Countering the Right: Foreign Affairs Op-ed Defending Drones Part II

Continued from part I here

Carrying on the argument against the op-ed in Foreign Affairs advocating drone use, his next point gets at a key point in the debate:

Individuals join anti-American terrorist groups for many reasons, ranging from outrage over U.S. support for Israel to anger at their own government’s cooperation with the United States. Some people simply join up because their neighbors are doing so.

What he fails to mention here is that some people also hate and attack America because of the United States’ killing people overseas, which would obviously include drone attacks.  We know incidents like the Ft. Hood shooting and the Boston Marathon Bombing were carried out for this reason because the perpetrators have said so.  In short, it is a cycle of violence with no real end in sight or an end that is truly feasible without one side ignoring past casualties, a scenario that is highly unlikely.

But sometimes imminent and intolerable threats do arise and drone strikes are the best way to eliminate them.

This assumes, of course, every drone strike that is carried out is launched against an “imminent” threat, a point that is highly debatable since we now know drones have been used to kill people who were not after the United States.  If all or even most of the “militants” killed by drones were “imminent threats”, why has the government been so reluctant to give any proof of a just a few of the lesser known casualties?  We know about the bigger names killed as they are reported extensively, but they are the minority.  Can’t they just give us some of the smaller fish and show exactly how they were deemed “imminent threats”?  Since the attacks are carried out in the name of U.S. citizens, it is something we deserve to know and be able to confirm.

A memo released by the antisecrecy website WikiLeaks revealed that Pakistan’s army chief, Ashfaq Parvez Kayani, privately asked U.S. military leaders in 2008 for “continuous Predator coverage” over antigovernment militants, and the journalist Mark Mazzetti has reported that the United States has conducted “goodwill kills” against Pakistani militants who threatened Pakistan far more than the United States.

Wait, I thought I was making the case for that being a bad use of drones?  Kind of bizarre an advocate would mention it as well since this is a clear misuse of the system.  And with calls for austerity and the ongoing sequester, how much of our tax dollars went into fighting Pakistan’s battles for them?  As the NSA scandal has focused on secrecy from a domestic perspective, we should keep in mind that that is not the only government secrecy we should be worried about because a much more destructive kind is being carried out overseas.

A 2012 poll found that 74 percent of Pakistanis viewed the United States as their enemy, likely in part because of the ongoing drone campaign…A poll conducted in 2007, well before the drone campaign had expanded to its current scope, found that only 15 percent of Pakistanis had a favorable opinion of the United States. It is hard to imagine that alternatives to drone strikes, such as SEAL team raids or cruise missile strikes, would make the United States more popular.

And we are now taught by this that our only “alternatives” to drones are boots on the ground or bigger bombs.  In other words, we can choose the “kill a lot of people approach” or the “kill even more people approach”.  Here’s an idea.  How about neither?

I’m reminded of a comment bin Laden made back in 2004 just before the U.S. presidential election.  He stated, “…contrary to Bush’s claim that we hate freedom.  If so, then let him explain to us why we don’t strike for example – Sweden?”  A fair question.  And since it has been so long, maybe that has changed…Nope.  Still no Islamist attacks on Sweden.  I wonder what those crazy Swedes do so different from the U.S.?  Are they putting boots on the ground instead of using drones?  Maybe their bombs are bigger?  Or maybe they do neither and don’t get targeted in return.  Just a thought.

Indeed, it appears that Awlaki is the only U.S. citizen who has been deliberately killed by a drone.

This is a nice dodge of the fact the government has acknowledged four Americans were killed by drones, including a minor and a man on the FBI’s Most Wanted List (who we apparently weren’t specifically targeting).  He does use the word “deliberately” to deliberately ignore this fact and it’s clever.  Shady, but clever.  In all honesty, with thousands killed by drones, I don’t know why the author even bothers going out of his way to dodge this.  It’s a well known fact at this point so who does he think he is hiding this from?  It’s just a weak attempt at covering the truth about how many American citizens have been killed by drones.

The ultimate truth about drones is the faster we retire the program, the faster we will be doing something to actually stop the level of hatred in the Islamic world of one vicious aspect of United States’ foreign policy.

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