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In the fight against terrorism, the American military's escalating drone program has become the face of our foreign policy in Pakistan, Yemen and parts of Africa. And while the use of un-manned drones indeed protects American soldiers, the growing number of casualties -- which include civilians as well as suspected terrorists -- has prompted a United Nations investigation into both the legality and the deadly toll of these strikes.

Here, Vicki Divoll, a former general counsel to the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence and former deputy legal adviser to the C.I.A.'s Counterterrorism Center, and Vincent Warren, Executive Director of the Center for Constitutional Rights, discuss the legal, ethical, and judicial issues involved in U.S. drone attacks and whom they target, including their concern about U.S. citizens placed on the "hit list," as well as an alarming lack of government disclosure on its drone policy.

Watch the whole conversation this weekend on Moyers & Company. Check here for times and channels.


Do you support the current use of drones by the American military?

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Comment Preferences

  •  There are some very interesting scholars (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    VClib, ColoTim, PatriciaVa

    out there that either take the position that drones are lawful or that the case for their legality isn't as clearcut as the most vociferous detractors would have us believe.

    Sounds like a missed opportunity for an interesting exploration of what is very likely the future of warfare.

    •  Not sure if whether they're lawful or not (0+ / 0-)

      is really the point here!

    •  Note the use (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      of interesting scholars as opposed to say, good scholars.(names would also be useful)

      As for this:

      their legality isn't as clearcut as the most vociferous detractors would have us believe.
      That is just about as weak a statement as it is possible to make without declaring neutrality.

      Your comment's only purpose is to neutralize any attack on Obama without actually saying anything.

      •  Well unfortunately (5+ / 0-)

        one of the very best "liberal" legal scholars in the country, Harold Koh, has given them program his blessing, and he's not alone. Their argument hinges on a loose interpretation of the already loose 2001 AUMF, but passage of a U.S. law doesn't exempt the United States from having to follow international law, and it's not following IL in various ways. Particularly problematic are signature strikes, which account for most strikes; those are when the identities of the targets aren't known.

        •  Hellers' analysis is one that I think would (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:

          be great to have explored in a far reaching venue.  Distinctions between IHL, IHRL, and the fine-grained rules of IL are all neat topics that I think a lot of people would find interesting.  

          •  Might have to go the legal blogs for that (4+ / 0-)

            One of the political problems for opponents (like me) is that there's a two-tiered argument that tends to get muddled.

            We contest the claim that the U.S. is an armed conflict in places like Yemen, which would mean that international human rights law, not international humanitarian law (or the law of armed conflict) applies, but we also say that even if the U.S. is in an armed conflict with Yemen, the U.S. is violating the law in various ways.

            •  This is an interesting comment (0+ / 0-)

              I'd like to know more about the differences between those laws, but without having to read large volumes of information.  Do you have any recommendations for sources on that subject?

              "Justice is a commodity"

              by joanneleon on Wed Jan 30, 2013 at 04:39:56 PM PST

              [ Parent ]

      •  Good scholars. Kevin Jon Heller and (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        Benjamin Wittes come to mind immediately.  

        I'm not trying to neutralize anything; I just think this is an interesting topic and I don't think the people that Moyers has selected will make for an interesting show.  It'll make for a didactic one, for sure, and if that's what he wanted to do, that's his show and he's free to do so.  But, again, I think it's a bit of a missed opportunity.

    •  Drones themseves (6+ / 0-)

      aren't legal or illegal; at issue is the way the U.S. is using them; or to be more precise, at the issue in its policy and practice of targeted killing.

      Does the United States have the legal authority, under U.S. and international law, to, for example, kill without due process Somalis who appear to be affiliated with an AQ-affilated group that didn't even exist on 9-11--01?

      As to your point, in this clip above -- one of the guests Vicki Divoll -- says she believes the U.S. is using them in a legal manner, so that could be just the exploration you're looking for.

    •  Within 20 years the US will have a unmanned.. (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      ..jet fighter landing on a carrier.

      So much more you can do without having to worry about life support systems or G-forces that black out even the best pilots.

