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We on the left need to get over this idea that drones are some mystical creature that roams free throughout the world just waiting for the president of the United States to tell it to strike.  It is not, and making it out to be anything more than a remote piloted airplane makes the discussion of US military policy impossible, and makes you susceptible to the type of grandstanding that Republicans like to do.

A drone is an airplane.  No, there is no pilot, but if you think that makes it somehow more likely to send one somewhere than an piloted airplane, you haven't been paying attention to how the military works.  Are you old enough to remember Kosovo?  Before drones there were pilots flying really high up and firing missiles.  Lots of them.  And even when one of the planes went down, we still went on bombing.  Does anyone think that, if drones did not exist, Obama would have had any trouble sending Navy pilots into Yemen?  

And why would we use a drone here in America rather than, say, an armed helicopter?  It's not like the missile blowing up is going to be quieter.  If they somehow think that killing someone with a missile is preferable to using people, they might as well launch one from a military base, skipping the transportation all together.

Drones are a military weapon.  Stop with the fantasizing over how they are somehow special and let's have a proper discussion over how we use our military.  When you focus on drones, you get cause supporting people like Rand Paul, who honestly would have no trouble using drones against Americans if they were, say, attempting to unionize coal miners.  Leave drones out of the discussion.

Can you imagine what the Civil War would have been like with planes?  And do you think that Lincoln wold not have used drones if he had had them?

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Comment Preferences

  •  Tip Jar (12+ / 0-)

    "But the problem with any ideology is that it gives the answer before you look at the evidence." - President Clinton

    by anonevent on Thu Mar 07, 2013 at 05:17:52 AM PST

  •  Do you really think that we'd have (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    ffour, David Futurama

    manned aircraft hovering 24/7 over parts of Pakistan?

    A country that we're not even really at war with (other than as part of the GWOT, which means we're pretty much at war with everyone and everything as the situation shifts . .. . .).

    •  Pakistan seems to be protesting pretty softly. (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      OIL GUY, Quicklund, Adam AZ, Loge

      C'mon, you and I both know there's a wink and a nod going on there.

      And, no, we're not going to be sending in drones where there's a stable government that can control their territory and allow us to capture and extradite our enemies.

      That's why we didn't bomb Pakistani cities -- the local cops were good at rounding up KSM and a few of the others.

      "Michael Moore, who was filming a movie about corporate welfare called 'Capitalism: A Love Story,' sought and received incentives."

      by Bush Bites on Thu Mar 07, 2013 at 06:09:13 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Pakistan wants our drones there because (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        just another vet, ffour

        90% of the time, they're involved in fighting their civil war for them, they have nothing to do with our national interests wrt to combating terrorism aimed at the USA.

        Why the fuck are we doing that?  And, if our troops were at stake, would we be doing it?

        Think about those questions against the (rather idiotic) premise offered in this diary.

        •  Pakistan at the very beginning barred airstrikes (0+ / 0-)

          Way back in 2001 when the US was preparing to go into Afghanistan our government was of course putting the pressure on Pakistan for overflight rights and other supporting needs. Right from this beginning point Pakistan made it known that she would not tolerate airstrikes by the USAF/USN inside Pakistani territory. That would be seen as an inability by Pakistan to protect its own airspace and/or evidence of a failed nation. I remember bits of this story appearing on the news.

          But that was when the drone concept was just getting rolling. Originally drones were used 100% of the time for recon. Pakistan was willing to allow these stealthy things to take pictures.

          It was only later that they were retrofitted with some missile capability. So Pakistan was sort of like the frog in the pot of heating water. Drones shifted gradually from spy planes to weapons. However Pakistan could have told the US to stop using drones at any point. So it is hard to conclude anything other than Pakistan wants the drones there too. Or at least prefers them there to the political fallout from denying them.

    •  If we decided we needed the intel, yes. (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      OIL GUY, Adam AZ, KayCeSF

      We sent a spy plane over Russia, during the Cold War.  We will send people where we need them.

