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Robert Wright’s recent piece in The Atlantic – “Hidden Causes of the Muslim Protests: What are the sources of simmering hostility toward America that helped fuel these demonstrations? – is an important must-read for everyone grasping to understand recent hostilities in the Middle East toward the United States.

Because Americans are inundated daily with public opinion polls, I urge you to study the graph Wright uses to support his article closely: “Widespread Opposition to Drone Strikes”.

Pew Global Attitudes Project
62% of Americans surveyed by Pew Global Attitudes Project approve drone strikes.

People in Tunisia (72%), Turkey (81%), Egypt (89%), and Jordan (85%) strongly disapprove.

To put it in another context, how would Americans answer this poll question:

Do you approve or disapprove of [insert Arab country] using drones to kill Americans within the borders of the United States?

Americans hold an ambivalent attitude toward our use of drones. As I point out in my interview with Wright (video), when the United States use drones, Americans only see news that terrorists have been killed, with scant mention of other casualties. People in the Middle East see those “other” casualties for what they really are: innocent bystanders.

What half the world sees as collateral damage, the other half mourns and denounces. When a drone strikes, it obliterates. If you are near the impact zone walking to the market or tending to your garden in your own home, you are gone in a violent instant. There is no rational, diplomatic explanation for the sudden destructive death of innocent men, women and children. There is only extreme grief, shocking unexplainable loss and righteous rage.

Wright’s article goes on to discuss other causes of anti-American anger throughout the Middle East, namely Palestine-Israel and US troops in Muslim countries, but from my vantage point the current ongoing and increasing use of drones will continue to forge distrust and justified disdain toward the United States.

Americans can continue to turn to tabloid-style Newsweek “Muslim Rage” sensationalism to forever fuel a lack of understanding, or as Wright points out, have the conversation: ”… when American policies have bad side effects, Americans need to talk about them…”

The presidential debates between President Obama and Mitt Romney would be a good place to start the discussion.

____

(Originally posted on @rbecker51's blog)

About the author: Robert Becker is a political consultant based in Cairo, Egypt and a Partner at WellsBecker MENA. For two decades Becker has been managing political campaigns, as well as designing and implementing communications strategies for clients across the globe.

Originally posted to rbecker51 on Mon Oct 01, 2012 at 04:33 AM PDT.

Also republished by Group W: Resisting War.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Tip Jar (18+ / 0-)

    US SENATOR PAUL WELLSTONE (JULY 21, 1944 – OCT. 25, 2002) - “If we don’t fight hard enough for the things we stand for, at some point we have to recognize that we don’t really stand for them.”

    by RFB on Mon Oct 01, 2012 at 04:33:14 AM PDT

  •  better drones than less accurate means. (5+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    SoCalSal, nextstep, MaikeH, VClib, Be Skeptical

    if your response is "i don't think we should drones or other means," then it just confirms that the real objection is to the war generally, not drones specifically.  

    •  This fallacy is called petitio principii. (0+ / 0-)

      That, in its essence, is fascism--ownership of government by an individual, by a group, or by any other controlling private power. -- Franklin D. Roosevelt --

      by enhydra lutris on Mon Oct 01, 2012 at 11:15:48 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  It has never worked before (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Claudius Bombarnac

      As the accuracy and range and power of weaponry has increased over time, the proportion of noncombatants killed in war has increased.

      In the Civil War, it was about 1:1. By World War II, with more accurate weaponry, it had become roughly 2:1. Today, with astonishing accuracy in weapons, we have war with perhaps 10 noncombatants killed per combatant.

      Realistic estimates for drone strikes put it somewhere around the 10:1 modern ratio.

      Why, if claims of better accuracy killing fewer noncombatants have never been true before, should we believe them now?

  •  what do you propose instead? (6+ / 0-)

    It's not sufficient to condemn, it's also necessary to propose.

    What do you propose instead of drone attacks?

    "Minus two votes for the Republican" equals "plus one vote for the Democrat." Arithmetic doesn't care about their feelings either!

    by G2geek on Mon Oct 01, 2012 at 04:55:20 AM PDT

    •  Arrest, a trail, and if convicted, sentencing (6+ / 0-)

      how about the good ol' fashioned American justice?

      If we suspect someone is plotting violence against Americans, we arrest them, try them, and if they are found guilty, a sentence is imposed.

      "Oh, but 9/11 changed everything!"  This is exactly what the conservatives said during the Bush administration to justify the use of torture, lying to the public about the meed for war, secret prisons, etc.  

      Yep, 9/11 not only changed America's tradition of justice and rule by law, but also changed our ideas of human dignity and universal civil rights.

      "The fool doth think he is wise: the wise man knows himself to be a fool" - W. Shakespeare

      by Hugh Jim Bissell on Mon Oct 01, 2012 at 06:15:19 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Oh sure, we just fight our way into a tribal area, (5+ / 0-)

        arrest the suspect, and fight our way back out.  Clearly, that will result in fewer civilian casualties.

        •  A couple of points (3+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          FutureNow, Roadbed Guy, shaharazade

          1) We have been fighting our way into the triabl areas with our wat in Afghanistan.  That hasn't worked to end terrorism or kill all the terrorists.

          2) There is no way to rightfully say whether drone strikes of ground troops kill more civilians.  The administration is not allowing a counting of civilians dead from drone strikes.  So saying groud troops would kill more civilains is simply speculation.

