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Community Zone => Chatter => Topic started by: shnozzola on February 09, 2013, 01:51:01 PM

Title: Drone Debate
Post by: shnozzola on February 09, 2013, 01:51:01 PM
Quote
.......... much of the criticism, I think, from conservative press is absolutely valid. If this were George W. Bush and Dick Cheney, and we had increased by sixfold the number of unmanned attacks on other countries that are not combatant countries, that we're not at war with, there would have been far more hue and cry.
And it is interesting that the president -- the only criticism of the president seems to be among a few liberals, and the support seems to be from people like John Bolton and the neoconservative community.

http://www.pbs.org/newshour/bb/politics/jan-june13/shieldsbrooks_02-08.html

Quote
“There was a mini-bus full of 14 people, including a woman and her two children,” Barman said. “They were headed to the city. Two of the airplanes-without-pilots arrived, one of them came low enough that the passengers of the bus could see it, and it released the first missile. After it hit the car there were still some people alive, and then the second missile was launched and it killed everyone except three.
http://www.theworld.org/2013/02/drone-debate-over-casualties-overlooks-cost-to-those-who-survive/
Title: Re: Drone Debate
Post by: Graybeard on February 09, 2013, 02:28:56 PM
I saw something on this in the UK press today - I must say that I never read it and cannot understand the fuss.

I suggest reading "[wiki]100 Years of Solitude[/wiki]" by Gabriel García Márquez, it is a remarkable book and in it the grandfather is chained to a tree near his house as the people think he is mad. A priest takes pity on him and tries to teach him chess but grandfather refuses to accept any of the standard chess moves, as he does not believe that if the purpose is to win, there should be any artificial barriers to attack.

Let us assume that there are some people in the world who are so set against our ideas that they require killing. It really does not matter that we are not at war with the country in which they reside. How stupid is a rule that would allow gangs from Florida to cross the border into Louisiana and kill people and then return to safety in Florida?

If we have now established that ridding the world of some people is a good thing, then are we going to do it by risking our own men? Would it not be better to do it at a distance? What leader likes welcoming coffins home?

In the past, Vietnam, there was carpet bombing of cities, Agent Orange, napalm, etc. The other side used pits with stakes cover in feces, bombs in bars, snipers in cities, assassins.

You may not like war, but the essence is that you kill the leaders and troublemakers first, at the lowest risk to your side, and a distant second, that you do it cheaply and thirdly that you do it as accurately and quickly as possible, so as to shorten the war.

People will always die in wars and there will always be wars. No weapon has yet been invented, nor will it ever be, that distinguishes between nice people and bad people.

Drones strike terror into the hearts of those who see them. Those who see them live with bad people near them. This is good because the good people want the bad people to leave and thus not see any drones.

Finally, if you are dead, you are dead - the means of your passing is academic.

In conclusion, were I to be in charge of deploying drones, that is what I'd do. They are cheap and effective and don't cost our lives.

We live in the real world, not one where every lunatic and fanatic can be reasoned with by his personal social worker.

Title: Re: Drone Debate
Post by: Nick on February 09, 2013, 03:21:05 PM
Agree.  War sucks but if you are going to do it do it and be done with it.  Drones accomplish what we need done quickly and without putting boots on the ground.  It allows us to go into their so called safe havens.  I don't know what we are going to do when at some point drones are used against us.  All weapons developed are eventually gotten by all sides.
Title: Re: Drone Debate
Post by: Quesi on February 09, 2013, 04:41:33 PM
I fall on the other end of the political spectrum.  I don't support the death penalty.  But even when it is imposed in the US, the person who is put to death has been tried by a court of law and found guilty. 

Sketchy intel gathered from countries whose cultures we don't even pretend to understand, often does not constitute what would be considered "probable cause" in the US.  And certainly does not merit aiming drones at targets who we assume are guilty, without regard to the innocent people who happen to be in the same region as the target. 

I voted for Obama twice, and for the most part, I am delighted to call him my president.  But the drone issue will always haunt me. 
Title: Re: Drone Debate
Post by: shnozzola on February 09, 2013, 09:13:15 PM
Quote
The worry is we'll have 30,000 drones crisscrossing the sky.
- quoted as a small neighborhood drone with a camera quietly cruises above a housewife sunbathing.

http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/nova/military/rise-of-the-drones.html
Title: Re: Drone Debate
Post by: sun_king on February 09, 2013, 10:17:21 PM
Hasn't every new weapon system faced the same moral inquisition? If a war is on, there will be deaths and it will be the intent of each combatant to minimize the casualties on their side. I would side with the drones because it puts less people in danger, no matter what the cause or justification of that particular conflict. The role of a drone is very similar to a sniper in the combat zone, delivering death from (relative) safety.

Personally I would say "drone" is an insult, these unmanned and remotely piloted air vehicles are technological marvels, they represent a major step in aviation. Drones were the target aircraft used for pilot and gunnery training.
Title: Re: Drone Debate
Post by: Nick on February 09, 2013, 10:30:16 PM
You know this may be a little off topic but we might be missing a money making opportunity here.  We could make a fancy tin foil hat with some nice color/writing on it and market it as a special drone blocking headwear.  Think how many of our mis informed ciizens would jump at the change to put it to the government.  I suggest $19.95 plus S&H...order now and get another one free...just pay separate S$H.  Thats 2 drone blocking fashionable headwear for $19.95.  Don't delay...drones are out there now.
Title: Re: Drone Debate
Post by: Graybeard on February 10, 2013, 12:52:22 PM
Sketchy intel gathered from countries whose cultures we don't even pretend to understand, often does not constitute what would be considered "probable cause" in the US.
Intel should never be used as "probable cause" - intel is not evidence.

Indeed, sketchy intel is the cause of much trouble, but, of its nature, intelligence is sketchy. Sometimes the sketch is pretty clear (whereabouts of Bin Laden) and sometimes (weapons of mass destruction) it is not. The trouble is that of the 64 grades of the quality of intelligence and the 6 levels of secrecy, it is an art, not a science to judge where any one item will lie for accuracy.

Pure intel does not reveal the source - it could be Fox News, the man standing next to you, your best agent, the enemy's papers, the man who was standing at the adjacent urinal talking to his friend, something someone said etc.

If the intel is merely about someone having seen someone they don't know at a certain place and time, who's to say how important it is now, as opposed to how important it will be in the future. The other thing is it's accuracy; who's saying it, what interests they have, the quality of their previous intel, is it hear-say, etc. If you don't know, how do you judge?

If you have nothing else, you make the judgement as to when and how to react based upon a serious assessment of all intelligence and aspects of the intelligence. The problem here is that the value of the target does, but should not, influence the action. This is the risk assessment that goes with all intel-operations.  The risk assessment contains a best and worse assessment of collateral damage and advice on how High Command and politicians should react (usually, they are given a few options depending on what comes out publicly.)

The war must be fought, and if you cannot have intel on the ground, you have to take intel where you can find it. But if you do not have intel on the ground, then the situation is serious and intel only ops are justified.

And never think that the enemy is bothered about much of the above when carrying out their operations - they take the part of grandfather and chess in my post above.
Title: Re: Drone Debate
Post by: Quesi on February 10, 2013, 04:33:13 PM
Well, the sheer volume of these supposedly “valuable targets” is a little overwhelming.   As is the collateral damage. 

Here are a few statistics about drone strikes in Pakistan over the past 9 years:

•   Total strikes: 362
•   Total reported killed: 2,629 – 3,461
•   Civilians reported killed: 475 – 891
•   Children reported killed: 176
•   Total reported injured: 1,267 – 1,431   Total strikes: 362
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Drone_attacks_in_Pakistan

Hard to justify most of these numbers.  176 kids? 

US drones have killed children in other countries too.  In Yemen, for example, our drones have killed lots of innocent people, including a high school student from Denver. 

(http://news.antiwar.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/10/abdulrahman-al-awlaki1.jpg)


The kid’s (estranged) dad did propaganda for al Qaeda.  The kid liked to play football and computer games. 

Lots of folks have died in airstrikes in Yemen.  In Somalia.  Libya.

And those are the countries we are not even at war with.  In Afghanistan in 2012, we averaged about one drone strike per day.  Now I am certain some bad guys died in these attacks. 

But try to imagine this scenario.

It is a Sunday afternoon, and you are sitting at your laptop, reading the forums, when all of a sudden, you hear an explosion.  You look out the window, and several of your neighbors’ homes are on fire.  Bloody people without limbs are staggering down the street.  Alarms are ringing and fire trucks are arriving.  You find out later that the nice lady down the street who grows petunias and her elderly husband were killed, along with their granddaughter who they were babysitting.  In all, a half a dozen are dead, and a dozen injured. 

But, it turns out, a really really really bad man, who had written terrible things about people in other countries, and who might have even plotted to kill people in those countries, was in the house next to the nice lady who grows petunias.  And the foreign government, who sent the drone, was successful in hitting their target.  The bad man is dead. 

Seriously.  Think through the scenario.  Who would you be mad at as you watched the carnage and the destruction of your neighborhood?  The bad man who said mean things about foreigners?  Or the people who sent the drone?

I don’t think we are exactly winning the hearts and minds of the innocent folks who have survived these attacks.

Do you?


Title: Re: Drone Debate
Post by: sun_king on February 10, 2013, 09:02:16 PM
Quesi, would you agree that there a few targets in the area that needs to be taken out? Dangerous men/women who would plan mass murder without any qualms? (Why they would want that may not be pertinent to this topic)

How would you suggest the containment of the enemy is to be handled? The threat is undeniable, action is inevitable.

In your post above there is an element that is not listed. Stateside casualties 0.00

'Drones' may not be winning the hearts and minds of the innocent victims, but then again, the little girl's father is not returning to homeland in a box. If you can suggest a viable containment option, then we can really discuss the numbers involved, maybe 'drones' would be the more logical method.
Title: Re: Drone Debate
Post by: ParkingPlaces on February 10, 2013, 09:30:47 PM
There are obviously several sides of this argument, and I'm not quite sure which one I agree with the most. But I did a little thought experiment. I imagined that the Mexican government had drones flying over the United States, designed to take out drug users who were, by default, supporting the drug lords in Mexico. Whenever they found people using drugs, they would take them out with missiles. Sure, they might sometimes get little kids and innocent neighbors and medical marijuana patients and stuff like that, but I'm pretty sure all Americans would go along with such a plan, because like the Pakistani's and Sudanese and others, we wouldn't have a choice anyway.

Again, I don't know whether it is right nor not, but I keep wondering how many new terrorists we create every day by wandering around in the Middle East killing willy-nilly. Somehow I think we're going to start suffering a drone shortage because we're creating too many new targets as a byproduct of hitting too many suspected targets.

Remember that Bin Laden and gang attacked us in the first place because the US maintained its presence in the Middle East after the first Iraq War. Continuing to maintain that presence is helping how?

On the bright side, the drone operators in Las Vegas, NV can get PTSD without ever leaving the country. Isn't technology wonderful?

Of course now that the technology has been perfected, it will cause one other change in the war on terror. Pretty soon suicide bombers will be turning in their bomb vests for remote controls, and in our lifetime we will witness terrorist drone attacks. Because, sadly, we're not the only ones willing to fuck with other peoples lives.

Title: Re: Drone Debate
Post by: Quesi on February 10, 2013, 09:52:29 PM
You know, Sun_king, al Qaeda was formed in the aftermath of the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan.  The US intelligence community had decided that the best way to combat the spread of secular communism, was to build a sense of nationalism around the concept of Islam, to get Afghanis to fight against the Soviets, and to recruit more educated folks with access to resources from other parts of the region.  Including bin Laden.  My parents’ tax dollars paid for the Madrassas that educated the folks who flew planes into those tall buildings a few miles away from me. 

