Regarding a foundation for talking about pro- and anti- drone positions:
(And because the thread I was replying in got locked)
**IF** dead innocent people is the fundamental problem, BOTH sides of the question should identify how many dead innocent people is too high a price to pay for being wrong in one's position on the issue.
I know the criteria of "innocent" is a variable (should it be a criteria at all? and, if so, who defines it and how?), which I'm treating like a constant here, but I'm just using that assumption as a starting point, along with another assumption, that being, that the fundamental problem IS innocent dead people, whether those innocent dead people are killed by authentic situational threats or by drones, so that is, the problem is not limited to only innocent dead people who are killed by drones, nor to innocent people who are killed by situational threats.
So, there are assumptions about 2 sets of variables in my thinking:
- Any innocent dead people;
- Killed either by authentic contextual threats or by drones, because if innocent dead people are the fundamental problem, we can't say it's okay for them to be killed by one means and not the other. It doesn't work to say it's okay for innocent people to be killed by situational threats, but not by drones, NOR, does it work to assume that it's not okay for innocent people to be killed by situational threats, but it is okay for them to be killed by drones. Neither position, pro- nor anti- drones, can claim Plausible Deniability when it comes to innocent dead people, when it suits their own position and then blame the other position for dead innocent people when that suits their own position.
With those sets of assumptions identified:
Those who say there is enough of a threat to others that drones are a tactical option in dealing with those threats, should say, under two hypothetical conditions, 1. if they are correct in their assessment of those threats & 2. if they are incorrect in their assessment of those threats: HOW MANY INNOCENT DEAD PEOPLE ARE TOO MANY to justify the drone option position under each of those sets of conditions, threats positive, and threats negative. We might assume that to the drone option group, under condition 1., the acceptable number of innocent dead people, killed by drones, should be LESS than how many innocents would die from the positively identified threat, NOT higher. More below about the drone option group and condition 2.
Those who say there is no threat to others, so drones should not be a tactical option, don't need to say how many dead innocent people are acceptable if they are correct in their assessment of threats = negative, because that number of acceptable dead people is already 0. However, those who say there is no threat, so drones should not be a tactical option, do need to address hypothetical condition 2. and tell us HOW MANY INNOCENT DEAD PEOPLE ARE TOO MANY to justify the anti-drone position if they are incorrect in their threats=negative assessment. This would be: if they are incorrect in their assessments of threats, how many innocent people would it be acceptable to die as a result of the threats that the anti-drone option group misidentifies, compared to how many innocent people would die were drones an option in dealing with those same threats.
My point here is that **IF** dead innocent people are the fundamental criteria for both the pro-drone and the anti-drone positions (and there aren't other un-declared agendas under the table, things like political base building, propaganda, and the struggles of U.S. and/or Other economic partisans), then BOTH sides need to address that criteria and compare their counts of potential innocent dead people, with the objective being, given the correct assessment of threats (either threats-positive or threats-negative and prohibiting threats-null/indeterminate), 0 or the fewest dead innocent people possible.
Part of the problem in doing that is that each side should do their analysis independently, so they can't just under bid one another in the POLITICAL context of a given situation, and they need also to at least share their methodologies relative to their conclusions. This last requirement may be the deal breaker, because if dead innocent people are not the authentic FUNDAMENTAL criteria for both the pro-drone and he anti-drone positions, if there are, instead, other criteria for pro- and anti- drone agendas that are not on the table, no matter which position is being covert, or obviously if it's both positions, they cannot be forthcoming about the respective methodologies for their assessments of threats relative to numbers of dead innocent people.
Which possibility brings me to the definition of threats, another assumption that we aren't talking about as we struggle over the politics of this issue. I am not aware that the anti-drone position admits that there is any risk of innocent people dying because there was no one to protect them, let alone defining what the threats are and from whom. Given the strength of American arms sales, both government and private, differences between the pro- and the anti- drone positions' respective definitions of what constitutes a threat, especially in private "Fast and Furious" assault weapons markets, is something we should be talking about relative to assessments of threats to innocent people. I cannot accept that there is no risk and, yet, as far as I know, that's what we are supposed to believe from the anti-drone position, or if there is a risk, anyone who dies from that risk those deaths are acceptable as long as there are no drones. Why is that?
S. 2205 - The Second Amendment Sovereignty Act of 2012 - http://www.democraticunderground.com/10022193033 was introduced in the 112th Congress and is currently sponsored by Jerry Moran of Kansas. This bill has been aggressively supported by Rand Paul. It is a Grover Norquist style oath/NRA threat for Senators to prevent U.S. participation in U.N. arms control treaties with other countries around the world. These would be the kinds of treaties that control the flow of private assault weapons sales into some of the world most troubled places. Personally, I need the anti-drone position to demonstrate that innocent people dying because of assault weapons is just as un-acceptable to them as innocent people dying because of drones.
In a recent essay in Foreign Policy, Micah Zenko, a fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations who has closely examined the U.S. use of drones, argued that a claim by John Brennan, Obama's counterterrorism czar, that "the U.S. government has not found credible evidence of collateral deaths resulting from U.S. counterterrorism operations outside of Afghanistan or Iraq," was simply not believable.
The good news - you say:
if dead innocent people are not the authentic FUNDAMENTAL criteria for both the pro-drone and he anti-drone positions, if there are, instead, other criteria for pro- and anti- drone agendas that are not on the table...
As somebody who's fairly critical of the drone program myself, I can tell you that there are, regardless of the collateral damage ratios. My two issues are:
1) The mechanisation of conscience: Critical "common moral sense" present in soldiers is inherently missing in machines
2) Centralisation of control: Also increases the probability of decisions being made, which are contrary to common human moral sense, being executed on a mass scale. (Again, no human veto power)
issue for both sides of the debate.
I agree about "the mechanisation of conscience".
I'm not sure why, but I think we are moving away from "centralisation of control" which may or may not be a good thing, but for certain sure will certainly set off some screams about "new world order", which reaction locks U.S. into the unilateral police role forever, which is something that is not very acceptable to those of us seeking a peace dividend to invest in this land and it's people.
...if you make collateral damage issue number one, the "surgical strike" possibilities for drones may actually be a selling point - if not now, then down the road as technology improves. Boots on the ground in Pakistan for instance would likely encounter resistance that isn't there to targeted drone strikes, thus increasing the number of deaths. To me, as one who contemplates the future though, the ramifications of moving toward mechanised remote controlled warfare are bigger than a measure of its accuracy in hitting the people we were aiming for.