      "But the problem with any ideology is that it gives the answer before you look at the evidence." - President Clinton

      by anonevent on Thu Mar 07, 2013 at 06:17:44 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  You seem to have no idea what the drones (4+ / 0-)

        are doing over there

        Or are being deliberately obtuse, who knows.

        If not the latter, here's something that might clue you in

        •  Different conversations (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          KayCeSF

          Would it be better to have manned aircraft flying higher, versus would it be better not to have air strikes at all.  If we're going to have air strikes, I'd rather have drones specifically because they have a greater capability to limit collateral damage.  And I'd rather have air strikes than ground invasions or doing nothing.  But both should take a backseat to using carrots, and largely have, but drones get more attention because of the new technology factor, which the diarist is right to note is secondary.

          Difficult, difficult, lemon difficult.

          by Loge on Thu Mar 07, 2013 at 09:59:57 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  No, the drones are used to deliberately increase (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            David Futurama

            the collateral damage.  I guess you aren't familiar with the "double tap" method where a missile is fired and then we deliberately wait until rescue workers show up to launch a second missile to kill them as well.

            You have watched Faux News, now lose 2d10 SAN.

            by Throw The Bums Out on Thu Mar 07, 2013 at 10:22:05 AM PST

            [ Parent ]

            •  That doesn't contradict what I said (0+ / 0-)

              which was conditional.  It's not the same as shock and awe or carpet bombing, and of course, the double tap method isn't necessarily inconsistent with limiting collateral damage in all cases (we're not talking about the Red Cross here), and can be used by manned planes as well in at least some circumstances. I wish there were greater transparency, but I don't trust the critics not to exaggerate either.  But the point is, it's an argument not about the drones but a narrower one about current drone policy.

              Difficult, difficult, lemon difficult.

              by Loge on Thu Mar 07, 2013 at 10:40:38 AM PST

              [ Parent ]

  •  Can't agree more (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Bush Bites, Quicklund, Adam AZ, KayCeSF

    And I was humming the music from the wizard of Oz (when the flying monkeys were buzzing about) when I read Drones Drones Drones Drones.

    Sometimes we need to think before we scream about a subject that seems like it's so "ACLUish" that we need to cry liberal tears over it.

    I'd  be more worried about the NSA than a Drone strike on my backyard.

    •  asdf (0+ / 0-)

      I don't need the ACLU or anyone else to tell me that the hundreds of innocent people killed by our drone strikes in the last few years is a tragedy and wrong.

      Drones are flown low as a weapon of terror over countries that we have not declared war on. It isn't right IMO.

      Some people see that as worth "screaming" about, like you say. Some people aren't concerned about it.

  •  If the need arises, a drone could (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    CS in AZ, TLS66, Quicklund

    potentially enter North Korean airspace and land on Kim Jong Un's head. This guy is saying that he WILL nuke the United States (which Dennis Rodman says is "cool"). I'm not sure when we figure his threat becomes serious, but this is one situation in which somebody is going to die. Either we accept his package and many of us die (followed by many Koreans when we retaliate), or we preemptively strike North Korea with a full-on attack that kills many civilians, soldiers on both sides, and likely spills into South Korea, or we use a drone to put an end to Kim. That option sounds infinitely better than the first two. Hopefully it won't come to this, but when a nation that is ruled by one man threatens to kill millions of our citizens, we better pay serious attention.

    •  Missile Defense defangs Kim Jong Un (0+ / 0-)

      I know the general opinion is "missile defense never works". And I used to be of that opinion. I still am of that opinion for much of the spending done on this project. But there is at least one aspect of missile defense that seems to work superbly well. And that part is specifically defending against N Korean ballistic missiles.

      You might recall some 4-5 years ago the US Navy blew up a defunct satellite in orbit. the missile used was a modified version of the US Navy's missile and radar net used to shoot down enemy aircraft. This modified missile rose over 100 miles into low Earth orbit and destroyed a small cold target moving at tremendous speed.