In retrospect, the US intelligence community was successful in keeping the Soviets from expanding their territory.  But they created the dangers that we are living with today.   The policies of the US intelligence community created the Taliban.  They created bin Laden.  They created the religious fervor, intentionally, to rally a force to fight against the secular Soviets. 

A lot of crazy, radical lunatics were created in the vacuum that we left in Afghanistan.  And now, decades later, they are a threat to us, and we are hunting them down.   But for every crazy radical lunatic who we hit with a drone, who knows how many future radical crazy lunatics will be created as a result of anger and loss and resentment about that drone strike. 

I do not pretend to understand the complexities of South Asia and its relationship to the greater Muslim world.  I certainly don’t pretend to understand the region in the way that you do. 

But I cannot believe that in the long run, our actions will simply eliminate the bad guys, and then we can move on with the rest of the forward march of humanity. I agree with Parkingplaces.  We are probably creating more bad guys than we are eliminating. 

I would prefer policies that lead to the marginalization of the radical lunatics.   I would prefer policies that lead towards education and increased literacy for the general population.  Policies that work to eliminate hunger and malnutrition in the region.  Policies that eliminate both the rallying cries of the Islamic extremists, and the susceptibility of the masses to fall for their bullshit. 


Edited to add some info about the US role in creating al Qaeda.  http://planet.infowars.com/worldnews/australia-oceania/the-usas-role-in-creating-al-qaeda

http://youtu.be/ifZK6SVlQ1Y
Title: Re: Drone Debate
Post by: sun_king on February 10, 2013, 11:20:53 PM
So it wasn't drone strikes that created the enemy (I would still like to keep this generic), the sad reality is that it doesn't take much to make enemies in this world. I would say that the remotely piloted vehicles kill less than the Tomahawks and with its ability to go closer to leadership, the UAV/RPVs have better chance of subduing the enemy. This isnt an entity where competency runs down the hierarchy, kill the heads and the rest becomes less potent. At this time, the UAV/RPVs can achieve this with less collateral damage than any other known combat methods.

The enemy has been made, anything you do is bound to find more sympathizers.

<snip>
I would prefer policies that lead to the marginalization of the radical lunatics.   I would prefer policies that lead towards education and increased literacy for the general population.  Policies that work to eliminate hunger and malnutrition in the region.  Policies that eliminate both the rallying cries of the Islamic extremists, and the susceptibility of the masses to fall for their bullshit. 
<snip>

Noble thoughts, but that would not work in this world. We are talking about the people who shot Malala and has sworn to finish the job. I have the feeling that they may reject your offer of education.
Title: Re: Drone Debate
Post by: void of gods crutch on February 10, 2013, 11:40:56 PM
i think with drones, they're doing the best they can with the intel they have. i don't believe that they are aiming for day cares or schools, and it does keep our guys safer than sending in yet more troops, it's also better than some of those bad guys coming over onto our soil, so i'm for them for the most part i guess. it does suck that people die who aren't supposed to. it sucked that thousands of people died in 9/11, in the buildings, and hundreds more in the planes used as weapons, those people were as innocent as the children killed in drone attacks. no one asked for it, so i don't see a difference there.
innocent lives are typically lost during times of war. that's part of war. mistakes are made, and we try to keep those mistakes to a minimum, but shit happens. always does. if we can get our guys outta there as much as possible, and send in planes that are unmanned instead...then i say we won the war. ps, bad guys don't play by our rules when it comes to combat, kill or be killed, the end, the u.s. has more rules for engagement than most countries and is most likely held to those types of standards more than a lot of countries, i'm not going to nit pick a soldier if accidents happen.
Title: Re: Drone Debate
Post by: screwtape on February 11, 2013, 10:12:37 AM
Middle East expert and professor Juan Cole has written extensively about drones and how they have been used and reported.  17 postings at his blog:
http://www.juancole.com/drone

I find it most useful to start with the oldest and read chronologically. 

Cole has several objections to the way drones are used.

1. They are used to carry out covert wars in areas where no authorization has been specifically given.  This flirts with breaking the constitution and may make it a war crime.
2. the innocent people killed by our drone policy has been drastically underreported in part because the Obama administration considers every male killed by drones to be a combatant. 
3. The high civilian death rate in turn makes people hate us more.

These are crude tools, as is all aerial bombardment.  They are not instruments to win hearts and minds. 

Title: Re: Drone Debate
Post by: screwtape on February 11, 2013, 10:21:35 AM
i think with drones, they're doing the best they can with the intel they have.

Often "the best they can" is not good enough. I'm speaking broadly, not just specifically on drone use.

i don't believe that they are aiming for day cares or schools,

They have on occasion knowingly aimed at civilians - women and children - because a suspected bad guy was there.  Emphasis on suspected.

and it does keep our guys safer than sending in yet more troops,

I question the idea that we need to be fighting there at all right now.

it's also better than some of those bad guys coming over onto our soil,

I find this to be another questionable idea.  I think for the most part, the people who are "plotting" against us are doing so to get us out of their valley.  Once we leave, they will go back to their primitive existence of raising goats and killing people from rival tribes.

it sucked that thousands of people died in 9/11, in the buildings, and hundreds more in the planes used as weapons, those people were as innocent as the children killed in drone attacks. no one asked for it, so i don't see a difference there.

two wrongs make a right?

that's part of war.

congress has not declared war.  This is essentially a covert war waged by the president using an 11 year old Authorization of Force memo.

the u.s. has more rules for engagement than most countries and is most likely held to those types of standards more than a lot of countries, i'm not going to nit pick a soldier if accidents happen.

So you want to be able to claim the moral high ground, but you also want to be able to ignore it or look the other direction when it suits you.  That is not moral.

Title: Re: Drone Debate
Post by: screwtape on February 11, 2013, 10:49:13 AM
This Modern World has also had a lot to say about how drones have been used.  The latest:
http://www.dailykos.com/story/2013/02/11/1185328/-Professor-Droney

Title: Re: Drone Debate
Post by: Graybeard on February 11, 2013, 11:09:18 AM
Total strikes: 362
•   Total reported killed: 2,629 – 3,461
•   Civilians reported killed: 475 – 891
•   Children reported killed: 176
•   Total reported injured: 1,267 – 1,431   Total strikes: 362

I see those figures as respectable. Taking the maximum – 3461 killed, of which 891 are non-combatants– less than 1 to 4.5 and 1 in 20 are children. (Remember, the children have been double counted - once as civilians - once as children.)

Can we think of a war in which children did not die? Can we think of terror attacks in which children did die?

Have you considered that, if you know you are a target, you should minimise the risk by not travelling with innocent women and children? Have you considered that the Mujahidin are not gentlemen – they do hole up in schools, mosques and hospitals and do travel on public transport?
Title: Re: Drone Debate
Post by: ParkingPlaces on February 11, 2013, 11:26:18 AM
What we need to do is accept terrorism the way we accept auto accidents. We freaked out over 9/11 because 3,000 people, died, yet we kill more than that every month on our highways and shrug our shoulders. Almost 400,000 of us have died in car wrecks since 9/11. Do we have drones shooting speeders off the road? I don't think so. And we shoot each other. We've murdered 160-170,000 of our own since 9/11. Too, suicide by obesity continues to skyrocket. And we over-respond to only one of the things that is killing us? It would be cheaper to factor in flakey folks with suicide vests the way we do car deaths.

Hundreds of thousands have die, mostly foreigners, because of how we responded, and many were innocents. And I'm pretty sure we created more new and/or potential terrorists than we ever destroyed. And virtually every one of our soldiers who served in a war comes home with PTSD, and many, many more have died via suicide than in action against the enemy. We need to find a better way to respond to problems than just simply ruining lots of lives.

And we shouldn't be so frickin' good at giving people excuses to kill us.
Title: Re: Drone Debate
Post by: screwtape on February 11, 2013, 12:04:59 PM
Can we think of a war in which children did not die? Can we think of terror attacks in which children did die?

Are we actually at war?  Are we to use terrorists as our measuring stick?

I think it was a mistake to treat al qaeda as equals and essentially declare war.  It made them appear more important than they were.  They should have been treated as criminals.
Title: Re: Drone Debate
Post by: ParkingPlaces on February 11, 2013, 12:29:16 PM
On the other hand, it was great that we attacked Iraq on false pretenses. Gotta keep up our planet cred. I hear the Obama administration is seriously eyeing The Maldives. We were going to attack Madagascar but one of our generals has an innate fear of places with indigenous animals.

The US is full of tough mofo's and we're willing to kill our young to prove it. Watch out planet. Your real estate may be next.

More seriously, let us not forget that both sides are quite inspired by religious beliefs to do each other in. Even if I thought that drones were the greatest thing since sliced bread, I would want better reasons to use them than just disliking the architectural design of the other guys place of worship.
Title: Re: Drone Debate
Post by: Graybeard on February 11, 2013, 12:42:13 PM
Can we think of a war in which children did not die? Can we think of terror attacks in which children did die?

Are we actually at war?  Are we to use terrorists as our measuring stick?

I think it was a mistake to treat al qaeda as equals and essentially declare war.  It made them appear more important than they were.  They should have been treated as criminals.
No, technically, we are not - there are many legal difficulties in declaring war against a non-national organisation. In war, Terrorists/Freedom Fighters are not uniformed - all non-uniformed combatants may be summarily shot, as may anyone reasonably suspected of helping them - we do not necessarily do this with Terrorists/Freedom Fighters.

The idea of treating them as criminals was tried by the UK government against the IRA - it didn't work. The main reason is that criminals know and accept that they have done something wrong and that punishment awaits if caught. Terrorist/Freedom Fighter organisations and their supporters do not recognise this at all - to them, we are the aggressor; we are the criminals.

A Freedom Fighter is someone who opposes, with arms, a regime or authority that he cannot change by democratic means.

A Terrorist is someone who opposes, with arms, a regime or authority that he could otherwise change by democratic means.

However, much depends on where you re when you are looking at the actual person.
Title: Re: Drone Debate
Post by: screwtape on February 11, 2013, 03:32:57 PM
some thoughts on the coming wave of domestic drones.
http://americablog.com/2013/02/stalker-drones-they-will-look-through-windows-read-your-lips-see-through-walls.html

Title: Re: Drone Debate
Post by: sun_king on February 11, 2013, 03:45:49 PM
some thoughts on the coming wave of domestic drones.
http://americablog.com/2013/02/stalker-drones-they-will-look-through-windows-read-your-lips-see-through-walls.html

A telephoto lens can do the window peeping and lip reading (being done for decades now), with less chance of being swatted by a stick or hit with a shoe.

Title: Re: Drone Debate
Post by: shnozzola on February 11, 2013, 06:23:10 PM
In the piece from Shields and Brooks, Mark Shields says the drones make war "nice".  Only nice for one side.  In a way, it reminds me of the star trek episode "A Taste of Armageddon (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/A_Taste_of_Armageddon)," where computerized war requires people to quietly report to disintegration chambers for required death quotas.  Kirk blows up the computer, reminding the two sides how horrible war must remain to keep everyone from living with it.
Title: Re: Drone Debate
Post by: void of gods crutch on February 12, 2013, 01:20:31 AM
i think with drones, they're doing the best they can with the intel they have.