          3) We don't need groud troops when the host country has a police force.  If their police force needs help, the US can offer to provide civilian police help.  But all of this takes diplomacy.

          "The fool doth think he is wise: the wise man knows himself to be a fool" - W. Shakespeare

          by Hugh Jim Bissell on Mon Oct 01, 2012 at 06:32:41 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  HJB - the Pakistani police can't access (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Be Skeptical

            the tribal areas. These are parts of the country clearly outside the control of any government authorities. The notion that the Pakistani police could arrest someone there, even with our help, is comical.

            "let's talk about that"

            by VClib on Mon Oct 01, 2012 at 08:49:49 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

      •  how would you go about about arresting.... (4+ / 0-)

        .... Al Qaedas in Yemen, to bring them to trial?  

        "Minus two votes for the Republican" equals "plus one vote for the Democrat." Arithmetic doesn't care about their feelings either!

        by G2geek on Mon Oct 01, 2012 at 06:24:13 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  How do you know (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          shaharazade, John Kelly

          How do you know there are terrorists in Yemen?

          Oh right, because the Obama administration is bombing people there, and by the definition of the Obama administration, anyone standing where our bombs are falling is a terrorist.

          But let's pretend we have absolute evidence (fingerprints, say) that such and such a terrorist is living in Yemen.  Well, assuming the Yemeni police are still talking to American police after repeated bombings at the hands of the Americans, we ask the Yemeni police to arrest the terrorists.

          One of the drawbacks of a policy of "bomb first, ask questions later" is the locals start siding with the terrorists.  

          "The fool doth think he is wise: the wise man knows himself to be a fool" - W. Shakespeare

          by Hugh Jim Bissell on Mon Oct 01, 2012 at 06:39:24 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  Dude, your agenda-underwear is showing... (0+ / 0-)

            .... and it has visible poo stains.  

            Really: the anti-Obama cynicism totally undermines your arguement.  

            President Clinton asked Pakistan for help getting Bin Laden, and, what do you know?, Bin Laden scooted right quick.   Pakistani ISI is downright infested with Talibans.  In all probability Yemeni intel & LE are also infested with Talibans.

            What do you do when the locals are already infested to the point where asking them only results in the suspect scooting off to some even-safer-haven?  

            And, assuming that your objection is to the civilian casualties (I don't use the euphemism "collateral damage"), how'bout sniper-drones?   Equipped with long-range rifles, "one target, one bullet", just like the Marine Corps snipers but remote-controlled?  

            With that, we could identify senior AQs, and their tech support such as bomb-makers, and take them out with zero civilian casualties.  

            ---

            I'll be quite clear about this:  I believe the technology is evolving in that direction, and it will be possible to do it within five years.  In which case I whole-heartedly approve of that as an alternative to conventional warfare.  Take out the enemy leadership, one at a time, zero civilian casualties.  

            All of this should still require a Congressional declaration of war, and some kind of reporting and other checks & balances.  And there should be provisions whereby foreign hostiles can turn themselves in to international authorities (e.g. the UN) to be charged in international court.  But once war is declared, it's open season on enemy leadership, and their only option is to turn themselves in or face the prospect that their last words on Earth will be, "Oh look, is that a UFO?"

            "Minus two votes for the Republican" equals "plus one vote for the Democrat." Arithmetic doesn't care about their feelings either!

            by G2geek on Mon Oct 01, 2012 at 07:11:53 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  You certainly have a lot of shoulds, and ifs, (0+ / 0-)

              assumptions, and hopes for success in killing the right people in your future scenarios.  That is a whole lot of karma you are assuming for yourself.  For your sake, I hope you are "right".  "Oh wow, I get to make the determination of who lives and who dies".  Best wishes to you in your exactitude and certainty.

              "Too often we enjoy the comfort of opinion without the discomfort of thought." - John F. Kennedy

              by helpImdrowning on Mon Oct 01, 2012 at 07:39:11 AM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  if where you're coming from is... (2+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                Be Skeptical, SoCalSal

                ... principled pacifism, I can respect that.

                For that matter I'm basically a pacifist with a few exceptions: defense of self or innocent others, and defense of country against foreign attack.  I also believe in the "just war" theory, that seeks to restrain warfare to its most limited circumstances and objectives.  

                AQ demonstrated an attack capability equivalent to that of a small nation's military force.  They attacked both civilian targets and the headquarters of our national defense.  By any definition, if they were a nation-state, that would have been an act of war, and it would have called for us to go to war to eliminate any future threat from that source.

                In a world where technology and infrastructure can be hijacked for hostile purposes and used for mass casualty attacks by foreign sub-national groups, such groups have to be dealt with in a manner proportional to the nature of the threat.  

                AQ has demonstrated military-equivalent strength, so a military response is reasonable.  

                The fact that Bush basically fucked it up bigtime, and if anything made it worse, does not mean that Obama should unilaterally declare peace until the next time they hit us and kill a few thousand people, or a few tens of thousands.

                The minimal definition of military victory is to defeat the adversary's will to fight.  The key question is how to go about obtaining that result with the minimal risk to innocent persons.  

                Drone warfare is evolving toward precisely that goal: being able to snipe the leadership without causing civilian casualties.  