      Are they legal?  Was it legal to use atomic weapons in WW2?

      Moreover, I believe that UAVs will allow the US military to provide more at a lower price.  And not just UAVs.  Unmanned armed dune buggies also will help.

      Learn about Centrist Economics, learn about Robert Rubin's Hamilton Project.

      by PatriciaVa on Wed Jan 30, 2013 at 01:32:55 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Wasn't there something earlier today (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    on this site talking about colleges training students to pilot drones?  They guesstimated 10,000 jobs for people who would be piloting them for military and civilian uses.  I wonder what kind of ethics training they may have - Do not buzz cars on highways or flocks in fields... Do not sell videos made over stars' houses or nude beaches... Just because you can doesn't mean you should...

    •  The police forces who want to engage (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      PhilJD, gooderservice, joanneleon, ColoTim

      the civilian population with these drones are working very hard to provide a different name.

      The word drone has the connotation of death strikes associated with it. So, marketing and PR will get right on that little problem.  

      Gotta save money while peddling death and neverending surveillance.

      One may live without bread, but not without roses.
      ~Jean Richepin
      Bread & Roses

      by bronte17 on Wed Jan 30, 2013 at 01:49:31 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  bronte - a new name is needed (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        They come in all sizes, as small as a bird and as large as a small airplane. The term drone is now routinely viewed as the larger armed version, rather than the smaller, observation only, varieties.

        "let's talk about that"

        by VClib on Wed Jan 30, 2013 at 06:54:13 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  Guns and cars and almost anything comes (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:

          in all sizes.

          A drone is a drone.

          Some are armed... and some are not.

          Police forces want armed drones. Here in the US... not in Iraq or Syria or Afghanistan.

          And the drone makers want to provide those weapons to the police.

          Talk it down with putdowns all you want... doesn't alter the reality on the ground.

          One may live without bread, but not without roses.
          ~Jean Richepin
          Bread & Roses

          by bronte17 on Wed Jan 30, 2013 at 07:59:06 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

  •  The question is not about drones. (6+ / 0-)

    That is a major league mis-direction. The question is whether a specific action taken is legal.

    Is it legal to drop a bomb in Pakistan.

    Is it legal to drop a bomb on an American citizen in Yemen.

    It doesn't matter if the delivery system was a drone, a stealth bomber, or someone with a suitcase.

    We were not ahead of our time, we led the way to our time.

    by i understand on Wed Jan 30, 2013 at 01:26:20 PM PST

    •  Exactly, technology-neutral principles (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      That said, as technology makes it easier to do things, we need to make the law keep up, both in what it allows and what it disallows.

      Government and laws are the agreement we all make to secure everyone's freedom.

      by Simplify on Wed Jan 30, 2013 at 01:30:39 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Should Dems oppose the use of Drones, when... (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        johnny wurster, nextstep

        ..the alternative is to send covert specialists to a remote area of the world to neutralize the enemy, with potentially less collateral damage than a drone?

        Of course, you would be endangering the lives of the special forces servicemen.

        To me, it's a no-brainer.

        You save American lives and you save Taxpayer dollars.

        Learn about Centrist Economics, learn about Robert Rubin's Hamilton Project.

        by PatriciaVa on Wed Jan 30, 2013 at 01:44:45 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  No, the alternative (7+ / 0-)

          is to either get Congress to declare war, or don't go.

          But those "alternatives" should actually be mandatory, because what we're doing now is unconstitutional and illegal.

          That's a brainer.

          "Terrorism" is in fact a law enforcement matter.

          Government and laws are the agreement we all make to secure everyone's freedom.

          by Simplify on Wed Jan 30, 2013 at 01:47:30 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  Adding, (4+ / 0-)

            or use treaty obligations and diplomacy to arrange for the country in question to capture the accused individuals.

            Government and laws are the agreement we all make to secure everyone's freedom.

            by Simplify on Wed Jan 30, 2013 at 01:48:50 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

          •  I've always believe that "war" is an extension of. (0+ / 0-)

            ..foreign policy, which is the purview of the Executive Branch.