Often "the best they can" is not good enough. I'm speaking broadly, not just specifically on drone use.

i didn't say it's good enough screw, i said it was the best they could do with what intel they had. i agree with you, believe it or not..i don't think it's good enough either, but i believe they are being told certain things that in their minds warrents this action, not in our minds, mind you, but their minds. so they have to go off of that. thus, we do too. not to mention, these people in control of these drones are mearly following orders of higher ups, i don't blame the controller for a decision that wasn't truely his to make. 
i don't believe that they are aiming for day cares or schools,

They have on occasion knowingly aimed at civilians - women and children - because a suspected bad guy was there.  Emphasis on suspected.

while they're aiming for 'bad guys' i don't believe they are set on just hitting schools or children on purpose. maybe they are. and maybe that's where the chicken shit bad guys are hiding out because they think we wouldn't hit those places, which obviously by now, they should know we'll hit where ever we think they might be. i don't believe that they are aiming just for kids for the hell of it.
and it does keep our guys safer than sending in yet more troops,

I question the idea that we need to be fighting there at all right now.

personally i think it's past time our guys came home. i think the u.s. needs to mind it's feking business for a change and let other people kill each other how they want. tired of it always being our problem to fix shit for other countries. fix it your damn selves. then you'll have nothing to complain about when we miss a bad guy and hit his wife and kid instead.
it's also better than some of those bad guys coming over onto our soil,

I find this to be another questionable idea.  I think for the most part, the people who are "plotting" against us are doing so to get us out of their valley.  Once we leave, they will go back to their primitive existence of raising goats and killing people from rival tribes.

which would be fine with me. but there are still sleeper cells stateside that are on our dirt right now just waiting for their moment. lucky for us, they aren't here like we are there constantly blowing shit up. if we have to fight, i don't want it in my backyard, i dunno about you screw.
 
it sucked that thousands of people died in 9/11, in the buildings, and hundreds more in the planes used as weapons, those people were as innocent as the children killed in drone attacks. no one asked for it, so i don't see a difference there.

two wrongs make a right?

of course two wrongs don't make a right lol who said that!? innocent lives lost are innocent lives lost,no matter the age, or location. they are all equally dead for no good reason. right??
that's part of war.

congress has not declared war.  This is essentially a covert war waged by the president using an 11 year old Authorization of Force memo.

sure doesn't seem very covert to me lol the sodiers fighting and dying over there would probably disagree and say we're in a war. regardless what the white house admits to or not. my girlfriends son just got back from over there, he just confirmed a war was still going on. his buddies are still getting hit. so if congress wants to admit it or not...it's happening. and if it's not happening, then why aren't our sodiers home where they should be? why are we still sending aid? why are troops still being deployed to go over and fight?  apparently, congress doesn't know everything. who knew!??!
the u.s. has more rules for engagement than most countries and is most likely held to those types of standards more than a lot of countries, i'm not going to nit pick a soldier if accidents happen.

So you want to be able to claim the moral high ground, but you also want to be able to ignore it or look the other direction when it suits you.  That is not moral.
i want to claim the ground that at least we have rules about war, and we try to stick to them, however, it's awful hard to do when only one side has those rules they have to stick to. and the other team can play as dirty as they'd like, with no reprecussions. and again, accident happen. people die. kids die. women die. elderly die. men die. accidents happen. welcome to the real world.  i'm not saying look the other direction either, i said i'm not going to nit pick an accident caused by a soldier. doesn't mean you ignore it. just means i'd deal with it, and move on. not sit and dwell over an accident. they happen. i understand that. that's why they're called accidents, not on purposes.
i'm not saying drones are the only way to go. i certainly understand they are another method we have at our disposal however. sure it seems unfair to the people on the ground. hey, maybe don't do stupid shit that makes our country want to come after your country if you don't have your own drones to play with. again. u.s. could mind it's own business..stay out of these countries in turmoil, save billions of dollars, thousands of lives, countless resources, we give aid right after we blow their shit up, so i don't know how much more nice we can be about stuff.
Title: Re: Drone Debate
Post by: Quesi on February 12, 2013, 05:26:49 AM
The strategies implemented by Malala and her family are the strategies that are going to bring about change in the long run.  Not this year.  Not this decade.  This assassination attempt has caused the Taliban to lose a lot of credibility among those who are grasping for solutions to improve the truly wretched circumstances in which they live. 

The Taliban present themselves as the solution that will bring safety and order, and even prosperity to the most impoverished and desperate people.   In 2001, literacy rates in Afghanistan were at about 12%.  http://www.accu.or.jp/esd/forum_esd_2010/program/program12_01/pdf/presentation5.pdf Lower for the Pashtun people.  And much lower for Pashtun women.  Everyone alive had lived through decades of war, in a nation with no infrastructure.  They wander back and forth across the border into Pakistan, where they are not subject to the same rights as the general Pakistani population. 

The Pashtun in Pakistan (and make no mistake, the Taliban are Pashtun)[1]don’t fare much better.   Although literacy in Pakistan is more than 70%, among the Pashtun it is about 17%.  http://www.motherjones.com/politics/2009/05/pakistans-pashtun-reservation

There are a lot of social problems here, that are not going to be resolved by targeted drones.   And every drone strike makes them angrier.

The Taliban offer a way to direct that anger. 

People like Malala’s family offer strategies to address the root causes of their misery. 

Now unless we plan on genocide, and plan to wipe out the entire Pashtun population, I’m pretty confidant the only way to defeat the Taliban is to make their absurd solutions irrelevant to the Pashtun people.  And the way to do that is through education.       
 1. But not all 40-50 million Pashtuns are Taliban
Title: Re: Drone Debate
Post by: screwtape on February 12, 2013, 10:13:54 AM
i want to claim the ground that at least we have rules about war, and we try to stick to them, however, it's awful hard to do when only one side has those rules they have to stick to. and the other team can play as dirty as they'd like, with no reprecussions.

Yes.  That is the high moral ground. You are saying we have rules (thus, more moral) and they do not (thus, less moral).  I seem to understand what you are saying and you seem to agree with what I have said on this topic.

i'm not saying look the other direction either, i said i'm not going to nit pick an accident caused by a soldier.

I do not know what you mean by "nit pick".  It sounds a lot like looking the other direction to me, but maybe you mean something else. 

We're not strictly talking about accidents.  I've posted links where it talks about how attacks were knowingly ordered against civilians.  Or they have ordered attacks based on faulty "intel", which seems to be the only kind of intel our intel community can produce.  No one seems to be accountable for that.  I'm not saying the drone operators should be, because these are not their decisions to make.  They are decisions made by generals, contractors and civilian leaders. 

doesn't mean you ignore it. just means i'd deal with it, and move on.

I don't know what you mean by "deal with it".  To me it sounds a lot like "ignore it", but maybe you mean something else. 

not sit and dwell over an accident. they happen.

One of my job functions is safety.  I deal with this kind statement often.  Let me give you some information to help you understand the nature of accidents better.   

Accidents do not just happen out of thin air.  They happen for reasons.  They happen because people have made bad decisions, done stupid things, or because they failed to take precautions.  An engineer in my company lost his eye not long ago.  This did not just "happen".   He was not minding his business at his desk and his eyeball just fell out.  It happened because he used a screwdriver as a prybar, pointed toward his face, and was not wearing mandatory safety glasses.  The screwdriver slipped out of position and he jammed it into his eye.  Accidents happen?  No.  All accidents are by definition, avoidable.

We do not dwell on accidents, per se, but we do investigate them to make sure the same mistakes are not repeated.  How stupid would it be to let a second person poke his eye out for the same reasons?  We investigate things as simple as splinters or tripping on a rug.  We are even supposed to report and investigate "near miss" incidents - cases where someone  narrowly avoided being hurt, by chance or skill - to make sure they are not repeated with less fortunate outcomes.

Does that seem like a reasonable approach when talking about dropping bombs on people?

And anyway, as I've already said, in many instances killing civilians was not a mistake.  It was a calculated cost.  In a traditional war, like WW2, it might be an acceptable cost.  But this is not a war like WW2 and we will never fight a war like WW2 again.  We need to understand that.  We need to find ways to win these kinds of wars.  Otherwise we will continue to lose war after war after war as we have Korea, Vietnam, and Iraq.

i'm not saying drones are the only way to go.

It seems to me aerial bombardment is a terrible way to go unless the goal is to completely eradicate a people.  That might be an okay way to go.  Just kill everyone.  Cheaper, simpler, easier to "win".  Or a different kind of win.  But for at least the last 250 years or so (1000 years?) that has been considered socially unacceptable and a war crime. 

hey, maybe don't do stupid shit...

Oh, this is good.  Blame the people being bombed for being bombed.  I take it you've given up defending your position.

so i don't know how much more nice we can be about stuff.

Seriously?  You are fresh outof ideas?  Here's a thought, perhaps we could stop killing their children.  Do you think that would be a nice thing to do?  And hey, that might actually have the added bonus of helping us "win".


Here are just a few essays from one of my favorie websites regardind drones and how we wage war. 

http://www.tomdispatch.com/archive/175195/nick_turse_40_year_drone_war
http://www.tomdispatch.com/blog/175447/
http://www.tomdispatch.com/blog/175454/
http://www.tomdispatch.com/blog/175482/tomgram%3A_nick_turse,_the_life_and_death_of_american_drones/
http://www.tomdispatch.com/post/175489/
http://www.tomdispatch.com/archive/175507/tom_engelhardt_remotely_piloted_war
http://www.tomdispatch.com/post/175551/engelhardt_assassin-in-chief
http://www.tomdispatch.com/post/175649/tomgram%3A_engelhardt%2C_a_conspiracy_of_stupidity/

there is lots more.
Title: Re: Drone Debate
Post by: Graybeard on February 12, 2013, 01:07:11 PM
We are even supposed to report and investigate "near miss" incidents - cases where someone  narrowly avoided being hurt, by chance or skill - to make sure they are not repeated with less fortunate outcomes.

Does that seem like a reasonable approach when talking about dropping bombs on people?
Yes, this is what is done - Did we get our target? If not, how can we make it better next time?

Quote
...We need to find ways to win these kinds of wars.  Otherwise we will continue to lose war after war after war as we have Korea, Vietnam, and Iraq.
The solution is to chose your enemy.

Quote
... aerial bombardment is a terrible way to go ... Just kill everyone.  Cheaper, simpler, easier to "win".  Or a different kind of win.  But for at least the last 250 years or so (1000 years?) that has been considered socially unacceptable and a war crime.
~70 years ago, the bombing of London and Dresden - neither were tried as war crimes. Last significant carpet bombing of a major city - Operations Linebacker and Linebacker II 1972.

Following the discussions of "How can we make this more effective, we have smart bombs and missiles capable of striking to within 5 metres at 1000 miles.

Quote
Oh, this is good.  Blame the people being bombed for being bombed.  I take it you've given up defending your position.
War consists of both sides telling the other, "Stop it!" One usually comes out on top.

Quote
Here's a thought, perhaps we could stop killing their children.
It's hard to remember your job is to drain the swamp when you're up to your arse in crocodiles. I'm not sure what this constant reference to children is - are they somehow more valuable than non-combatants in general, the old, the sick, the perfectly fit who have evaded the draft? I'm old and I'd expect some concern if I were killed!

There is a Noble Prize for the person who finds a way of killing only bad people. The military are open to suggestions.

Do not forget, war is the continuance of diplomacy by other means - common diplomacy may continue after the war.

