Dialogue About Drones

A. You know, I’m sick and tired of how bleeding heart liberals complain about the drone program. After all, we are at war with al-Qaeda — a war they declared when they flew planes into the Twin Towers. Basically, they asked for it and if we can save American lives by killing off the leaders of al-Qaeda so much the better.

B. I don’t know. We really aren’t at war with al-Qaeda, which isn’t a country after all; it’s a religious group. But religious fanatics certainly did fly planes into the Twin Towers and killed something like 3000 innocent people. In retaliation we have killed an estimated 4500 according to recent reports.  But as Jimmy Carter said, “Instead of making the world safer, America’s violation of international human rights abets our enemies and alienates our friends.” We need to think about this. I’m not sure it’s right to send the drones into crowded population centers.

A. What’s “right” got to do with it? It’s a question of getting them before they get us.

B. I read somewhere the odds of anyone in this country actually getting killed by another terrorist strike is about the same as the odds of winning the lottery. I’m not sure we have grounds for attacking people, especially since there are so many unknowns.

A. What do you mean “unknowns”?

B. Well, are we sure that only al-Qaeda leaders are getting killed? (Could there really be 4500 of them?) Isn’t it possible that the information that leads to the strikes is faulty? People do make mistakes, after all. And remember these are the same people giving us information now who failed to see the attacks coming in Benghazi, not to mention the Twin Towers.

A. Well, I have confidence in people the President and the military rely on. They wouldn’t order a drone strike against someone unless they were sure it was a viable target.

B. Perhaps, but then there are the innocent people who have been killed.

A. Well, sure. But that’s because the terrorists hide among the civilians: someone is bound to get killed by mistake.

B. And you’re OK with that? The U.N. thinks this country might be guilty of war crimes and have started an investigation. Here, read this from the Manchester Guardian where it quotes Ben Emmerson a U.N. special rapporteur who says that “The global war paradigm has done immense damage to a previously shared international consensus on the legal framework underlying both international human rights law and international humanitarian law. It has also given a spurious justification to a range of serious human rights and humanitarian law violations.
“The [global] war paradigm was always based on the flimsiest of reasoning, and was not supported even by close allies of the US.  …” If I read that right, this means that people looking at this country are beginning to regard the U.S. as the bully on the block.

A. Oh gimme a break! Nobody pays any attention to the U.N. any more. It’s just a group of motor mouths who sit around and beat their gums but never get anything done. Anyway, I would rather be the bully on the block than the kid everyone picks on. I am willing to accept the so-called “mistakes” if it means that the ones who are planning to attack this country can no longer pose a threat.

B. The question is do they really pose a threat? Or are we becoming paranoid and living in fear of something that is unlikely to happen? Couldn’t we just beef up security and use the CIA and other such groups to just collect information about possible attacks — and then prepare to defend against those actual attacks, and not just some imaginary ones?

A. The attacks on the Twin Towers weren’t imaginary.

B. True, but that was one attack and we are killing innocent people on the supposition that there will be future attacks, which may just be a fiction in the minds of military brass who love to play with their new toys and aren’t known for their restraint and humanitarian concerns. I’m not saying we shouldn’t be on our guard. But we are killing people because we are told they might attack us. Anyway, an attack on this country would be very complicated, given our distance from the Middle East and the cost of mounting it.

A. That’s pure speculation. It’s better to be safe than sorry. Anyway, I hope you and Jimmy Carter are happy in your make-believe world where everything is peaches and cream. I prefer it here in the real world where you try to be prepared for the bad things that happen.

B. It’s not clear whose world is “make-believe”: mine where people try to do the right thing or yours where you spend your life hiding under a desk worrying about an attack that almost certainly will never come.

A. Ahhh nuts! I’ve had enough of this. I’m going out to buy another Power Ball ticket.

14 thoughts on “Dialogue About Drones

  1. Neat format and post, Hugh. Is this a paraphrased real conversation or a compilation of several sources? We have gotten away from doing the right thing in the right way (or at least pretending to). It makes it easier for the propaganda engines of totalitarian regimes or sects to paint us in a bad light, which fuels future hatred.

    • The dialogue emerged full blown from my feverish head during a bout with a bad cold. But it seemed to make sense. Please note that the two sides don’t really listen to one another. There’s a clue there….


  2. Great post, Hugh. We’ve lost sight of the fact that had security been doing their jobs in Boston at Logan Airport that day, the towers would not have been hit.

    Where at one time we were considered role models in the world, thats no longer the case. In my international travels in the past, the US was widely perceived as a bully, willing to attack any little guy without provocation, and it was widely agreed that the two wars with Iraq were corporate driven over oil.

    The Bush “cowboy” doctrine did a great deal of damage, and continues to do so. Obama may not be that brash, but his behavior’s are doing nothing to mend fences and relationships. The the congressional focus of spending ever more scare dollars on defense is seen as nothing but more agressive behavior on our part.

    We have long since given up the moral high ground, and today are little more than the school yard bully on the national stage.

    Thanks for writing this.

    • Good comments, Barney. The fact that the U.N. is looking into the possibility of bringing charges of war crimes against this country is deeply disturbing — as is the fact that Obama’s administration is unwilling to cooperate with the U.N.


  3. By the standards of the Nuremberg trials at the end of WW II, ALL of Bush’s grisly gang and anyone else who participated in the invasion of Iraq is a war criminal!

  4. I like Lisa’s (Zeebra) remark about the one thing she would change. I’m with you on most all of this, except that I suspect more attacks are quite possible. Maybe it’s having lived in NYC, working next to the WTC (not in 2001, but recently) and being exposed on a daily basis to all the precautions. But even as a mother of a Marine who was deployed to Afghanistan, I’m against the war, and I think the resources would certainly be better spent on a program such as the one you propose. (And thanks for the visit to my site, which is pretty different from yours!)

    • Good comment, and thanks. I read the remark about the long odds of another American death from an attack recently. I don’t recall any hard data on the topic, and I expect it would be impossible to come up with it. But given the difficulty of mounting such an attack, it would appear a rare thing and a very long shot if the security were tightened as it should be.We certainly needn’t be shaking in our boots as we are now!

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