Drones do not get a free pass – Wrong when George W. was judge, jury and executioner – and wrong NOW!

Christopher challenges AmberPaw in the comments. - promoted by Bob_Neer

Photo taken by Deborah Sirotkin Butler

Only 2% of the casualties inflicted by drones are “high level targets”.  176 children have been killed.  The entire Wazir Valley is being turned into “the Valley of the Shadow of Death by Drone.”  You do not have to take my word for it; check out this study by Stanford University and New York University.

This country was established to be a land of “rule by laws, not of men”.  Execution done remotely, where one man establishes or allows kill lists and is judge, jury and defacto executioners does not “get a pass”.  It is immoral.  It is murder.  It must end.






43 Comments . Leave a comment below.
  1. Not sure for a couple of reasons.

    We don’t do due process on the battlefield; that applies to domestic arrests.

    I’d much prefer these relatively targeted attacks to the mass bombings we saw in WWII such as Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

  2. Christopher - I resent murders being done in my name that are 98% without any justification

    This country was founded, in part, in reaction against the Star Chamber. The goal was to be a “Nation of laws, not men.” When one man can kill anyone without oversight and accepts a 98% level of collateral damage – that is Star Chamber, the opposite of anything I believe in, and dragging in Hiroshima is at the level of attempting to hijack the discussion. This argument of yours is so off base it is like comparing squid with lemon jello.

    • The argument is somewhat relevant

      In the wars of the past, civilian deaths were measured in the millions, with the casualties from a single action pushing into the 100,000s, in the worst cases. Now they are measured in the hundreds or low thousands. That, of course, is little comfort to those who are indiscriminately killed, but it does give broader context.

      Also you have a strange choice of statistics. What the percentage of battlefield deaths of any war are “high level targets”? Rather small, I would imagine. The average Axis soldier who died on the coast of Normandy in 1944 had no greater responsibility for Hitler’s crimes than a low level Pakistani militant did for Bin Laden’s, yet their deaths are considered justified within the context of the military operation. Why make the distinction in this case?

      The actual ratio, from your article is “2,562 – 3,325 people [killed] in Pakistan, of whom 474 – 881 were civilians” That implies that between 14 and 34 percent of the deaths caused by drone strikes were civilians, which is still bad, but a far cry from 98%.

      The larger questions, in my view, are:
      - What are our policy goals in the region?
      - Is military action necessary to achieve those goals?
      - Are the drone strikes an effective tactic?
      - Is the cost in lives and damage to our reputation worth the effect?

      I have serious doubts as to whether a careful analysis of those questions would support current policy, but sensationalizing and exaggerating its negative effects is not a useful contribution either.

      • Nice to be in the U.S., ain't it?

        Don’t think we’ve ever seen wartime civilian deaths in the millions over here, except for maybe the Native Americans. And I’ve never understood the angle you’re coming at it from, the cold pragmatic detachment thing. If it’s your child (or sister, or mother) who’s the so-called “collateral damage”, any number of civilian casualties is too many.

        • Don't disagree with that

          If you allow that some wars are justifiable, you have to do that sort of analysis though. I want to end the war in Afghanistan and Pakistan as soon as possible, but I’m not going to lie and say that 98% of the deaths due to drone strikes are civilians, when that’s not the case. The purpose of my comment was to try to bring the conversation back to a reasonable discussion of the facts.

          Afghanistan has had some level of war in their country for the past 33 years. Most of the country has no memory of a time of peace. I don’t believe this is true, but if you thought the drone strikes were going to bring peace to the region, you could argue that fewer civilians would die because of our war there. As you said, if it’s your family that’s being killed or maimed, it makes little difference. Because of this, I think there’s a high burden on anyone who is waging war to evaluate their actions and see if they are doing more harm than potential good.