On the other hand, a war merely shows who has the better weapons and generals; it never shows who was right or had the better ideas.
Title: Re: Drone Debate
Post by: screwtape on February 12, 2013, 03:25:04 PM
~70 years ago, the bombing of London and Dresden - neither were tried as war crimes. Last significant carpet bombing of a major city - Operations Linebacker and Linebacker II 1972.

re: Dresden.  The winner of a war usually does not get tried for war crimes. 

I think you and I are saying similar things.  To clarify, my intention was not to say that aerial bombardment is a war crime in and of itself nor that aerial bombardment is equivalent to "kill everyone".  My point, supported by your examples, is that aerial bombardment itself does not win the war.  The bombings of London and Dresden were both intended to "break" the enemy.  They didn't.  You need a bombing like Hiroshim to do that. 

And I don't think that would even work in pakistan, afghanistan or any other stan.  The people we are killing live in sparsely populated areas and seem to just want us out of their lives.  I think if we just left, that would solve a lot of the conflict.

Following the discussions of "How can we make this more effective, we have smart bombs and missiles capable of striking to within 5 metres at 1000 miles.

Yes, but if they are pointed at the wrong things - as they so often are - they do little good and very much harm the effort of "winning".

War consists of both sides telling the other, "Stop it!" One usually comes out on top.

Agreed.  But at some point you have to ask if the cure is worse than the illness.  If our tactics keep creating more enemies than they eliminate, then what good are they?  If the goal is perpetual war, then mission accomplished. 

I'm not sure what this constant reference to children is - are they somehow more valuable than non-combatants in general, the old, the sick, the perfectly fit who have evaded the draft? I'm old and I'd expect some concern if I were killed!

Brevity. 

I think we need to stop thinking war will fix the problems we have in the middle east.  There are people there whom we might like to kill and would make life easier for us if they were dead.  But I could say that about my neighborhood as well. 

Title: Re: Drone Debate
Post by: Dante on February 12, 2013, 03:46:17 PM
If the goal is perpetual war, then mission accomplished.  

I'm pretty sure that is the goal, at least among the defense contractors, and their lobbyists. There are, and have been for decades, alot of people getting very rich in the militaristic weapons industry.

No war = no $600 toilet seats = no money.
Title: Re: Drone Debate
Post by: nogodsforme on February 12, 2013, 04:09:23 PM
^^^^This. It used to be illegal to be a war profiteer. Now it is just good bidness practice.

The drone strikes are tragic. We are only getting away with this sh!t  because of our superpower status. And the fact that we are doing it to brown people nobody cares about. But we won't be the big bullies on the block forever. When China, India (or Russia or Iran) decides to send a few drone attacks our way, we will act like the world had ended. Because for, us, it will have.

BTW The attacks on civilians in Pakistan under the guise of fighting terrorism is creating more hatred for us around the world. I work with young people from these areas and they think our government is incredibly stupid. They like the US and want to understand us. But they can't figure out why our response to so many things is to bomb and kill a bunch of people, just like the terrorists.

Also, this is why I say that, although President Obama is actually a conservative to the right of President Nixon, there are so many people in politics today even farther out there that he (Obama) seems thoughtful and reasonable, ie, liberal, by comparison.[1] The Republicans would have skipped the drones and used nuclear weapons on Pakistan, Afghanistan and Iran by now.  And we would be living in a Mad Max zombie apocalypse. Given all that, GOBAMA! &)
 1. It makes me crazy when people say the health care bill is socialist or a government takeover. Obamacare is Romneycare. It was proposed originally by Bob Dole in the 1990's as the conservative alternative to the far more liberal Hillarycare. And even the Clinton health plan was far short of universal Medicare-- what is customary in Europe or Canada. 
Title: Re: Drone Debate
Post by: sun_king on February 12, 2013, 05:54:51 PM
^^^^This. It used to be illegal to be a war profiteer. Now it is just good bidness practice.

The drone strikes are tragic. We are only getting away with this sh!t  because of our superpower status. And the fact that we are doing it to brown people nobody cares about. But we won't be the big bullies on the block forever. When China, India (or Russia or Iran) decides to send a few drone attacks our way, we will act like the world had ended. Because for, us, it will have.

The US is not the only nation using drones, Canada operates a few in the region under discussion. Israel uses drones when required. And its not just against brown people, drones were used in Serbia, Columbia is using it. I feel that most people have started seeing it as a terminator of followers of a certain religion. It is a weapon system, it is not designed to kill by pigmentation or religion.

Quote
BTW The attacks on civilians in Pakistan under the guise of fighting terrorism is creating more hatred for us around the world. I work with young people from these areas and they think our government is incredibly stupid. They like the US and want to understand us. But they can't figure out why our response to so many things is to bomb and kill a bunch of people, just like the terrorists.

And ask why so many wanted terrorists walk freely in Pakistan, and why are some of them given protection? What does aiding and abetting criminals make you (not you nogodsforme)?  Its either surgical strikes or all out war, the Reapers and the Predators have reduced the collateral damage when compared to the Tomahawks.
Title: Re: Drone Debate
Post by: nogodsforme on February 12, 2013, 06:51:49 PM
^^^Pakistan is a failed state where the government cut a deal to leave the terrorists alone if they kept their hands off the nukes. I might have made that deal, too. Maybe you would not have made that deal....and we would now have a nuclear armed Taliban.

And, as Quesi pointed out, we helped to create the whole mess to begin with by gathering, arming and training the wannabee terrorists from all over the Muslim world, so they would fight the commie Soviets in Afghanistan. Right next door to Pakistan.

Afghanistan was a civilized and developed country in the 1970's under the Soviet influence. Women went to college and studied law and medicine. The Soviets built hospitals and schools--the average Afghans were far better off back then. My Afghan students have photos of grandma in college wearing a bikini in the 1970's.

But we hated the commies so much that we created the Taliban and Al Qaeda to kick their a$$es. And then the Taliban turned around and kicked the a$$es of all the modern people in Afghanistan and Al Qaeda took the jihad back to their own countries. Now women have to wear burkas and hide from the religious police.

Everyone in the Muslim world, modern or traditional, is angry at the US now, and these guys are shooting at our troops with the same weapons we gave them in the 80's. What goes around comes around. :(

Title: Re: Drone Debate
Post by: void of gods crutch on February 13, 2013, 01:39:37 AM
i'm exhausted just trying to read all that and catch up. all i can say, is sometimes killing is the answer. as distasteful as that may sound, it's the truth. is it always the answer, no, of course not. though i'm all for capitol punishment, only wish they could make it happen sooner so our tax dollars aren't wasted on feeding criminals making them too fat to hang. sentenced to death? step right out this back door, up against a fence where the rest of the prisoners can watch you take one to the head. i'm happy to donate a few boxes of ammo..how many could possibly be on deathrow?! could be a few less if we're lucky! anyway i digress...
it sounds like you found the perfect job for someone as anal as yourself screw, and i mean that in a good way. i bet you don't let anyone get away with squat, cause someone could poke an eye out. you check shoelaces when you come in, make sure there's no trip hazards?
i think that you can have accidents. or at least be in them when it's not your fault something bad happened to you. i've been hit by a car when it wasn't my fault, nothing i did wrong. just sideblinded. shit happens. i happened to live thru that one. who knows about the next. people get bombed when it's not their fault, shit happens. bad things happen to good people screw, every day, all day long, that's life. been goin on since we thought of the word war. that will never, ever change in our life time. know why? cause shit happens, and that's life. times of war are population control at it's finest, almost as popular as abortions & tsunami's. but much, much, much more expensive and with world leaders to blame..errr thank.
Title: Re: Drone Debate
Post by: screwtape on February 13, 2013, 09:00:11 AM
it sounds like you found the perfect job for someone as anal as yourself screw, and i mean that in a good way. i bet you don't let anyone get away with squat, cause someone could poke an eye out. you check shoelaces when you come in, make sure there's no trip hazards?

I'm not anal.  It is company policy.  And I do not know how this personal attack supports your opinions.  I've tried to not make this a personal discussion.  I'm not always successful at that, so if I've said something that came across personally, I apologize. I did not mean to.

If I didn't and this is just how you react when facing the prospect that some of your opinions are wrong, then shame on you.   

i think that you can have accidents...

We're not talking about the same thing at all.  You are talking about how not everything is within our control.  True, dat.  However, I do not see how that is related to the idea of using drones to assassinate foreigners and their families.


 
Title: Re: Drone Debate
Post by: Quesi on February 13, 2013, 12:13:25 PM

10 civilians killed today.  BTW- all adult men who are killed are always combatants.  The only civilians are women and children.  By definition. 


http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2013/feb/13/nato-air-strike-civilians-afghanistan

If the Afghani people could just look at the big picture, and stop being so attached to their dead family members, I'm pretty sure they would understand that our war on terror (which is currently being staged on their land) is really for the greater good. 

(http://debateasia.wiki.lovett.org/file/view/rall_afghanstrips.jpg/87250015/598x376/rall_afghanstrips.jpg)
Title: Re: Drone Debate
Post by: sun_king on February 13, 2013, 12:48:11 PM
It looks more like an airstrike than a drone attack.

4 or 5 insurgents dead.

Can we discuss the alternatives here?
Reality: There is an enemy (there is no point in discussing how the enemy was born, that is a thing of the past.)
Reality: The enemy will kill and or destroy anything they perceive as their enemy, foreign or domestic without compunction. (again, why they would want to do so may not be applicable to this topic, perhaps another thread)

Objective: Contain the enemy
Action: Peaceful negotiations
Action: Use of deadly force
Action: Abandon posts and leave the area and hope that original inhabitants will resolve[1] their differences

If you are in charge, what would you do Quesi and Screwtape? We don't have a time machine to undo the past
 1. Probable genocide in the offing
Title: Re: Drone Debate
Post by: screwtape on February 13, 2013, 02:07:24 PM
Can we discuss the alternatives here?

Sure.

4 or 5 insurgents dead.

alternative: 4 or 5 males (age unspecified) dead.  Labeled insurgents by virtue of the fact that they are males (age unspecified) and we killed them.  Kinda like defining torture as "something we don't do", thus any torture we do cannot be torture, since that makes it definition, not torture.  "Insurgent" has kind of be redefined as "a guy we killed".

there is no point in discussing how the enemy was born, that is a thing of the past.

It strikes me as emminently important to know how the enemy was born (if there even is an enemy).  Understanding the enemy - what he wants and why - present options for what victory can look like.  It does not necessarily have to be the death of one or the other of us.  If all he wants is US soldiers out of his valley, then I see a win-win opportunity.

"If you know the enemy and know yourself you need not fear the results of a hundred battles"
“The supreme art of war is to subdue the enemy without fighting.”
- Sun Tzu

It seems to me we have never known or understood our enemy.  Or at least, never had a clear idea of what "victory" was or when we could stop fighting.  Are we supposed to fight as long as someone on the planet uses the name "al qaeda" for himself? 

Objective: Contain the enemy

That's vague.  I don't know what that means.  If you mean "prevent all attacks on the US forever", you are shit out of luck.  That is as achieveable as preventing all car accidents.  Given the proliferation technology successful attacks are inevitable.  Kill everyone else in the world and we would still have domestic terrorists.  Perhaps after we hit peak petroleum and travel for the masses becomes economically unfeasible, that will help curtail foreign non-state attacks.  If they cannot get out of Swat Valley, they cannot hurt us.

Until I know what you mean I cannot accept or reject your options, though I do find them limiting on face value.

If you are in charge, what would you do Quesi and Screwtape? We don't have a time machine to undo the past

Exactly whom are we talking about?  Afghanistan?  Pakistan?  Yemen?  Somalia?  Al qaeda (whatever that means)?