                Admittedly it causes civilian casualties now.  But those civilian casualties are far fewer in number than have occurred with any method of warfare since the advent of "modern" firearms in the mid 19th century.   And the trend of technology development is toward increasing accuracy and precision, thereby decreasing the civilian casualties.   All of this conforms to the "just war" theory.  

                As for the issue of who gets to make that determination:

                Our elected officials decide, and our military follows the lawful orders of the chain of command.  

                That means the moral burden is on us, the citizens, to elect Presidents who can be counted on to take their duties as Commander-in-Chief with the utmost seriousness and execute those duties with mindfulness and all due caution.  

                I believe that Obama has done so.  He has managed the exit from Iraq on schedule as he claimed.  He is managing the progress toward exiting Afghanistan as he claimed.  He took out Bin Laden and senior AQ leadership without widening the scope of American ground combat.  

                Those items demonstrate that he takes his duties as C-in-C with the utmost seriousness, mindfulness, and all due caution.  

                There's something else about Obama that I happen to know because it's a cognitive trait that is somewhat unusual and that both he and I have:  "Keatsian negative capability," the ability to doubt your own preferred hypotheses and subject them to rigorous scrutiny.  I saw that in him during the 2008 primaries, which is why I supported him in the first place.  People who actively doubt themselves are few and far between in national politics.  Those who do so with the degree of intellectual and emotional self-discipline Obama has demonstrated, are far fewer.  

                The bottom line is that war in any form is hell, and nobody knows it like the people who fight in it.  A thoughtful President also knows it because he has to deal with the diplomatic consequences, and he sees the returning coffins and speaks with families of deceased service members.  

                We didn't bring this upon ourselves, except perhaps by failing to go into the streets in huge numbers when Bush was "selected" in 2000, and again when the 2004 election was subject to enough questionable circumstances as to raise the legitimate question of whether it was overtly stolen.  

                But we did turn out in full force in 2008, and we elected the best of the best.  That does not mean that unpleasant realities will immediately go away.  Far from it: cleaning up after eight years of the Bush Admin's supreme ineptitude and neocon dogma in action, leaving us with multiple national crises and emergencies, should by all reasonable predictions take decades.  The fact that it has been managed as well as it has, is a strong point in Obama's favor.  

                If there's someone else you would rather have sitting in that office, by all means let us know.  

                "Minus two votes for the Republican" equals "plus one vote for the Democrat." Arithmetic doesn't care about their feelings either!

                by G2geek on Mon Oct 01, 2012 at 08:18:32 AM PDT

                [ Parent ]

            •  There is nothing wrong with having an opinion (0+ / 0-)

              There is nothing wrong with having an opinion.  My opinion about drone strikes or the Obama administration is no more biased than your opinion about the same.

              You are correct Pakistan and its role in our war.  One of the reasons we can not leave Afghanistan is because of Pakistan.  US troops in Afghanistan regularly receive fire from over the Pakistan border (our supposed ally).  Indeed, the US drone strikes in Pakistan occur with Paki intelligence, and after the drone strikes, the Paki government will condemn the drone strikes.  So the government both aid and condemns the drone strikes at the same time.  And well they should because the Paki government is not liked by the people of Pakistan, in part because of the bombings the Paki people suffer at the hands of their ally, the US.

              So the question goes back to you: what do you do?  Invade Afghanistan where the war is not?  Invade neighboring Pakistan, our supposed ally?  Continue bombing our ally?  Go home and hope the problem goes away?

              What I suggest - stop the "war" and re-engage in police work - may be no more effective in stopping terrorism than our 11 years of war in Afghanistan.  But it does have the advantage of 1) conforming to US and international law; 2) stops the bombings of civilian non-combatants, 3) works with and not against an allied government;  4) aid our leaving Afghanistan; 5) is likely a great deal less expensive for US tax-payer.

              There are many good reasons to end drone strikes.  Continuing drone strikes and advocating drone strikes for the sake of president Obama's re-election is as groteque as supporting the war in Iraq so Bush could gain re-election.

              "The fool doth think he is wise: the wise man knows himself to be a fool" - W. Shakespeare

              by Hugh Jim Bissell on Mon Oct 01, 2012 at 07:55:27 AM PDT

              [ Parent ]

          •  Read up on Yemen, HJB. (0+ / 0-)

            If you don't trust the CIA reports or American media or the BBC, look up Al Jazeera's Yemen page here. Read something.

            The USA drone strikes are at the invitation by, and coordination with, the Yemeni government, to help Yemen's efforts to eliminate Al Qaeda in Yemen.

            Your comment shows naivety.

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

            by SoCalSal on Mon Oct 01, 2012 at 07:29:49 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  Why not offer US police help? (0+ / 0-)

              If the Yemeni government ask for help bombing their citizens, is that a good thing for the US to do?

              If the Yemeni government is willing to allow US bombing in their country, might they instead be pursuaded to accept US help in arresting terrorists?

              Why does the US and Yemen governments favor bombing over police work?

              Should the US government bomb neigborhoods in Phoenix, AZ. because there are houses there that harbor illegal aliens?

              "The fool doth think he is wise: the wise man knows himself to be a fool" - W. Shakespeare

              by Hugh Jim Bissell on Mon Oct 01, 2012 at 08:01:47 AM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  Last I checked, (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                Be Skeptical

                undocumented aliens in AZ were not plotting car bombs in three AZ cities, as terrorists are plotting in Yemen according to the Yemeni president recently. Nor has there been a suicide bomber in AZ, such as the May 2012 bomber who killed 90 people and injured hundreds.