            I would hope that the Legislative Branch would one day take it up with the Supreme Court.

            I am confident that SCOTUS will side with the President.

            Learn about Centrist Economics, learn about Robert Rubin's Hamilton Project.

            by PatriciaVa on Wed Jan 30, 2013 at 01:56:42 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

          •  Congress did declare war. (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:

            That's what the AUMF was.

            •  AUMF was an unconstitutional abdication (6+ / 0-)

              of responsibility on Congress's part, in the same way that Congress's 1990s attempt to give the President the line-item veto was found unconstitutional by the Supreme Court. The AUMFs said, "Here, Mr. President, you decide whether we go to war." It lets Congress off the hook, leading to things like Sen. John Kerry's "voted for it before I was against it" (or was it the other way around?). Proper use of Article I Section 8 power would be, "We're going to war against this country," no ifs, ands, or buts about it.

              It's Congress's power and responsibility. Authorizations for the use of military force give Presidents too much power. Hence Iraq, Afghanistan, Yemen, Pakistan, Somalia, Libya... Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia...

              Government and laws are the agreement we all make to secure everyone's freedom.

              by Simplify on Wed Jan 30, 2013 at 02:43:11 PM PST

              [ Parent ]

              •  Simlplify - to date the Courts have not (0+ / 0-)

                agreed with you.

                "let's talk about that"

                by VClib on Wed Jan 30, 2013 at 06:56:43 PM PST

                [ Parent ]

                •  Cite a case? (1+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:

                  From what I've seen, the courts have gone out of their way to avoid adjudicating the legality of the wars.

                  And regardless, I'm going to read the plain language of the Constitution and the principles behind it and draw my own conclusion, and advocate for it.

                  Government and laws are the agreement we all make to secure everyone's freedom.

                  by Simplify on Wed Jan 30, 2013 at 07:18:06 PM PST

                  [ Parent ]

            •  Simplify is correct: (5+ / 0-)
              US Constitution, Article I, Section 8:

              The Congress shall have Power To lay and collect Taxes, Duties, Imposts and Excises, to pay the Debts and provide for the common Defence and general Welfare of the United States; but all Duties, Imposts and Excises shall be uniform throughout the United States;

              To borrow Money on the credit of the United States;

              To regulate Commerce with foreign Nations, and among the several States, and with the Indian Tribes;

              To establish an uniform Rule of Naturalization, and uniform Laws on the subject of Bankruptcies throughout the United States;

              To coin Money, regulate the Value thereof, and of foreign Coin, and fix the Standard of Weights and Measures;

              To provide for the Punishment of counterfeiting the Securities and current Coin of the United States;

              To establish Post Offices and post Roads;

              To promote the Progress of Science and useful Arts, by securing for limited Times to Authors and Inventors the exclusive Right to their respective Writings and Discoveries;

              To constitute Tribunals inferior to the supreme Court;

              To define and punish Piracies and Felonies committed on the high Seas, and Offences against the Law of Nations;

              To declare War, grant Letters of Marque and Reprisal, and make Rules concerning Captures on Land and Water;

              To raise and support Armies, but no Appropriation of Money to that Use shall be for a longer Term than two Years;

              To provide and maintain a Navy;

              To make Rules for the Government and Regulation of the land and naval Forces;

              To provide for calling forth the Militia to execute the Laws of the Union, suppress Insurrections and repel Invasions;

              To provide for organizing, arming, and disciplining, the Militia, and for governing such Part of them as may be employed in the Service of the United States, reserving to the States respectively, the Appointment of the Officers, and the Authority of training the Militia according to the discipline prescribed by Congress;

              To exercise exclusive Legislation in all Cases whatsoever, over such District (not exceeding ten Miles square) as may, by Cession of particular States, and the Acceptance of Congress, become the Seat of the Government of the United States, and to exercise like Authority over all Places purchased by the Consent of the Legislature of the State in which the Same shall be, for the Erection of Forts, Magazines, Arsenals, dock-Yards, and other needful Buildings;--And

              To make all Laws which shall be necessary and proper for carrying into Execution the foregoing Powers, and all other Powers vested by this Constitution in the Government of the United States, or in any Department or Officer thereof.