Generally speaking, our ME problems are of our own making.  As a start I would...


 
Title: Re: Drone Debate
Post by: sun_king on February 13, 2013, 03:18:18 PM
4 or 5 insurgents dead.
alternative: 4 or 5 males (age unspecified) dead.  Labeled insurgents by virtue of the fact that they are males (age unspecified) and we killed them.  Kinda like defining torture as "something we don't do", thus any torture we do cannot be torture, since that makes it definition, not torture.  "Insurgent" has kind of be redefined as "a guy we killed".
Maybe it is too early to state if they were bad guys. They are bound to release a few names soon enough, maybe we can pick this up later.

But, assume there was one bad guy there, would you risk sending your ground troops in an effort to apprehend him/her? Would you risk your intelligence assets to stakeout the place and confirm he/she is the one you are looking for? Or would you let him be and plan his next attack on you?
there is no point in discussing how the enemy was born, that is a thing of the past.

It strikes me as emminently important to know how the enemy was born (if there even is an enemy).  Understanding the enemy - what he wants and why - present options for what victory can look like.  It does not necessarily have to be the death of one or the other of us.  If all he wants is US soldiers out of his valley, then I see a win-win opportunity.

"If you know the enemy and know yourself you need not fear the results of a hundred battles"
“The supreme art of war is to subdue the enemy without fighting.”
- Sun Tzu

It seems to me we have never known or understood our enemy.  Or at least, never had a clear idea of what "victory" was or when we could stop fighting.  Are we supposed to fight as long as someone on the planet uses the name "al qaeda" for himself? 
Drones discussion sir, we need not really worry about the enemy and the politics involved. The drone can be used in Serbia, Israel, Columbia. In this case the drone is a combat method. Ground assault, carpet bombing, artillery, smart bombs are other methods. Thats why I insisted on the present, enemy is there, you know how he was born, you know how you can win[1] You send in your assets at this point.
Objective: Contain the enemy

That's vague.  I don't know what that means.  If you mean "prevent all attacks on the US forever", you are shit out of luck.  <snipped for brevity>
Until I know what you mean I cannot accept or reject your options, though I do find them limiting on face value.
 1. Or you think you can
Possible, if willing to take the step, example Japan.
Containment has its usual meanings, means prevent spreading. In this case, not allowing to be organized and hence remain contained as small, less dangerous units. When the enemies primary motive is survival, counterattack is less of a threat. I used containment, not annihilation.
If you are in charge, what would you do Quesi and Screwtape? We don't have a time machine to undo the past

Exactly whom are we talking about?  Afghanistan?  Pakistan?  Yemen?  Somalia?  Al qaeda (whatever that means)?
Wherever the drones are being used, the ME is an example.
Generally speaking, our ME problems are of our own making.  As a start I would...
  • severely curtail the assassination-by-drone program
  • pull all our troops out of iraq, afghanistan, etc.
  • Stop trying to have puppet governements.  In the long run, they hurt us.  See Iran.
  • stop trying to promote democracy.  most people don't have it because they are not ready for it.  heck, I hardly think the US is ready for it anymore.
  • revoke corporate personhood (http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/02/11/rick-nolan-citizens-united_n_2663128.html)
  • cease torture
  • cease covert operations
  • try to reform the monolithic intelligence community to make them actual intelligence gathering entities
  • cease all financial and military support for Israel
  • broker a fair resolution for the palestinians.
  • de-garrison the planet.  we have expensive military bases everywhere.  Why?  To "project power".  That seems unnecessarily hostile to me.
I will just be brief about 1 and 2 in this list, the rest seems to be more ideological, no offense, I too would want them to be so (except the degarrison).
1 -- You risk your men and women's lives as they do the same things the drone has been doing. Your people's lives.
2 -- If in Afghanistan, the same enemy will kill in thousands, the same people whom you dont want to be collateral damage. That wouldn't be morally correct.

Drones bring in less deaths when compared to the same objective accomplished by other practical means. Its not like we have the drones, we go there and use it. Its we are there, we have it, we use it.
Title: Re: Drone Debate
Post by: screwtape on February 13, 2013, 04:05:50 PM
But, assume there was one bad guy there, would you risk sending your ground troops in an effort to apprehend him/her?

I don't have enough information.  It depends on the bad guy.  It depends on the environment.  It depends on who's troops.  If I had a better relationship with the local government, maybe I could get their police to do it for me, causing less damage.[1]  If not, then yes, if the bad guy is worth it. 

I'm sorry to have to hedge this way, but I think these questions assume a lot.  A lot of the decision making depends on so many other variables.

Would you risk your intelligence assets to stakeout the place and confirm he/she is the one you are looking for? Or would you let him be and plan his next attack on you?

I don't have enough information. How valuable is the bad guy?  If he's valuable enough, then yes, I risk an asset.  That is what they are for.  If he's Mo Shmo, then no, and I have to wonder whether he's plans are anything more than pipe dreams.


Drones discussion sir, we need not really worry about the enemy and the politics involved.

I thought we did need to worry about the politics.  For me, It's not about drones.  It's about policy.  Drones are just weapons.  A weapon is a weapon is a weapon, mostly.  I have no bug about the equipment.  There is as much inherently wrong with a drone as there is with an F-16. 

The question is how they are used.  I question the policies and especially the intelligence.  If that was not what you were talking about, then I beg your pardon.  We were not on the same page.

Thats why I insisted on the present, enemy is there, you know how he was born, you know how you can win[2] You send in your assets at this point.
 2. Or you think you can

Ah, it looks like we were on very different pages. 

Given a set of theoretical premises that we know these things, that changes the equation.  Given all that stuff, yes, use drones.  Ultimately, they will perform better than people.  A PLC does not black out or red out under high G turns.

I think we may disagree on the real world premises.  I'm not convinced we know who the bad guys are.  I'm not sure whe know much.  And I have a hard time believing our particular problems are ones we can kill our way out of.  As I said before, if killing one guy is going to create 20 more enemies, then I think we are using the wrong approach.

the rest seems to be more ideological, no offense,

No offense taken.  But I see them as practical and not ideological.  Sadaam was a monster we created.  Maybe he was inevitable in the region, but he didn't have to belong to us.  Osama was also a monster we created.  And I think it is doubtful he would have been inevitable without CIA training.  Our role in the Israel/Palestine situation is something that really sticks in the craw of muslims world wide, so I see rectifying that as an actual practical solution. 

I try to not be ideological.  I'm not always successful.  But I try to seek in actual solutions, not platitudes.

You risk your men and women's lives as they do the same things the drone has been doing. Your people's lives.
 

As I said before, I'm not convinced the people who are being assassinated actually need to be assassinated.  It is less about how they are assassinated to me.  Are they killed because they are a threat to Afghan operations, or is it because they are a threat to the actual US?  I dunno.  I suspect the former.  And if killing them with their families is a bigger negative than not killing them, I don't see the point.   

If in Afghanistan, the same enemy will kill in thousands, the same people whom you dont want to be collateral damage. That wouldn't be morally correct.

I object to the civilian deaths for a couple of reasons.  First and foremost, I think it undermines our objectives of creating a stable, friendly government.  While I do think of it in moral terms as well, frankly, they are not my tribe.  At some point my national interest trumps theirs.   

I think after 12 years and $600+ Billion if we have not been able to solve the problem, we're not going to solve it. We failed.  Horribly.

Last, I'm not sure we owe Afghans anything other than to leave them alone.

 1. I know, I know, and if frogs had wings, they wouldn't bump their ass a'hoppin'
Title: Re: Drone Debate
Post by: sun_king on February 13, 2013, 05:00:22 PM
Screwtape, its true, we are on different pages, maybe even different books.

I would agree that its better that we stay out of most conflicts. This goes with my favorite saying "A superior pilot uses his superior judgment to avoid situations which require the use of his superior skills"

Two decades ago we (India) went to meddle with the Srilankan-Tamil conflict and ended up getting bruised and one gruesome assassination.

What I was saying that, once we got in, then the drones may allow waging war with lesser loss of lives. An F-16 has one pilot who is put in harms way, not so for the drone.
Title: Re: Drone Debate
Post by: Truth OT on February 13, 2013, 06:10:01 PM

How would you suggest the containment of the enemy is to be handled? The threat is undeniable, action is inevitable.


I need more evidence than the politicians' propaganda and media sensationalism to prove this above sentiment to be a reality that merits constant military vigilance.

A great formula for creating future enemies and generating understandable hatred of the USA is for our/the government's military industrial complex to keep weapons that occupy lands and pose a violent threat visible in the lives of young impressionable minds.
Title: Re: Drone Debate
Post by: Quesi on February 13, 2013, 06:51:51 PM
Yeah.  I'm on a really different page too. 

I’m not really sure I embrace this whole concept of an “enemy.”  There are a diverse bunch of folks out there who embrace concepts that appall me, and some of them would like see me and you and everyone else we care about dead, and some of them have legitimate gripes against my government and some of them really have very little concept of the world outside of their immediate realities, and they are just angry. 

Yeah.  I don’t think that I agree that there is AN ENEMY.  There are lots of people who I don’t like, and lots of people who present a danger.  Like the guy driving a black sedan in my neighborhood, who, in the past few weeks, has been trying to pull pre-teen girls into his car at 7:00 AM while they are on their way to school.  Is there AN ENEMY in my neighborhood?  No.  There is a criminal.  A nasty, horrible criminal.  If he comes near my daughter, I’ll castrate him myself.  But I don’t think that my neighborhood should plot to blow up all the black sedans in the neighborhood.

There were a group of angry, insane criminals who flew planes into buildings in my city.   Bin Laden was a brilliant, charismatic, crazy cult leader, managed to get gobs of people to buy into his private anger and insanity.  He had much more in common with Jim Jones than with the Taliban.   Yeah.  Al Qaeda works with the Taliban.  Hides in Taliban territory.  And enjoys the fundamentalist indignation.  But privileged, educated al Qaeda does not share anything more than fundamentalism and anger with the Taliban.   

The Taliban are a reactionary subset of a specific ethnic group (the Pashtuns) who reside in a region which has been screwed over by foreigners for as long as anyone can remember.  Many of the Taliban leaders, like the people who they attempt to rule and coerce, are illiterate.  They can’t read a map.  They don’t even understand that they live on a globe.   Many of them collaborated with Bin Laden.  But they are a very different breed.  They are no threat to us.  They are not going to fly planes into buildings.  But I do consider them a threat to the Afghan people.  And as a humanist, I support the human rights of those Afghanis whose lives have been limited by the Taliban.  The solution is education.  And the Taliban will become irrelevant. 

Somalia?  Poor Somalia is the canary in the goal mine in terms of global warming.  And of course they’ve been using their love of god as an excuse to alter their borders with their neighbors for a very long time.  And then there is the issue of mining rights inside of other countries borders.  Mix in a little xenophobia, a little Islam, some ethnic disputes, and a lot of pain and hunger, and you’ve got all kinds of folks ripe to die and kill in the name of some cause.  The solution?  Ummm… end global warming, find beneficial economic enterprises for the Somalis to pursue within their own national borders, find a way to feed starving people.  Education again.  Heal ethnic tensions. 

