I Think This Illustrates the Point Nicely

Remember the other day when Hillary Clinton asserted that she did not think drone attacks killing civilians could be viewed as a form of terrorism by the Pakastani populace? This cracked me up:

A letter about healthcare reform to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.), apparently from former Surgeon General C. Everett Koop, triggered a security scare that briefly shut down much of the Senate on Wednesday.

The typed letter, tucked inside a hand-written business envelope, appeared in Reid’s office without postage, in an outgoing mailbox bin. A Senate postal clerk noticed the envelope and alerted a Reid staffer, who in turn notified Capitol Police about 2 p.m.

A small swarm of officers responded, first shutting down the hallway outside Reid’s office and then taking the even rarer step of shutting down the wide Ohio Clock corridor that senators use for press conferences outside the Senate’s main entrance. Mindful of the ricin and anthrax attacks in 2001, teams of hazardous materials technicians were called and tested the envelope before opening it and discovering Koop’s letter.

“The staff in the Capitol in particular and on the Hill in general are very sensitive to mail that ends up in an office and hasn’t been cleared,” said Senate Sergeant at Arms Terry Gainer.

So, to review. When Pakistani citizens watch their friends and neighbors blown up by missile strikes, it is the position of this administration that they should not view it as terrorism. On the other hand, when we receive a letter without a stamp, we shut down a portion of the most powerful government in the world out of a general hysteria over terrorism.

I’m even going to go out on a limb and wager that more Af/Pak citizens have been killed by missiles than Americans have been by unstamped letters.

Also, this is excellent news for conservatives and really puts the health care reform agenda in a bad spot.

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201 replies
  1. 1
    General Winfield Stuck says:

    Well now, that’s different of course. We only kill them cause they love us. And envy our freedom, this too. ASLO.

  2. 2
    ImJohnGalt says:

    O/T: Ayn Rand = L. Ron Hubbard

    Works for me. Wish I could just point the tea-tards at this whenever they talk about going Galt.

  3. 3

    If you think this caused hysteria just wait until the Yankees claim their 27th World Series championship later tonight.

  4. 4
    Just Some Fuckhead says:

    Remember how you could make a packet of “snake eggs” with an envelope, a rubber band and a paperclip? Those were really cool but would prolly land you in Gitmo these days.

  5. 5
    The Bearded Blogger says:

    Look at news media for a day, look at how brown deaths/disappearances/tragedies are reported, look at news about missing white children, dead americans or europeans, threatened rich white people… think about how much time is devoted to brown tragedies as opposed to white tragedies

    I once made the following rough calculation; if you go by what is important to media, a non-white, non-american or european person is worth about one thousandth of a white. African americans and latinos are woth about a 20th of a white (not 3/5ths),… rich asians are worht only slightly less than a white, poor asians are worth as much as latinamericans or africans, that is, shite.

  6. 6
    Mike G says:

    This also proves that Michael Moore is fat, and that global warming is a hoax because Al Gore uses electricity.

  7. 7
    General Winfield Stuck says:

    The Stonewall Doctrine will not die. So everyone else has to.

  8. 8
    calipygian says:

    I write this with all affection for my country – Americans are a bunch of risk adverse pussies. Its also why American servicemen can’t go on pass/liberty in foreign countries without a “liberty buddy” anymore, or why parents don’t let their 12 year olds ride bikes down the street anymore.

    Pakistanis are pretty brown and mooslim, on the other hand, so who gives a shit what they think?

    /wingnut.

    On the lighter side, posts like this is why I continue to monitor and report on the Corner:

    And Yes [Kathryn Jean Lopez]
    ….
    I’m just trying to suck Jonah into election-night Cornering.

    Shutter.

  9. 9
    General Winfield Stuck says:

    I’m just trying to suck Jonah into election-night Cornering.

    Talk about your wingnut code talk.

  10. 10
    Ben Richards says:

    @TGP

    Not going to happen. I think it goes seven. In Manhattan tonight and trying to figure out where to watch it.

  11. 11
    demkat620 says:

    Does this mean VIrginia Foxx was right? We have more to fear from Healthcare reform than from terrorism?

    Why does Healthcare Reform hate America?

  12. 12
    The Bearded Blogger says:

    @calipygian: See my post at number 5. Also, browns only die on tv, when rich americans die, it’s like, real.

  13. 13
    El Cid says:

    Yeah, but Pakistani civilians are just some sort of undifferentiated algal mass colonial organism, like the entire 3rd world when it isn’t helping the U.S. foreign policy hawk establishment launch a new war (at which point they become the most precious moments victims EVAR).

    U.S. Senators are part of the tiny amount of the U.S. population, along with right wing TV hosts, certain high military officers, and the super-rich, who actually count as real humans.

    You can’t be accused of terrorism if all you’re doing is blowing up a bunch of algae.

  14. 14
    Shawn in ShowMe says:

    JC, Hillary is a smart person. She knows exactly how the Pakistanis view the drone attacks. But there isn’t any way that the Secretary of State can say “yes I can see where the U.S. military could be seen as terrorists”. Not without sucking all the oxygen out of the room for the forseeable future and serving as fundraising fodder for wingnuts.

    So she does the politically expedient thing — she lies.

  15. 15
    AkaDad says:

    @calipygian:

    Just picture Kathryn Jean Lopez sucking the Cheeto dust off of Jonah’s…fingers.

    You’re welcome.

  16. 16
    calipygian says:

    Talk about your wingnut code talk.

    I just hope she wiped all of Jonah’s Corner off her chin before she got up for church the next morning.

  17. 17
    General Winfield Stuck says:

    Someday, the marriage of war fighting and high technology will create a reckoning. It is only a matter of time and bigger and badder electronic soldiering.

  18. 18
    scav says:

    Why do I find this tangentially on topic? Must be the cracking up bit. Man accidentally ejects himself from plane

  19. 19

    The drone needs to have its own weapon category. Perhaps WMTD (Weapon of Mass Terrorist Distruction) would work.

    http://open.salon.com/blog/ste.....f_the_kill

    _______________

  20. 20
    GambitRF says:

    Was the letter telling Harry Reid that he should use Life Alert?

  21. 21
    The Bearded Blogger says:

    @El Cid: The disappearance in Aruba of an amrican teenager is far more important than the dissapearance of a race, if said race is not descended from western europeans.

    The US treats other peoples like the “stooges” in action movies, the communists rambo slays by the hundreds with a mahcine gun, or the stormtroopers in Star Wars (ironically, white)

  22. 22
    Mark S. says:

    @calipygian:

    Its also why American servicemen can’t go on pass/liberty in foreign countries without a “liberty buddy” anymore

    Is that what they are calling it these days?

  23. 23
    Neutron Flux says:

    I hear ya about the drones. It is a chickenshit war fighting tactic.

    But all I can say is:

    “You’ve had your cry, no I should say wail.

    Right your problems down in detail, and take em to a higher place.”

  24. 24
    John Sears says:

    This story really cracks me up.

    You know what my first thought, my very first thought, when I got the inevitable phone call and turned on CNN on Sept. 11th, 2001 was? Swear to whatever God you worship?

    “Well, there go our civil liberties.”

    Americans have absolutely zero, zippo, nada tolerance for fear, matched only by zero understanding of the actual risks they face in daily life. More people die of food poisoning each year than did in the WTC attacks, but you don’t see us giving the USDA more money for inspectors, do you? There were over 34 THOUSAND fatal car crashes, with over 37 thousand dead, in 2007. Yet every time the issue of fuel economy comes up we get a rant from conservatives about how seat belts somehow make it impossible for domestic carmakers to meet CAFE standards.

    Meanwhile, mass transit that could take some pressure off our insanely crowded roadways goes nowhere. And in the current political climate it’s barely worth mentioning the 45k who die a year from lack of health insurance, or else you’re a thuggish lout like that mean old Alan Grayson.

    Americans are insane. Insane! You know what to do if you’re really worried about anthrax, like Senators might legitimately be? You take a damn shot in the arm. Ricin’s apparently a bit harder to deal with, but still. This is the most powerful nation on earth and a damn letter shut down the legislative branch today.

    Who needs Al Queda? We have white security envelopes.

  25. 25
    arguingwithsignposts says:

    OT, but Doug Hoffman reminds me of Howdy Doody.

  26. 26
    Neutron Flux says:

    @Neutron Flux: Write. Shit.

  27. 27
    General Winfield Stuck says:

    Americans are insane. Insane!

    Sheltered, pampered and spoiled would be my description.

    with exceptions of course,

  28. 28
    calipygian says:

    Americans have absolutely zero, zippo, nada tolerance for fear, matched only by zero understanding of the actual risks they face in daily life.

    I believe the term that would sum up that whole comment is “innumeracy”.

    It’s what makes Power Ball and Slot machines so popular. That makes people think we are already over taxed, even if we have some of the lowest taxes in the industrialized world.

    See? Poor math education = Good for Republicans! Also.

  29. 29
    Leelee for Obama says:

    I make a concerted effort to refrain from thinking about K-Lo and Jonah doing anything, let alone sucking anything. Thanks for the brain-bleach requiring picture. Thank God I stopped liking Cheetos.

    As to the terrorism, we will never admit that what we do is anything like terrorism, and when you think about it, how can we? We’re supposed to be the good guys, and only bad guys commit terrorism. It ain’t just about brown people, though these days, that’s more likely. But, fire bombing Dresden surely terrified those people, and they’re probably whiter than most of us.