                Your statement is ridiculous, there's no analogy.

                Read this, the entire article: Suicide attack in Yemen

                WASHINGTON — A huge suicide bombing in the heart of Yemen’s capital Monday morning left hundreds dead and wounded, stunning the country’s beleaguered government and delivering a stark setback to the American counterterrorism campaign against Al Qaeda’s regional franchise, which has repeatedly tried to plant bombs on United States-bound jetliners.
                 Militants allied with Al Qaeda quickly claimed responsibility for the bombing, in which a man disguised as a soldier blew himself up in the midst of a military parade rehearsal near the presidential palace in Sana, the capital. It was the deadliest terrorist attack in years in Yemen, the dirt-poor south Arabian country that is now central to United States concerns about terrorism.

                The militant group, which goes by the name Ansar al Shariah, said in a Facebook post that the attack was aimed at Yemen’s defense minister and was intended to retaliate for the government campaign against Al Qaeda’s southern sanctuaries that began this month. The militants appear to be holding out and inflicting heavy losses on Yemen’s weak and divided army, despite a stepped-up United States campaign of drone strikes and military assistance.

                The suicide bombing brought scenes of horrific carnage to a central square in Yemen’s capital, which is heavily fortified and had been spared the worst of the insurgent violence.

                “I saw arms and legs scattered on the ground,” said one young soldier named Jamal. “The wounded people were piled on top of each other, covered with blood. It was awful.”

                Do read the entire article.

                Your proposal to use police action instead of drone strikes is equally ridiculous. Yemen is battling terrorists in the south, the USA is using drone strikes in the north, in tribal areas (as is done in Pakistan). You want to send police in those tribal areas? Get real.

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

                by SoCalSal on Mon Oct 01, 2012 at 09:57:52 AM PDT

                [ Parent ]

                •  Listen to your government (0+ / 0-)

                  According to Jan Brewer, all those illegal aliens are causing headless bodies to frequently show up in the AZ desert.

                  And Gov. Brewer is an official of the US government.  You do believe the pronouncements of government officials, don't you?  At least, when they are telling you about the great accuracy of drone bombing attacks.

                  And as for acts of terrorism, there was a shooting of (I forget - 20 people?) right in downtown Phoenix, in which a sitting US representative was shot in the head, and six others were killed.  

                  Are public mass killings only acts of terrorism when they happen in Yemen?  We are told the person responsible for the Phoenix shooting was deranged, but wasn't he also acting in response to a coordinated propaganda compaign to discredit the US government?

                  The analogy not only holds, it is all too close for comfort.

                  "The fool doth think he is wise: the wise man knows himself to be a fool" - W. Shakespeare

                  by Hugh Jim Bissell on Mon Oct 01, 2012 at 10:16:16 AM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

                  •  Wow. you are really over the edge. (0+ / 0-)

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

                    by SoCalSal on Mon Oct 01, 2012 at 10:32:40 AM PDT

                    [ Parent ]

                    •  Insults are a sign of a losing argument (0+ / 0-)

                      When insulting me is all you've got, then you have lost the argument.

                      If being sceptical of our government's pronouncements about how wonderful it is we are bombing civilians in countries with which we are not at war is what qualifies me as "over the edge", then yes, I am guilty as charged, your honor.

                      "The fool doth think he is wise: the wise man knows himself to be a fool" - W. Shakespeare

                      by Hugh Jim Bissell on Mon Oct 01, 2012 at 11:12:18 AM PDT

                      [ Parent ]

                      •  When you compare (1+ / 0-)
                        Recommended by:
                        Be Skeptical

                        the disproven, crazy rantings of Jan Brewer to Al Qaeda and affiliated terrorist organizations in Yemen - yes, you've gone past the edge of rational thought.

                        When you compare the shooting of 20 in AZ by a mentally disturbed lone gunman to the thousands that have been killed by terrorist groups in Yemen - yes, you've definitely lost your perspective.

                        When you state that Yemeni police, with the aid of USA police, should be able to halt Yemeni terrorists, you demonstrate that you don't know that Yemeni police have been targets of the terrorists and hundreds of Yemeni police have been killed or wounded. You also demonstrate that you don't know much about Yemen.

                        When you make false statements that Yemen and the USA are targeting Yemeni civilians, you lose all credibility.

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

                        by SoCalSal on Mon Oct 01, 2012 at 03:12:40 PM PDT

                        [ Parent ]

                        •  How many have been killed by US bombs? (0+ / 0-)

                          Yes, terrorists have killed thousands.

                          How many civilian non-combatants have been killed by US drone bombings?  Nobody knows.

                          Yet you believe the spokesperson for the Obama administration who says "less than 5" non-combatants have been killed.

                          Jan Brewer says illegal aliens are causing headless bodies to show up in the AZ desert.  And you decide not to believe that story.

                          You believe one government official, but not the other one.  I wonder why?  

                          And you accuse me of not being rational.