          The most bloody war in our history is largely seen as necessary today, having destroyed slavery and preserved the union. Was it worth the million dead and wounded? Many did not think so at the time and some still doubt it. It’s seems callous to ignore the cry of “one death is one too many”, but sometimes inaction in the face of evil is the worse path. Hence, why I feel analysis is necessary, even if it comes across as “cold pragmatic detachment”. Ultimately, I think it will lead to fewer conflicts if we demand that our leaders justify their wars.

    • To be more brief tham marcus

      There isn’t a 98% level of collateral damage according to those stats. If we just count deaths as damage [not injuries, destruction of property, changes in behavior, living in fear, etc etc], then the collateral damage is
      [474 -- 881] / [2562 -- 3325]
      which means the percentage range for collateral is 14% — 34%. 1-in-7 to 1-in-3 is a far cry from 49-out-of-50.

  3. Good arguments on both sides here:

    I agree with Amberpaw that there is something very distressing about our policy of killing people by remote control.

    At the same time, it’s possible that were we to drop bombs on terrorist targets from human-piloted airplanes, we would end up accidentally killing more innocent children as well as putting our own personnel in harm’s way.

    I’ve long had conflicting feelings on this issue.

    • To nitpick

      I don’t quite understand why people focus on drones, or the fact that we’re “killing people by remote control.” Strikes like this don’t take place solely by drones, and even without drones we would be using something else. The policy of targeted strikes may or may not be bad, there are good cases on both sides as you point out. And it’s not even that drones are more accurate than human piloted airplanes, the missiles used by drones can just as easily be used on human piloted planes as on UAVs. I don’t understand why remote piloting is a concern.

  4. Focus, please. The terrible precedent is that one individual, with neither check no balance, can kill at will - the "remotely" is secondary at best

    The use of drones is, plain and simple, a return to the Star Chamber modality of one powerful elite person being able to kill at will. And that violates checks and balances, the rule of law, and morality. While the remote aspect also creates issues of distancing, cowardice (too much like a video game, is it not?), and the ability to not face the death and destruction dealt to poor, powerless, brown people who have the bad luck to be in the “wrong place” and be blown up remotely by powerful faceless folks at the order of an Emperor/imperial culture with no controls from we the people – at all. I also do not happen to believe that this drone killing spree makes me any safer, my country any more moral, and is cowardly as there is no risk at all to whomever is using the joy stick. Morally, this is a revolting development. Yes, I too reap the fruits of empire in the supermarket, the department store and a distorted standard of living as compared to the rest of the world. I am not proud of those facts. Are you?

    • What is the difference between drones and bombers or artillery

      We are ostensibly at war. The present is commander in chief. He can order a strike anywhere on the battlefield at any time. It seems that your main complaint is not so much with drones as with the definition of the battlefield in the “overseas contingency operation” (fka The Global War on Terror) as worldwide, and the duration of the war as indefinite. That is just cause for complaint, but it is a bit different from the specific “drones do not get a free pass” argument you articulate here.

      • Yes

        The fundamental problem has always been the dilemma of viewing international terrorism either as an act of war, or as a criminal act, when it fits neither very well. It is not, however, completely unprecedented for the US military to engage in offensive operations against a non-state actor without a formal declaration of war: the Barbary wars set the precendent quite early.

        I question whether the particular strategy chosen is one that is likely to achieve long-term success, but I do not question that the objective– the military and political defeat or marginalization of so-called jihadi terrorism– is a political and military objective, rather than a law-enforcement objective.

    • Or maybe it is the civilian casualties that are particularly objectionable?

      Against that, of course, however, is the assertion that drones are better than other weaponry because they are more discriminate.

  5. Very true

    I find it telling that the Obama Administration felt a need to start making rules about this when Romney was running for president. Once he lost, Obama no longer cared about rules because they would box him in.

    sabutai   @   Wed 28 Nov 5:23 PM
  6. Well said Sabutai - and Bob "both"

    Just imagine if every country claimed the ability to kill at will, worldwide, with no public process, no over sight, no formal declaration of war against the country where the killings took place, often killing totally innocent folks. We are not “at war” with Pakistan, or Yemen. Based on the analysis done by Stanford Law School and New York University, there is little targeted – 2% “high interest” casualties. There is no accountability either. No rules. Again, this is a king’s star chamber, not a representative democracy waging a just declared war. And the drones are, per the article and other research, traumatizing entire populations and disrupting entire countries. What if Russia felt free to do this? Or North Korea? If it is legal for us to do, how can it be claimed that, say, to nail a Chechen alleged terrorist Russia cannot do a drone strike in Paris? Or Kansas?