      This project was co-developed with Japan. By now both navies have modified all or nearly all of their AEGIS-equipped ships with this capability. All it takes is to post one of these dozens of ships in international waters near N Korea, and N Korea's missile threat is mostly negated.

      Here is the reason for such confidence. By being positioned so close to the N Korean launch site, such ships could destroy NK missiles shortly after they are launched. We've all seen space launches. The missile starts off slowly as it rises atop a pillar of flame. For an anti-missile missile that means a big slow target that cannot maneuver. Not to mention its throwing off tremendous heat which is just what a heat-seeking missile wants.

      Add atop all this NK missiles tend to fall apart by themselves quite often.

      I certainly don't want to put it to a test against real NK missiles fired off in anger. But NK is the one place on Earth I honestly feel the American anti-missile program brings demonstrable dividends.

  •  How to make drones cool at DailyKos (5+ / 0-)
    Chavez unveils surveillance drone

    Venezuela's president has said the country has begun producing unmanned aerial surveillance drones.

    Hugo Chavez said the aircraft were being built as part of military co-operation with Iran and other allies.

    link
  •  But don't you get it? (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    OIL GUY, TLS66, second gen

    The folks on this site who relentlessly criticize President Obama will always find a reason to do so.

    Today, it's drones and the sequester.

    Tomorrow, it'll be something else.

    Next June? Who knows, but they'll find something.

    Their default position is "Obama is wrong about everything and has been since 2007."

    I mean, look at yesterday. The Obama critics found themselves siding with Aqua Buddha.

    The criticism will never cease, and these folks will just, ahem, keep droning on.

    How about I believe in the unlucky ones?

    by BenderRodriguez on Thu Mar 07, 2013 at 05:56:25 AM PST

    •  Wow that's a (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      David Futurama

      ridiculous over simplification of this issue. Good job you.

      "The next time everyone will pay for it equally, and there won't be any more Chosen Nations, or any Others. Poor bastards all." ~The Boomer Bible

      by just another vet on Thu Mar 07, 2013 at 06:03:10 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  asdd (0+ / 0-)

      I'll always find reasons to criticize so-called moderates, conservatives, hawks, and Republicans. Because they are wrong.

      They are always wrong. They don't miss an opportunity to disappoint.

      Never cease? It's called having principles instead of getting wrapped up in the cult of personality of one smart, charismatic man (be that man, Clinton or Obama).

      Was his FISA vote in 2007? Seems about right.

  •  A drone is just a tool, kind of like a hammer, ... (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    FG, Kickemout

    ...a car, and an AR-15.

    They'll pry those drones from my cold dead fingers.

  •  Yeah, the freak-out factor is high. (8+ / 0-)

    It's kind of funny that everybody's freaked out about domestic drones.......like they're going to shoot off thousands of hellfire missiles at criminals instead of just sending the cops or, if necessary, a SWAT team.

    (Mind you: I do think some bozo sheriffs are going to be causing these things to crash into houses and businesses and what-not because they don't know what they're doing, but I figure once the lawsuits start coming, their use will be curtailed quickly.)

    "Michael Moore, who was filming a movie about corporate welfare called 'Capitalism: A Love Story,' sought and received incentives."

    by Bush Bites on Thu Mar 07, 2013 at 06:01:05 AM PST

    •  Oh, I think the wrong people will (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      second gen

      end up with them.  But then again, Steven Segal ended up with Sheriff Joe Apparition (don't want to even figure out how to spell his real name).  Both of them should be separated and not allowed near each other or a camera.

      But the drone should not be elevated to more than a weapon.

      "But the problem with any ideology is that it gives the answer before you look at the evidence." - President Clinton

      by anonevent on Thu Mar 07, 2013 at 06:13:46 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  Why wouldn't they launch hellfire missiles (0+ / 0-)

      at criminals instead of just sending the cops?  Also remember that lawsuits have no effect on cops or police departments because they just either raise taxes or bump a few more people off of medicaid to pay for it.