    The knee-jerk reaction to un-stamped mail is downright embarrassing. For shit’s-sake, can’t we quietly examine stuff and make sure there’s something to get knickers twisted over, before the shut-down. It’s just embarrassing, I tells ya!

  30. 30
    Xanthippas says:

    Man, we are an arrogant and silly little band of people. I

  31. 31
    Chuchundra says:

    So the alternative to drone attacks is what then? Packing up and getting the hell out of Dodge? Yes, I’m all for that, but if we actually have to stay and fight, what do we do?

    I can guarantee that if we dropped a commando team into Af-Pak whenever we needed to off some Taliban douchebag, we’d end up killing a lot more civilians. And things only get worse from there.

    The fact is, drone attacks work. They’re something unprecedented in the history of warfare, a weapon that finds the exact guys you want dead and then drops a bomb on their head.

    They’re so effective, in fact, that only way the enemy can fight back is with propaganda. The whole idea that drone attacks are “cowardly” is a sick joke. The people we’re fighting preferred method of combat is to set roadside bombs and then run away. I’m sure if they decided that what they really wanted was a stand-up fight, we could round up a relatively small number of Marines or Rangers and end the war by lunchtime.

    And I wouldn’t put it past the Taliban to blow up their own people and then claim that it was a drone attack. Some of the reports about civilian casualties seem out of proportion with the damage caused by the relatively small Hellfire missiles.

  32. 32
    shoutingattherain says:

    @Mike G:

    This also proves that Michael Moore is fat, and that global warming is a hoax because Al Gore uses electricity.

    Well duh. That is central to his point.

  33. 33
    gnomedad says:

    @ImJohnGalt:
    Lots of possibilities here. Battlefield Shrugged. Going Xenu.

  34. 34
    Zifnab says:

    @calipygian:

    I write this with all affection for my country – Americans are a bunch of risk adverse pussies. Its also why American servicemen can’t go on pass/liberty in foreign countries without a “liberty buddy” anymore, or why parents don’t let their 12 year olds ride bikes down the street anymore.

    We make servicemen take a buddy so that if one of them does something so stupid we can’t punish him, we can still punish the other guy.

    Parents don’t let their 12 year olds ride bikes in the street anymore because the police profession has generally degenerated into a freak’n joke. Cops are for speeding tickets and beating up minorities and fighting the endless, meaningless, infinitely more expensive War on Some Drugs. But cops aren’t for protecting your 12 year olds anymore. There’s no money in that.

  35. 35
    ellaesther says:

    Ok. Having actually lived through waves of terrorism in my life — lived through, reported on, researched, written about — I feel the need to say something about terrorism!

    “Terrorism” is, by definition, a method of warfare that is intended to terrify people into changing their behavior. It is a tool (legitimate or not I will leave to others to discuss) used by those who do not have access to state-sanctioned violence, and purposely directed against the unarmed. No one ever expects terrorism to vanquish an enemy — the point is to get the enemy to change what they’re doing, from fear of more terrorism.

    Now, as I understand it, the drones are being used to actually fight a war. They are one tool in a toolbox full of “vanquish the enemy.”

    They’re probably unethical, and certainly have proven inaccurate, and I might even sit up and take notice if someone wants to call the use of them a war crime. I’m not sure they’re not. With the drones, we’ve entered into a whole new phase of warfare.

    But they’re not terrorism. The spread of anthrax among a nation’s elected representatives would be (though I don’t necessarily think that an entire wing of the Congressional office buildings should be cleared because of one unstamped envelope).

    /cue outrage

  36. 36
    ChrisZ says:

    Americans can’t commit terrorism because we’re the Good Guys.

  37. 37
    calipygian says:

    We’re told of “wonder weapons”
    the Germans were working on:

    Long-range rockets,
    push-button bombing. . .

    . . .weapons that don’t need soldiers.

    “Wonder weapon”?

    My God, I don’t see
    the wonder in them.

    Killing without heroics. Nothing
    is glorified, nothing is reaffirmed.

    No heroes, no cowards, no troops.

    No generals.

    Only those that are left alive
    and those that are left. . .

    . . .dead.

    I’m glad I won’t live to see it.

  38. 38
    General Winfield Stuck says:

    @Chuchundra:

    The fact is, drone attacks work. They’re something unprecedented in the history of warfare, a weapon that finds the exact guys you want dead and then drops a bomb on their head.

    If this were true, I would agree. But it is not/ It asks a question, if you can kill your enemy without risk, is it morally acceptable to use a method that will certainly also kill innocent civilians. And I am assuming that solid intel, which is never solid, but educated guesses, exists.

    I say no/ It is not. And the moral reckoning that is coming from using these tactics without risk to your soldiers will cause the world to reevaluate laws of war. We are the leaders in this arena and despite paying homage to good intentions, it is inevitable that the rational or rationalization to use these riskless weapons more and more will reach a point of moral outrage, even here in our ocean protected empire. It should be happening now, but Americans are slow to care about spilling the blood of others they are told to fear.

    As to what to do in Afghan., I am not yet ready to pull out completely, but there are other alternatives always to grinding on against the powerful currents of history in this region of the world.

  39. 39
    HyperIon says:

    @ImJohnGalt: Ayn Rand = L. Ron Hubbard

    Thanks for exposing me to more Ayn Rand cluelessness. This was news to me:

    In her 70s Rand found herself dying of lung cancer, after insisting that her followers smoke because it symbolized “man’s victory over fire” and the studies showing it caused lung cancer were Communist propaganda.

    Big wingnut or biggest wingnut ever?

  40. 40
    Leelee for Obama says:

    @ellaesther: I understand your thinking, ellaesther. I just think the idea that death and destruction can rain down on non-combatants as well as combatants kind of qualifies. I don’t think it means that the drone attacks are war crimes, though that may come to be the verdict of history. And, yes, an anthrax or ricin attack on a government body would constitute terrorism-my only problem is, we seem to hyper-react and look un-necessarily candy-assed. My guess is that this kind of thing loses us credibility with the AfPak population, cause they wonder why they think we’re so tough.

  41. 41
    Anastasius says:

    Iatropic fear of unstamped letters.

    Only in America

  42. 42
    The Bearded Blogger says:

    @John Sears: Too true. In a Malcolm Gladwell book, I read about an experiment where americans were willing to pay more for a flight life insurance for “terrorism” than they were for flight life insurance that covered “any cause”

    @arguingwithsignposts: He reminds of Death

    @Leelee for Obama: US Foreign policy is based on a Rambo movie mentality. Even with Obama as opposed to Shrub

  43. 43
    Seebach says:

    I like how Afghanistan being the graveyard of empires is no longer operative. I noted in 2001 how it was the graveyard of empires, and was assured this was not the case.

  44. 44
    Shawn in ShowMe says:

    No one ever expects terrorism to vanquish an enemy—the point is to get the enemy to change what they’re doing, from fear of more terrorism.

    Then the drone attacks, from the point of view of a bombed villager, would easily fall under your description of terrorism. One of the messages the military sends by the drone attacks is “if certain people would stop harboring fugitives we wouldn’t have to do this”.

  45. 45
    Leelee for Obama says:

    @The Bearded Blogger: Our Foreign Policy is based on the incorrect assumption that everything we do is OK, cause we have good intentions and all the bad guys are out to ruin us and/or make us look bad. First off, we don’t always have good intentions. Sometimes, we are selfish assholes looking out for venal interests. Second off, the bad guys are just as bloodthirsty as can be, but they dribble the icing of fighting against the Imperial Monolith and protecting the common man all over their murderous efforts and sometimes that makes the BS taste better.

  46. 46
    daryljfontaine says:

    @HyperIon:

    Big wingnut or biggest wingnut ever?

    Reminds me of those fuckwits who used to claim they were going to idle their Hummer all weekend in the driveway to counter the environmentalist DFHs buying hybrid cars.

    D

  47. 47
    Zifnab says:

    @ellaesther: I mean, that’s a very insightful and sophisticated explanation that certainly helps in distinguishing a military operation from a terrorist act.

    But, from the perspective of the Pakistani civilian getting shot or sickened or vaporized… when you’re dead, you’re dead.

    The Pakistanis aren’t interested in semantics. What they were asking Hillary Clinton was, “Why should we consider one group of armed foreign soldiers with complete disregard for our lives any different from another?” And Hillary’s response boiled down to, “You shouldn’t.”

  48. 48
    General Winfield Stuck says:

    @Chuchundra:

    The whole idea that drone attacks are “cowardly” is a sick joke. The people we’re fighting preferred method of combat is to set roadside bombs and then run away

    This is the winger argument of they are worse, so we can be bad too. And I will give the liberal response, or the right response. It is NOT about them. It is about US.

    This poison was injected daily into the national bloodstream by the neocons the past 8 years. It is a race to the moral bottom, and Obama and dems need to see it, and take the antidote. A good place to start would be ceasing drone attacks unless it is for force protection in real time. Or way far away from any civilians.

  49. 49
    Bob K says:

    we shut down a portion of the most powerful government in the world out of a general hysteria over terrorism

    I beg to differ… everyone knows that since 9/11, there hasn’t been any terrorism here. That includes the anthrax letters too. Also.

  50. 50
    ellaesther says:

    @Shawn in ShowMe: Nope. Because they’re not directed against those villagers.