  7. Must the entire planet be made into "The Valley of the Shadow of Death"?

    The Wazir Valley is, apparently, a place now where everyone has some level of PTSD. Having spent time in a cancer-caused “Valley of the Shadow of Death” I have learned to value life in a whole different way. Things that were once important to me are no longer important at all. And the important of morality has gone way, way up. Killing at a distance, with no over sight, immunized from feeling and responsibility is cheapening to all life. When George W. Bush did this, there was a vigorous anti-war movement. In fact, President Obama’s administration is doing MORE, not less, of this ultra-virez, non judicial killing. Being “Commander in Chief” does not excuse murder in this country or any other. The definition of murder is “unlawful killing with malice aforethought” and of negligent homicide – recklessly taking the life of another when your own life is not in immediate danger. Well? Have at it folks. What kind of world will rationalizing this kill at will program leave to the next generation? And, for extra measure, what would John Adams, who fought so valiantly to keep the USA OUT of war with France, say?

  8. "Smells like ... victory"

    As much as I sympathize with amberpaw’s passionately expressed feelings, I don’t share her focus on drones. I enthusiastically share her objections to an immoral “Star Chamber” morality — I think that happened some time ago, and I don’t think drones have anything to do with it.

    I am old enough to remember similar complaints about B52s during the Vietnam era. The complaint, at that time, was that because the aircraft flew at high altitudes and at night, the crew was too insulated from the reality of their actions. In 2000, President Clinton released a secret database detailing “extensive information on sorties conducted over Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia”. The US dropped ENORMOUSLY more ordinance on Cambodia than previously believed (over 2.7M Tons!). That secret and arguably illegal bombing began four years earlier than previously known, during the LBJ administration rather than the Nixon era.

    I am also old enough to remember the wholesale use of napalm. I was too young to serve, but not too young to feel the searing shame of our nation’s immorality. I’ve always felt that Apocalypse Now was the the first to showcase just how awful our attitudes were (I’m not sure how much of its audience understood that Lieutenant Colonel Bill Kilgore was not a hero).

    The “Star Chamber” conduct of war is, therefore, nothing new and not limited to the current or previous administration.

    In my view, a secret and therefore uncontrollable authority to conduct war is immoral regardless of the weaponry chosen. I see NO DIFFERENCE between drones and:

    1. Assassinations conducted under contract by foreign nations.
    2. Kidnapping and “extraordinary rendition” conducted under contract by foreign nations.
    3. Abuse, murder and torture conducted by mercenaries paid by the US.
    4. Secretly-ordered assassinations by US operatives (including the CIA, various “black ops” groups, and covert military operations).
    5. Secretly-ordered military missions like those conducted during the Vietnam era.

    I challenge the suggestion that drones are any more distasteful than chemical weapons, nuclear weapons, land mines, cluster bombs, dumb-dumb bullets, depleted uranium bullets, and a LONG LIST of similarly disgusting ways to kill, maim, and terrorize people.

    I also challenge the suggestion that civilian casualties of drones are any more abhorrent than civilian casualties of any other weapon. The US killed something between one hundred ten and one hundred twenty thousand civilians in Iraq since 2003. Is anyone going to suggest that that mass murder was somehow more “moral” because it was publicly announced and, for that matter, celebrated by all too many Americans?

    I’m sorry, but I just can’t sign up for the angst about drones. I suggest we have much bigger moral issues to address — starting with the prosecution for war crimes of George W. Bush, Richard Cheney, and every other US leader who formally approved our policies of kidnap, abuse, torture, and murder.