      You have watched Faux News, now lose 2d10 SAN.

      by Throw The Bums Out on Thu Mar 07, 2013 at 10:23:37 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  I find it fascinating (7+ / 0-)

    that there is so much "You must hate Obama because..." going on over this issue. I wager that if a Republican was in office this site would be virtually united in its opposition to both the use of drones and the assignation program. But precisely because a Democrat is in office everything is A-OK. War? Cool. Killing Americans without trial? Cool. The military industrial complex providing more efficient ways of killing people? Totally cool.

    Strange, but I remember protests against this type of crap only a few years ago....but hey as long as our guy is doing it its all cool.

    "The next time everyone will pay for it equally, and there won't be any more Chosen Nations, or any Others. Poor bastards all." ~The Boomer Bible

    by just another vet on Thu Mar 07, 2013 at 06:17:34 AM PST

    •  Your missing my point (5+ / 0-)

      Rand Paul is protesting the use of drones.  Does anyone think he would actually have trouble killing Americans?  But so many people are freaking out over the use of the word drone, imbuing the word with some mystical power.  

      I want to have the discussion over the use of military power.  As a former sailor, I think our military is too big, and it's time to end the war on terror.  But we can't have this discussion if people duck and cover when someone say "drone".  They are not the Nazgul.  

      "But the problem with any ideology is that it gives the answer before you look at the evidence." - President Clinton

      by anonevent on Thu Mar 07, 2013 at 06:21:29 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  I am in complete (0+ / 0-)

        agreement: "I want to have the discussion over the use of military power.  As a former sailor, I think our military is too big, and it's time to end the war on terror."

        If talking about drones is what leads us to that bigger conversation then I say run with it. My gripe is how the left seems so divided on this. I give two shits what Rand Paul says or does. Been protesting all of this since I got out of the service. My point is that the left hated war and its toys right up until 2008. (Well, to be honest a lot of lefties supported going into Iraq until it was cool not to.)

        "The next time everyone will pay for it equally, and there won't be any more Chosen Nations, or any Others. Poor bastards all." ~The Boomer Bible

        by just another vet on Thu Mar 07, 2013 at 06:40:55 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

      •  I blame "The Terminator" (0+ / 0-)

        and Robocop, etc. OK, not really but there is something in the human psyche that reacts to robotic technology this way... there have been similar stories since the beginning of the technological age, about "runaway robots" that take over because we have made them too powerful to control. Advanced weaponry that is unmanned/robotic seems to incite a special kind of fear.

        I too have noticed that there is a huge amount of focus on the word 'drone' -- the type of weapon being used -- rather than what is actually happening. I do not understand why it's so much worse for a family of civilians to be killed by a bomb dropped from a drone aircraft than by a bomb dropped from a manned aircraft. Drones make it easier to bomb people? Yes, they do. So do planes. So do spy satellites. So do computers and targeting technology. Bombs themselves made it easier to kill than guns, which were an advance from arrows and swords. The technology of war will continue to advance, until our civilization collapses. So has it ever been and ever will be.

        This whole freakout that "the government is going to kill us with drones!" seems very strange to me, I don't understand it. For decades already we have had a runaway DEA, with their habit of breaking into people's homes at all hours, taking hostages, shooting the dogs and sometimes the people in these homes, only to say later, "oh sorry we meant to break in next door" and nothing happens to them. They can take your life and your property with no due process.

        The issue is indeed the scope of what the government can do and on what grounds. What particular type of weaponry and technology they are wielding is secondary if relevant at all.

        •  Again (0+ / 0-)

          if this is what gets us talking about the bigger picture I say let's start with drones and work our way up.

          "The next time everyone will pay for it equally, and there won't be any more Chosen Nations, or any Others. Poor bastards all." ~The Boomer Bible

          by just another vet on Thu Mar 07, 2013 at 08:28:45 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

    •  You'd lose that wager. nt (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Adam AZ

      "Mitt Romney looks like the CEO who fires you, then goes to the Country Club and laughs about it with his friends." ~ Thomas Roberts MSNBC

      by second gen on Thu Mar 07, 2013 at 07:40:48 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  I think you (0+ / 0-)

        may be right. Lots of Democrats supported going into Iraq. Those of us that were against it were a minority.