    Look, as far as I’m concerned the drones, and the death and suffering they have caused, are as good a reason as any to decide to do away with war. War is the socially approved slaughter of people, and even if we’re going to accept the idea that it’s ok when the people are wearing uniforms (which is what human society appears to have agreed on), we can’t escape the fact that war inevitably winds up slaughtering a lot of people who didn’t have uniforms on. Any way you look at it, war is a terrible terrible idea.

    Intent does factor into how we understand human action, though, and the words we use matter.

  51. 51
    freelancer says:

    @daryljfontaine:

    Didn’t Erick the Red actually do this on Earth Day? I’m fairly certain Tbogg covered it, but I can’t find the post.

  52. 52
    MikeJ says:

    I really wouldn’t give a shit if drone use was “cowardly” or not if they didn’t tend to kill everybody near the one possibly bad guy. In war, you’re going to kill people. doing it with a minimum of risk to yourself sounds like a good thing. It’s only good as long as you aren’t killing innocents left and right.

    Look how bombing civilians broke the will of the British in WWII. It didn’t. It pissed them off, and human nature hasn’t changed since 1945.

  53. 53
    Billy K says:

    I’ve always known John hates America, but I thought he was better at hiding it.

  54. 54
    ellaesther says:

    @Zifnab: I absolutely agree.

    At the same time, I don’t know what I would do if I had been in Clinton’s shoes. On the one hand, I completely agree with the notion — I have predicated my life’s work on the notion — that we have to listen to what The Other Side says, and give it credence. It’s not our story, it’s theirs. As an Israeli, for instance, I can’t tell a Palestinian what his or her national narrative should be.

    At the same time, if you’re Hillary Clinton, Secretary of State, you can’t say that your army has engaged in terrorism, even if what you’re really trying to say is “I hear and respect you and I am so, so sorry for your loss.” Maybe she could have said that….

    I can’t imagine being in shoes like that, actually. I truly cannot imagine how people of good will serve their government without cracking up.

  55. 55
    freelancer says:

    @Billy K:

    John hates Real America. Get it right.

  56. 56
    Neutron Flux says:

    @General Winfield Stuck: This is exactly about us.

    I hope the administration takes your advice. It will well and truly go against us if they do not.

    The professional military should be telling the admin the same thing.

  57. 57
    General Winfield Stuck says:

    @ellaesther:

    I’m sorry, but expanding the argument into a philosophical one about war in general, doesn’t wash. This thread is about a specific weapon and tactic. What you are saying is, essentially that absent a direct real time reason of force protection, it is ok to target a target where you think combatants may be hiding, AND also with the knowledge that launching a missile will almost certainly also kill civilians. I strongly disagree that this is acceptable, even if technically legal under laws of war. It is wrong when we do it. It is wrong when Israel does it, or anyone else.

  58. 58
    Shawn in ShowMe says:

    @General Winfield Stuck

    A good place to start would be ceasing drone attacks unless it is for force protection in real time. Or way far away from any civilians.

    Reportedly Al Quaeda abandoned many of their old camps and moved their operations into the villages. It’s a Catch-22 — you can’t engage them in battle without killing civilians. If Obama pulls out, it’s yet another example of Democrats opting to “cut and run”. What a shitty job he has.

  59. 59

    […] in Daily life, Terrorism at 5:07 pm by LeisureGuy From Balloon Juice: Remember the other day when Hillary Clinton asserted that she did not think drone attacks killing […]

  60. 60
    Martin says:

    Nothing to see here. Just getting the FTFY bandwagon started.

  61. 61
    General Winfield Stuck says:

    @Shawn in ShowMe:

    I fully agree with what you say. It is a shitty decision Obama has to make, and I do not want AQ to have any quarter, unless it’s pushing daisies . But it has to stop, and I am hoping that he and his generals put their thinking caps on and figure out another way to keep AQ at bay.

  62. 62
    The Bearded Blogger says:

    @Leelee for Obama: that’s what I meant with rambo movie: good guys and bad guys, manichean world view… anything rambo does is accompanied by heroic music, anything the russians do is accompanied by ominous music.

  63. 63
    Zifnab says:

    @Chuchundra: So here’s the thing, Chuchu. When the British Army arrived in the colonies to put down the American Revolution, they used a lot of the same tactics we use today (abet far more primitive).

    They butchered large numbers of civilians, in order to kill key revolutionary leaders. They tried to choke trade with blockades and embargos to control the colonial economy. They spent a lot of money and manpower wooing local Indian tribes and loyalists unsympathetic to the rebels.

    Sure, we’ve got prettier toys today than the British had over 200 years ago, but we’re still running out of a very, very old playbook. Admittedly, sometimes the playbook even works. Just ask Napoleon before he decided to march off into Russia. Or ask the USSR when it was marching back into Eastern Europe. Or ask China how it’s doing with North Korea and Tibet.

    But don’t pretend like drone attacks are anything novel. We’ve developed a flashy new way to do what empires have been doing the old fashioned way for centuries. There’s still nothing magical about hellfire missiles, such that they only kill people no one else likes.

  64. 64
    ellaesther says:

    @ General Winfield Stuck: Dude. I did not say any of that.

    I did not say that it was “ok” — I said that war is a terrible, terrible thing, and the use of these drones may be a war crime. I said that the use of these drones are as good a reason as any to do away with war all together, because war is the organized slaughter of human being.

    And I have never said anything even remotely to suggest that “it’s ok” when Israel does it.

    I said that it is important to use words carefully.

    In case anyone else is going to try to suggest that I think any of what General Winfield took away from what I wrote, here is a link to my writing about Israel/Palestine, and my response to the fact that Obama won the Nobel

    Dude. Really?

  65. 65
    MikeJ says:

    Jeebus. BBC coverage of the elections has been ten solid minutes of teabaggers. I hate it when they attempt to talk about American stuff. They always get everything wrong.

  66. 66
    Zifnab says:

    @ellaesther:

    At the same time, if you’re Hillary Clinton, Secretary of State, you can’t say that your army has engaged in terrorism, even if what you’re really trying to say is “I hear and respect you and I am so, so sorry for your loss.” Maybe she could have said that….

    Maybe? That’s exactly what she should have said.

    The Pakistani people don’t like getting killed. That’s the bottom line. At a certain point, Hillary can’t play dumb. She’s got to look those reporters in the eye and say, “To you I imagine there’s not much difference.” And then she’s got to lay down the math, and explain why she believes these attacks are necessary.

    And then the reporter, and her peers, need to fact-check and evaluate and either accept it or propose an alternative. And that’s how we have a dialogue.

    And then (and this is key), if the Pakistanis come back and say, “We don’t like your logic. We don’t agree with your rationale. We don’t want you to continue these attacks in our territory,” Hillary has to go back home and make some serious changes to how the US conducts this war.

    Because if she doesn’t, it’s only a matter of time before her audience shows up with dynamite strapped to their chests.

  67. 67
    General Winfield Stuck says:

    @ellaesther:

    The Israel statement was not directed at you, but a general statement of recent thread debates. I guess I could have been more clear.

    As far as your generalizations that war is hell and as long as we have it, then anything legal goes, I still disagree. If I was reading you right. If not, then correct me.

    The whole terrorist label is bogus for this debate, unless evidence arises that the US is bombing civilians randomly without good reason to believe combatants are present.

  68. 68
    Neutron Flux says:

    @Martin: I am Kansas City Athletics/Kansas City Royals fan.

    Do you really think you have a FTFY standing above mine?

    Me neither.

  69. 69
    ellaesther says:

    @General Winfield Stuck: generalizations that war is hell and as long as we have it, then anything legal goes Not.What.I.Said.

  70. 70
    General Winfield Stuck says:

    @ellaesther:

    After reading your comments, it is murky enough what you are saying, at least to me, that teasing out any position was nigh impossible, so I withdraw my description of what you said, Cause I really don’t know what it was.

  71. 71
    ellaesther says:

    @Zifnab: I will grant you all of that. Absolutely.

    The only thing I was wading in to talk about was the issue of the use of the word “terrorism” (terrorism has been on my mind lately, as I both wrote about it a little over at my place, and have been reading this excellent and very extensive history of the Arab world).

    But on the question of whether or not Clinton could have/should have handled that particular situation differently and/or whether we, as a nation, should be open to dealing differently with the situation in Pakistan (though here I don’t pretend to begin to know how it should be handled) — I agree. Absolutely.

  72. 72
    ellaesther says:

    @General Winfield Stuck: Short ellaesther:

    Terrorism is one thing. Drone use is not that thing.

    That’s it. That’s the de-murky version for you.

  73. 73
    IndyLib says:

    @calipygian:

    Its also why American servicemen can’t go on pass/liberty in foreign countries without a “liberty buddy” anymore,

    Yes, sending out young service members out on liberty calls in groups or at least pairs is risk aversion strategy, they are trying to lower the risk of the 18-25 yr olds going out into a foreign city and getting drunk and and or causing problems or international incidents. It’s really not for the protection of the service members physical well being. This started mostly in an effort to keep service members on liberty call in Arab cities from doing things that the US military might regret in the aftermath of 9/11.

  74. 74
    General Winfield Stuck says:

    @ellaesther:

    Fair enough.

  75. 75
    Martin says:

    @Neutron Flux:

    Now, now… This isn’t a pissing match as to who hates the Yankees more. We all know that Baby Jesus and his dad would win that one hands-down.