  9. Great comment, Somerville Tom - it deserves to be its own diary/blog post - and yet

    While I agree with everything you have said – including that morally this country seems to have fallen off a cliff where brown people in other countries are expendable if any of them make us nervous, I respectfully disagree solely in so far as that drones require no ground troops to be at risk; no face to face encounters by anyone. Every one of you four items are immoral, corrupting to the body politic, and idefensible in terms of remaining a nation of laws not men. But, somehow, the absence of a true declared war and the dehumanizing, desensitizing aspect of joystick killing chillseven more deeply than your list of crimes against the rule of law, all of which have a corrosive effect on the nation’s arument to be in some way exceptionally good – and on the future we leave our children in this country.

  10. PS - in addition to asking pardon for my typos - one more thought

    Where is the “skin in the game” WITH Joystick killing and killers. Even bombers sometimes crash. Even predatory assassins sometimes become prey. When the lives of strangers are reduced to distant hit points on a screen, and the killer is anesthetized and totally desensitized, the risk of evil goes up. The long-range technokiller is rendered a psychopath.

    • The Commander-in-Chief can't deliberately NOT lower the rIsk to his own soldiers

      I think I see what you’re saying here: the lower the risk, the more likely we are to engage in the process? Makes sense, and it’s why I suppose some folks want to bring back the draft–make war risky for EVERY Family, and you’ll find a hell of a lot less support for it.

      It’s a logical conclusion.

      On the other hand, if I’m the CinC, my primary responsibility is to look out for the welfare of Americans. If I AM going to engage in “targeted assassination” (separate issue), I believe I’m obliged by the nature of my position to use whatever means necessary, technological and otherwise, to REDUCE the risk of “bombers crashing” or my own young soldiers.
      “becoming prey.” Really, I can’t imagine any elected official explaining to his constituents that he decided to UP the risk of their kids being killed.

      I realy don’t think that using bombers cruising at 25,000 feet really much changes the picture. And in case, we wouldn’t be using WW2 style ordinance, but rather, guided missiles–in either case, the crew is never likely come remotely face to face with the target. Willy nilly, computer-guided weaponry is the de facto standard.

      Interesting, of course, that Osama was taken out by a team of flesh and blood mortals armed with sidearms and knives. The original pan was to use a missile launched from a Stealth bomber–the plan was rejected because a) there would have been no definitive proof of O’s death and b) with another house in the vicinity, the civilian death toll would have been “too high.” IF we could have guaranteed that a missile woull have accomplished the same sans additional casualties, and been able to demonstrate that we “got him” in that way, would you have prefered that we risked the lives of SEALs?

      P.S. I didn’t much agonize over that particular targetted assassination.

    • This is a bit strange

      It is as much an argument against ranged artillery and rifles, in favor of broadswords and catapults as it is an argument against the use of unmanned drones.

      Is your issue that the confrontation with international terrorism has been largely treated as a military issue rather than a law enforcement issue? That we should treat terrorist organizations as racketeering groups? In order to empower law enforcement to engage in activity that might be considered the prevention of terrorism, rather than simply investigating and prosecuting afterward, one would have to empower law enforcenent generally to a degree that might not be palatable to the civil-liberties set.

      I am content to leave prevention of that sort to the military. I regret that law enforcement ever got involved at all, except to assist with forensic analysis and investigations where prevention has failed, because this blured the line between law enforcement and military security in an unhealthy way.

      In that context, this is less of a “due process” issue and more of a simple disagreement with the policy. I am not at all certian that the present policy of using drones is effective. But that is a question about the military policy, not a question that the policy is a military matter.

  11. Tonight from 6 PM - 10 PM there is a Smedley D. Butler Veterans for Peace fundraiser at Johnnie Ds

    I expect to show up after our town dems meeting. In the interests of consistency, I do put my feet on the ground and go face to face in accordance with what I believe. More all the time; spending time in the Valley of Death can have that effect, and not only in war zones.

