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View Diary: 123 civilians, 3 al Qaeda DRONED in January, 17 more dead today (111 comments)

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  •  Drone war prioritizes U.S. soldiers' lives (4+ / 0-)
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    Timaeus, ricardomath, bvig, Sunspots

    over the lives of civilian victims, but the entire way we now do colonial war has the same priorities. So, I agree, more or less, with your point. But, drones are the ultimate expression of the trend. Not just drones, but the whole trend toward 'screw civilian deaths' minimization of deaths for U.S. neocolonial warriors, is extraordinarily important and dangerous, because, in the world of realpolitik, when there are no U.S. victims imperial war seems to know no bounds.

    •  Armed drones do bother me (1+ / 0-)
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      for a number of reasons (a big one is the psychological problems the operators are having; it may be hard to be sympathetic, but it's a bizarre and horrible dichotomy that they have to deal with).  And I do worry about the ability to wage war without consequences.  But it's like that now anyway: none of the opponents we're fighting are shooting SAMs at our pilots, and we're dropping GPS-guided JDAMs on targets from 10s of miles away, shooting missiles with accuracy measured in feet from even farther away.  

      In principle, I'm happy with that, given that I'd like for US servicemen and women to be as safe as possible while destroying very, very bad people (and I should be clear that I wish they didn't have to fight). I don't think there's any moral obligation to trade blood for blood when you're in a morally defensible position.  The problems arise when we are unsure whether we occupy the morally defensible position.  While it may be defensible to attack an Al Qaeda or Taliban leader who has killed or plausibly threatens to kill Americans (or allies), that line gets awfully blurry when we kill 100 civilians to get the bad guy. And air strikes will, for a while yet, tend to generate body counts that should horrify any thinking person.

      Someone is wrong on the Internet! To the Kosmobile!

      by socratic on Wed Feb 03, 2010 at 01:29:59 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  I must say, of all the things to be concerned (0+ / 0-)

        about, I'm not unduly concerned about the psychological toll on the drone operators. If there really is much of a toll on them, that sounds like justice.

        •  See I disagree with that (0+ / 0-)

          You get some 19-20-year old kid, stick him in a chair, and say "press this to fire," are you going to be mad at the kid or at the person who gives the order?

          I DO worry about the operators. These folks go home to spouses and kids. They're walking around in malls and grocery stores. And blowing up people during their day job. I worry about and want to provide assistance for their mental well-being as much as I would any veteran, but even more than usual because of the unprecedented nature of the stresses they're dealing with.

          It's not zero-sum either: I worry about the folks on the other end of the optics too.

          Someone is wrong on the Internet! To the Kosmobile!

          by socratic on Wed Feb 03, 2010 at 01:49:20 PM PST

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      •  Drones are probably better than bombers. (0+ / 0-)

        A guy in a plane biases all of his decisions by a fear that he will be shot down, is probably on a stimulant drug, and in any case has the hot rush of adrenaline that comes from flying in a war zone clouding his judgment.

        A drone operator has more freedom to wait until the last minute before making a decision without putting his own life at risk.

        On the other hand, drones and bombers leave much to be desired relative to sending in soldiers on the ground to make raids (although they do minimize friendly military casualties).  Most importantly, you can't surrender to a drone or a bomber.  Given the opportunity, many of the drone targets probably would surrender, and once held prisoner, would provide valuable intelligence and/or be exonorated as innocent bystanders.

        Using drones and bombs is a sign of weakness.  You use them when you are so weak that you aren't even able to send in a sniper or assassin (who can be more discriminating in target selection and hence reduce backlash), let alone make an arrest.

        "Learn from yesterday, live for today, hope for tomorrow." -- Albert Einstein

        by ohwilleke on Wed Feb 03, 2010 at 02:02:15 PM PST

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    •  Drones can attack with more stealth (0+ / 0-)

      than a fighter bomber, and we cannot fly manned combat missions over Pakistan. There are practical considerations beyond protecting American personnel.

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