    I’m merely reminding Anne Laurie that FTFY time is soon upon us and to prepare accordingly for the festivities. This is right around the time that A-Rod and crew should be emerging from their long steroid hot-tub soak, and the Goldman Sachs crew will be arriving at the stadium, trying to look appropriately not-poor, but not-rich casual to settle into the seats that cost more than my mortgage payment for the month. See, it’s not about being a fan so much as making a statement that you’re a certain higher class of fan.

  76. 76
    Emma Anne says:

    I don’t get the special hate for drones. They kill enemies and also innocent bystanders. Just like every other form of war-making ever. War kills people, including civilians. That’s why we shouldn’t start them without compelling need. But if we are going to make war, I don’t see why drones are more evil than, say bombing, strafing, or for that matter torching the fields and blowing up the bridges.

  77. 77
    BC says:

    Americans have absolutely zero, zippo, nada tolerance for fear, matched only by zero understanding of the actual risks they face in daily life.

    Part of the problem is that the previous administration used the fear of terrorism to keep themselves in power – and I wouldn’t be surprised to see the Republicans use it again in 2012, 2016, 2020 . . . If our political leadership would remind us of how this country was founded and expanded – by people willing to go into the wilderness and take risks that we cannot even imagine – and goad us into seeing ourselves as those kind of people rather than the ones hiding under our beds and crying for daddy to keep the monsters away, we would be better off.

  78. 78
    Damp Raptor says:

    The United States isn’t officially conducting operations within Pakistan though. We’re in violation of international law every time a drone attack is authorized beyond the border with Afghanistan. The last thing we need in the closing hours of our role as a unilateral actor is to be seen as hypocritical asshats with regards to state sovereignty.

    The destabilization of Pakistan is a concern for Russia, China and India (especially). It’s time to let those countries start pulling their weight on this issue.

  79. 79
    Chuchundra says:

    The drone attacks aren’t terrorism and they aren’t war crimes because they don’t deliberately target the civilian population.

    As I noted above, of all the methods we might choose to use to wage war, drones kill the fewest number of civilians. If a company or two of Marines rolled up to some village where the Taliban fighters were hiding out, the process of capturing/killing those Taliban would kill a lot more civilians and cause a lot more collateral damage than simply dropping precision munitions on them from a drone.

    In war, civilians get killed. That’s in the nature of war. It sucks. In the words of Robert E. Lee, “It is well that war is so terrible, or we should get too fond of it.”

    If we don’t want to kill any more civilians, we need to pack up our shit and go home. Quite frankly, I’m all for that. But nobody has the right to say that our soldiers in the field should use less effective war fighting techniques and put themselves more in harms way because some ways of killing the enemy seem unfair.

  80. 80
    ellaesther says:

    @Emma Anne: I think — and I say this with hesitation, because it’s just a gut check on my part — that there’s a revulsion over the video-game aspect of it. Some kid is sitting in safety in Colorado, entirely out of harm’s way, and s/he is able to rain death on dozens. I think we expect some degree of level to the playing field, and the drones do away with that.

  81. 81
    Shawn in ShowMe says:

    @Zifnab

    And then the reporter, and her peers, need to fact-check and evaluate and either accept it or propose an alternative.

    Not gonna happen, at least not on any widespread basis. You’re talking about a country where journalists face death threats for siding with Americans.

  82. 82
  83. 83
    gnomedad says:

    @ellaesther:

    I said that it is important to use words carefully.

    This. Ignoring the meaning of words benefits no one.

    Something being terribly wrong does not make it terrorism.
    Something not being terrorism does not justify it.

    Bill Maher got slammed for saying the 9/11 attackers weren’t cowards. Meaning of words again. He didn’t say they weren’t evil.

  84. 84
    John Sears says:

    @ellaesther: I absolutely disagree. Terrorism is the use of force to achieve victory in one’s goals through psychological intimidation, when military victory is impossible. You claim that drone attacks are in the toolbox of ‘vanquish the enemy’.

    What enemy? Al Queda? The Taliban? How? How do you kill an ideology by blowing up large portions of the local civilian population, precisely? How does that convince someone that, gee, they don’t want to follow the orders of the local warlord anymore?

    Drone attacks are a message, a statement of our Godlike technological superiority. No matter what you do, you can’t ‘kill’ a drone. You’re powerless to fight back against those who are killing you, your friends and family, at any time, without warning, from thousands of miles away. There’s no relief and no revenge, ever.

    The so-called War on Terror is itself destined, by your own definition, to degenerate into terrorism itself, because, and this is crucial, IT CANNOT BE WON MILITARILY. Ideas are not vulnerable to bullets nor tactics to bombs. The only way to win is to break your enemy’s spirit through violence, fear, and, yes, terror.

  85. 85
    ellaesther says:

    @General Winfield Stuck: I’m irritable, and a little worked up about these topics these days. Fair enough back atcha, GWS.

  86. 86
    Neutron Flux says:

    I remember the My Lia masssacre in Vietnam. I was in the service at the time.

    All I am saying is there is a semblance of sameness to this drone killing.

    That pretty much changed things in that conflict and I think these drones will be a game changer in this one.

  87. 87
    General Winfield Stuck says:

    @Chuchundra:

    Quite frankly, I’m all for that. But nobody has the right to say that our soldiers in the field should use less effective war fighting techniques and put themselves more in harms way because some ways of killing the enemy seem unfair.

    No one is saying that. Well, at least I;m not. What we are saying is absent direct force protection, which is always the case on Paki. soil, is it morally right to target combatants with drones knowing we will kill civilians in the process. In all cases, I support force protection in real time, and that would include being attacked when trying to round up combatants wherever they are.

    Just not picking targets from some half baked intel report that maybe some bad guys might be there. And absent a direct need to protect our soldiers on the ground being attacked.

  88. 88
    Neutron Flux says:

    @Martin: OK. That was funny, BTW.

  89. 89
  90. 90
    ellaesther says:

    @gnomedad: That really bugged me about Bill Maher, honestly. And I don’t like him! But to quote him again: Either a word means a thing, or it doesn’t.

  91. 91
    dfd says:

    Beyond drone strikes, I don’t see what we are supposed to do in regards to Al Qaeda/Taliban targets in Pakistan. We can’t send troops door to door in Waziristan. Should we really leave it to the Pakistani Army and ISI, the same guys who backed the Taliban for years? The Pakistani government may have a domestic political need to deflect blame for the drone attacks but I find it hard to believe that this continuous operation is being carried out against their will.

  92. 92
    General Winfield Stuck says:

    But I do believe that while technology can, is, and in the future will make war fighting more and more less risky, that it is a blood slippery slope that the world is going to have to address sooner rather than later.

  93. 93
    ericblair says:

    @MikeJ: I really wouldn’t give a shit if drone use was “cowardly” or not if they didn’t tend to kill everybody near the one possibly bad guy. In war, you’re going to kill people. doing it with a minimum of risk to yourself sounds like a good thing. It’s only good as long as you aren’t killing innocents left and right.

    The whole “cowardly” charge is just stupid macho bullshit. It was bullshit when Americans were calling the 9/11 terrorists cowards (crazy and evil, yes, but hardly cowardly), and it’s bullshit now for different reasons. The only question is whether it incurs unnecessary human suffering. I don’t know, and I agree that the other armed option of a squad of Marines on the ground is likely to cause more mayhem.

    It’s intelligence gathering and diplomacy that will really reduce casualties, and we’ve really sucked at them for a while. The best pinpoint targeting doesn’t do squat if you don’t know what you’re trying to hit and you’re just going to make more people grab their guns when you hit it.

  94. 94
    Anne Laurie says:

    @General Winfield Stuck:

    Someday, the marriage of war fighting and high technology will create a reckoning. It is only a matter of time and bigger and badder electronic soldiering.

    What, are the Kashmiri separatists going to haxxor the 101st Chairborne’s beloved warpr0n (and pr0n pr0n) with screenshots of the Qu’ran and videos of President Obama playing basketball?

  95. 95
    General Winfield Stuck says:

    The question is whether we are morally obliged to send human persons to verify on the ground that actual bad guys are where the intel says they are. If they are, then all bets are off. If they aren’t, then we have managed to not kill innocents for no reason, other than because we can and are afraid of something.

  96. 96
    Kevin Phillips Bong says:

    Some operational clarifications for your ongoing drone arguments from a “drone” pilot: civilians (really “noncombatants”, since insurgents and terrorist organizations are technically civilians) are never intentionally targeted by our aircraft, or for that matter our ground troops. So adhering to definitions they aren’t really terrorist attacks. But it would certainly seem so to me if I were some Stone Age tribal Afghan on the receiving end.

    I have seen plenty of valid targets left walking around due to the proximity of unknown civilians, or even the proximity of buildings with unknown residents. We take every precaution to strike the intended target and nothing else. It’s a tragedy when it goes wrong, but it happens less often that you might think, and much less often than the opposition would like you to believe.

    As far as the risk averse nature of the modern DOD, I am a responsible person who has made it many years into adulthood, I am recently required to get special permission from my command structure to go to destinations just across the border in Mexico. All the teabaggers banging on and on about socialism should go after the US military first, we’re the most socialist organization in the country.