  12. And the address? 17 Holland St,Somerville

    Love to see some of you, even though I don’t know exactly what time I will show up.

    • Return to Marcus' arguments

      I appreciate that Amberpaw and SomervilleTom have lived through a lot more than I have in my youth and I respect true moral reservations to war. I so think it is important to stick to facts, avoid emotion and answer more specific and substantial questions and Marcus_Garvey brought them up.

      To reiterate:

      -What are our policy goals?
      -Is military action effective for achieving these goals?
      -Are drones effective military tools?
      -is it worth the damage in innocents and reputation?

      For me this helps clarify the issue and achieve balance, and liberals must be dispassionate with Obama-even harsher than we would be on Dubya. Just because we personally trust this President does not mean he or any future President should have these powers.

      I think our policy was to eliminate Al Qaeda and we have effectively ended our attempts to build a stable and democratic Afghanistan. So thats our policy.

      The military and drones were a good tool but have outlived their usefulness. The drones were a good tool at wiping out AQ. Now I would stop using them since they are being used on Pakistani extremists and Taliban that pose no threat to the homeland.

      To be clear Pakistan is far angrier over the Bin laden raid than the drones, that ended any pretext of friendship we had with them, the drones only exacerbate that problem but they are a symptom of or bad relationship not its cause. And as far as I’m concerned they harbored our sworn enemy and in glad Obama made the truly tough call not to warn them and make sure bin Laden was killed. Now that this call was made time to back our troops and drones and bring them home. Congress should also specify rules of war over bing their use in future conflicts.

  13. Civilians just don't get it.

    War is a business. It’s about the money. In my war (Vietnam) the principal war factions were the US Navy vs. the US Air Force. Not to kill each other, of course, but to gain budget advantage of one over the other from Congress. Each service would show their statistics demonstrating the kills, bombings and number of missions – each superior to the other’s.

    The Vietnamese peasants whose grass hut was designated a huge ammo dump and targeted with 1000 lb bombs paid the price.

    I imagine today some lieutenant in an intelligence outfit somewhere being told by his (her) supervisor, “L. T., we got billions of dollars flyin’ ’round up in the heavens not doin’ nuthin’ because you can’t find no targets!”

    “I have people I answer to. They have people they answer to. And on and on. Then Congress is gonna ask, ‘Why are you spendin’ so much and gettin’ so little outta these drones?’ And Congress will cut the budget.

    “All because you can’t find a target.”

    “I’m sure you can find targets. You gotta be creative. Think of where the enemy would hide out -weddings? schools? Funerals?”

    “Let us know what you find. If we got no drones we got no jobs.”

    “Oh, your OER (Officer Efficiency Report) is on my desk.”

    The military services have the same people mix in personnel as the places you work. Some good, some not-so-good, some bloody awful. How does your company, agency, organization work?

    • Since General Butler is referred to above

      I will correct you. War is a racket. That is, in fact, the title of his book, which you can read online. I highly recommend it.

      Incidentally, your comment seems to imply that you are a Vietnam veteran, like me. I am curious about that, because you don’t seem to know what an ammo dump is (like the one at Long Binh that I saw blow up spectacularly from some miles away), or how to abbreviate lieutenant. Maybe I’m reading too much into it.

      • Read Smedley years ago.

        There was much target creep in Vietnam war as OERs for rotating officers were made to look good. Some few rounds of 7.62 found in a village became an ammo dump. Surprised you never heard of a lieutenant referred to as an L. T. (Ell Tee).

    • Again

      I think Marcus brought up concrete policy questions that have been totally dropped from this conversation, I would really hope we would stick to that.

      I will comment and say the military-industrial complex has created a situation where bureaucracies through deliberation or inertia create endless self sustaining wars. Jake Tapper has a great book out now called The Outpost, about a forward base at the bottom of a valley surrounded by hostile Taliban that was created since there were too few heliocopters to resupply it so it had to be resupplied via roads into the valley. Since Iraq ended we have had the heliocopters but the base was still there since the base became a self sustaining base that lacked a strategic purpose.

