Political theorist Hannah Arendt described the history of warfare in the 20th century as the growing incapacity of the army to fulfil its basic function: defending the civilian population. My experiences in Afghanistan brought this issue to a head, leaving me unable to avoid the realization that my role as a soldier had changed, in Arendt's words, from "that of protector into that of a belated and essentially futile avenger". Our collective actions in Iraq and Afghanistan after 9/11 were, and remain, futile vengeance Ã¢ÂÂ with drones the latest technological advance to empower that flawed strategy.James Jeffrey writes in today's Guardian about the time he spent in the British army fighting in Afghanistan. Great Read.
I don't expect it to any change anybody's mind, but he lays out some sobering views regarding the effectiveness of our "death from above" campaign against people deemed terrorists in secret and ordered to die in secret.
And the scale is far larger than is suspected by the American public.
The Pentagon operates about 7,000 drones and asked Congress for nearly $5bn for drones in the 2012 budget. Before retiring as air force chief of staff, General Norton Schwartz was reported as saying it "was 'conceivable' drone pilots in the air force would outnumber those in cockpits in the foreseeable future". That's not a brave new world, far from it.But to give you a sense of what only a few drones can do;
During my time in Afghanistan, drones were primarily supplied by the US as our drone capability was miniscule in comparison. The British military still relies on US support, only owning about five armed drones. They have been busy, though: as of May 2012, the Ministry of Defence confirmed these had flown a total of 34,750 hours, and fired 281 missiles and laser-guided bombs.Imagine if there had been 281 missile strikes in the US by an occupying force since May of this year (though of course when you include US drone strikes in Afghanistan I'm sure we're talking far, far more since just this past May). I know that's a long time ago if your Mitt Rmoney talking about a 50k a plate fund raiser where you piss on half of the country to amuse your fellow hogs, but I'd sure remember that Hellfire missile that wiped out my family 5 months ago.
And we can dispense with the fiction that all of the murder victims were militants in light of WH policy that all victims of murder by Drone are deemed militants ipso facto. The hatred for the US felt by those harmed by our actions must be enormous.
From the Pew Research, we learn;
There remains a widespread perception that the U.S. acts unilaterally and does not consider the interests of other countries. In predominantly Muslim nations, American anti-terrorism efforts are still widely unpopular. And in nearly all countries, there is considerable opposition to a major component of the Obama administrationâs anti-terrorism policy: drone strikes. In 17 of 20 countries, more than half disapprove of U.S. drone attacks targeting extremist leaders and groups in nations such as Pakistan, Yemen and Somalia. Americans are the clear outliers on this issue as 62% approve of the drone campaign, including most Republicans (74%), independents (60%) and Democrats (58%).read here
I agree that this is a conversation best had after the election, like so many others, but we really need to stop all this killing and start finding more constructive ways of dealing with the problems in this world.