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Wed Feb 6, 2013, 12:04 PM

Does anyone seriously think...

...that we are the only nation capable of producing drones and using them to kill people?

Does anyone seriously think that the use of drones to kill people we deem to be enemies, prevents our own soldiers and citizens from being killed in retaliation, whether by drones or by more conventional methods?

You don't think we'll get any blow-back from this? Dream on.

Sure, we don't risk our own at the time we engage in a drone strike. But we do set a precedent. There is something truly sinister about an unmanned vehicle being used as an instrument of destruction. It seems somehow not honorable. Even a bomber pilot risks his own ass while flying over his target. But this is death by remote control. It is a difference in kind and it will change the face of conflict. Instead of war as such, we'll see more and more drone-like tactics used in different situations, and it won't always be us (aka the "Good Guys") using them.

All we have done by initiating this new method of warfare is to create another weapons race, and another reason for blow-back.

You know and I know that the arms merchants will waste no time in spreading this technology -- not to mention that some other nations already have their own drones. Even less sophisticated drones can and will be used by terrorists to deliver various means of death and destruction. They'll be used against tourists and regular citizens, and our government will rail loudly at the cowardice displayed in such attacks.

The Constitutional issue raised by the White House "drone memo" is an important one, but it is certainly not the only issue. We are not only changing the face of warfare, we are demonstrating new possibilities to terrorists (aka "freedom fighters", depending on one's point of view).

Well drones exist so it stands to reason they will be used. I have a question: what can they be used for other than war and surveillance?

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Arrow 19 replies Author Time Post
Reply Does anyone seriously think... (Original post)
ljm2002 Feb 2013 OP
Democracyinkind Feb 2013 #1
ljm2002 Feb 2013 #6
leveymg Feb 2013 #2
ljm2002 Feb 2013 #3
leveymg Feb 2013 #4
ljm2002 Feb 2013 #5
Make7 Feb 2013 #7
ljm2002 Feb 2013 #8
Make7 Feb 2013 #9
ljm2002 Feb 2013 #18
Recursion Feb 2013 #12
ljm2002 Feb 2013 #15
el_bryanto Feb 2013 #10
ljm2002 Feb 2013 #11
Recursion Feb 2013 #13
Duer 157099 Feb 2013 #14
Recursion Feb 2013 #17
Duer 157099 Feb 2013 #19
Duer 157099 Feb 2013 #16

Response to ljm2002 (Original post)

Wed Feb 6, 2013, 12:06 PM

1. The blowback is here already.

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Response to Democracyinkind (Reply #1)

Wed Feb 6, 2013, 02:10 PM

6. Thank you for the link...

...very informative.

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Response to ljm2002 (Original post)

Wed Feb 6, 2013, 12:14 PM

2. Drones aren't inherently different from other airstrikes, just cheaper, hence used more often.

There's nothing qualitatively more destructive about them, in fact Predators usually only carry two Hellfire missiles, which are relatively light and don't have a very big warhead. An F-16 can carry many thousands of pounds more ordinance. The problem is that drones are so cheap and expendable, and operated by the CIA rather than the Pentagon, that their targeting list is wider and (perhaps) more indiscriminate, such as the targeted killings of US Citizens.

But, that's a political and legal issue of the rules of engagement, not the technology.

The issue as I see it really is who gets targeted for drone attacks, and why.

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Response to leveymg (Reply #2)

Wed Feb 6, 2013, 12:22 PM

3. Agreed it is all a continuum...

...but still there seems to be a difference to me. Maybe it is because a drone is maneuverable via remote control right up to the time it delivers its deadly payload.

Your point about who controls the drones is well taken. If I had my way we'd disband the CIA altogether.

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Response to ljm2002 (Reply #3)

Wed Feb 6, 2013, 12:52 PM

4. Generally, lethal attacks abroad should be a military function, not CIA. In killing US

Citizens, the CIA and military should generally have no role at all except, perhaps, to capture wanted armed persons in the most dangerous environments, such as hostile foreign territory. No American should ever be killed when capture and prosecution is possible, unless they present an imminent threat to life of others.

Combat aircraft and cruise missiles are also largely flown by computers, so I really don't see how drones are inherently different.

As for whether this argues for disbanding the CIA, I disagree. We would only have to recreate it with some other name. I would cut back the Agency's paramilitary operations, but not altogether eliminate them, as there are occasions that the use of uniformed US military or police abroad are inappropriate, perhaps for the simple reason that acts of war sometimes require covert paramilitary operations and plausible deniability. We wouldn't want our every violent act abroad to escalate into full-scale international conflict.

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Response to leveymg (Reply #4)

Wed Feb 6, 2013, 01:09 PM

5. My understanding of drones...

...is that they are controlled by people, not just by computers. But I could be wrong.

