Who Cares?

I have blogged about the drone kills before, though the posts have not been overly popular. I don’t think people like to think about these anti-terrorist tactics that may strike some as in themselves terroristic. This is especially so since mistakes have been made in the past and a number of innocent lives, estimated at the end of last year to be around 145, have been lost in those attacks. And it has been revealed recently that even the targeting of American citizens anywhere in the world (except the United States) has been approved — if they are suspected of terrorist tendencies. At what point do we balk?

A poll recently revealed that 77% of the Democrats polled approve of the drone kills. That number astounded me, and it makes me wonder if that many Democrats would approve of the flights if they were ordered by a Republican president. It doesn’t seem to me that any citizen should simply approve of what his or her President does simply because they happen to be of the same political party. If something is wrong, it is wrong no matter who orders it.

But, speaking of wrong, in a recent speech  in his home state of South Carolina covered by Yahoo News, Senator Lindsey Graham seemed to be bragging as he had the following interesting remark to make about these drone attacks:

“We’ve killed 4,700,” the lawmaker said. “Sometimes you hit innocent people, and I hate that, but we’re at war, and we’ve taken out some very senior members of Al-Qaeda.”

Graham’s dismissive aside about the innocent lives that have been taken is extremely offensive. And I hesitate to point out the fact that the same intelligence community that is providing information about who are and who are not “very senior members of Al-Qaeda” failed to provide adequate information to this government about the attacks on the Twin Towers or the more recent terrorist attacks on the American Embassy in Benghazi. So we don’t really know how many innocent lives have been lost in these strikes.

But what is especially disturbing about Graham’s remarks is his claim that we are at war. We are not at war, though we have coined the phrase “war on terror” to hide our shame. Indeed, we are the best protected nation in the world with 300,000 troops stationed overseas and oceans on either side of this continent. But even if we were in a war declared as such by this Congress, we should hesitate to approve of tactics that are known to have “residual effects,” as they say, in taking the lives of innocent people.

How would we feel about this if these drone attacks were ordered by, say, Iran, and they targeted the Secretary of Defense (or Senator Graham for that matter) and they happened to “take out” several dozen innocent American lives at the same time? I dare say there would be outrage and cries for retaliation — as well there should be. What we would not want done to ourselves we should not want done to others.There is simply no way these attacks can be defended on ethical grounds.

But if you are keeping score, “they” killed 3000 people in the 9/11 attacks on the Twin Towers; we have now apparently killed 4,700 of them. We’re ahead. How sickening.

14 thoughts on “Who Cares?

  1. I think we need a new moniker to replace “drone strikes.” In many heads, including mine, that is nothing more than a replacement for an “F-16” strike, or an “Apache Helicopter” strike.

    The real issue is the policy and decision making behind the strikes. What is the legal justification, who is making the recommendations, what information supporting the strikes is going to Obama, what roles are the CIA, NSA, and military playing in these decisions? I really believe this is where the light needs to shine brightly, to bring this information to the forefront for all to see.

    We are all too complacent with “drone strikes.” We need to read who decided what person exactly was expendable, and who made the decision to push the “Go” button.

    • I couldn’t agree with you more. In fact I said much the same thing (except for the recommendation about the name change) in an earlier blog! But Obama has shown no interest whatever in becoming more transparent — and he doesn’t seem inclined to cooperate with the UN investigation of anti-terrorist strikes. But a name change would be very sensible.


      • I am deeply disappointed in Obama, and have been for some time. I wonder if the power goes to the presidents head, or there is something about the office and the job that forever changes a man, whether red or blue?

  2. Whilst I admit that there will always be some innocent casualties in any war, we are in an age where precise targeting should be able to stop that. We have technology that can pinpoint the left follicle behind the right ear of the man with his hood on sideways at three miles. Why should there be so many civilian casualties??

  3. And the 4,700 is only the number of dead from drone attacks, which like Barney says, are just another name for the same old death-from-the-air-strikes that have gone on for decades. Factor in the civilian deaths during the pre-invasion bombings of Iraq, the ground invasion and the heavy fighting in Iraq and civilian deaths likely top six figures. As Alastair says, with all the smart technology infused in our weaponry today, that’s just senseless and indefensible.

  4. Good post and comments. One of the reasons for the extra PTSD rise began in Vietnam and has contininued through today. When your opponent hides among innocent civilians and involves them in the process as a cloak or weapon, innocent people get killed. You don’t know who to shoot. I am not a fan of drones being used so much, but I do think when used with as much judiciousness as possible and oversight, we can respect their power and use them the best we can. I think we overdeploy them and we are blase about it here. Thanks, BTG

    • I can’t really add anything to what I have already said. We are not at war and the drone killing is wrong. There are other ways to combat terrorism — stricter security, for example.

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