll downhill...

            by PhilJD on Tue Dec 03, 2013 at 09:05:27 AM PST

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          •  The fire bombing we did (0+ / 0-)

            in Japan and Dresden were horrific, much worse in terms of suffering and casualties than all the drone attacks. But, we were engaged in a war on two fronts and the goal was to end them so we used what we had. One can argue forever over the morality of it.

            I don't think there has ever been a weapon of war that wasn't awful, starting with the rock. Singling out drones as somehow worse than other weapons is an exercise I don't understand. Comparing it to napalm makes no sense, IMO.

            They are all horrible in their own way.

            And daddy won't you take me back to Muhlenberg County Down by the Green River where Paradise lay. Well, I'm sorry my son, but you're too late in asking Mister Peabody's coal train has hauled it away. John Prine

            by high uintas on Tue Dec 03, 2013 at 09:48:10 AM PST

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            •  I have no problem calling our WWII firebombing (7+ / 0-)

              what it is: terrorism.

              Would you support our use of napalm in Afghanistan? I can't see why not, since it's all the same, and dead is dead.

              When you triangulate everything, you can't even roll downhill...

              by PhilJD on Tue Dec 03, 2013 at 09:59:05 AM PST

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              •  Winston Churchill to General Ismay (7+ / 0-)

                March 28 1945

                "It seems to me that the moment has come when the question of bombing of German cities simply for the sake of increasing the terror, though under other pretexts, should be reviewed...."

                "I read New republic and Nation/I've learned to take every view.." P. Ochs

                by JesseCW on Tue Dec 03, 2013 at 10:33:40 AM PST

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              •  Napalm in Afghanistan? (0+ / 0-)

                lol wut?

                I was talking about the universal horror of all weapons of war.

                You are trying to compare drones and napalm, I don't see it. They are both terrible, but very different weapons.

                The use of napalm in Vietnam was not only horrible but immoral as I saw it, that is why I was in the streets. And we didn't even mention Agent Orange.

                WWII was so full of horrors that one can't make a true moral judgement on what we did unless we were there, IMO.

                And daddy won't you take me back to Muhlenberg County Down by the Green River where Paradise lay. Well, I'm sorry my son, but you're too late in asking Mister Peabody's coal train has hauled it away. John Prine

                by high uintas on Tue Dec 03, 2013 at 10:55:19 AM PST

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