  97. 97
    Leelee for Obama says:

    I think the drone attacks have brought us a step closer to video-game war, as ellaesther said. Not from the level playing field aspect, though, but from the aspect that one day we may find ourselves in a Star Trek kind of world where all war is of the video -game variety and we will be informed that we were killed in the last attack and we should report to the disintegration chamber by 5PM, so the other side knows we’re playing by the rules, and, so, doesn’t start bombing in earnest. The movie StarFighter comes to mind and we know that young people who are good at the video-games are sought for this kind of weaponry. Is it worse than bomber pilots like JSMcCain dropping their ordinance and flying back to their ship, never seeing the destruction they caused and sleeping like babies. Probably not. It all comes back to the idea that the greatest weapon anyone has is their intellect, and using said intellect to settle altercations is a shitload better than killing almost anyone. Note-AQ is exempt from this provision. Those fuckers will never come to any negotiation in good faith-they haven’t got any. But, for the most part, any other situation is better settled with some sort of non-lethal conflist resolution.

  98. 98
    General Winfield Stuck says:

    @Anne Laurie:

    It would be nice if we could just do the fighting by internets. Would save a lot bullets and grief and give the wingnuts the glory they crave without leaving their basement, from which you couldn’t drag them away from no matter.

  99. 99
    John Sears says:

    @Anne Laurie: You joke, but the Pentagon’s efforts at securing its systems against cyber-attack have never worked properly.

    I’d worry more about Chinese hackers than anyone else though.

  100. 100
    Leelee for Obama says:

    @Leelee for Obama: Please ignore the strike-outs and read thru them, don’t know what happened there!

    And it’s CONFLICT, of course.

  101. 101
    John Sears says:

    @General Winfield Stuck: And then someone invents the board-with-a-nail through it and we’re right back to real war, I’m afraid.

    Still, it would be a quiet couple of days.

  102. 102
    Mark S. says:

    I’m not going to get into the is it terrorism or not debate, but a little googling turned up this:

    Sourcing on civilian deaths is weak and the numbers are often exaggerated, but more than 600 civilians are likely to have died from the attacks. That number suggests that for every militant killed, 10 or so civilians also died.

    That’s too high of a ratio to justify. We either need better intelligence or come up with different tactics.

  103. 103
    John Sears says:

    @General Winfield Stuck: Also, I insist that this cyber-war be fought using virtual giant robots.

    Giant robots are awesome.

  104. 104
    AhabTRuler says:

    Terrorism is the use of force to achieve victory in one’s goals through psychological intimidation, when military victory is impossible.

    All military victories achieve victory through psychological intimidation.

    And terrorism is just what ‘us’ call it when ‘them’ do it.

  105. 105
    Midnight Marauder says:

    @Chuchundra:

    But nobody has the right to say that our soldiers in the field should use less effective war fighting techniques and put themselves more in harms way because some ways of killing the enemy seem unfair.

    Yes, someone does have the right to say “Thanks, but we’ll pass on the mass slaughtering of civilians” if that action is occurring in their own sovereign territory. You cannot just rain bombs onto the countryside of another land all willy-nilly. Human civilization doesn’t really play that game anymore, where the fighting techniques soldiers are using–regardless of their “effectiveness”–continuously result in numerous, ever-increasing piles of civilian casualties, and the country suffering the widescale loss of life is unable to put its foot down and say “no more.”

    Also:

    As I noted above, of all the methods we might choose to use to wage war, drones kill the fewest number of civilians.

    Tell that to the mourning family members and friends in Pakistan.

  106. 106
    dfd says:

    This talk of video game warfare reminded of the movie “Toys”.

  107. 107
    John Sears says:

    @AhabTRuler: It is possible to have a military victory without psychology.

    It’s just that, typically, this is achieved through the death of everyone on the opposing side.

    I agree that the border between the two is pretty fuzzy though. Typically I think terrorism isn’t considered to apply to combatants and their psychology, rightly or wrongly, but only to the civilian population, or whomever makes governmental decisions.

  108. 108
    John Sears says:

    @dfd: As long as you don’t remind me of Patch Adams while you’re at it.

    Wait…

    DAMNIT

  109. 109
    AhabTRuler says:

    Furthermore, this country has been down this road already. If there was a shred of justification for USAAF attacks on German cities in WWII, that shred evaporated with the firebombing of Tokyo and other Japanese cities.

  110. 110
    Anne Laurie says:

    @Bob K:

    I beg to differ… everyone knows that since 9/11, there hasn’t been any terrorism here. That includes the anthrax letters too. Also.

    If you’re going to mock quote the Media Village Idiots, go full-metal: There was no terrorism in America after 9/11 as long as the Republicans were in charge. Now that the Cheney Regency has been displaced by That One, it just goes to show that the Democrat Party is incapable of protecting Real Americans(tm), either because they’re all sissies or because they hate “us”, or both.

  111. 111
    Leelee for Obama says:

    Tell that to the mourning family members and friends in Pakistan.

    Reminds me of a kick-ass line from MASH-“How many kids in an “insignificant”, General?” Man, the writing on that show is never out of date, is it?

  112. 112
    John Sears says:

    Argh, now I thought of Bicentennial Man!

    That’s it. It’s either break time, or tequila time.

  113. 113
    General Winfield Stuck says:

    If there was a shred of justification for USAAF attacks on German cities in WWII, that shred evaporated with the firebombing of Tokyo and other Japanese cities.

    The ROE of Total War were first set by the Axis. Now whether or not we should have followed them there is another question.

  114. 114
    AhabTRuler says:

    The ROE of Total War were first set by the Axis. Now whether or not we should have followed them there is another question.

    Bullshit.

  115. 115
    dfd says:

    @AhabTRuler: Was there an alternative way to win the war in the Pacific?

  116. 116
    Seebach says:

    I know it will destroy any claim I have to being a Serious Person, but I thought Metal Gear Solid 4 raised some interesting questions about the ethics of war in the future.

    If all of the major countries can outsource their fighting to contractors like Blackwater or robotic drones, because they have the money to do so, that leaves only separatists and rebels who have to actually put their lives on the line.

    Wars seem to be a contest of who can kill the most people and destroy the most shit before someone quits or dies. If the powers are all technologically advanced superpowers with little to risk and much to gain… what’s the check on it? What prevents a nation from starting whatever wars it wants?

  117. 117
    General Winfield Stuck says:

    @AhabTRuler:

    Pearl Harbor, The London Blitze. Not bullshit,. You don’t know what your talking about.

  118. 118
    AhabTRuler says:

    There was no military justification for the firebombing of Japanese cities, and it reversed a USAAF policy applied over Germany that eschewed indiscriminate area bombing using incendiaries precisely because of the effects on the civilian population. Now the British, the employed a policy of purposely “de-housing” civilians (casualties were just a plus), but we held off on the destruction of cities as an offensive weapon until we were bombing a non-white enemy.

  119. 119
    Dr. Morpheus says:

    @MikeJ:

    But it DID break the will of the German people by 1945.

    You do remember that the Allies had a campaign of deliberate bombing of civilian populations in order to “break the will of the enemy”, don’t you?

  120. 120
    calipygian says:

    As far as the risk averse nature of the modern DOD, I am a responsible person who has made it many years into adulthood, I am recently required to get special permission from my command structure to go to destinations just across the border in Mexico. All the teabaggers banging on and on about socialism should go after the US military first, we’re the most socialist organization in the country.

    Yup. Responsible enough to run a nuclear reactor, land a plane, be responsible for the airspace around a carrier, responsible enough to arm the bombs that get put on the drones and planes that other sailors maintain and fly, responsible enough to kill, but not responsible enough to go off the ship by yourself to grab a beer or go to Mexico by yourself to catch a donkey show.

  121. 121
    Chuchundra says:

    You cannot just rain bombs onto the countryside of another land all willy-nilly.

    Seriously, where does this nonsense come from? The primary mission of the Predator drone is surveillance. Most of them fly mission after mission without dropping a munition. They aren’t dropping bombs “willy nilly” on the countryside. They’re observing the enemy for long periods of time and firing a weapon when they feel they can get a high value target.

    That’s the exact opposite of “willy nilly”

  122. 122
    AhabTRuler says:

    You don’t know what your talking about.

    In this, you are incorrect.

  123. 123
    CynDee says:

    @everybody: I advocate a law that makes the populace vote whether or not “we” go to war, and you have to sign your vote. And, if you vote FOR war, you have to go fight it. Anyone voting NO to war does not go fight.

  124. 124
    Mark S. says:

    @dfd:

    Was there an alternative way to win the war in the Pacific?

    We had pretty much already won it by the time we started fire bombing them. Noted peacenik Dwight D. Eisenhower had this to say in his memoir:

    During his [Stimson’s] recitation of the relevant facts, I had been conscious of a feeling of depression and so I voiced to him my grave misgivings, first on the basis of my belief that Japan was already defeated and that dropping the bomb was completely unnecessary, and secondly because I thought that our country should avoid shocking world opinion by the use of a weapon whose employment was, I thought, no longer mandatory as a measure to save American lives. It was my belief that Japan was, at that very moment, seeking some way to surrender with a minimum loss of “face.”

    But “unconditional surrender” was the rage.

  125. 125
    HRA says:

    Stting here, reading the responses and trying to get my thoughts in a logic order is really trying.

    My first thought is you have go far way beyond WWII to focus on the killings of civilians in war. Then you must take into consideration civilians get killed even after the war is over by leftover war armament as happened to my 2 young twin relatives many years after WWII in Europe.

    When we were attacked on 9/11 and up to this very day, the word terrorism has been used far and wide. We saw the planes either in person or on our TVs that day in September as did the rest of the world. Should we be surprised at the Pakis who looked up and saw a plane aiming for the ground, seeing the results of it’s mission and using the word, terrorism?