                          "The fool doth think he is wise: the wise man knows himself to be a fool" - W. Shakespeare

                          by Hugh Jim Bissell on Mon Oct 01, 2012 at 06:04:51 PM PDT

                          [ Parent ]

                          •  I did not say what I think of (0+ / 0-)

                            the number of civilian casualties by drone strikes, so you are, again, leaping to conclusions. I did, however, state that Jan Brewer's charges were false (and that she's crazy). ;)

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

                            by SoCalSal on Mon Oct 01, 2012 at 07:27:01 PM PDT

                            [ Parent ]

  •  I admit that I'm ambivilent about drones (0+ / 0-)

    I loathe that they take civillian lives, but as a tool, I'm rather meh about them.

    On the other hand I'm meh about the entire "War on Terr(a)or" No one in a place to make any policy cares anymore and it will lumber on for decades. At least the drones are far less expensive than fighter jets.

    It's either drones or F-15s or whatever manned fighter craft we use. Drones are here to stay. Hate to say it, but the future kind of snuck up on us in quite a few ways.

    pseudoscience can kill

    by terrypinder on Mon Oct 01, 2012 at 05:03:10 AM PDT

  •  Decent people, of any country origin, will (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    joanneleon, Superskepticalman

    agree that drone strikes that kill innocent people is obviously a terrible and horrendous occurrence no matter where, when, or, who perpetuates it.  There is no disagreement between decent people anywhere that this is a horrific result when innocent people are hurt by war.  It will hopefully, always be so, that decent people everywhere will rise up and be heard that the deaths of innocents is unacceptable and will not be considered as just another example of collateral damage.  Unfortunately, if we don't examine the ugliness of war in general, the next victims could be any of us.

    "Too often we enjoy the comfort of opinion without the discomfort of thought." - John F. Kennedy

    by helpImdrowning on Mon Oct 01, 2012 at 05:04:19 AM PDT

    •  The definition of terrorism (3+ / 0-)

      What is terrorism?  The use of public acts of violence for the purpose of creating fear in the population for political purposes.

      Seems to me that if you are standing in a town where a drone strike is occurring, you are going to see this as a terrorist attack.

      "The fool doth think he is wise: the wise man knows himself to be a fool" - W. Shakespeare

      by Hugh Jim Bissell on Mon Oct 01, 2012 at 06:19:24 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  If fear is placed in the population, it's an (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        VClib, Be Skeptical

        incidental and unintended effect of the air campaign.  That's precisely what makes the difference, HJB.

        •  Not to Arthur Harris or Curtis LeMay... (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          milkbone

          See Keegan, "The Second World War," pp. 420-421:

          Goaded by Churchill, the RAF first of all committed itself to a programme of building up Bomber Command to a strength of 4000 heavy bombers (when the daily total of serviceable machines was only 700); after that target was recognized to be unattainable, it brought itself to accept that the bombers it already deployed must in future be used to kill German civilians, since the factories in which they worked could not be hit with precision. On 14 February [1942] the Air Staff issued a directive emphasising that henceforth operations 'should now be focused on the morale of the enemy civilian population and in particular of industrial workers'.

          Life is the ultimate economic bubble; we leave this life with all the capital we initially invested: none.

          by Superskepticalman on Mon Oct 01, 2012 at 07:47:33 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  First, let me say that war is ugly and most (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Be Skeptical

            people would wish that it was a thing unnecessary and unknown.  However, humanity being what we are, not all wars are created equal, and different wars require different strategies; all ugly, but some necessary.

            "Too often we enjoy the comfort of opinion without the discomfort of thought." - John F. Kennedy

            by helpImdrowning on Mon Oct 01, 2012 at 07:59:15 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  Too often distinctions are drawn without... (0+ / 0-)

              difference. Civilians are presumed to be civilians, and not combatants, until established otherwise.

              Life is the ultimate economic bubble; we leave this life with all the capital we initially invested: none.

              by Superskepticalman on Mon Oct 01, 2012 at 08:07:23 AM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  Although, hindsight is 20/20, I was referring (0+ / 0-)

                to WWII and the horrors committed by the Nazi's and the necessity of defeating them for all of mankind, IMVHO.  There have been times in human history, when real monsters appear that must be crushed with purpose and the full force of mankind's allegiance to a higher decency and "humanhood".  No one people should ever be allowed to destroy another people, ever.  At the end of the day, we essentially spring from the same genetic stock, making us brothers and sisters, all.  Genocide of any kind is unacceptable, not only because of its horror, but because it diminishes and is a menace to us all when we fail to appreciate the beauty and necessity of the diversity that we have finally achieved.

                "Too often we enjoy the comfort of opinion without the discomfort of thought." - John F. Kennedy

                by helpImdrowning on Mon Oct 01, 2012 at 09:35:45 AM PDT

                [ Parent ]

        •  So it's intent that matters (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          BradyB

          When US drones are striking weddings or funerals, or attacking rescuers who come to the site of a drone strike, the intent is not to terrorize, and thus, we are superior to the terrorists, even as we leave a trail of dead civilians in our wake, just like they do.

          I suppose this difference in intent allows us to sleep at night, while the people of northwest Pakistan no longer have this luxury at all? Can you imagine living in a place where your house might explode at any moment?

          "As the madmen play on words, and make us all dance to their song / to the tune of starving millions, to make a better kind of gun..." -- Iron Maiden

          by Lost Left Coaster on Mon Oct 01, 2012 at 08:20:34 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

  •  I appreciate that you have made this politician (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    cotterperson

    neutral.  So often the discussion here about drones centers around the "here is another reason I don't like the President" which obliterates the issue of drone usage. I agree with other commenters that they are probably here to stay and that an argument for their discontinued use should include an alternative. Do you think better guidelines about what is an acceptable use is workable?  Or do you think abolition is the only way to fix the problem?