        "The next time everyone will pay for it equally, and there won't be any more Chosen Nations, or any Others. Poor bastards all." ~The Boomer Bible

        by just another vet on Thu Mar 07, 2013 at 08:29:37 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

  •  Drones are nearly obsolete (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Quicklund, Adam AZ

    It's a waste of time making laws against drones.  Enforce laws and make new laws about who it's ok to kill where, but leave the weapon type out of it.

    Drones are basically a Wright Brothers' airplane (fixed-wing, prop) with modern day communications and weapons.  Making a law with drone in the title is too limiting and will be meaningless within a decade.

    •  No, hardly - they're on the rise (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      David Futurama

      From the New Yorker . . . .

      In 2001, the military had just a few Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (U.A.V.s). Now it has more than ten thousand. Later this month, the F.A.A. will present a regulatory regimen enabling law-enforcement departments to fly small drones, and the military contractors will suddenly have some eighteen thousand potential new customers.

      As of now, only a tiny percentage of municipal and state police departments have any air presence, because most can’t afford helicopters or planes. Small camera-loaded U.A.V.s are much cheaper. The public proposition, at this point, anyway, is not that drones will subjugate or assassinate unwitting citizens but that they will conduct search-and-rescue operations, fight fires, catch bad guys, inspect pipelines, spray crops, count nesting cranes and migrating caribou, and measure weather data and algae growth.

      Read more: http://www.newyorker.com/...

      seriously, how else are you going to count migrating caribou?

  •  Tipped for sailing against the tide (0+ / 0-)

    I, too, find the wrod "drone" too often invoked as a boogieman. OTOH I think you go a little too far in the otehr direction.

    No, there is no pilot, but if you think that makes it somehow more likely to send one somewhere than an piloted airplane, you haven't been paying attention to how the military works.
    Does anyone think that, if drones did not exist, Obama would have had any trouble sending Navy pilots into Yemen?

    I get your point here on how manned aircraft could be doing much the same thing were drones not available. But I feel you are wrong about the "more likely" part. Drones are used today because they are much cheaper to use than manned aircraft. Compared to manned aircraft operating from an aircraft carrier they are much cheaper even still.

    So I do think the danger is there drone will be used more. Whereas previously the Pentagon might advise the President that there was no viable military option today they might respond with the option to use drones.

    But the most compelling issue, IMO, is the entire ethical  morass arising from the concept of robots going to war against humans. I don't mean a Terminator scenario, I mean one side in war has robotic tanks and planes and the other nation still uses manned weapons of war. War is bad enough, but when only one side's soldiers are in position to die ... that opens up many new do to hell.

    So I don't quite agree with your postion on drones I do give you credit for raising an unpopular angle on the matter.

    •  You are forgetting the manned aircraft have (0+ / 0-)

      a human deciding whether or not to fire while drones are very close to being able to decide who to kill on their own.  What will you do when a police drone decides you are a threat and starts shooting at you and possibly even goes after the cops when they try to stop it?

      You have watched Faux News, now lose 2d10 SAN.

      by Throw The Bums Out on Thu Mar 07, 2013 at 10:25:43 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Damn those Trebuchets! (0+ / 0-)

    I can't help but be amused about all the screaming about drones.  I'm sure in the Middle Ages, they were also screaming about the use of those new fan-dangled trebuchets!  How dare they!

    I despise war and everything about it, but if drones save the lives of our soldiers, give our military the chance to use more precise hits, what's the difference between a drone or bombers.

    I would rather spend my life searching for truth than live a single day within the comfort of a lie. ~ John Victor Ramses

    by KayCeSF on Thu Mar 07, 2013 at 11:08:02 AM PST

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