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Direckshun 11-06-2012 06:43 AM

The un-discussed issue this election cycle: drones.
 
I've written about how much I've really come to hate our unaccountable drone war that goes through no due process, no legislative mandate, and no transparency in how the Pentagon reports its results.

It's already been pointed out that our drone campaign is inefficient and creates more terrorists. Mitt Romney himself has argued that killing cannot be our answer anymore in the Middle East.

Conservatives: do you trust John Edwards with unlimited drone ability?

Liberals: do you trust Sarah Palin with unlimited drone ability?

Because if you can't, and these people could have become President over the past however-many years, then this program needs to change.

http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2012-1...-campaign.html

Why Drones Stayed Out of Sight in the 2012 Campaign
By Ramesh Ponnuru
Nov 5, 2012 5:30 PM CT

“Homeland,” Showtime’s series about an al-Qaeda sleeper agent in Congress, is both implausible and addictive. President Barack Obama is a fan. That means he has heard more discussion of the downside of drone strikes in a television drama than he has in the presidential race.

In the foreign-policy debate on Oct. 22, moderator Bob Schieffer of CBS asked Obama’s opponent, Mitt Romney, about the use of drones. Romney responded, “I support that entirely and feel the president was right to up the usage of that technology and believe that we should continue to use it to continue to go after the people who represent a threat to this nation and to our friends.”

This bouquet in hand, Obama didn’t even have to use the word “drone” when his turn came to speak.

Neither side wants to look softer than the other on terrorists. Hence the bipartisan support for the strikes. Liberal groups that might be inclined to protest the policy have been quiet because Obama put it in place. The lack of debate about our reliance on drones is a shame, because there are both practical and moral objections to it.

Bipartisan Worries

A few conservatives have raised one practical concern: Killing terrorists is justified, they say, but we need to kill fewer and capture more to gain intelligence. You don’t have to support waterboarding, as some of these critics do, to agree with that point.

Another concern, raised by a few liberals, is that the strikes have increased anti-Americanism abroad. (On “Homeland,” one of them turns an American soldier into a terrorist.) The Pew Research Center has found strong opposition to drone strikes in almost every country. The strikes may also be setting a dangerous precedent, goes another argument, since “more than 70 countries now own some type of drone.”

But the morality of the policy is what most deserves scrutiny. The tradition of thinking about wartime ethics holds that it is permissible to cause the death of innocent civilians under certain conditions: when the war itself is just, the deaths are unintended and the number of innocents killed is proportional to the good the military action is expected to achieve.

Attacks on terrorists from the air meet the first two criteria even if civilians get killed. Whether they meet the third is harder to determine, largely because we don’t have reliable numbers. In January, Obama said, “I want to make sure that people understand actually drones have not caused a huge number of civilian casualties.” A report by the Bureau of Investigative Journalism found hundreds of civilian casualties in Pakistan, including 176 children.

In May, the New York Times reported one possible explanation for the discrepancy in estimates: Obama “in effect counts all military-age males in a strike zone as combatants, according to several administration officials, unless there is explicit intelligence posthumously proving them innocent.” In other words, Obama has not found much evidence of civilian casualties because he’s not looking for any. The Times also reported that former senior intelligence officials doubt the administration’s public line about low casualties.

The alternatives to drone strikes have costs. Ground operations would also cause civilian casualties and could put American troops at risk. Scaling back the drone strikes risks letting some terrorists go to plot more evil. But the costs of killing, injuring, endangering and terrifying civilians have to be entered into the equation.

Robert P. George, a professor of politics at Princeton University and a leading social conservative, argues that “considerations of justice to noncombatants” sometimes forbid drone strikes “even if that means grave risks must be endured by our own forces in the prosecution of a war.”

Rule of Thumb

If we wouldn’t be willing to expose our troops to those risks, then maybe the mission isn’t so compelling that it justifies exposing civilians to them either. That’s the conclusion that Kurt Volker, the head of the McCain Institute for International Leadership and a former ambassador, has reached. He writes that “a good rule of thumb might be that we should authorize drone strikes only if we would be willing to send in a pilot or soldier to do the job if a drone were not available.”