As for the CIA, sure we need some of the functions of the CIA. I am not so foolish as to believe we could dispense altogether with our intelligence and military, however much one might wish it could be so. But the current CIA organization should be disbanded IMO. The organization itself is hopelessly corrupt, conducts its own operations without oversight, has a budget that not even Congress can see.

But of course things like this are easier said than done. Even if you disband it, a lot of the same people will be in any new organization that is created. I just can't get a handle on how we can control these dark forces. The CIA has been involved in so many covert operations that backed the wrong side (e.g., Chile) and that resulted in long term damage to our interests (e.g., Iran). So on balance I think they have been a detriment.

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Response to ljm2002 (Original post)

Wed Feb 6, 2013, 02:30 PM

7. For some reason that made me think of Bill Maher's post 9/11 comment...

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Response to Make7 (Reply #7)

Wed Feb 6, 2013, 02:46 PM

8. I know what you mean...

...and I thought about rewording the part about it being somehow not honorable. But I left it in because it feels like that. Surely the people who are targets of these devices must feel that way. I was not trying to accuse those who carry out these orders of being dishonorable, that would be a cheap shot IMO. But still, it is a simple fact that on the one hand you have an unmanned craft that is remote controlled visiting death and destruction on real people, and in some way that feels even more unfair than standard warfare.

Well I guess in some ways it's a mere technicality. After all, bombs dropping from airplanes in the sky is a pretty similar experience for those on the ground.

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Response to ljm2002 (Reply #8)

Wed Feb 6, 2013, 03:14 PM

9. I feel any pretense of war being honorable was lost in the WWII era.

There are certainly examples of bravery and honor by individuals, soldiers and civilians, in wartime and there have been even been some goals that were achieved through military action that I would consider honorable (e.g. revolutions against dictators, resistance to occupiers), but in general I'd say that settling disputes with violence and killing is not honorable. In rare cases it may be justified, but it is still difficult to see how in practice it is honorable.

When the solution to a problem is to kill someone, perhaps the solution is the real problem.

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Response to Make7 (Reply #9)

Wed Feb 6, 2013, 03:43 PM

18. Even in WWII...

...the best soldiers were not necessarily the best men.

Killing is killing. We can certainly understand that a soldier must sometimes engage in it. But we delude ourselves if we think that when he sheds the uniform, he sheds the entire experience. That is simply not true. Similarly, if we say it's okay to torture, that means that we allow certain people to perform these acts of torture, and then we allow these same people to walk among the rest of us. If we say that some of our agents (cough CIA cough) can assassinate people, well then we are creating assassins among our population.

Those are some of the reasons why we need to learn to wage peace more ardently than we wage war. Of course as long as there is profit to be made at war, there are those who will promote it.

It's a conundrum. I don't see how we get out of the cycle. Maybe climate change will become a common enemy that we can unite around.

Ha ha, I know: dream on!

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Response to ljm2002 (Reply #8)

Wed Feb 6, 2013, 03:34 PM

12. A $50 RC model plane could do that

*shrug*

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Response to Recursion (Reply #12)

Wed Feb 6, 2013, 03:37 PM

15. Very true...

...I did not mean to imply that military drones are the only thing that could do that.

In the real world, issues can become quite murky...

Cheers.

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Response to ljm2002 (Original post)

Wed Feb 6, 2013, 03:15 PM

10. I wonder about their use in delivering biological weapons.

And after i finish wondering about that I hide under my bed for a few days.

Bryant

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Response to el_bryanto (Reply #10)

Wed Feb 6, 2013, 03:32 PM

11. No kidding...

...that's my first thought as well.

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Response to ljm2002 (Original post)

Wed Feb 6, 2013, 03:34 PM

13. The nations capable of doing that are not the ones we strike

That's kind of how it works. It sucks, but there we are.

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Response to Recursion (Reply #13)

Wed Feb 6, 2013, 03:37 PM

14. Drones are not like nuclear weapons

It doesn't take much sophistication to produce and/or use one.

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Response to Duer 157099 (Reply #14)

Wed Feb 6, 2013, 03:40 PM

17. It's deploying it and projecting it that's hard

We wouldn't use a drone over a country that could put one over ours. For the very obvious reason.

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Response to Recursion (Reply #17)

Wed Feb 6, 2013, 03:47 PM

19. Project forward 10 years

Knowing how quickly technology advances.

You still think that, in 10 years, that will still be the case?

Americans may forget very quickly, but most the rest of the world remember things very long. 10 years is nothing.

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Response to ljm2002 (Original post)

Wed Feb 6, 2013, 03:38 PM

16. To expand

let's suppose that some other country (or a terrorist in another country) used a drone in an American city, to target, perhaps, one of their own citizens, but ended up with American casualties ("collateral damage").

How long before we went to war with that nation? In a heartbeat?

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