    "Speak the TRUTH, even if your voice shakes."

    by stellaluna on Mon Oct 01, 2012 at 05:29:51 AM PDT

    •  An alternative (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      stellaluna, julifolo

      People used to use this rhetoric of the "alternative" against those of us who oppose torture as well. "Don't like torture? What's your alternative?"

      To me that is a grotesque question, because the act in question is so unambiguously wrong. Torture is wrong. Killing hundreds of civilians, attacking funerals and rescue operations, terrorizing people with constant circulation of drones in the air, all of this is wrong. You don't need to present an alternative. We have to make the moral argument against drones. We have to engage in the bizarre but necessary conversation with our fellow Americans that slaughtering civilians is wrong, period. Maybe they'll be willing to consider this.

      Here's an alternative: an America that does not feel that it has the right to kill anyone it wants, anywhere, anytime. Is that something we can imagine?

      "As the madmen play on words, and make us all dance to their song / to the tune of starving millions, to make a better kind of gun..." -- Iron Maiden

      by Lost Left Coaster on Mon Oct 01, 2012 at 08:31:03 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  I agree with you to the extent that the moral (0+ / 0-)

        discussion should stop with it is wrong to kill innocent people. Perhaps what we need to do then is address the fact that drone warfare is not an effective use in counteracting terrorist acts. Because we still have to fill the void that our military says drones fill--stopping terrorism.  If we can't do that we will never be able to stop the indiscriminate use of drones.

        "Speak the TRUTH, even if your voice shakes."

        by stellaluna on Mon Oct 01, 2012 at 08:39:07 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  No, we don't (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Claudius Bombarnac

          The USA was attacked on September 11th, 2001. Bin Laden is dead. Our invasion of Afghanistan is more or less a failure, and nothing is going to turn that around. The USA homeland hasn't been successfully attacked by Al Qaeda since 2001. In fact, no one but a few lone wolves, with minimal competence, have even tried.

          Terrorism is not being stopped by drones. Drones are perpetuating terrorism through their own acts of terror. To stop terror with drone strikes is like putting out a fire with gasoline. We would honestly be safer if all drone strikes stopped tomorrow.

          The USA is targeted by terrorists because of our empire of military bases and client states that repress human rights at home (like Bahrain) and abroad (like Israel) (standard caveat: this does not in any way justify terror attacks against the USA, Israel, or anyone else; this is an explanation, not a justification). If the USA were to ramp down its empire, we may just face less violent opposition around the world. And, lo and behold, we'd even have more money at home to rebuild our economy.

          Drones to not make us safer. A safer alternative for the USA would be to not use drones at all. Remember, the man who attempted to bomb Times Square said that he was motivated by civilian drone strike deaths. To him, civilian life in New York was just as expendable as civilian life in Pakistan is to the CIA, the US military, and legions of supporters.

          "As the madmen play on words, and make us all dance to their song / to the tune of starving millions, to make a better kind of gun..." -- Iron Maiden

          by Lost Left Coaster on Mon Oct 01, 2012 at 09:09:35 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  The US was attacked September 11, 2012 (0+ / 0-)

            If we can show that attack was because of drones we are likely to prevail. But if it was a non drone related terrorist attack we still have to answer the question. It will not help to ignore the fact that there are still terrorists who hate the US and want to harm it.  Showing that drones add to instead of solve the problem would be good. Ignoring the problem ensures failure.

            "Speak the TRUTH, even if your voice shakes."

            by stellaluna on Mon Oct 01, 2012 at 09:27:36 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  Why do the terrorists hate America? (0+ / 0-)
              Ignoring the problem ensures failure.
              It sure does. Can you elaborate on the "problem"?
              •  The problem that I was referring to is (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                RFB

                the anit-US feelings that lead to terrorist attacks.  I think drones contribute to those feelings.  Whether not using drones would stop terrorism is a different question.  One problem we have is terrorism.  If drones add to the likelihood of terrorist acts against the US then surely we should do everything we can to stop them.  Ignoring the contribution of drones to the the negative feelings toward the US is done at our own peril.  But the hatred preceeds drones.  Some of the hatred is cultural and we probably aren't going to be able to do anything about that.

                "Speak the TRUTH, even if your voice shakes."

                by stellaluna on Mon Oct 01, 2012 at 01:09:18 PM PDT

                [ Parent ]

    •  I think we need to have exactly this discussion. (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      cosmic debris

      If I had an alternative or solution I would have listed it. As an American living in the Middle East you see things from a different perspective.

      We live in an interconnected world and drone strikes are absolutely fueling hatred for the United States. Do we care? If not, then by all means, continue.

      But I think we do care and in order for the US to positively interact with Egypt, Libya, Tunisia, Yemen, etc. we must stop pretending that this issue, among others, is not doing us great harm.

      We can't have it both ways. The US cannot stand as a beacon of freedom and equality and the rule of law today, and then bomb a wedding tomorrow and expect Muslims to not see the contradiction.

      I absolutely support President Obama's reelection, but maintain there needs to be an open discussion about our drone policy. If drones will continue to used maybe we do need guidelines, or at the very least, better transparency.