  126. 126
    Dr. Morpheus says:

    The Pakistani people don’t like getting killed. That’s the bottom line. At a certain point, Hillary can’t play dumb. She’s got to look those reporters in the eye and say, “To you I imagine there’s not much difference.” And then she’s got to lay down the math, and explain why she believes these attacks are necessary.

    And then the reporter, and her peers, need to fact-check and evaluate and either accept it or propose an alternative. And that’s how we have a dialogue.

    And then (and this is key), if the Pakistanis come back and say, “We don’t like your logic. We don’t agree with your rationale. We don’t want you to continue these attacks in our territory,” Hillary has to go back home and make some serious changes to how the US conducts this war.

    You’re absolutely right. But she had only one chance to make her response to that person’s question and I’m guessing she didn’t think of answering like you suggested.

    I’m not saying she’s not intelligent, or sympathetic, or anything other than she just plain didn’t think of answering the question the way you did.

    And as far as we know she might be back in Washington trying to make serious changes in the US’s conduct in AfPak.

    I’m not omniscient, are you?

  127. 127
    Anne Laurie says:

    @General Winfield Stuck:

    The question is whether we are morally obliged to send human persons to verify on the ground that actual bad guys are where the intel says they are. If they are, then all bets are off. If they aren’t, then we have managed to not kill innocents for no reason, other than because we can and are afraid of something.

    Wingnut voice: You make that sound like a BAD thing! If those ‘innocents’ didn’t want to be dead, why did they choose to be brown and un-American?

    You joke, but the Pentagon’s efforts at securing its systems against cyber-attack have never worked properly.
    __
    I’d worry more about Chinese hackers than anyone else though.

    In the real world, I’m also afraid that the Pentagon is under-protected, not least because they haven’t figured out how to outsource cyber-defense to 107 rural communities in the 23 technologically-backward states represented by congresscritters on the funding committee. Also in the real world, the Peoples Republican Army is not going to take down the Pentagon as long as American megacorporations are employing enough Chinese serfs to keep their PRA overlords safe from local rebellions.

  128. 128
    Dr. Morpheus says:

    Crap, blockquote fail…

  129. 129
    AhabTRuler says:

    @Anne Laurie: Um, do you mean ‘PLA‘?

  130. 130
    General Winfield Stuck says:

    @AhabTRuler:

    Dude, you’re the one who called bullshit on my assertion that it was The Axis who led the way on adopting a total war strategy, especially Hitler/ And the Japanese were about the most brutal civilian murderers on the planet at the time. In some ways much worse than the Germans.

    And I qualified my remark in saying it was debatable whether we should have adopted the same tactics. Picking out particular actions by America as being militarily unnecessary falls under that rubrick. But claiming it was racially motivated is bullshit, especially concerning the Japanese who were one of the most Xenophobic societies on earth.

  131. 131
    AhabTRuler says:

    Sorry, People’s Liberation Army.

    I forgot that links don’t show up in all caps.

  132. 132
    John Sears says:

    @Anne Laurie: I’m not necessarily worried about government hackers.

    And I suppose I should have also mentioned Eastern European gangs with their wacky viruses and spyware games.

    I leave now for curry!

  133. 133
    dfd says:

    @Mark S.: Again, what was the historical alternative? Blockade the home islands until we starved them into submission? Launch a ground invasion and incur millions more in casualties? Should we have accepted a limited surrender and left Japanese society fundamentally unchanged?

  134. 134
    General Winfield Stuck says:

    @Anne Laurie:

    Wingnut voice: You make that sound like a BAD thing! If those ‘innocents’ didn’t want to be dead, why did they choose to be brown and un-American?

    i would appreciate you explaining this cause I don’t know what you are saying.

  135. 135
    Anne Laurie says:

    @AhabTRuler:

    Um, do you mean ‘PLA‘?

    Damn, you’re right: Peoples’ Liberation Army. But I stand by the argument — the ChiCom army leaders are the Wall Street Banksters’ biggest non-WSB-employed supporters at this time, because each group is a kleptocratic oligarchy using each others’ peons as tools in a mutual-protection pact.

  136. 136
    gnomedad says:

    @ellaesther:
    Sorry, didn’t mean to put someone you dislike on your side. :)

  137. 137
    Neutron Flux says:

    @Kevin Phillips Bong: Thank you for your valuable input into this ongoing question. It is important to hear from the players.

  138. 138
    Dr. Morpheus says:

    Seebach
    I know it will destroy any claim I have to being a Serious Person, but I thought Metal Gear Solid 4 raised some interesting questions about the ethics of war in the future.
    If all of the major countries can outsource their fighting to contractors like Blackwater or robotic drones, because they have the money to do so, that leaves only separatists and rebels who have to actually put their lives on the line.
    Wars seem to be a contest of who can kill the most people and destroy the most shit before someone quits or dies. If the powers are all technologically advanced superpowers with little to risk and much to gain… what’s the check on it? What prevents a nation from starting whatever wars it wants?

    I thought that exact same thing when I first heard about drone attacks. The other stuff that’s giving me nightmares is the Pentagon’s massive investment into robots and AI.

    There’s probably a YouTube video of it somewhere, but I saw this clip (complete with excited nerd) that showed this robot that looked like a remote control race car that was able to flip itself over a ten foot fence. It could either be used as a scout or carry a bomb into a location where insurgents/”people we don’t like” are hiding.

    That was followed by another one which looked like a horrifying metallic caterpillar and could climb the sides of buildings. Same functions as the remote control toy car one.

    Coming soon to a killing field near you!

  139. 139
    Anne Laurie says:

    @General Winfield Stuck:

    i would appreciate you explaining this cause I don’t know what you are saying.

    You think, because you are a moral person, that Americans shouldn’t send drones that will inevitably slaughter civilians without verifying with live Americans that the bad guys the drones are “targeting” are actually among those civilians. I assert that a considerable percentage of American voters, including too many of the Americans involved in launching the drones, consider all non-Americans & especially the non-white non-Americans as equal participants in any “war” against America. The good Amurkin patriots who have perfected drive-thru dining, drive-in megachurches, and drive-by shootings are not going to be in favor of replacing metal-shelled drone technology with valuable American meat-units, unfortunately.

  140. 140
    Mark S. says:

    @dfd:

    Granted, some of the things I’ve read on the subject have been contradictory, but my general impression is that there were at least some members of the Japanese government that would have been willing to surrender if we agreed not to do anything to their emperor. Considering that is what we ended up doing anyway, it would have been nice to at least see if this was feasible.

  141. 141
    Kevin Phillips Bong says:

    @Neutron Flux: No problem. Love this blog and the hilarious inhabitants therein, and I’m happy to bring some authority to a subject finally.

  142. 142
    Dr. Morpheus says:

    Chuchundra is correct though, Anne Laurie, the drones are not simply “fire and forget”. They do indeed scout the area out first.

    And to repeat the cliche, the first casualty of war is the truth. And the American government isn’t the only actor in this war that is lying.

    It could be the case 600 civilians have died in the drone attack. It might also be a lot less or, conversely, a lot more than that.

    We will never know.

  143. 143
    Neutron Flux says:

    @Anne Laurie: GWS has been arguing against these drones this whole thread. I do not see your point in this response.

  144. 144
    Dr. Morpheus says:

    Mark S., if you’re talking about the atomic bombings I think it’s been generally agreed on that they were dropped more as a warning to the Soviet Union than to actually get the Japanese to surrender.

  145. 145
    General Winfield Stuck says:

    @Anne Laurie:

    Don’t disagree with this. Though I am always hesitant to blame soldiers. At least the ones in harms way. I do not like having them sitting in air conditioned bunkers in Kansas though, making decisions and pulling triggers. Not right IMO.

  146. 146
    Neutron Flux says:

    @General Winfield Stuck: It is not Kansas. I think it is Las Vegas. Amirite Kevin Philips Bong?

  147. 147
    General Winfield Stuck says:

    @Neutron Flux:

    Thanks. I’m still not completely sure what Anne is saying. But I will say, that as long as our soldiers are ordered to stay there, we should protect them however when they are under attack. All the civilian deaths are a sign to me that maybe, probably, they shouldn’t be there, at least doing what they have been doing.

  148. 148
    Mike in NC says:

    Peoples Republican Army

    Is that the one led by Generalissimo Newt Gingrich and his deputy, Lance Corporal Eric Cantor? Wolverines!

  149. 149
    General Winfield Stuck says:

    guess I ruffled some liberal feathers tonight. not the first time.

  150. 150
    Neutron Flux says:

    @General Winfield Stuck: Yes. If you are in the shit while in the Big Green Machine you deserve the best that we can bring.

    But there are consequences to what we can bring.

    I think that is what you have been saying all night, and me agreeing with you, tho probably not as strong as I should have.

  151. 151
    General Winfield Stuck says:

    @Neutron Flux:

    That is exactly what I’ve been saying.

  152. 152
    Montysano says:

    @Anne Laurie:

    I assert that a considerable percentage of American voters, including too many of the Americans involved in launching the drones, consider all non-Americans & especially the non-white non-Americans as equal participants in any “war” against America.

    That assumes that your average American rightwinger thinks about it at all.

    The ones I work with? It never crosses their mind. Some figure of authority like Rush or Sean told them it was OK, and that was the end of it. They sit in a church pew on Sunday without any cognitive dissonance at all.

  153. 153
    Neutron Flux says:

    @General Winfield Stuck: Do you know the difference between a pessimist and an optimist?

    Experience baby, experience.