              Among other constitutional duties and mandates, putting Congress in charge of darn near everything means the Founding Fathers knew there would be someone who, at some time in the future, who would claim unconstitutional powers in the executive branch, is why Congress technically has more power than the president who comes and goes every four to eight years.

              ONLY Congress has the right to declare war, and only Congress can finance wars --- for a limited amount of time, you notice.

              Commander Codpiece screamed and yelled for war like a toddler having a temper tantrum and Congress was hearing from constituents and waffling because back then even a few of them knew the truth:  9/11 was a monstrous set of crimes (hijacking and multiple murders), but since the perpetrators represented only themselves and were only a disaffected group of fanatic religious nuts who became criminals (aka "ter'rists"), did NOT represent any country or any country's military, had they survived the crashes, they could only have been charged with criminal offenses, not for a war-like "attack" on the US.  NO country declared war against the US.

              The US cannot legally declare war on a criminal gang..., but that's what AUMF covered to go after the little criminal gang of men without a country hiding in the mountains in Afghanistan (their own countries didn't even want them).  Of the 19 hijackers, 15 were from Saudi Arabia, two were from the United Arab Emirates, one was from Egypt, one was from Lebanon.  [The MOST that should have happened is that international law enforcement agencies went after these criminals.]

              Note: none were from Iraq.  None were from Afghanistan.  None of the Bushistas suggested attacking Saudi Arabia in retaliation.

              Technically, we don't even really know that OBL was the primary person who planned these attacks.  I lost count of how many #2 "leaders" were killed in the illegal and unconstitutional "war."  The ones who lived to be sent to Gitmo or wherever were tortured, and everyone knows no valid confessions come from being tortured.  Those rights are covered in the US Constitution's Bill of Rights.  All the 9/11 criminals died in the crashes with their victims, remember, so egomaniac that he was, it's possible that when Dumbya said OBL planned it, OBL claimed responsibility to make himself more important to radical criminals who were then persuaded to join his Al Quada criminal ranks.  [Remember, the Bin Laden family and the Bush Crime Family had business ties to each other and the Bushes even treated Bandar like another member of the Bush family.]

              AUMF was clearly unconstitutional, and invading Afghanistan was illegal and unconstitutional, and the usurpation of authority for Dumbya and Dickie to order troops to detour and illegally and unconstitutionally invade Iraq under what Dumbya claimed was his right under AUMF (which was technically only supposed to be for the invasion of Afghanistan to hunt for OBL; however, per a "decision higher up the chain of command," when OBL was cornered at Tora Bora, "someone" gave the order to let him go).  Thereafter, Dumbya said at different news conferences that 'he never thought about OBL at all' and on another occasion (video somewhere online) he made huge jokes about looking for OBL under tablecloths and furniture.  Ugh.

              AUMF is clearly an unconstitutional authorization to carry out drone bombings now, just as it was unconstitutional to issue the AUMF in the first place (since it's Congress' duty to declare war or not).

              For that matter, a president does not even have to be asked to be Commander in Chief.  Look at that wording in the Constitution's Section II (presidential powers) again:

              US Constitution, Article II, Section 2
              Section. 2.

              The President shall be Commander in Chief of the Army and Navy of the United States, and of the Militia of the several States, when called into the actual Service of the United States....

              "WHEN called into the actual Service of the United States" means he doesn't have to be asked, and CiC is not even a mandatory role for a president.  Congress is the civilian authority when it comes to the various US military forces.

              Pisses me off when Dumbya and Dickie, et alia (including Democrats), say during campaigns that we are electing a Commander in Chief.  NO, we do NOT elect a Commander in Chief!  We elect a President ... who may or may not be called to act as CiC at some point.  Commander in Chief is a military title and WE The People do NOT elect military commanders for this country.  We elect a President.  [Or, more precisely, we elect electors in the electoral college to elect a president and vice president.  We do not have a direct democracy where we elect our people directly.]