      • The powers-that-be think of people as chess pieces.

        The simple fact is that sociopaths rule our country. They will do anything they can get away with if it serves their needs and wants. What they do in foreign lands now will be used against our own people when the opportunity arises. What passes for a free press will have us cheer the slaughter.

        History repeats itself.

  14. Sic Semper Tyrannis - and jconway - no Marcus's policy discussion does not trump morality and ethics

    I have learned that those in power can – and will – rationalize anything. Sadly, I agree with Howland Lew – the Sociopaths are in the driver’s seat. Ends do NOT NOT NOT justify the means. Evil means naively used to achieve allegedly good goals will, in fact, increase the amount of evil inflicted. Power corrupts. Absolute power corrupts absolutely. Unchecked power is absolute power and that, sadly, is where I see this country going due to the acceptance of both parties of “kill lists”. Again, turn it around. What if it was Putin’s war on terror and some of the terrorists he felt empowered to kill were in Boston? Or New York City? Or Topeka for that matter. Whether it is the Unibomber or the droid bomber – they rationalize their kills and depersonalize their victims. What results is “Rule by men not rule of law” – a result that means the world the Jconways will live in as full adults will be darker, more dangerous, and debased morally. Screwtape would be so pleased (do read Screwtape Letters if you have not already done so, please!)

    • I love CS Lewis and he favors Just Wars

      And I would argue that he, as a High Anglican theologian, would have subscribed to Aquinas and Augustine and Just War Theory. A just war answers affirmatively to both questions: the means and the ends. If the end is self defense or the preservation of human rights than I would argue the war is just. Thus the War in Afghanistan has been just throughout the majority of its duration since we were protecting ourselves from those that attacked us on 9/11.

      The means are just if they do not cause or deliberately cause civilian casualties and if they are a low risk, low casualty means of achieving the ends of defending Americans from those that attacked us on 9/11. Marcus’ questions are a good framework for answering these broader questions.

      What should be our policy?-clearly refers to the ends. Alternatively what is our end in Afghanistan?

      Is the military a good instrument of this policy-a means question.
      ->Corollary-are drones a good instrument of our military?-also means.

      Is the fallout/blowback worth it? Alternatively do the ends justify the means?

      To the first question our end was to defeat Al Qaeda, a goal that according to this administration is 99% completed. So with the end in doubt all the means are now in doubt in terms of current policy.

      In my view, when the ends were just the drones were a just means to achieve those ends, both during the initial phases of the war and the initial phases of Obama’s surge in 2009. Relying on drones reduced US casualties, reduced civilian casualties believe it or not (our pilots and cruise missiles killed far more civilians with faulty intelligence, our army leveled villages and ‘cleared and destroyed’ them Vietnam style during the worst stages of the fighting), and were the best available
      weapon in use-which is the real question we are discussing.

      Another question is are drones just another battlefield weapon, is this war a typical battlefield? In that sense it goes to the heart of the initial Authorization to Use Military Force (AUMF) passed after 9/11, essentially what bipartisan Pentagon lawyers consider our war declaration (the UN actually outlawed the idea of declaring war post-WWII so this authorization is the way Congress constitutionally approves of military action). Should the response to 9/11 been purely a law enforcement matter or a military matter? Its been a strange hybrid of both and I would agree clarifying that would allow us to operate in sunshine instead of shadows.

      Unfortunately both post-9/11 administrations have called it law enforcement when it suits them (Guantanamo detainees NOT prisoners of war) and military when it suits them (drone strikes on American citizens, military law in prosecutions, NADAA detention and interment policies), and being consistent would make us look better and make our policies more legitimate domestically and internationally.