      US SENATOR PAUL WELLSTONE (JULY 21, 1944 – OCT. 25, 2002) - “If we don’t fight hard enough for the things we stand for, at some point we have to recognize that we don’t really stand for them.”

      by RFB on Mon Oct 01, 2012 at 10:32:32 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  How about this as an alternative. (8+ / 0-)

    You do not kill people in foreign countries unless you have declared war on them or they have declared war on you. And labeling someone a terrorist is not sufficent. If you are going to argue that we are entitled to use drones in other countries then you must allow other countries to use them agianst us. We are not the single empire ruling the world. And we are getting our ass kicked in public opinoin. And our actions justify terrorism against us. We care not for the innocent victims of multiple drone attacks so no one will care about the loss of innocent American life in terrorist attacks against us. What comes around goes around.

    When a lesser power faces a greater power in a fight and the lesser power is fighting to recover a lost sense of dignity that lesser power will use whatever weapon it can improvise. Rocks, IUDs, sucide bombers, car bombs, etc. We know this from the wars of independence of the latter 20th century, the war of independence for Israel, the Irish Revolution and so on. We may be killing people with drones but we are losing the war. And the world is learning that Bush was not an aberration. So many Americans support torture and banned practices like drone strikes. And that sends a message to the world that we only really want to be feared. So much for democracy.

    •  The AUMF was a declaration of war. (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      VClib
      •  No, it wasn't a declaration of war (0+ / 0-)

        Please don't tell me you believe that. The Constitution is clear on what a declaration of war is. There hasn't been such a thing by the USA since December 1941.

        "As the madmen play on words, and make us all dance to their song / to the tune of starving millions, to make a better kind of gun..." -- Iron Maiden

        by Lost Left Coaster on Mon Oct 01, 2012 at 08:31:59 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  The AUMF is a declaration of war only (0+ / 0-)

        under our domestic law. Not international law. We have not fought a legal conflict since the Korean War. And we have been in violation of international law as far as weapons are concerned since the end of WWII. We can not expect others to abide by international law when we ourselves do not abide by international law. We commit war crimes and at the same time hide war criminals and try other war criminals in our courts. It is rank hypocrisy and it damages our ability to conduct foreign policy.

        When you can kill people without the need to endanger your soldiers you build a sense of hopeless impotent rage among your victims/targets. Wonder why Afghan police who we train and arm shoot at us? Because they can. It is a way of fighting back. If the US were in the same situation we would do likewise. If the US were occupied by a foreign force we would be fighting everyday to expel the invaders. Even after our army was defeated. We would not just give up. Why do you expect others to just give up? Did the Irish in 1916? Or the Israelis in 1948? Or the East Timorese?

        Arguments based on morality are useless when you are acting immorally. And arguments based on law are useless when you are acting illegally. These are self serving excuses.

  •  In 2007, this would have been a recced diary (11+ / 0-)

    Yes, the drones are totally illegal and immoral and are one more factor distancing Americans from the wars we fund.

    If a Republican were president, this site would be raising hell on this issue.

    But now we have "liberals" defending this tactic. Go figure.

    I am waiting until after the elections to start addressing issues like this here, because this place, as much as I love and respect it, is fuck-all during election season.

    "Human history is not the battle of good struggling to overcome evil. It is a battle fought by a great evil struggling to crush a small kernel of human kindness."

    - Vasily Grossman, Life and Fate

    by Tirge Caps on Mon Oct 01, 2012 at 05:46:21 AM PDT

    •  Drones aren't illegal. (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      SoCalSal, VClib

      That's just a silly statement.  

    •  Illegal and immoral? (0+ / 0-)

      Although some in the Pakistani government have decried drone attacks through the news media, the evidence shows the drone program has Pakistani government complicit:

      Diplomats and security analysts believe Pakistan continues to give its consent for the drone strikes.

      Confidential diplomatic cables released by WikiLeaks revealed that, in 2008, Pakistan's army chief, General Ashfaq Kayani, asked the US for "continuous Predator [drone] coverage" in part of South Waziristan.

      In the same year, former prime minister Yousuf Raza Gilani told the US ambassador that he did not care about the US programme "as long as they get the right people".

      link

      As for Yemen, read this: Yemen govt. admits to request for US drone strikes.

      Not illegal.

      So it would seem that drone attacks would cease in Pakistan and Yemen if the governments told the USA to stop; they have not done so (Pakistani statements to the press are not equivalent to diplomatic communications). And why have they not done so? Because of terrorist attacks within their borders, threatening civilians and government officials. Of note: the suicide bomber in May, in Yemen, killing 90 people and injuring hundreds. Do you decry those attacks as immoral?

      In May 2012, the country was rocked by the worst terrorist bombing in years when a suicide attacker disguised as a Yemeni soldier blew himself up in the midst of a military parade rehearsal near the presidential palace in Sana, the capital. The Yemen Defense Ministry said more than 90 people were killed and hundreds wounded.

      Militants allied with Al Qaeda quickly claimed responsibility for the bombing. The militant group, which goes by the name Ansar al Shariah, said in a Facebook post that the attack was aimed at Yemen’s defense minister and was intended to retaliate for the government campaign against Al Qaeda’s southern sanctuaries that began earlier in May.

      link

      So what about those terrorist attacks? Are they immoral? Which is worse -- helping a weak country defeat terrorists and remain democratic, or not helping as the government falls to extremists?