              To reiterate: Simplify is correct.  Congress unconstitutionally and illegally abdicated their war powers and their fiscal powers to finance war when they issued the AUMF to Dumbya (and, indirectly, to his puppet master, Dickie), and it was irresponsible of them to do that as well as unconstitutional.

              I'm sick of attempts to steer this nation from principles evolved in The Age of Reason to hallucinations derived from illiterate herdsmen. ~ Crashing Vor

              by NonnyO on Wed Jan 30, 2013 at 04:29:59 PM PST

              [ Parent ]

              •  Psst: diary pls (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:

                NonnyO, I'd encourage you to diary some of this stuff. It's not like you're short on things to say (heh)!

                Government and laws are the agreement we all make to secure everyone's freedom.

                by Simplify on Wed Jan 30, 2013 at 04:57:59 PM PST

                [ Parent ]

                •  Isn't this stuff self-evident? (4+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  Simplify, aliasalias, No Exit, Kickemout

                  :-)  Thank you.  You flatter me, but you're absolutely correct about my verbosity.  I've always been a motor-mouth from the time I learned to talk - and I often write much as I talk.  :-)  It was a useful PR tool when I was young and in the working world.

                  Democrats read, don't they?  The Constitution is written in elementary language, not legalese double-speak with loopholes thrown in on top of it all like modern laws.  Most things are online nowadays, so can easily be researched and comparing modern laws with what was in the Constitution is pretty simple.

                  Laws are made for men of ordinary understanding and should, therefore, be construed by the ordinary rules of common sense. Their meaning is not to be sought for in metaphysical subtleties which may make anything mean everything or nothing at pleasure.
                   ~ Thomas Jefferson
                  Our modern legislators and leaders have strayed FAR from the mandates of the Founding Fathers.  I'm sure our first leaders wouldn't even recognize the shenanigans in modern politics as anything that came from their ideas and laws.

                  I have much more expertise on other topics.


                  I'm sick of attempts to steer this nation from principles evolved in The Age of Reason to hallucinations derived from illiterate herdsmen. ~ Crashing Vor

                  by NonnyO on Wed Jan 30, 2013 at 05:15:04 PM PST

                  [ Parent ]

                  •  Heck, (1+ / 0-)
                    Recommended by:

                    when I go into the fridge, sometimes I can't find the food that's right in front of my face... so I'd say we all need reminding of even the self-evident things! And even those are controversial, even here. Often enough, they're revolutionary.

                    History teems with instances of truth put down by persecution. If not suppressed forever, it may be thrown back for centuries. [...] Persecution has always succeeded, save where the heretics were too strong a party to be effectually persecuted. [...] The real advantage which truth has, consists in this, that when an opinion is true, it may be extinguished once, twice, or many times, but in the course of ages there will generally be found persons to rediscover it, until some one of its reappearances falls on a time when from favourable circumstances it escapes persecution until it has made such head as to withstand all subsequent attempts to suppress it.

                    - John Stuart Mill, On Liberty

                    (Seriously, about posting your stuff, one last nudge: copy, paste, edit, publish...)

                    Government and laws are the agreement we all make to secure everyone's freedom.

                    by Simplify on Wed Jan 30, 2013 at 06:26:28 PM PST

                    [ Parent ]

          •  "is unconstitutional and illegal" (0+ / 0-)

            I don't think that the use of drones is a settled legal issue.

            "let's talk about that"

            by VClib on Wed Jan 30, 2013 at 06:55:34 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

        •  The problem, of course, is that we send (4+ / 0-)

          the wrong kind of specialists.

          DoD is not State. Yet, the conservatives have cut the heart out of positive reinforcement loops without conflict or force, and doubled down on the militaristic application of diplomatic relationship.

          This isn't a clear cut "saving taxpayer dollars" and American lives by pursuing the use of drones.

          Just remember, those damn drones can and will be used by other groups than just the American military.

          I consider the drones to be the equivalent of cluster bombs or landmines.... on steroids.