Or maybe just send in drones. 
Al Qaeda is tougher still.  Decentralized cells of angry individuals.  The vast majority are not skilled enough, and don’t have access to the resources necessary to pull off attacks like that of the Cole or 9/11.  But some are skilled at spreading their anger and creed.   Dropping drones and killing lots of folks helps their cause by justifying their anger.  Let’s not help their cause and justify their anger.  I don’t know all that much about the institution itself, but I’m pretty sure that in the absence of Bin Laden, there is no single individual who is crucial to the survival of the infrastructure.  Their strength is their decentralization.  So I would hope that the intelligence community is gathering information on cells and what they are doing, and which ones have the potential for danger beyond recruitment.  And then our government should work with the government in which those cells operate to help cut off their access to resources and influence, and if possible, bring criminal charges against them on a local level.  Obviously, not all countries are going to be as accommodating as we might like. 

And there might be more attacks.    Just like there might be more guys trying to abduct pre-teen girls after they catch the guy in the black sedan.   And there might be more traffic deaths.  Let’s work together to try and prevent any danger to human life that is preventable. 

But let’s not pretend that when our drones or airstrikes kill innocent people, that our actions are justified. 

Oh.  And let's do all the stuff on Screwtape's list. 
Title: Re: Drone Debate
Post by: nogodsforme on February 13, 2013, 07:56:28 PM
I can't help but think about how the whole world had to change after the attacks in the US on 9/11. We were so shocked and horrified that we could not imagine any reasonable explanation for what happened. And we would not rest until we responded.

But then, some ten years later we are spending money we do not have bombing impoverished neighborhoods, killing and maiming hundreds of people in poor countries. Just giving angry disenfranchised people fewer reasons to be peaceful and more reasons to plot future 9/11's.

Because you can be peaceful and minding your own business and the US or some other country drops a bomb on your community, supposedly to get rid of some random bad guy who might be planning an attack. Someday, when China or Iran or Russia does drone strikes on US military bases or US-friendly foreign dissidents or armed "terror cells" in the US, and kills a few hundred random American unfortunates, what will our reaction be? A shoulder shrug and a few words about collateral damage?

Because we seem to forget that everyone else loves their kids just as much as we do.
Title: Re: Drone Debate
Post by: Quesi on February 13, 2013, 09:53:29 PM
  • stop trying to promote democracy.  most people don't have it because they are not ready for it.  heck, I hardly think the US is ready for it anymore.

You know, I really am a champion of democracy.  Rule of the people.  I believe in the concept. 

But when I think about women in Afghanistan, they really got screwed over by "democracy." 

Here is the Pashtun Queen of Afghanistan, Soraya Tarzi.  I'm guessing this photo is 1930's. 

(http://25.media.tumblr.com/tumblr_lxsqkwICP61qefwm5o1_400.jpg)

Some might argue that she is clearly under the influence of western culture.  And that is a valid concern in a country that suffered from colonization.  But a huge percentage of Pashtun people today think the burqua is part of their history and tradition, and they are unaware of the powerful, progressive Muslim Queen who lead their country.



In the waning years of the monarchy, Afghani women pursued education and professional careers.

(http://foreignpolicy.com/files/fp_uploaded_images/100527_3-Afghanistan-62.jpg)


Also in the waning years of the monarchy, (1950's and 60's)  there was infrastructure.  Lots of women wore hijabs, but their lives were not restricted.

(http://foreignpolicy.com/files/fp_uploaded_images/100527_1-Afghanistan-74-v2.jpg)

Then there was communism.  And wars.  And then democracy. 

Just a few decades after we brought democracy to Afghanistan, this was the result.

(http://awwproject.org/wp-content/uploads/2010/04/boy-with-burqas.jpg)

The sad irony is that the Pashtun people were once renown poets and musicians.  Now, the vast majority are illiterate, and music is banned by the Taliban.  But here is a video of an elderly poet and musician, doing what she did in her youth.  Dressing beautifully, creating music (in the company of men!), and promoting her cultural traditions.   In the generations that followed, there would be no young women to carry the torch. 

http://youtu.be/BqZeMiPbg-U

I know that this has nothing to do with drones.  But we, the US, have contributed to the downfall of these people over the decades.  And now we are dropping drones on their houses?  Haven't we done enough? 
Title: Re: Drone Debate
Post by: screwtape on February 14, 2013, 08:46:30 AM
You know, I really am a champion of democracy.  Rule of the people.  I believe in the concept. 

I'm not.  People for the most part are morons.  When morons rule, you get moronic decisions, moronic policies and a terrible nation. 

Democracy has requirements.  IF your nation does not meet those requirements, you end up with a fricken mess, not democracy.  For example, one requirement is that you have a nation with people who have good decision making abilities.  That requires education, engagement and a whole mess of other things.  India does not have that.  As a result, they are a mess. 

Afghanistan has none of the requirements.  Trying to institute a democracy there will be (has been) an utter failure. And it will always be until they meet the requirements.

Pakistan has none of the requirements.  They are a fricken mess.  Part of their problem is they are too stupid to get along with India.  As a result, they spend more money on their military than anything else that might help them make a country worth living in.   

Iraq currenly has few of the requirements.  Their government is a mess.  I'd say they had a shot at it, but right now, there is too much religion.  Religion kills democracy.

Russia lacks certain requirements, like a tradition of self rule.  They have a tradition of autocratic strong men whether Bolshevik Czars,  or Soviet premiers.  Thus, when the USSR fell and they had a choice, ultimately, they went back to a strongman - Putin.  Democracy there is not Democracy.

I think the US is slipping below some of those requirements.  We are becoming a mess.  Too many stupid people, too much religion. Look at Louisiana.  It is like a third world nation.  They re-elected David Vitter as their senator, for chrissakes.  Idiots.  I wouldn't care so much about the stupid things they do to themselves, but they send idiots like Vitter to congress to help make national policy. 

Unfortunately, most of the alternatives to democracy are not so great either.  I am an elitist, so I think ideally, you would have some kind of enlightened dictatorship.  Enlightened dictators are tough to find, since most people who would be dictators in the first place are not all that enlightened.  However, I would make an excellent dictator.  I'm great at telling people what to do.  And I enjoy it.  So, you know, if you want someone to rally your revolution around, I'm available.

But when I think about women in Afghanistan, they really got screwed over by "democracy." 

I don't think they got screwed by democracy. They got screwed by a religious/cultural tyranny.

Title: Re: Drone Debate
Post by: screwtape on February 14, 2013, 09:40:32 AM
a smidge more on democracy and how it fails.
http://www.antipope.org/charlie/blog-static/2013/02/political-failure-modes-and-th.html

Title: Re: Drone Debate
Post by: ParkingPlaces on February 14, 2013, 11:47:32 AM
Bill Moyers tells a drone story that clearly shows the one of the problems. Especially when used in countries we are not at war with. In this case Somalia Yemen.

A muslim cleric spoke out against al qaeda in services on a Sunday. On the following Tuesday he made arrangements to meet with some al qaeda leaders to negotiate with them. His timing was terrible. He and his aide were blown to pieces along with the al qaeda guys during the meeting, by a drone.

Which pissed off his whole mosque. Who do you think those people are more pissed at. The al qaeda guys or the US. How many suicide bombers did we recruit that day?

And screw, I agree about the democracy thing. Cultures have to work into it. You can't force freedom on folks. You can live by example (something the US is not doing. Right now muslim leaders are probably happy that we are becoming more like them with all the freedom-removing edicts we are getting from on high), and you can teach people how to make themselves more free over time. But especially in places used to theocracies, freedom similar to our ideal concept of the term is very foreign.

If we could magically disintegrate the North Korean leadership, how quickly do you think the people there could adapt to South Korean type freedom? It would take generations. Many in the former Eastern Bloc countries, as well as many in the former Soviet Union, had a hell of a time adjusting, and they at least knew the theory. Most North Koreans do not.

Baby steps folks. And a drone-free nursery would be kind of nice.

Added: Found a video of the story. Fixed country. I remembered it wrong.  And I failed to give credit to the NYT for the original story. Can't embed the video but it is on the page linked below.

http://www.3quarksdaily.com/3quarksdaily/2013/02/bill-moyers-on-the-downside-of-drones.html?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+3quarksdaily+%283quarksdaily%29 (http://www.3quarksdaily.com/3quarksdaily/2013/02/bill-moyers-on-the-downside-of-drones.html?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+3quarksdaily+%283quarksdaily%29)
Title: Re: Drone Debate
Post by: screwtape on February 14, 2013, 12:57:01 PM
Which pissed off his whole mosque. Who do you think those people are more pissed at. The al qaeda guys or the US. How many suicide bombers did we recruit that day?

Is this a drone problem or an Intelligence problem? 

And I recall a similar story - virtually identical - that was back when we were in somalia.  Only in that earlier instance the hellfire missile was delivered by an cobra helicopter.[1]

I cannot be sure they were allies, and this link does not say they were.  I thought I saw a documentary some time ago that said that though.  Anyway, same situation, same problems, different weapon platform. 

And screw, I agree about the democracy thing.

I appreciate that.
 1. http://novaonline.nvcc.edu/eli/evans/his135/Events/Somalia93/Somalia93.html  paragraph "From june12-16..." (http://novaonline.nvcc.edu/eli/evans/his135/Events/Somalia93/Somalia93.html  paragraph "From june12-16...")
Title: Re: Drone Debate
Post by: nogodsforme on February 14, 2013, 06:13:31 PM
Having worked with poor people in several different countries, I agree that it is hard for ignorant, illiterate, isolated people to make good decisions about their lives. But that does not mean that someone else who knows even less about those people would be better at running their lives for them. That is what European (and Japanese, US, etc) colonialism has been doing for the past 500 years, and it has not had a good track record.

Dictatorships are the most likely governments, historically. It is easy for one person to  have all the power and for everyone else to obey. Ideally, a benign dictator is the best ruler. A wise king, a great chief. But those are few and far between.

In reality, you get someone who does pretty well the first ten years or so (Trujillo, Peron, Castro, Chavez). Then the pressure and power become too much and the person goes nuts. Mass murder, torture and/or stealing the country blind generally follows (Stalin, Pol Pot, Mubarak, Marcos, Pinochet, Mobutu and on and on).

Sometimes the dictator can postpone a coup or being run out of town by starting a war with a neighbor (Saddam vs the Ayatollah).  Then, usually a few years of bloody civil war as the people who were screwed over most by the dictator take revenge on the dictator's friends and fight over resources (Congo, Somalia).

Chaos reigns, the infrastructure is destroyed, and foreigners say, "What those people need is a dictator to tell them what to do." &)

Democracy is rare, because it is hard, slow, inefficient and expensive. But it is still the best way to get closer to the kind of country people actually want to live in. People are unlikely to vote in favor of truly evil people or policies, and if they do they can change them. You can't swap out a dictator when you are tired of him.
Title: Re: Drone Debate
Post by: sun_king on February 14, 2013, 07:35:19 PM
Having worked with poor people in several different countries, I agree that it is hard for ignorant, illiterate, isolated people to make good decisions about their lives.

Most decisions are not made entirely by the politicians in a democracy. The changes are effectively made by the bureaucracy which is selected based on their eligibility and competency. Essentially the ignorant, illiterate and isolated people make it known what they want when they elect their representative and these elected representatives entrust the bureaucracy to draft the changes. And there is always the judiciary that can ensure that the changes are acceptable.[1]

The elected ones usually make tall claims, but its the selected ones who actually define the policies. In most cases the elected ones are the popular ones, they may not be qualified to run a house, let alone a country.

 1. In an ideal world, no corruption, no selfish desires etc.
Title: Re: Drone Debate
Post by: ParkingPlaces on February 14, 2013, 07:37:56 PM
Which pissed off his whole mosque. Who do you think those people are more pissed at. The al qaeda guys or the US. How many suicide bombers did we recruit that day?

Is this a drone problem or an Intelligence problem? 