  154. 154
    General Winfield Stuck says:

    @Kevin Phillips Bong:

    All the teabaggers banging on and on about socialism should go after the US military first, we’re the most socialist organization in the country.

    LOL. I missed your comment. I thought it was more like a dictatorship and unfortunately me as lowest servant, or, Government Issue servant.

    And thanks for your enlightened comment on how the drones work and targets chosen.

  155. 155
    Svensker says:

    @calipygian:

    Shutter.

    Don’t close the window on K-Lo!

  156. 156
    Rebecca says:

    @John Sears:

    This story really cracks me up.

    You know what my first thought, my very first thought, when I got the inevitable phone call and turned on CNN on Sept. 11th, 2001 was? Swear to whatever God you worship?

    “Well, there go our civil liberties.”

    Dude, that was the exact thing I thought too.

  157. 157
    Rebecca says:

    @Rebecca:
    @John Sears:

    Screwed that comment up, bah.

  158. 158
    soonergrunt says:

    @ellaesther:
    You’re a lot more generous than I would be. For me, war, by state actor or no, is nothing but murder and terrorism writ large.
    We kill people in order to get other people to change their activities. Just because I wear a uniform doesn’t make me morally better in that respect. The fact that I make an honest effort to avoid killing innocents is what separates me from them, for whom the killing of innocents is the whole point.

    @calipygian:

    Killing without heroics. Nothing
    is glorified, nothing is reaffirmed.

    Whoever wrote that doesn’t seem to get that there is nothing whatsoever heroic or affirming about killing.
    Surviving–that’s heroic. Bringing home your soldiers and buddies–that’s affirming.
    Everything else is bullshit.

  159. 159
    AhabTRuler says:

    @General Winfield Stuck: Sorry, dinner intervened.

    The USAAF had more success crippling Germany’s oil production capacities, especially the synthetic oil plants that came on stream later in the war, than they did precision bombing (and missing) factories in the heart of cluttered cities. And yet, even prior to the targeting of oil production the US precision bombing was far more successful than the British area bombing of cities, which proved to be relatively poor at either breaking the will of the people or disrupting production (this was demonstrated by the Brit’s own experiences; the Luftwaffe’s blunder was to switch to bombing cities instead of RAF airfields). Furthermore, the considerations that led to the adoption of daylight precision raids included considerations of morality (I am paraphrasing form A.C. Grayling’s Among the Dead Cities, but I’m not doing the full cite).

    Yet, when it came to bombing the Japanese, the US adopted a policy of area bombing with incendiaries (including WP, thermite, & napalm) to destroy wide swathes of Japanese cities.

    As to the racial aspect of the Pacific war, you are correct in saying that the Japanese where xenophobic in the extreme, but to argue that US attitudes weren’t racist is, frankly, naive. I recommend that you read the book that image is reproduced in, John Dower’s War Without Mercy for a fuller discussion of the subject.

  160. 160
    AhabTRuler says:

    We kill people in order to get other people to change their activities. Just because I wear a uniform doesn’t make me morally better in that respect.The fact that I make an honest effort to avoid killing innocents is what separates me from them, for whom the killing of innocents is the whole point.

    At the risk of perpetuating a worn out trope: This.

  161. 161
    Xecky Gilchrist says:

    They didn’t panic just because it was an unstamped envelope. The return address read “Ignignokt.”

  162. 162
    Kevin Phillips Bong says:

    @Neutron Flux: Vegas is correct. And I do appreciate the apparent moral/ethical issues raised by General Stuck, but having flown both manned aircraft and remotely piloted aircraft in combat, the decision making environment in a manned cockpit under fire is a much less dispassionate place than a ground control station in Vegas. An F-16 pilot who thought he was under fire mistakenly killed a bunch of Canadians because he was in a hurry. With 14 hour endurance and no threat of being shot down I can take all the time I need to ensure I know where the friendlies, targets and noncombatants are located. I’ll go on record as saying the remote aircraft is the perfect platform for counterinsurgency air support. Whether that counterinsurgency is worth fighting is above my paygrade.

  163. 163

    @Zifnab: 1967: Subic Bay, Phillipines. R&R from Viet Nam. You didn’t go anywhere in Olongapo by yourself or you would find yourself floating in the bay with a knife between your ribs. That’s all.

  164. 164
    General Winfield Stuck says:

    @AhabTRuler:

    I didn’t say that Americans were or were not racist toward the Japanese. I said that blaming that on total war tactics is really quite moot. We didn’t treat the Germans any nicer, ie Dresden etc…. My point was simple. That WW2 the ROE became Total War not because we initiated it, but because the other side did. And whatever racism was involved was irrelevant. Hell, HItler gave speeches on his intent to inflict the TW doctrine.

    I think you took a simple statement I made and tried to turn it into something else entirely and calling bullshit on whatever was in your head at the time, that obviously didn’t jibe with what I said. And you weren’t the only one in this thread to do that.

  165. 165
    Monkeyfister says:

    But, it is good for Conservatives… You betcha!

    –mf

  166. 166
    dfd says:

    @AhabTRuler: My understanding is that Japan widely dispersed their manufacturing capacity, as best the could, among small shops as opposed to the large, easily identifiable, factories. What alternatives to fire bombing existed that would have destroyed Japan’s war making capacity?

  167. 167
    oh really says:

    I’m even going to go out on a limb and wager that more Af/Pak citizens have been killed by missiles than Americans have been by unstamped letters.

    Gee, I thought I heard that after heart disease and cancer, unstamped letters were the number one cause of death at Fox News.

  168. 168
    AhabTRuler says:

    @dfd: Crippling Japan’s ability to produce and transport oil was successful, much as it was in Germany; later in the war fuel oil and other lubricants were in short supply, severely restricting both training and operations.
    However, the broader point is that firebombing doesn’t work. Germany and Japan both had large stockpiles of aircraft and other war material at the end of the war, and production was rarely ever interrupted for long, even up to the end of the war (indeed, Germany’s war economy peaked in the final year). Given Japan’s lack of a domestic oil supply, the weak spot was the oil infrastructure, which couldn’t be moved or hidden, but wouldn’t really be damaged by area bombing with incendiaries.

  169. 169

    Drones my ass, as soon as man discovered ways to reach out collateral damage happened. If you hold a weapon in your hand and directly strike someone you pretty much eliminate collateral damage, anybody involved in a sword fight pretty much meant to be there.

    That doesn’t touch on what man used to do with the express intention of creating civilian suffering.

    Warfare deliberately sets out to make it dangerous to support the other side. Very dangerous. It would seem that being afraid would be the entirely reasonable reaction and an expected one, That could be called terrorism but then you’d start working on another definition for the actions of non-state actors,

  170. 170
    Corner Stone says:

    @Shawn in ShowMe:

    But there isn’t any way that the Secretary of State can say “yes I can see where the U.S. military could be seen as terrorists”.

    It’s convenient for some here to forget that the SoS has a boss.

  171. 171
    Corner Stone says:

    @Kevin Phillips Bong:

    With 14 hour endurance and no threat of being shot down I can take all the time I need to ensure I know where the friendlies, targets and noncombatants are located. I’ll go on record as saying the remote aircraft is the perfect platform for counterinsurgency air support.

    It scares the absolute hell out of me that men who would never think twice about putting real people in harms way can now destroy people/villages/communities with absolutely no risk.
    Not loss of US lives, not political backlash, not nothing.
    And don’t get me wrong, I don’t want anyone at risk for some fool’s folly, but damn if this doesn’t make being a tough guy a hell of a lot easier.

  172. 172
    Corner Stone says:

    @soonergrunt:

    We kill people in order to get other people to change their activities.

    Is this really why the most powerful empire in existence kills people?

  173. 173
    Corner Stone says:

    @John Sears:

    I leave now for curry!

    No matter what else you say at this point – I am 100% on your side regarding this.

  174. 174
    Yutsano says:

    @Corner Stone: Mmm…curry. I may have to twist some arms on Friday night and get me some Indian or Thai now.

  175. 175
    Brachiator says:

    @Shawn in ShowMe:

    JC, Hillary is a smart person. She knows exactly how the Pakistanis view the drone attacks. But there isn’t any way that the Secretary of State can say “yes I can see where the U.S. military could be seen as terrorists”. Not without sucking all the oxygen out of the room for the forseeable future and serving as fundraising fodder for wingnuts.

    Actually, what she can’t say is this: “Every drone attack which originates in Pakistan is signed off on by the Pakistani government and military. You bastards have no problem shaking us down for money, which you say is going to be used to fight terrorism, but which instead actually goes to fund terrorism in Afghanistan and Kashmir. You uproot your own citizens, turning them into refugees as you stage mock attacks on the Taliban, who you give safe haven to as long as they promise to kill only Americans and Afghan civilians. The majority of drone attacks would not even be necessary if your own military would round up known terrorists.

    You want some kind of weasel apology from me on behalf of the US government? Well, kiss my ankles.”

  176. 176
    Kevin Phillips Bong says:

    @Corner Stone: It certainly does make the case for better leaders than the ones we just got rid of.

  177. 177
    Corner Stone says:

    @Brachiator:

    Well, kiss my ankles

    Cankles. That evil bitch’s got cankles.

  178. 178
    Corner Stone says:

    Sorry to interrupt the pr0n but I’ve watched this youtube about 100 times over the last two days. Completely captivates me, and I’m not even a big Stevie Nicks fan.
    Watch it one time and I guarantee you’ll watch it a dozen times.
    Don’t blame it on me

  179. 179
    Brachiator says:

    @Corner Stone:

    In that case, it might make her Secretary Of State Evil Bitch; and since she serves at the pleasure of Obama, it might make him President of the United States of Evil Bastards.