          One may live without bread, but not without roses.
          ~Jean Richepin
          Bread & Roses

          by bronte17 on Wed Jan 30, 2013 at 02:00:52 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  They're the exact opposite of cluster bombs, (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            PatriciaVa, VClib

            of course; they enable a level of precision that is much, much greater than just about any other military weapon.

            •  If there is such "precision," why do many (4+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              PhilJD, aliasalias, bronte17, Kentucky Kid

              innocent people end up dead, including women and children?

              •  greater precision does not equal precise. (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:

                We were not ahead of our time, we led the way to our time.

                by i understand on Wed Jan 30, 2013 at 02:48:57 PM PST

                [ Parent ]

              •  They're "precision" weapons, (0+ / 0-)

                not "accurate" weapons.

                High precision, low accuracy
                (Riffing on i understand above)

                Government and laws are the agreement we all make to secure everyone's freedom.

                by Simplify on Wed Jan 30, 2013 at 04:12:20 PM PST

                [ Parent ]

              •  gooderservice - for several reasons (0+ / 0-)

                The primary one is that the strikes are usually at a building where a terrorist has been observed. The munitions used need to be powerful enough to kill everyone in the building to be certain the terrorist is also killed. Unfortunately our enemies don't live alone and innocent women and children are unfortunately also killed and injured. What the missiles fired by drones are good at is striking a specific building, and limiting the damage to the surrounding neighborhood.

                "let's talk about that"

                by VClib on Wed Jan 30, 2013 at 07:04:35 PM PST

                [ Parent ]

                •  Your terrorist is someone else's freedom fighter (3+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  Sunspots, Simplify, PhilJD

                  And taking out entire families (multi-generational) just to get one "terrorist" is not acceptable in a willy-nilly fashion.

                  The use of drones for extrajudicial killing is NOT established in international law and the US has flaunted this audacious authority to pre-emptively declare someone a terrorist anywhere in the world and wipe out entire groups of innocent people extrajudicially.

                  Civilian deaths and extrajudicial killings and international law
                     [It is] alleged that since President Obama took office at least 50 civilians were killed in follow-up strikes when they had gone to help victims and more than 20 civilians have also been attacked in deliberate strikes on funerals and mourners. [U.N. consultant, professor of human rights] Christof Heyns … has described such attacks, if they prove to have happened, as war crimes. I would endorse that view.
                  The investigation’s launch comes just as the Obama administration finalizes a manual on guidelines for targeted killings, further cementing kill lists into the U.S. national security apparatus.

                  According to the U.K.-based Bureau of Investigative Journalism, not only will the U.N. team examine drone strikes in Pakistan and Yemen,  but also “drone strikes by U.S. and U.K. forces in Afghanistan, and by Israel in the Occupied Territories. In total some 25 strikes are expected to be examined in detail.”

                  “The plain fact is that this technology is here to stay,” Emmerson told reporters. “It is therefore imperative that appropriate legal and operational structures are urgently put in place to regulate its use in a manner that complies with the requirement of international law”

                  One may live without bread, but not without roses.
                  ~Jean Richepin
                  Bread & Roses

                  by bronte17 on Wed Jan 30, 2013 at 08:14:39 PM PST

                  [ Parent ]

                  •  bronte - I don't believe that any drone strikes (0+ / 0-)

                    are done willy-nilly. Freedom fighters who are enemies of the United States are viable targets. How many civilian deaths are acceptable to kill a single terrorist is a difficult question and we likely have a different answer.

                    "let's talk about that"

                    by VClib on Wed Jan 30, 2013 at 10:40:36 PM PST

                    [ Parent ]

            •  Listen... we are talking about cold-blooded murder (3+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              Sunspots, Simplify, PhilJD


              The extrajudicial murder of an entire group of innocent people whose only crime was to be a Good Samaritan and give aid to injured OR to attend a funeral is not legitimate.

              The US has undercut the framework of international law through this indiscriminate use of technology as an extrajudicial bludgeon of death.

              That you and some others want to present this as "clean" and "surgical" and a most "efficient use of taxpayer dollars" does not make it legitimate.