It is probably both. First of all, having drones available to do the dirty work is kind of like having a Roomba. Just turn it on and hope that the mites and dust bunnies don't mind. Or the terrorist and non-terrorist victims, which ever they may be. It is so easy to kill its not even like work.

Then guessing that all people who terrorists talk to are also terrorists is not necessarily a safe assumption. An easy one, but not a safe one. If a terrorist comes to my house to borrow a hammer and I die, I'll be pissed. So telling a drone to zap folks without reasonable regard for possible innocent victims isn't a very nice thing to do.

And how much intelligence can a bunch of white guys hope to have re: Yemen. When people are guessing that drones will help and guessing where to shoot, there is precious little intelligence to call bad.

Title: Re: Drone Debate
Post by: Quesi on February 14, 2013, 09:02:31 PM
Well this has gotten to be a huge and fascinating conversation.

@Parkingplaces - Love the story.  I think it really illustrates how these attempts to kill bad guys often create more enemies than these bad guys could have created on their own. 

@nogodsforme - You so often say what I wish I had said. 

@Sunking - There are indeed many incompetent elected officials, and many of the biggest changes are in fact implemented and carried out by bureaucracies driven by hopes of self preservation rather than the greater good.

@Screwtape - We are certainly on the same page when it comes to many issues. But we clearly differ on our views of humanity.  I work with adult immigrants and refugees, and my program has a leadership development component and a community organizing component.  In my experience, in spite of the fact that many of the folks we work with have little formal education, I am often awed by the work that they do.  Now, they are not deciding who to throw missiles on.  It is local stuff most - community based.  Stuff they can really change.  They are prioritize issues, and then create campaigns around those issues, many of which have been really successful.  Increasing neighborhood park space, and creating an urban play street for kids has been a HUGE success.  The inclusion of low-income housing units in a development created on previously public land has also been a major victory.  Increasing bike lanes on various avenues.  Working with city agencies to decrease traffic problems by changing the direction of some one-way streets and re-routing some bus routes was also pretty big. 

I believe that people want to live in strong communities, and if given the opportunity, most folks will work to make their communities stronger.  Religion is creating at building and maintaining communities.  But if folks have secular causes, that improve the quality of their lives, they have less need for communities of god, and more reasons for communities of neighbors. 

No.  I don't think most people are morons.  I think most people have a lot of untapped potential. 
Title: Re: Drone Debate
Post by: nogodsforme on February 15, 2013, 06:05:51 PM
^^^^Yes! Untapped potential and powerful forces that work very hard to keep people distracted, disorganized, angry and fighting about the wrong things. Like whether "evilution" and gay sex should be taught in schools, which foreigners to hate this week,  and whether Obama is a Muslim. &)
Title: Re: Drone Debate
Post by: screwtape on February 16, 2013, 08:42:45 PM
I think most people have a lot of untapped potential.

I think that is generous of you, but tragically optimistic.  I think it also says something good about you.  You believe in people.  I am a cranky cynic and pessimist.  So while I can look at your belief in people and see it as a positive for you, I also see it as somewhat naive.

I used to think there was untapped potential in people.  If only they could do x instead of y, ho boy, then the world would be awesome.  But they didn't do x.  They did y.  But why didn't they do x?  It was because they couldn't.  Whether it was lack of vision, moral fiber, character, intelligence, skill, ambition, whatever.  They lacked a critical, necessary element that would have allowed them to do x and instead rendered them incapable. So the potential was never really there.  It was only an illusion that they could do x.  And that is what makes most people morons.  Large, talking apes that appear to be adults, with the mentality of five year olds.

People live up to their full potential, which is a colossal disappointment in most cases. 
Title: Re: Drone Debate
Post by: Quesi on February 16, 2013, 10:27:22 PM
Yeah.  I've been called naïve before.  But I've been in war zones and I've worked with torture survivors and I've glimpsed an ugly side of humanity that most people haven't seen.  And I've seem amazing resilience too.  And sacrifice. 

You blame people for poor judgment.  Yeah.  A lot of people make dumb choices.  Most of us do, from time to time.  But we are products of our environment.  Our education and our community and our nutrition and our real and perceived fears.   We are often afraid of the wrong things.  We are afraid of not having enough possessions, and so we think nothing of the way the pursuit of wealth damages the planet.  And we rarely think about the way our greed directly impacts on the lives of human beings.  We are afraid of terrorists, so we think that it is ok to kill innocent people if we get rid of a few terrorists too.  We are afraid of the unknown, or the unfamiliar, and so we side with the familiar rather than the just. 

But I think when we are given good information, and asked to make a decision that is going to impact on our immediate world, our families or our neighborhoods or the larger communities we belong to, we usually do the right thing. 
Title: Re: Drone Debate
Post by: jaimehlers on February 17, 2013, 06:43:59 PM
"Democracy is the worst form of government, except for all the others that have been tried from time to time."  Winston Churchill.

Whatever else you say about democracy, at least it can self-correct without requiring a civil war or a revolution.
Title: Re: Drone Debate
Post by: screwtape on February 18, 2013, 08:32:49 AM
Whatever else you say about democracy, at least it can self-correct without requiring a civil war or a revolution.

Self correct to what?  If the problem is dumb policy leading the nation to ruin, but they are policies the people want, how does self correction work?  I'd very much like to think that is how it works, but given the current state of things, I don't seehow.

Here is one man's theory of it:
http://www.antipope.org/charlie/blog-static/2013/02/political-failure-modes-and-th.html

Quote
Here's a hypothesis: Representative democracy is what's happening. Unfortunately, democracy is broken. There's a hidden failure mode, we've landed in it, and we probably won't be able to vote ourselves out of it.
...
Overall, the nature of the problem seems to be that our representative democratic institutions have been captured by meta-institutions that implement the iron law of oligarchy by systematically reducing the risk of change. They have done so by converging on a common set of policies that do not serve the public interest, but minimize the risk of the parties losing the corporate funding they require in order to achieve re-election.

Failure modes.  That is an interesting idea.  I do FMEA[1] for designs and for systems.  But I have never heard anyone discuss the potential failure modes of our representative democracy.  I think they do get talked about - gerrymandering, filibustering, do nothing parties - but not in a systematic way.  More of a whiney, complaining informal way.  That would be an interesting study to read.  How can democracy fail and how can it be prevented?
 1. Failure Mode Effects Analysis
Title: Re: Drone Debate
Post by: Graybeard on February 18, 2013, 02:08:42 PM
Quote
Representative democracy is what's happening. Unfortunately, democracy is broken. There's a hidden failure mode, we've landed in it, and we probably won't be able to vote ourselves out of it.

To a large extent I agree. The job of government in a representational democracy is to obey the reasonable wishes of the population within economic constraints and to introduce legislation for the perceived improvement of the lives of the population.

However, the government should also limit government by the mob, which is socially and economically disastrous.

The main problems are with democracy and defence: defence is always secret. If the other side know what you know, you’re stuffed. Therefore there is no explaining your actions to the voters in a way that would allow them to come to the same conclusions as you: they are not allowed the facts… and quite right too.

However, and that said, it does strike me that governments of all shades tend to decided what they can do, announce this as desirable policy, fight anyone who opposes them and then implement it. There is not much “listening”.

This might be a good thing, from what I’ve seen of the UK, 60% of people should not qualify to vote.

The leader of the Liberal Party in the UK (Nick Clegg, who tends to be idealistic and not quite in touch with the practicalities of politics) opened a website on which the people could suggest laws that they wanted abolishing. It was a failure – everyone wanted more laws! I was amazed until I realised that most of these people though that to “abolish” meant “not to allow something.”
Title: Re: Drone Debate
Post by: shnozzola on February 18, 2013, 04:52:31 PM
Quote
How can democracy  <not> fail?
   It seems based mostly on trust.  The representatives must trust each other.  The public must trust representatives.  When trust runs throughout government, both sides can attempt law and quick progress can be made.

     Both sides can have opposite views of what is correct law, but still be willing to allow law to be made by the other side while a majority. The minority must trust that, since both sides should be most interested in a solution, if the majority made law does not work, a law would be overturned. 

   Take gun control, or Obamacare - if the side that feels they  have lost the debate trust that if the new law doesn't work, it would be overturned, laws are not so frightening.  In a way, when the US had prohibition but then overturned it, it was a mature move.  Maybe easy to say 90 years later, after hot debate, but we seem to have moved on from that.

   Naive maybe, but easy, logical governing.   It does seem like most US governing is on a conservative - liberal pendulum.  For instance, if the public feels that corporation's rights have gone too far, the slow process of supreme court change will change those rights.

What is the main thing that ended great societies throughout history?
Title: Re: Drone Debate
Post by: sun_king on February 21, 2013, 12:42:52 PM
Back to terrorism and drones, this happened yesterday, about 400 miles from where I used to live

http://www.ndtv.com/article/south/hyderabad-blasts-at-least-12-killed-57-injured-333905?pfrom=home-lateststories

We don't use drones, we dont attack training camps in our neighbouring countries. All our forces are inside our borders (unless token units are on UN missions). Yet they decided its time for many innocents to die.

Quick check on Screwtape's list:

severely curtail the assassination-by-drone program -- N/A
pull all our troops out of iraq, afghanistan, etc. N/A
Stop trying to have puppet governements.  In the long run, they hurt us.  See Iran. N/A
stop trying to promote democracy.  most people don't have it because they are not ready for it.  heck, I hardly think the US is ready for it anymore. N/A
revoke corporate personhood N/A
cease torture - probably N/A
cease covert operations - N/A
try to reform the monolithic intelligence community to make them actual intelligence gathering entities Almost Impractical- too huge a spectrum
cease all financial and military support for Israel N/A
broker a fair resolution for the palestinians.  N/A
de-garrison the planet.  we have expensive military bases everywhere.  Why?  To "project power".  That seems unnecessarily hostile to me. N/A

What I would say is that there are people out there who needs no reason to perpetrate an act of terror. This is the "enemy", he is real and he is filled with hatred. He will keep killing just because he can.
Title: Re: Drone Debate
Post by: screwtape on February 21, 2013, 01:53:39 PM
Back to terrorism and drones, this happened yesterday, about 400 miles from where I used to live

http://www.ndtv.com/article/south/hyderabad-blasts-at-least-12-killed-57-injured-333905?pfrom=home-lateststories

We don't use drones, we dont attack training camps in our neighbouring countries. All our forces are inside our borders (unless token units are on UN missions). Yet they decided its time for many innocents to die.

By "we" I presume you mean the Pakistani government.

Someone blew shit up in Hyderabad and that is supposed to make me think the way the US uses drones is awesome sauce?  Really?  GTFO.

First of all, you would have to show me how Pakistan using a drone would have prevented this.  Do drones now have the ability to find and disarm bombs in a marketplace?  Do they even know who did it?  Did they know in advance that something was being planned?  If so, why did they not use F-16s or JF-17s?  That should be able to do the same thing, right?  There is nothing about a drone that makes it better at finding targets.  Any aerial platform should work. 

Second, the taliban and other assorted terrorist organizations are a creation and extension of Pakistan's ISI.  The ISI that has been a HUGE problem in Afghanistan and probably Iraq too.  I did make a couple points about eschewing puppet governments, ceasing covert ops, and reforming intelligence bureaus.  That probably applies here.   

Last, my list was not a silver bullet that was supposed to be policy for every country, though a lot of it does make practical sense.  It was to specifically address some of the bigger problems with US foreign policy.

And if you recall, I agreed drones were just another weapon system and nothing was inherently bad about them.  I do have a problem with our current policy for how we use them and the horrid intelligence we rely on to select targets. 