      Can the President order the intentional deaths of American citizens?
      See Lincoln. There is a great scene where Lincoln deliberates over whether or not a deserter should be pardoned, in many ways he was the first war time President who directly held the life or death of individuals in his hands-much like this President. While the *spoiler alert* decision to pardon the deserter demonstrates Lincoln’s moral judgment there were plenty of times when he ordered the stripping of habeas corpus and constitutional freedoms for the rebels, ordered the deaths of rebel spies and sabotuers, and times when he did not pardon deserters I am sure. The enemy was sometimes treated quite brutally, and as another scene in the movie shows, according to Lincoln’s own logic-all the enemy were his fellow citizens subject to the same Constitutional protections as loyal members of the Union. Yet he illegally seized their property (what we would call the liberating act of emancipation was viewed as government theft in his day), denied their basic constitutional rights, and yes sometimes ordered their deaths. I am not saying this President or his drone policies are just, I am saying its ridiculous to call them unprecedented or argue that the antiseptic nature of the affair or the new technology makes it any different or more complex or affect its justness or morality in any way.

      At the end of the day Marcus’s questions are good because every decision, even life or death ones, are complicated ones that require great nuance to deal with and analyze. I respect the fact that you have lived through worse wars and recent personal suffering, I do not say that to trivialize either experience. My dad, having seen good friends get drafted and die for a pointless war in Vietnam is quite close to pacifist himself. And there are countless arguments that our policies in many ways gave birth to Al Qaeda and continue to help it thrive now, many of them valid. But the basic question at hand is what have done, what are we doing, and where to we go from here. Are the current means justified by the current ends?

      And on that point I think we are in full agreement that the answer is unequivocally NO, we just use different moral reasoning to arrive there and I suspect we disagree on the morality/justness of drones in the past/in general, the war itself, and the AUMF itself.

      • Fantastic!

        Thus the War in Afghanistan has been just throughout the majority of its duration since we were protecting ourselves from those that attacked us on 9/11.

        This is a fantasy description of the Afghanistan War of Occupation. Once the Taliban were overthrown and Al-Queda forced out of the country or into hiding, we were no longer defending ourselves. That took – what, a couple of months? Since then we’ve been effectively running a recruitment drive for AQ and other insurgent groups. Seems to be working pretty well, too.

        As far as what CS Lewis would have thought of the Afghanistan Occupation or any other war, his position as a High Anglican Theologian makes his opinion just as important as yours or mine, and less important than that of some poor guy whose entire family was blown up while attending a wedding. Try explaining “just wars” to him.

        • Not exaggerating

          If you think I’m exaggerating with the “recruitment drive” line, have a look at this;
          Obama’s Lawless Drones have caused Yemen al-Qaeda to Triple

          • Nonesense

            You – and this ridiculous headline claiming some sort of clear cause and effect in what is admittedly an extraordinarily complex situation – are clearly exaggerating.

            The story you link to (http://www.juancole.com/2012/11/obamas-lawless-drones-have-caused-yemen-al-qaeda-to-triple-young-turks.html) itself cites this recent NPR interview with Gregory Johnsen for the ridiculous claim that drone attacks are the cause of al-Qaeda’s growth in Yemen: http://www.npr.org/2012/11/27/165936280/the-last-refuge-yemen-al-qaida-and-the-u-s

            YET, that interview itself is much less definitive than the Young Turks’ headline. Johnsen says recruitment has been “at least partly buoyed lately by U.S. drone attacks in Yemen” and that civilian casualties, are “exacerbating the problem.”

            MOREOVER, Johnson himself lists many other reasons why al-Qaeda has grown in Yemen. The Arab Spring and the subsequent ousting of the President of Yemen; the geography of Yemen; and the inability of the U.S. intelligence operation to operate effectively in Yemen’s closed society. And, most notably, Yemen’s religious history as a “Last Refuge” (the title of Johnson’s book!) for persecuted Muslims.

            Any reasonable person looking at the situation in Yemen would be a fool or a liar to simple state flat-out that “Obama’s lawless drone’s have caused Yemen al-Qaeda to triple.” It’s much, much more complicated than that,.