              One may live without bread, but not without roses.
              ~Jean Richepin
              Bread & Roses

              by bronte17 on Wed Jan 30, 2013 at 08:21:16 PM PST

              [ Parent ]

        •  Yes, because as we all know, American lives (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          aliasalias, Sunspots

          are intrinsically more valuable than those furriner lives;  the lives of those other people, the ones way way way over there.

          I bet we could even quantify the difference in value; 3/5 comes to mind.

          You save American lives

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

          by PhilJD on Wed Jan 30, 2013 at 02:11:44 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  Isn't that why President Truman did what... (0+ / 0-)

            ..he did to end WW2?

            And isn't it the responsibility and obligation of any head of state to look out for the interest of his country?

            Learn about Centrist Economics, learn about Robert Rubin's Hamilton Project.

            by PatriciaVa on Wed Jan 30, 2013 at 02:16:46 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

            •  I categorically condemn Truman's forever staining (3+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              Simplify, aliasalias, Sunspots

              American hands by being the only head of state to authorize use of atomic bombs. I frankly neither know nor care if he "saved American lives" in so doing.

              It's one responsibility, one obligation, of the head of state to look out for his or her own country. I choose not to see it as the only responsibility.

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

              by PhilJD on Wed Jan 30, 2013 at 02:24:26 PM PST

              [ Parent ]

            •  that has long been debunked the Bombs did NOT (2+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              Sunspots, PhilJD

              bring the end of the war, that was already in the making by the Japanese ,but it was great for showing the Soviets they had something to consider.

              without the ants the rainforest dies

              by aliasalias on Wed Jan 30, 2013 at 06:13:33 PM PST

              [ Parent ]

              •  that myth that bombs ended the war needs to end (3+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                No Exit, Sunspots, PhilJD


                Like all Americans, I was taught that the U.S. dropped nuclear bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki in order to end WWII and save both American and Japanese lives.

                But most of the top American military officials at the time said otherwise.

                The U.S. Strategic Bombing Survey group, assigned by President Truman to study the air attacks on Japan, produced a report in July of 1946 that concluded (52-56):

                Based on a detailed investigation of all the facts and supported by the testimony of the surviving Japanese leaders involved, it is the Survey’s opinion that certainly prior to 31 December 1945 and in all probability prior to 1 November 1945, Japan would have surrendered even if the atomic bombs had not been dropped, even if Russia had not entered the war, and even if no invasion had been planned or contemplated.

                General (and later president) Dwight Eisenhower – then Supreme Commander of all Allied Forces, and the officer who created most of America’s WWII military plans for Europe and Japan – said:

                The Japanese were ready to surrender and it wasn’t necessary to hit them with that awful thing.

                Eisenhower also noted (pg. 380):

                In [July] 1945… Secretary of War Stimson, visiting my headquarters in Germany, informed me that our government was preparing to drop an atomic bomb on Japan. I was one of those who felt that there were a number of cogent reasons to question the wisdom of such an act. …the Secretary, upon giving me the news of the successful bomb test in New Mexico, and of the plan for using it, asked for my reaction, apparently expecting a vigorous assent.

                During his recitation of the relevant facts, I had been conscious of a feeling of depression and so I voiced to him my grave misgivings, first on the basis of my belief that Japan was already defeated and that dropping the bomb was completely unnecessary, and secondly because I thought that our country should avoid shocking world opinion by the use of a weapon whose employment was, I thought, no longer mandatory as a measure to save American lives. It was my belief that Japan was, at that very moment, seeking some way to surrender with a minimum loss of ‘face’. The Secretary was deeply perturbed by my attitude….

                Admiral William Leahy – the highest ranking member of the U.S. military from 1942 until retiring in 1949, who was the first de facto Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and who was at the center of all major American military decisions in World War II – wrote (pg. 441):

                It is my opinion that the use of this barbarous weapon at Hiroshima and Nagasaki was of no material assistance in our war against Japan. The Japanese were already defeated and ready to surrender because of the effective sea blockade and the successful bombing with conventional weapons.