    But either way, it makes those in the government of Pakistan who are playing political games over the issue of drones little more than pond scum.

  180. 180
    bago says:

    @Anne Laurie: Actually, they already do, by having an “informant” tell the right people that yet an #3 taliban leader is staying at so&so’s house. You hack the human network, and when all you have are a translator or two to determine life and death, it’s pretty easy.

    You hack the translator, you hack the cia.
    Tou hack the cia, you hack the drone network.
    you hack the drones, you get the power.

    Money and bitches soon to follow.

  181. 181
    Corner Stone says:

    @Brachiator: I just wanted to pre-empt others.
    As I said upthread, the SoS has a boss and a nation to serve, although some people writing on the front page find it convenient to skip past that.
    And we all enjoy killin the brownies, usually with the brownies-in-power’s approval.
    Personally I want A-10’s to kill them all, and I want the gun camera footage to be put up on youtube so we can all appreciate what we’ve been paying for.
    Nothing better than an A-10 strafing run. Unless it’s an Apache lasing a bunker or installation while the hellfire missiles come down.
    That’s pretty fucking cool too.

  182. 182
  183. 183
    Corner Stone says:

    @bago: I thought it was:
    “First you get the sugar, then you get the power, then you get the women”

  184. 184
    bago says:

    @Xecky Gilchrist: 1-31-07 Nevar Forget!

  185. 185
    bago says:

    @Corner Stone: The only time I ever saw that movie was while I was compiling at a friends house. I just remember a drugs, power and girls progression.

  186. 186
    Brachiator says:

    @Corner Stone:

    As I said upthread, the SoS has a boss and a nation to serve, although some people writing on the front page find it convenient to skip past that.

    Yep. Very true.

    And we all enjoy killin the brownies, usually with the brownies-in-power’s approval.

    I disagree in part here. For the most part, neither liberals nor conservatives give a rat’s ass about Pakistan or Afghanistan. Liberals just like to whine about it with faux concern, especially when they condescendingly reduce a whole nation of very diverse people into “brownies.”

    This kind of reductionism also ignores quite a bit of complex history. The US, Democratic and Republican governments alike, often backed Pakistan over India, using the dubious pretext that since India was often non-aligned, this really meant that they were really godless commies.

    And you missed the point that some in the Pakistan government willingly use their own people as pawns in larger power games. We could pull out of the country tomorrow, and this will not change. Our presence may be increasing the misery in the region. Our absence will not necessarily relieve it.

  187. 187
    General Winfield Stuck says:

    @Brachiator:

    Well stated.

  188. 188
    Little Macayla's Friend says:

    Has anyone read “Raising My Voice: The Extraordinary Story of an Afghan Who Dared to Raise Her Voice” (in G.B.)?

    Different title in a later ed. in U.S. – “A Woman Among Warlords: The Extraordinary Story of an Afghan Who Dared to Raise Her Voice”.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Malalai_Joya

    I’m most interested in the Afghans’ (and Iraqis’) opinions of the occupations.

    /trying to catch up on Juan Cole.

    She is also the subject of sanitized U.S. CNN vs. international CNN interviews:
    http://www.antiwar.com/blog/20.....of-2-cnns/
    Includes comments.

  189. 189

    @calipygian

    I just hope she wiped all of Jonah’s Corner off her chin before she got up for church the next morning.

    Is Jonah’s Corner kosher?

  190. 190

    @Mike in NC

    Peoples Republican Army

    Is that the one led by Generalissimo Newt Gingrich and his deputy, Lance Corporal Eric Cantor? Wolverines!

    No, you’re thinking of the Republican’s People Army. The People’s Republican Army is lead by Supreme Superduper Sturmbahnführer Dick Armey. Five starburst general Sarah Palin is the second in command, unless she’s quit again, and the troops consist of Spec4 Tim Pawlenty and Privates Erickson, Beck and Limbaugh.

    You have to really hate the Democrats to join the People’s Republican Army.

  191. 191
    Brachiator says:

    @General Winfield Stuck:

    Thanks.

    Little Macayla’s Friend – Thanks for the links and info.

    I also found the October 27 Fresh Air interview with NY Times reporter David Rohde, who had been held captive by the Taliban, to be very illuminating.

    One tidbit:

    Yes. To be fair to the Pakistanis, I think it’s a very difficult and dangerous thing to try to regain control of these areas. And there’s an offensive going on now in South Waziristan, an area we were held. But the real issue here is that former Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf and various members of the Pakistani military did not see the Taliban – and some say still do not see the Taliban – as a threat to Pakistan. Instead, the Taliban are viewed as a strategic asset that Pakistan can use to retain its influence in Afghanistan. And Pakistan’s primary goal is to prevent India, its main rival in the region, from gaining influence in Afghanistan.

    So in essence the Pakistanis, I think some Pakistanis still see the Taliban as a proxy force that they can use to keep India out of Afghanistan.

    The irony here is that I am not sure that India has any interest in Afghanistan. Also, Rohde is not that familiar with the situation in Kashmir, where Pakistan, India, and even China, have political interests.

  192. 192
    sparky says:

    question: disputes about tactics aside, can anyone explain what exactly the idea is here? cuz if the idea is to kill everyone somehow related to al Q or the Taliban in every country, that seems to me pretty much the textbook definition of insanity.

  193. 193
    John Cole says:

    Some really good comments here. I think there are two things that are being overlooked.

    First, I don’t view our military as terrorists- I know the extreme lengths they go to avoid civilian casualties, often putting themselves at great risk to avoid hurting civilians. My point is that for those people on the receiving end of bombing missions and drone attacks, it would be completely understandable if they viewed this the same way we view terrorist attacks against us and that it is radicalizing them against us.

    Second, I’m not convinced this works. Hell, Obama wasn’t convinced, and took a lot of political heat during the campaign. One of the points of the troop surge was so that we would no longer have to rely on these aerial attacks as much. The right had a field day with it, accusing Obama of claiming the military was engaging in indiscriminate bombing.

  194. 194
    Corner Stone says:

    @Brachiator:

    And you missed the point that some in the Pakistan government willingly use their own people as pawns in larger power games.

    I had a reply to this last evening but the blog went kaput on me.
    To summarize my reply:
    I did not miss any of your points.

  195. 195
    soonergrunt says:

    @Corner Stone: When you get down to the very base of it, yes.

  196. 196
    Corner Stone says:

    @soonergrunt: I would suggest we kill people for profit. The expectation of profit, the protection of profit and/or the denial of profit.
    Inasmuch as profit seeking behavior/activities can be changed or altered then I agree with you. Otherwise I suggest our actions as empire can most easily be explained by profit.
    Not sure what other activities we really care about.

  197. 197

    […] the U.S. Government would use the term "terrorist" so promiscuously and selectively (see John Cole’s excellent contrast between what we deem to be "terrorism" when it happens to the U.S. versus what we deny is […]

  198. 198
    Brachiator says:

    @John Cole:

    First, I don’t view our military as terrorists- I know the extreme lengths they go to avoid civilian casualties, often putting themselves at great risk to avoid hurting civilians. My point is that for those people on the receiving end of bombing missions and drone attacks, it would be completely understandable if they viewed this the same way we view terrorist attacks against us and that it is radicalizing them against us.

    Anything that the US does is used to support the dubious claim that it radicalizes “them” against “us.” Heck, the presence of obviously non-combatant United Nations workers is used by some Taliban and related groups to justify radical reprisals.

    That said, I have seen some very credible stories that some Taliban groups view predator drones as particularly cowardly and un-warrior like, but this is not quite the same thing as directly radicalizing groups to become terrorists or to increase their actions against the United States.

    The “logic” here is that the drones are not warriors facing each other. On the other hand, Afghan fighters have a long history of valuing snipers, which is not exactly face to face single combat.

    Second, I’m not convinced this works.

    Yeah, I hear you.

    The right had a field day with it, accusing Obama of claiming the military was engaging in indiscriminate bombing.

    The right has long since lost all credibility, especially since their standard practice is Always Be Criticizing, even if their guys have done exactly the same thing that they now condemn.

    I recall the right blaming Bill Clinton for not using a predator drone against bin Laden when he supposedly had an opportunity to do so. Now they try to kick VP Biden, who in the past favored a strategy which used predator drones.

    I wish there were an easy answer here. I just don’t see any.

  199. 199
    Douche Baggins says:

    @John Cole: Some really good comments here.

    Pshaw, ALL the comments here are excellent! Even drug-addled BOB is adding rhetorical flourishes heretofore unseen! Huzzah and hurrah! Three pips for Balloon Juice!

  200. 200

    […] U.S. Government would use the term “terrorist” so promiscuously and selectively (see John Cole’s excellent contrast between what we deem to be “terrorism” when it happens to the U.S. versus what we […]

  201. 201

    […] recommends John Cole’s contrast between what we deem to be “terrorism” when it happens to us here versus what we deny […]

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  2. […] U.S. Government would use the term “terrorist” so promiscuously and selectively (see John Cole’s excellent contrast between what we deem to be “terrorism” when it happens to the U.S. versus what we […]

  3. […] the U.S. Government would use the term "terrorist" so promiscuously and selectively (see John Cole’s excellent contrast between what we deem to be "terrorism" when it happens to the U.S. versus what we deny is […]

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