Rules of thumb are probably the best we can hope for on this question, since we need a policy that makes use of drone strikes while drawing the line when the risks to civilians become too high. The danger is that using them is so convenient for policy makers that we will use them too much.

The president’s aides told the Times that he is a “student of writings on war by Augustine and Thomas Aquinas” and can be trusted to make the right judgments. His practical definition of combatants as anyone we happened to kill suggests otherwise, although too much of the program is secret to say for sure. The fact that we have barely debated this issue makes it hard to believe that our political system is getting it right, either.

Donger 11-06-2012 06:47 AM

Collateral damage and mistakes have always been a part of combat and always will. And, I'd much rather have Reapers loosing Hellfires than boots on the ground.

BucEyedPea 11-06-2012 06:55 AM

Drones are coming to the skies of America as well. For law enforcement and even private companies. It's going to clash with the Bill of Rights. This is something that John Whitehead of the Rutherford Institute is tackling with some new legislation. Most people don't know how fast this technology is growing and how it will affect privacy.

Direckshun 11-06-2012 06:55 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Donger (Post 9089633)
Collateral damage and mistakes have always been a part of combat and always will. And, I'd much rather have Reapers loosing Hellfires than boots on the ground.

The problem is twofold:

1. We are fighting a problem, in the case of Islamist terrorism, which feeds off the collateral damage of our strikes. The same cannot be said in traditional warfare, where the mission is to simply dismantle and destroy as much of your opposing military as possible until they cry uncle.

2. Is there a conceivable person on a presidential ticket since the turn of the century that you could not trust with this power?

George Bush
Dick Cheney
Al Gore
Joe Lieberman
John Kerry
John Edwards
John McCain
Sarah Palin
Barack Obama
Joe Biden
Mitt Romney
Paul Ryan

You'd trust every single one of these people with unlimited, unaccountable drone power?

banyon 11-06-2012 06:59 AM

Drones? Yes, I always suspected romney was a drone.

Donger 11-06-2012 06:59 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Direckshun (Post 9089656)
The problem is twofold:

1. We are fighting a problem, in the case of Islamist terrorism, which feeds off the collateral damage of our strikes. The same cannot be said in traditional warfare, where the mission is to simply dismantle and destroy as much of your opposing military as possible until they cry uncle.

Like I said, there is collateral damage in warfare, drone or not. Soldiers make mistakes or go a little crazy. There really isn't any difference.

Quote:

Originally Posted by Direckshun (Post 9089656)
2. Is there a conceivable person on a presidential ticket since the turn of the century that you could not trust with this power?

George Bush
Dick Cheney
Al Gore
Joe Lieberman
John Kerry
John Edwards
John McCain
Sarah Palin
Barack Obama
Joe Biden
Mitt Romney
Paul Ryan

You'd trust every single one of these people with unlimited, unaccountable drone power?

Just as much as I would trust them with using "real" people, yes. You do realize that drones aren't fully autonomous, right?

Direckshun 11-06-2012 07:03 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Donger (Post 9089671)
Like I said, there is collateral damage in warfare, drone or not. Soldiers make mistakes or go a little crazy. There really isn't any difference.

That they both create collateral damage is not enough to consider them equivalent.

The collateral damage is far more damaging in what is clearly an effort to stem the tide of Islamist extremism.

Quote:

Originally Posted by Donger (Post 9089671)
Just as much as I would trust them with using "real" people, yes. You do realize that drones aren't fully autonomous, right?

There is far more accountability in place when the President sends people into battle.

There is zero accountability for drones.

You aren't grasping the difference here.

Donger 11-06-2012 07:08 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Direckshun (Post 9089686)
That they both create collateral damage is not enough to consider them equivalent.

The collateral damage is far more damaging in what is clearly an effort to stem the tide of Islamist extremism.

