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Sat Feb 9, 2013, 11:03 AM

Five myths about Obama’s drone war

By Mark R. Jacobson, Published: February 8

... The toughest moral question is not about technology but about targeting and transparency: When militants plotting against America operate globally, don’t wear uniforms and may even be U.S. citizens, who can be targeted and where? ...

Armed drones can strike fear in the hearts of America’s adversaries and provide a military edge. But Washington may have to deal with blowback. John Bellinger, a former State Department legal adviser in the George W. Bush administration, worries that drones might “become as internationally maligned as Guantanamo.” Retired Gen. Stanley McChrystal has said that U.S. drone strikes are “hated on a visceral level” ...

More than 50 countries operate surveillance drones, and armed drones will quickly become standard in military arsenals. The challenge is to consider what international rules, if any, should govern the use of armed drones. The United States is setting the precedent; our approach may define the global rules of engagement. Of course, we cannot expect other nations to adopt the oversight and restrictions we have. What doors are we opening for other nations’ use of drones? ...


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Response to struggle4progress (Original post)

Sat Feb 9, 2013, 11:23 AM

1. "Of course, we cannot expect other nations to adopt the oversight and restrictions we have"

That's right, the U.S. is so righteous - so morally ahead of other countries...is he kidding?

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Response to choie (Reply #1)

Sat Feb 9, 2013, 12:20 PM

2. Behind that quote, looms the issue of proliferation: drones are relatively inexpensive,

as pieces of modern police or military hardware, and we might expect them to occur rather frequently in the future, used not only by the US Federal power but also by US state authorities, by other nations, and probably by non-state agencies, including (but not limited) to corporations

Merely limiting US Federal use, or use by US states, does not begin to address the proliferation issues, since one can imagine other possibilities, such as a US manufacturer exporting drones abroad to an entity (such as a foreign state or a corporation) that uses the hardware to assassinate opponents. Nor, of course, is the proliferation issue limited to US manufactures

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Response to struggle4progress (Original post)

Sat Feb 9, 2013, 01:29 PM

3. " any lethal force results in some civilian casualties"

I guess that's myth number 6. What glib assurance. It is possible to use lethal force and not cause civilian casualties. Unless you want to define the target as a civilian -- in which case, why is he a target?

-- Mal

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Response to malthaussen (Reply #3)

Sat Feb 9, 2013, 02:32 PM

5. I do not regard the claim, that civilian casualties will attend any extensive use

of deadly weapons, as a myth

I doubt you can exhibit a war without civilian victims. And in the modern era, the victims may be rather remote from the conflict:

Civil War shell kills Virginia collector
Munition explodes during cleaning

By Steve Szkotak
Associated Press / May 3, 2008
... More than 140 years after Lee surrendered to Grant, the cannonball was still powerful enough to send a chunk of shrapnel through the front porch of a house a quarter-mile from White's home in this Richmond suburb ...


War claims victims long after the fighting stops. Three UXO clearance workers killed in Germany by WWII bomb
By Associated Press
Wednesday, June 2, 2010; 9:05 AM
BERLIN — Three experts working to defuse a bomb from World War II were killed when the device exploded, injuring six others ...


Nor are careless collectors or unlucky UXO experts the only persons at risk:

Red Cross Warns Afghan Children Off Cluster Bombs
Reuters, June 29, 2002
... head of the ICRC in Afghanistan, Pierre Wettach ... said mines and unexploded ordnance killed or wounded more than 100 Afghans a month. Some 70 percent of the victims are civilians and more than 10 percent are children under 14 ...


Family of Boy Killed by Shell Settles Suit
January 22, 1988
JANE FRITSCH | Times Staff Writer
The family of an 8-year-old boy who was killed when a World War II-era artillery shell exploded in a Tierrasanta canyon in 1983 has reached a tentative settlement with the City of San Diego and three private firms ... The boys were among six children who found the 37-millimeter anti-tank shell in December, 1983, while playing "fort" in a canyon in the community, built on the site of an abandoned artillery range ...


WWII Ordance Still Haunts Europe and the Asian Pacific Rim
... In Belgium and neighboring countries, 80 years after WWI, the Bomb Disposal Unit .. finds about 10 WWI UXO every day ... US military EOD teams deal with over 225 emergency UXO calls on Guam per year. ... In Germany, the ordnance department currently has 2,000 workers covering the entire country for UXO because of the frequency at which UXO are still unearthed ... Oranienburg was the site of more than 20,000 dropped bombs as well as booby-trapped bombs with time fuses. Since 1983, three such bombs have self-detonated ...


Landmines in Cambodia
Cambodia is one of the most heavily mined areas in the world ... Cambodia is also littered with other kinds of unexploded ordinance (UXO), left over from half a million tons of bombs dropped on Cambodia by the United States in the late 60s and early 70s

... the number of mine casualties is falling. The numbers of new injuries dropped by half from 1996 to 1997 when the number was 1,369. In 1999 the number had fallen further, to about 1,200, and in 2000 to about 50 per month ...


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Response to struggle4progress (Reply #5)

Sun Feb 10, 2013, 07:15 AM

8. The word "excessive" does not appear in the original quote.

One might define "excessive" force as any force that results in civilian casualties.

Consider police operations. Lethal force is frequently applied, without any collateral damage whatsoever.

-- Mal

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Response to struggle4progress (Original post)

Sat Feb 9, 2013, 02:30 PM

4. Agreed. You cannot stop "progress" even when it seems to be a moral set-back.

But we can make rules and then agree as a community of nations to enforce those rules against those who break them.

Thanks for this post.

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Response to JDPriestly (Reply #4)

Sat Feb 9, 2013, 05:06 PM

6. yeah, except

who in the community of nations ever enforces these rules against us when we break them? No one...

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Response to struggle4progress (Original post)

Sat Feb 9, 2013, 07:05 PM

7. Respect requires sufficient degree of mutual risk

Much is made of the fact that with drone strikes we strike down a weak adversary with the overwhelming and cowardly weapons of modern technology. While I understand full well our desire to protect our troops, I am also aware that without sharing of risk, it is very very hard to build any lasting real alliance with our potential allies. When our boots on the ground are seen by the civilians in the country they are in as risking their lives to support the people or even oppose some goal of the people, they achieve a valuable measure of respect. This respect can support either a strengthening of alliance among those who share common goals with us or an increase in opposition by those who oppose us. But as we talk endlessly about the humanistic values regarding drone strikes and try to match their efficiency against what we see as unethical including the deaths of innocents, we cannot afford to ignore the views of those with whom we would ally. To a large extent, many people in countries where drone strikes occur because of their history see drone strikes as cowardly, and unmanly. Neither view which creates friendship or alliance.
I recognize many of us here at home see IEDs as cowardly and unethical and create great anger at those who use them. It is also up to us to realize that no matter our desire to protect our troops, being seen as unwilling to ever risk our troops makes us a subject of derision in tribal communities. Sometimes the outcomes are defined by how others see us rather than how we see ourselves. To miss this fact is part of the all powerful, all knowing American image that the rest of the world hates.

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Response to daybranch (Reply #7)

Sun Feb 10, 2013, 02:38 PM

9. I think there's a simplerway to say that: civilians who see drones will hate them

They will hate them, whether they are goatherds in far away hills, speaking languages I don't understand, and they will hate them if they are Americans who see drones flying overhead here

There is no way to use drones for surveillance, let allow for shooting, without creating natural and lasting fear and disgust and resentment among the populations that fall under the flying electronic eyes

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