            • Others who think drone strikes aid insurgents

              From the LA Times:

              But relations between the U.S. and Pakistan were further inflamed by this latest strike, part of a surge in Predator drone attacks in recent weeks. Pakistan’s government has condemned the CIA’s use of such aircraft, which has killed civilians and which it says has provided a recruiting tool for insurgents.

              From NATO Parliamentary Assembly:

              …Admiral (ret.) Dennis C. Blair, Director of National Intelligence until 2010, has painted the drones strikes as counter-productive and a catalyst for terrorist recruitment.

              • Recruitment?

                The lives of innocents lost to kill-by-whim forgotten. Some things don’t change.

                What are we?

                The world has achieved brilliance without wisdom, power without conscience. Ours is a world of nuclear giants and ethical infants. We know more about war that we know about peace, more about killing that we know about living. ~-Omar Bradley

        • Oops!

          Looks like I offended the High Anglican Theologian fanbois.

          • Yep, I did


            • Dont be a twat

              Amberpaw brought Lewis into the conversation and began referencing his works, stating, to the uninformed-which is a subgroup that you apparently belong to-who he is and what his opinions might be on this conflict is in fact incredibly relevant. I made a point by point statement directed towards Marcus’ questions and referenced every point Amberpaw made. I might add she has been far more insightful and constructive in this conversation than your contributions have been.

              The other irony I might add is that I actually agree with you that drones are counter productive and went on for substantial length at how they are hurting us in Afghanistan, a war I would end. But in Romney/Faux News fashion you cherry picked the single quote where I invoked 9.11 to defend Afghanistan as a just war, and ignored the entire following paragraph where I go to length to point out exactly where the just war ended and our current policy ceased to be either just or offensive.

              But go ahead I quoted a theologian therefore I’m just another fool who <3's Jesus and loves Republicans. In the reality based community evidence should be the primary currency of argument not pedantic exercises in name calling and dismissal.

              • Cherry-picked?

                Did you not mean to say “Thus the War in Afghanistan has been just throughout the majority of its duration since we were protecting ourselves from those that attacked us on 9/11″? Because you did say that, and that’s what I was responding to. Your concept of a “just war” is useless. There are such things, and the Afghanistan invasion may have been one of them, but only briefly, and certainly not “throughout the majority of its duration.”

                I may be more ignorant theology than you’d like, but I know enough about it to have long ago decided that it’s not useful to learn more of. It’s in the realm of things I don’t waste my time with, like astrology, Dungeons and Dragons, and playing the Lottery. You can invest all the time and energy you like delving into it, but don’t expect me to join you, or to behave as though your doing it is worthwhile.

              • Also

                Your use of the word “twat” is offensive. Do you actually not know what it means? Is this some expression of Anglophilia, that you choose an insult used in Britain over a more normal American one like “jerk,” while not noticing that your chosen term is highly misogynistic over here?

                • Respectfully disagree I guess

                  I apologize for the use of that term and name calling, I guess we can agree to disagree on theology and history and agree that our current policy in Afghanistan must end the war faster and end the drones now. We can agree that they are clearly a recruitment tool now and we clearly hav no strategic objective left over there. Lets both put pressure on this President to change course and fast, I think we can agree there.

  15. First, thank you to everyone who commented; this dialog is MUCH appreciated; second, C.S. Lewis was a veteran of WWI who suffered from and was treated for PTSD

    Perhaps the best in depth treatment of C.S. Lewis’ war time service, and that of his brother, Warnie, was in the book “The Narnian” which I strongly recommend. I agree that JConway gave thoughtful, in depth answers to the points I made, but that it is my impression that neither one of us has convinced the other AND that it is time, past time, for this country to be out of Afghanistan – and to shut down the use of the drones in Pakistan. Whether there is an argument for their use 10 years ago, that argument is not valid for today’s situation. I found the discussion, above, as to inter-service rivalry to be revelatory – and the most convincing explanation of what I view as a huge mistake both morally, and in international relations in the ongoing and increasing use of drones by this country.

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Tue 28 Mar 6:08 AM