I care about killing our enemies in the most effective way without putting our troops in harm's way. Islamic extremists will always find something to be extreme about. I don't really worry about upsetting them.

Quote:

Originally Posted by Direckshun (Post 9089686)
There is far more accountability in place when the President sends people into battle.

There is zero accountability for drones.

You aren't grasping the difference here.

No, I do get it. When some POTUS starts using these for some other purpose than going after our enemies, you'll see me concerned. Have you seen that yet?

dirk digler 11-06-2012 07:12 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Donger (Post 9089705)
I care about killing our enemies in the most effective way without putting our troops in harm's way. Islamic extremists will always find something to be extreme about. I don't really worry about upsetting them.

Definitely this.

Direckshun 11-06-2012 07:14 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Donger (Post 9089705)
I care about killing our enemies in the most effective way without putting our troops in harm's way. Islamic extremists will always find something to be extreme about. I don't really worry about upsetting them.

That's the difference between us.

I want to defeat our enemies. You merely want to kill them.

That's the difference.

The war should be focused entirely on shallowing the pool of recruits organizations like Al Qaeda get to fish in. Ever since 9/11, we've been involved in a series of radical warfare policies that have definitively deepened it.

Quote:

Originally Posted by Donger (Post 9089671)
No, I do get it. When some POTUS starts using these for some other purpose than going after our enemies, you'll see me concerned. Have you seen that yet?

So, accountability: not important to you. Only killing who we're told is totally, definitely, don't-worry-about-it the enemy.

dirk digler 11-06-2012 07:17 AM

How else do you defeat your enemy in war? By Showing them naked pictures of yourself?

Direckshun 11-06-2012 07:24 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by dirk digler (Post 9089738)
How else do you defeat your enemy in war? By Showing them naked pictures of yourself?

By defanging them.

These terrorist organizations get more recruits and better recruits when we're inciting an entire subcontinent to hate us. We also give them rhetorical ammunition with Guantanamo Bay, Abu Ghraib, and Bagram, by burning the Koran in hate, by terrorizing entire countries, by speaking in "war of civilization" terms and treating terrorists as Glorious Warriors rather than as mere criminals, and by backing the unnecessary settlements expansion on the West Bank. So on and so forth.

Of course, even if you embraced drone warfare, the complete lack of accountability should make one nervous.

Donger 11-06-2012 07:34 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Direckshun (Post 9089731)
That's the difference between us.

I want to defeat our enemies. You merely want to kill them.

That's the difference.

The war should be focused entirely on shallowing the pool of recruits organizations like Al Qaeda get to fish in. Ever since 9/11, we've been involved in a series of radical warfare policies that have definitively deepened it.

I hate to clue you in, but killing our enemies is a rather crucial part of defeating them.

How exactly would Direckshun go about making the extremists not hate us any more?

Quote:

Originally Posted by Direckshun (Post 9089731)
So, accountability: not important to you. Only killing who we're told is totally, definitely, don't-worry-about-it the enemy.

I didn't say that. I said that I don't see where the drones are being used other than to kill our enemies. I take it you don't either...

dirk digler 11-06-2012 07:35 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Direckshun (Post 9089759)
By defanging them.

These terrorist organizations get more recruits and better recruits when we're inciting an entire subcontinent to hate us. We also give them rhetorical ammunition with Guantanamo Bay, Abu Ghraib, and Bagram, by burning the Koran in hate, by terrorizing entire countries, by speaking in "war of civilization" terms and treating terrorists as Glorious Warriors rather than as mere criminals, and by backing the unnecessary settlements expansion on the West Bank. So on and so forth.

Of course, even if you embraced drone warfare, the complete lack of accountability should make one nervous.

I don't disagree with your statement about Gitmo and abuse but in the end you either try to win them over somehow or you kill them.

For example in Iraq, we really didn't destroy the enemy we paid them off, but some people can't be paid off so you do what you have to do to make sure they don't kill Americans.

patteeu 11-06-2012 07:35 AM

Mitt Romney didn't say that killing can't be our answer anymore.


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