What I would say is that there are people out there who needs no reason to perpetrate an act of terror...He will keep killing just because he can.
 

Really?  They are just nihilists creating death and destruction for the heck of it?  I don't buy it.  It sounds too simplistic, too convenient, and too much like "they hate us for our freedom".  And it does not actually explain anything.

Title: Re: Drone Debate
Post by: sun_king on February 21, 2013, 02:19:04 PM
I am from India, Screwtape. Hyderabad is in India (its there in Pakistan too, but thats another matter)

I just wanted to say that your list does little to prevent terrorism. And that Quesi's theory that there is no "enemy" out there is just as far fetched. This has nothing to do with the US policies, nothing to do with Taliban, nothing to do with Afghanistan. Different world, different country, real life.

... and that a terrorist doesn't need a drone to justify his Jihad.

Title: Re: Drone Debate
Post by: nogodsforme on February 21, 2013, 03:37:19 PM
I have to agree with screwtape here. People don't just suddenly wake up one day and decide to hate the US and go on a "jihad" against the west for no reason. If we don't look at how the Taliban and Al Qaeda and the ISI came about, we will face more of the same in the future. We are creating the future jihadis when we bomb wedding parties, kill children and assassinate anyone we don't like.

We in the US have not had militants charging into our cities and towns, mowing down police, judges and civilians by the hundreds. We have not had terrorists dumping dead bodies into people's yards, or throwing severed heads into high school proms. But Mexico has been suffering this for several years now. Their terrorists are Central American drug gangs hiding out in the US.

If the Mexican military used drones to bomb suspected M13 gang hangouts in the US, many innocent Americans would be killed. But the Mexicans' actions would have far more merit than the US has for bombings in Pakistan, Afghanistan or Yemen.  Nobody from any of those countries has done anything in the US compared to the death and destruction these drug runners have caused in Mexico.

The US has been the biggest bully on the block since the fall of the Soviet Union, but we will not be the #1 superpower forever. If China or Russia started bombing people they suspected of terrorism in the US, you know damn well it would not take very long for Americans to retaliate. 

What goes around comes around. If we can get away with it, why not other countries?
Title: Re: Drone Debate
Post by: screwtape on February 21, 2013, 04:10:42 PM
I am from India, Screwtape. Hyderabad is in India (its there in Pakistan too, but thats another matter)

My mistake.  My apologies.

I just wanted to say that your list does little to prevent terrorism.

Well, then you would be wrong.  As I said.  My list was US specific.  I am sure India has its own set of issues with Pakistan.  And your post did nothing to say drones would or could have helped you.   

Title: Re: Drone Debate
Post by: nogodsforme on February 21, 2013, 04:41:26 PM
I am from India, Screwtape. Hyderabad is in India (its there in Pakistan too, but thats another matter)

My mistake.  My apologies.

I just wanted to say that your list does little to prevent terrorism.

Well, then you would be wrong.  As I said.  My list was US specific.  I am sure India has its own set of issues with Pakistan.  And your post did nothing to say drones would or could have helped you.

People don't sacrifice themselves for frivolous reasons. They may be the wrong reasons, but they are reality. Therefore, screwtape's list prevents terrorism by giving people fewer reasons to become terrorists.

Terrorism is not just another occupational choice, like being a terrorist is one job possibility instead of store clerk, welder or nurse. Something has to drive most people to react with extreme violent actions-- a few are actually crazy psychos, but the other 98% are people driven to think there is only one appropriate response to what has happened to them.

If we can imagine what it would take to make us into terrorists, we can imagine what made other people into terrorists. Sometimes we forget that other people love their homes, friends and families just as much as we love ours. If some foreign army dropped a bomb on my peaceful neighborhood, destroying my home, and killing my daughter and husband, that might be enough for me.
Title: Re: Drone Debate
Post by: sun_king on February 21, 2013, 05:29:33 PM
My mistake.  My apologies.
No big deal, it happens.
I just wanted to say that your list does little to prevent terrorism.
Well, then you would be wrong.  As I said.  My list was US specific.  I am sure India has its own set of issues with Pakistan.  And your post did nothing to say drones would or could have helped you.

Thought you were having a global mindset  :)
A drone wouldn't have helped. But then, a drone isn't the reason either. What I wanted to say is that these are the same kind of people you too would be facing. You can refrain from using a new weapon system, they find another reason to bring death to you. In other words, the number of "new" enemies you get will be pretty much the same no matter what you do to contain it. Wasn't it you who mentioned Art of War and understanding the enemy? I wanted to share a different face of your enemy, something you are quite lucky not to have in your soil.
Title: Re: Drone Debate
Post by: sun_king on February 21, 2013, 05:44:47 PM
Terrorism is not just another occupational choice, like being a terrorist is one job possibility instead of store clerk, welder or nurse. Something has to drive most people to react with extreme violent actions-- a few are actually crazy psychos, but the other 98% are people driven to think there is only one appropriate response to what has happened to them.

Sadly, this is not always true. It is a career choice in certain places. And there are a lot of examples where its driven just for money or victim of indoctrination. Check this guy, had nothing to do with India, but chose to be part of a terrorist attack  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ajmal_Kasab

Or http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/David_Headley
Title: Re: Drone Debate
Post by: shnozzola on February 21, 2013, 06:35:29 PM
Sun King,
  Do you think the United States should totally withdraw from that part of the world? (Pakistan, Afghanistan)
Title: Re: Drone Debate
Post by: sun_king on February 21, 2013, 06:48:36 PM
Sun King,
  Do you think the United States should totally withdraw from that part of the world? (Pakistan, Afghanistan)

If I speak as a neutral, I think the US should do that. The loss of life of US soldiers and the expense to keep them there are quite high.
Title: Re: Drone Debate
Post by: shnozzola on February 21, 2013, 07:22:31 PM
What do you think if not speaking as a neutral, and what do you mean in that case?
Title: Re: Drone Debate
Post by: sun_king on February 21, 2013, 07:51:32 PM
What do you think if not speaking as a neutral, and what do you mean in that case?

Quite obviously the opposite. Pakistan is a nuclear state, I have no confidence in the Pak army's capability to stand up to the Taliban in the long run. The US (NATO) forces could be the only thing that keeps the Taliban in control as of now. The US withdrawal may mean the possibility of a nuclear capable terrorist outfit.
Title: Re: Drone Debate
Post by: screwtape on February 22, 2013, 05:53:18 PM
You can refrain from using a new weapon system, they find another reason to bring death to you. In other words, the number of "new" enemies you get will be pretty much the same no matter what you do to contain it. Wasn't it you who mentioned Art of War and understanding the enemy? I wanted to share a different face of your enemy, something you are quite lucky not to have in your soil.

I feel like I've communicated well, but then you seem to not get me.  So it must be I haven't. 

It is not all about the weapon system for me.  I have no qualms using whatever weapon system, except maybe nuclear, provided it is the right tool for the job.  I think on that we agree. 

My point has been that drones do not seem to be the right tool for the job they have been used for OR the job is not one worth pursuing to begin with. I don't know how else to explain it.  I am out of words. 


Title: Re: Drone Debate
Post by: ParkingPlaces on February 24, 2013, 04:00:27 PM
If drones don't scare you yet, read about the little ones. And watch the video in this article from The Atlantic (I can't embed the video separate here)

http://www.theatlantic.com/technology/archive/2013/02/like-a-swarm-of-lethal-bugs-the-most-terrifying-drone-video-yet/273270/ (http://www.theatlantic.com/technology/archive/2013/02/like-a-swarm-of-lethal-bugs-the-most-terrifying-drone-video-yet/273270/)

Title: Re: Drone Debate
Post by: screwtape on March 02, 2013, 08:53:34 AM
He's a fun article on drones and the military-industrial complex.  I happened to agree with pretty much all of it.  Especially the parts where he hates on Texas. 

http://www.alternet.org/civil-liberties/sleazy-military-contractors-are-crying-foul-over-drones-they-stand-lose-billions

Title: Re: Drone Debate
Post by: shnozzola on March 06, 2013, 09:15:19 PM
Rand Paul live filibuster against Obama's use of drones:

http://www.mediaite.com/tv/watch-live-sen-rand-paul-filibusters-cia-director-john-brennans-nomination/

with help from others, 8 hours and counting.
Title: Re: Drone Debate
Post by: Nick on March 06, 2013, 10:15:41 PM
Where were all these protests when the Patriot Act was being put in place?  Where were they when we spent about a trillion bucks on the Iraq war?  Over 4000 deaths among our troops.  Over 100,000 civilian deaths?

Now they are concerned.  So lets say a guy has a small nuke and is on his way to LA to let it go.  I guess a drone strike should not be ordered because the guy in on US soil and possibly a citizen.
Title: Re: Drone Debate
Post by: screwtape on March 07, 2013, 09:15:51 AM
Where were all these protests when the Patriot Act was being put in place?  Where were they when we spent about a trillion bucks on the Iraq war?  Over 4000 deaths among our troops.  Over 100,000 civilian deaths?

much like the gun nuts, they don't actually care about those kinds of rights.  They only perceive tyranny as gummint trying to take their guns.

Now they are concerned.  So lets say a guy has a small nuke and is on his way to LA to let it go.  I guess a drone strike should not be ordered because the guy in on US soil and possibly a citizen.

Respectfully, I agree that repubs are being hypocrites, but I disagree with the idea that drones should be armed and used inside the US.

1. I reject all ticking time bomb hypothetical scenarios.  They are often used to justify torture and they are completely out of context and meaningless.  If you know there's a guy and you know he's got a bomb and you know where he is, then you have a ton of information.  It does not exist in a vacuum.  It is impossible to know all that and nothing else before hand.  If you knew all that you probably could have stopped him before a drone was necessary. 

2.  If you know all that, why a drone and not, say, the more traditional sniper with a Barrett M82 .50cal rifle?

3. I'd rather keep it illegal.  Then if someone uses it and it really was necessary, it can be justified in a court.  That sets a high bar, which is how it should be.  If you make it legal, then it makes it much easier to abuse - you know it will be - and much more difficult to prosecute the abusers.  Look at how the patriot act is used in all sorts of unintended ways by law enforcement.  It will also become a slippery slope.  If it is legal, then they will legislate all sorts of protections for the guy who accidentally blows up a minivan with a mom and three kids instead of the alleged terrorist three blocks over. I don't want that.  I want accountability.

I generally think Rand Paul is a wrong headed douche.  But I tend to agree on this point.  I'm on the fence on Brennan.  He was near a lot of stuff I would call War Crimes.  But in his testimony before the Senate, he said he was against the CIA using drones.  He thought there was not enough accountability with them. Maybe that was baloney, I dunno. 

Oh, and I hope Ted Cruz sets himself on fire.
Title: Re: Drone Debate
Post by: screwtape on March 07, 2013, 07:40:13 PM
Rude Pundit's awesome response to Rand Paul
http://rudepundit.blogspot.com/2013/03/random-observations-on-rand-pauls.html

Title: Re: Drone Debate
Post by: nogodsforme on March 08, 2013, 03:32:11 PM
^^^Hmmmm, very rude and very accurate. And very NSFW. And I am at work, in my office, with a student sitting here taking a test! Yikes! Anyone sees that blog post on my computer I am so fired. :o
Title: Re: Drone Debate
Post by: screwtape on March 13, 2013, 02:14:14 PM
a good piece on what drone policy should be
http://www.nybooks.com/articles/archives/2013/apr/04/what-rules-should-govern-us-drone-attacks/