Wednesday, February 27, 2013

The Downside of Drones...and Ultrarunning

Via the Huffington Post and others last week, we see where Senator Lindsay Graham has made the first numeric statement by a government official regarding drone strikes:

WASHINGTON -- Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) estimated that the United States has killed 4,700 people in drone strikes, saying he supported the Obama administration's program.  
"We've killed 4,700," Graham told the Easley Rotary Club in South Carolina on Tuesday afternoon. "Sometimes you hit innocent people, and I hate that, but we're at war, and we've taken out some very senior members of al Qaeda.”   
His comments were first reported by Easley Patch.

Besides the secrecy and the total lack of oversight or transparency established around the drone program by the Obama administration, you know what I have trouble with?

It's the same thing that troubled me mightily in the run-up to the Iraq war back in 2003. 

Specifically, that in pursuit of our military and political objectives, what if our actions were themselves creating more "terrorists" than before?  Do you think, maybe, that of the tens of thousands of dead we left behind, there just might be family members who forever would carry a massive chip on their shoulders against the good old U.S. of A?

One of our former commanders in the region recently made a comment along the lines of "What if we are creating terrorists faster than we are killing them?" (it may have been Petraeus).

The Earth-Bound Misfit also sees the downside:

But it seems to me that one of the consequences of the Drone War will be to push the enemy into hiding out in urban areas...So Achmed moves into an apartment building. His apartment gets hit by a missile. Achmed is killed and the apartments around his are destroyed.

Several families are killed, maybe a few survivors. Likely none of them knew that Achmed was a terrorist. It's not as though they were living next to a ball-bearing plant. And their country isn't at war with anyone.

How do you think the survivors of those families, hell, everyone else in the neighborhood are going to react? Who do you think they will blame? We should have some idea, for after all, we've some experience with that.

And again, here:
This current president doesn't have the excuse that he was a dumb-ass student who got through school on family connections and who was lead around the West Wing by his vice-president. He taught constitutional law. So the fact that he has arrogated to himself the right to order summary executions of Americans is rather incredible. 
This is how it works: A nameless drone, supposedly a "high-ranking informed official," says: "That guy is a bad guy. Kill him." Then targeting information is given to another nameless drone, sitting in an air-conditioned trailer in Nevada, who then uses an armed drone to kill the guy. There is no review of the decision. All the "high-ranking" drone has to say is that the guy to be whacked is associated, somehow, however tenuously, with al-Qaeda and that is enough.
[image credit FotoSearch, here]

The link to Ultrarunning?  I've made this point before, but the end state of the moral low ground staked out by the Obama administration is that you--an American citizen, or your running buddy beside you--could be suddenly vaporized into atoms by a drone strike. 

Without a trial, without due process, without recourse for your loved ones, just because you've been deemed to be a very bad guy.


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