                The lethal possibilities of atomic warfare in the future are frightening. My own feeling was that in being the first to use it, we had adopted an ethical standard common to the barbarians of the Dark Ages. I was not taught to make war in that fashion, and wars cannot be won by destroying women and children.

                General Douglas MacArthur agreed (pg. 65, 70-71):

                MacArthur’s views about the decision to drop the atomic bomb on Hiroshima and Nagasaki were starkly different from what the general public supposed …. When I asked General MacArthur about the decision to drop the bomb, I was surprised to learn he had not even been consulted. What, I asked, would his advice have been? He replied that he saw no military justification for the dropping of the bomb. The war might have ended weeks earlier, he said, if the United States had agreed, as it later did anyway, to the retention of the institution of the emperor.

                (emphasis mine)

                without the ants the rainforest dies

                by aliasalias on Wed Jan 30, 2013 at 06:25:46 PM PST

                [ Parent ]

                •  "opinion" and "in all probability" equals proven (0+ / 0-)

                  That's a pretty low bar for calling something a "myth".

                  We were not ahead of our time, we led the way to our time.

                  by i understand on Wed Jan 30, 2013 at 07:44:53 PM PST

                  [ Parent ]

                  •  didn't read the link didja? (0+ / 0-)

                    without the ants the rainforest dies

                    by aliasalias on Wed Jan 30, 2013 at 08:06:25 PM PST

                    [ Parent ]

                    •  sure, it's my go to site for history lessons (0+ / 0-)

                      We were not ahead of our time, we led the way to our time.

                      by i understand on Wed Jan 30, 2013 at 10:49:41 PM PST

                      [ Parent ]

                      •  I rest my case, but here's from one link (0+ / 0-)

                        and just one paragraph from the many in the article (which all have supporting links)...

                        John Pilger
                        The lies of Hiroshima live on, props in the war crimes of the 20th century

                        The 1945 attack was murder on an epic scale. In its victims' names, we must not allow a nuclear repeat in the Middle East

                        The National Archives in Washington contain US government documents that chart Japanese peace overtures as early as 1943. None was pursued. A cable sent on May 5, 1945 by the German ambassador in Tokyo and intercepted by the US dispels any doubt that the Japanese were desperate to sue for peace, including "capitulation even if the terms were hard". Instead, the US secretary of war, Henry Stimson, told President Truman he was "fearful" that the US air force would have Japan so "bombed out" that the new weapon would not be able "to show its strength". He later admitted that "no effort was made, and none was seriously considered, to achieve surrender merely in order not to have to use the bomb". His foreign policy colleagues were eager "to browbeat the Russians with the bomb held rather ostentatiously on our hip". General Leslie Groves, director of the Manhattan Project that made the bomb, testified: "There was never any illusion on my part that Russia was our enemy, and that the project was conducted on that basis." The day after Hiroshima was obliterated, President Truman voiced his satisfaction with the "overwhelming success" of "the experiment".

                        without the ants the rainforest dies

                        by aliasalias on Wed Jan 30, 2013 at 11:18:55 PM PST

                        [ Parent ]

          •  Phil - you bet in a war American lives are more (0+ / 0-)

            valuable. If you have ever led fellow Americans on the field of battle, against our enemies, this would be very understandable to you. It is the center point of military leadership.

            "let's talk about that"

            by VClib on Wed Jan 30, 2013 at 07:07:46 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

  •  Within a decade or two (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Simplify, NonnyO, joanneleon

    they're going to have the capability to put bots (ground-based drones) into war zones and they, along with the current drones are going to radically alter the entire concept of "going" to war. Wars fought via joysticks, with people and infrastructure as targets, are going to make video games a reality. Even worse may be autonomous programmed machines that don't even bother with the inconvenience of human control.

    Be good to hammer out some rules before then—but I suspect that we, the people, aren't going to get an opportunity to weigh in.

    "The human eye is a wonderful device. With a little effort, it can fail to see even the most glaring injustice." Richard K. Morgan

    by sceptical observer on Wed Jan 30, 2013 at 03:18:09 PM PST

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