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

      by SoCalSal on Mon Oct 01, 2012 at 08:42:51 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  I agree that the debates (4+ / 0-)

    Would be an excellent forum for discussing drones and their impact in the execution of American foreign policy. I doubt it will come up, just as the issue of war in Afghanistan has not yet come up, substantively.

    As can be seen by some of the responses here, it is not an issue partisans want to discuss, given all the inconvenient truths about collateral damage and morality problems.

    Given where the author comes from and noted experience, I'd appreciate much more on the topic in general.

    Thank you for posting this, RFB.

    The dirty little secret of American politics: There is no way to vote against the interests of Goldman Sachs. ~ C.Hedges

    by cosmic debris on Mon Oct 01, 2012 at 06:31:51 AM PDT

    •  By why would this come up at the debates? (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      cosmic debris

      there is complete bipartisan agreement that this type of outrage is A-OK!!

      •  If the Press was doing its job (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Roadbed Guy

        It would be an excellent opportunity to clarify the differences between candidates, should they exist, regarding their approaches to military and foreign policy, and more specifically policy in the Middle East.

        It would be an excellent opportunity to inform the electorate.

        That is of course a big "if"

        The dirty little secret of American politics: There is no way to vote against the interests of Goldman Sachs. ~ C.Hedges

        by cosmic debris on Mon Oct 01, 2012 at 06:49:18 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  Thanks (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      cosmic debris

      As I mentioned above:
      We can't have it both ways. The US cannot stand as a beacon of freedom and equality and the rule of law today, and then bomb a wedding tomorrow and expect Muslims to not see the contradiction.

      We must have this debate.

      US SENATOR PAUL WELLSTONE (JULY 21, 1944 – OCT. 25, 2002) - “If we don’t fight hard enough for the things we stand for, at some point we have to recognize that we don’t really stand for them.”

      by RFB on Mon Oct 01, 2012 at 10:36:35 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  The bombings will continue (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Lost Left Coaster

    until their morale improves.

    Hige sceal þe heardra, heorte þe cenre, mod sceal þe mare, þe ure mægen lytlað

    by milkbone on Mon Oct 01, 2012 at 08:12:46 AM PDT

  •  Drones allow the US to continue it's War of Terror (0+ / 0-)

    around the world unabated. Most Americans only object to war if it costs too much in treasure or in American lives. Drone warfare ensures there is no "skin in the game" - foreign lives are cheap and expendable.

    Lesley Stahl on U.S. sanctions against Iraq: We have heard that a half million children have died. I mean, that's more children than died in Hiroshima. And, you know, is the price worth it?

    Secretary of State Madeleine Albright: I think this is a very hard choice, but the price--we think the price is worth it.

    --60 Minutes (5/12/96)

    Here's what 'War by X-Box" looks like to the people on the receiving end:
    'Every Person Is Afraid of the Drones': The Strikes' Effect on Life in Pakistan

    The scarce attention given to the Obama Administration's drone war in tribal areas of Pakistan is mostly spent on the dead. News articles tally the number of "militants" killed. Occasionally dead innocents break into the headlines as statistics. "Drone Strike Kills 13 Civilians." There are never names.

    A new report published by the international law clinics at New York University and Stanford grapples with dead innocents. But it also highlights interviews with people living through the drone strikes in Pakistan's tribal areas. They are human reminders that America's drone campaign affects not only those hit by missiles, whether rightly or wrongly, but also innocents all around them.

    Our drones are attacking the community where they live.

  •  Has anybody here considered the root causes (0+ / 0-)

    that requires the bombing of people all around the world? I sense that there is more than a vestige of that old canard "they hate us because of our freedoms" left.

    Why did the terrorists chose the World Trade Center and the Pentagon as targets? The reason the US is hated is directly related to those two targets.

    OWS is basically a protest against the policies and excesses of the WTO, the World Bank and the IMF. As the social-economic conditions within the US continue to deteriorate, we are going to see more and more militarization of the police by the Pentagon.

    Americans are only now beginning to feel what has been done in third world countries for decades. In the past, the rapacious corporations brought home the goodies and made life prosperous for many US citizens. Now that these corporations have gone multinational, they no longer fly any flag. Their great wealth has allowed them to become sovereign entities with protected enclaves throughout the world.

    Remember, what goes around, eventually comes around.

  •  Republished to Group W (0+ / 0-)

    That, in its essence, is fascism--ownership of government by an individual, by a group, or by any other controlling private power. -- Franklin D. Roosevelt --

    by enhydra lutris on Mon Oct 01, 2012 at 11:15:05 AM PDT

  •  UPDATE: Drone strikes: former State Department off (0+ / 0-)

    "… [retired US Army Colonel and former State Department diplomat, Ann] Wright referred to recent surveys conducted by three independent organisations, which stated that nearly 2500 to 3000 people have been killed including 400 to 800 civilians and 176 children in drone strikes. 'The US is killing innocent people, women and children under the drone programme, which has no transparency and accountability,' she maintained, adding that the US officials are even reluctant to speak in the US courts on the drone programme citing national security…"

    FULL STORY: http://www.brecorder.com/...

    US SENATOR PAUL WELLSTONE (JULY 21, 1944 – OCT. 25, 2002) - “If we don’t fight hard enough for the things we stand for, at some point we have to recognize that we don’t really stand for them.”

    by RFB on Mon Oct 01, 2012 at 05:22:45 PM PDT

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