Bombs Away Obama

TNC, reacting to the NY Times article the other day about Obama’s wild escalation of drone strikes:

Has there ever been a point since America’s inception when someone, somewhere, wasn’t plotting our downfall? I have great difficulty perceiving a time when this won’t be true. And so drone strategy comes to self-replicate. We bomb your village. You declare war on us for the bombing. We deem you a terrorist and bomb again. Rinse. Repeat.

The Obama administration considers any military-age male in the vicinity of a bombing to be a combatant. That is an amazing standard that shares an ugly synergy with the sort of broad-swath logic that we see employed in Stop and Frisk, with NYPD national spy network, with the killer of Trayvon Martin.

Policy is informed by the morality of a country. I think the repercussions of this unending era of death by silver bird will be profound.

This is a real stain on Obama’s legacy, sets a horrible precedent (I can’t wait until we are drone striking right across the Mexican border), and is very revealing about the tribalism of politics in our nation. If Bush and Cheney had done this, more than just a few civil libertarians and random cranks like me would be screaming bloody murder.

Glenn Greenwald had a couple really good posts about this, but I didn’t even bother to link them because I know what would happen in the comments section- “HE LIVES IN BRAZIL! HE HATES OBAMA AND JUST USES THESE ISSUES FOR SELF-PROMOTION. HE’S A LIBERTARIAN! WHAT DOES HE HAVE ON YOU JOHN COLE?” And that would be just the first comment.

405 replies
  1. 1
    Steve M. says:

    Good thing President Romney and his top military adviser, Dennis Kucinich, will put a stop to all this.

  2. 2
    Steve M. says:

    Yes, yes, I know.

  3. 3
    Mark S. says:

    HE DOESN’T EVEN LIVE HERE!
    /sarcasm

  4. 4

    hell, it’s only a matter of time before our police forces use drone strikes on our own citizens. Less danger of being video taped than a taser murder, you know.

  5. 5

    “HE LIVES IN BRAZIL! HE HATES OBAMA AND JUST USES THESE ISSUES FOR SELF-PROMOTION. HE’S A LIBERTARIAN! WHAT DOES HE HAVE ON YOU JOHN COLE?”

    Okay, just kidding. Totally agree with you on this.

    I mean if we’re going to lob missiles at folks and assume anyone in the blast zone is an enemy, we might as well just carpet bomb the entire region.

  6. 6
    Mattminus says:

    John Cole is racist against robot death machines.

  7. 7
    Someguy says:

    Hey, if you can’t trust a liberal democrat to know who needs illegal extrajudicial assassination without due process of law, then who can you trust?

  8. 8
    amk says:

    uh, oh, hair on fire. Dunk your head in a bucket, cole.

  9. 9
    Felinious Wench says:

    Greenwald Trolling!

    As much as I support The Prez, I agree, in this area, I’m disappointed. We’ve replaced boots on the ground with drone strikes, but war is still war, death at the hands of the U.S. is the same. But now, human judgment is gone.

    I loathe drone strikes.

  10. 10
    comrade scott's agenda of rage says:

    @Comrade Dread:

    I mean if we’re going to lob missiles at folks and assume anyone in the blast zone is an enemy, we might as well just carpet bomb the entire region.

    Hmmmm, why does the word “Vietnam” come to mind?

    Can’t think of any rational reason why.

  11. 11
    Marc says:

    I don’t see the difference between drones, bombs, and bullets.

    I also think that these sorts of exercises are inherently morally corrupting (Cornell West was right on that.)

    And Greenwald will attack Obama whether he deserves it or not, so you’re better off using a source that isn’t permanently stuck on the “hate” button.

  12. 12
    Corner Stone says:

    One of the worst aspects of this is the damn wingnuts have latched on and hypocritically stroke this policy like fucking crazy.
    And there’s not really much you can come back at them with.

  13. 13
    Corner Stone says:

    @Marc:

    I don’t see the difference between drones, bombs, and bullets.

    It’s not about the tool, it’s the policy.

  14. 14
    Ruviana says:

    I mean if we’re going to lob missiles at folks and assume anyone in the blast zone is an enemy, we might as well just carpet bomb the entire region Earth.

    FIXD

  15. 15
    flukebucket says:

    Scream until your heart is content. It will not change one god damn thing. Scream loud enough and you might get a rocket down your chimney.

    Elect Ron Paul and he will see to it that the same thing happens.

    Oh and by the way, America still tortures, has always tortured and will always torture when it is deemed necessary.

  16. 16
    Xecky Gilchrist says:

    I have great difficulty perceiving a time when this won’t be true. And so drone strategy comes to self-replicate.

    The drone shit is horrible, no doubt, and is one issue where “the Republicans are worse” is only convincing instead of a slam-dunk.

    But does this quoted passage even make sense?

  17. 17
    Mike Goetz says:

    That reference to Trayvon Martin guarantees a nice, rational discussion on this.

    I disagree with you and Greenwald on this, leave it at that.

  18. 18
    Corner Stone says:

    Cole, I suggest you stop baking post haste. And cease all visits to the local bakery as well.
    Just to be safe.

  19. 19
    Schlemizel says:

    I am constantly amazed at the sheer number of absolutist “puritans” on BJ. Mentions GGs name brings out the sort of one-dimensional thinking here that I associate more with the wingnuts.
    HE SAID SOMETHING BAD ABOUT SOMEONE I LIKE ONCE
    HE SAID SOMETHING NICE ABOUT SOMEONE I HATE ONCE
    HE DOE NOT SHOW ENOUGH DEFERENCE TO MY GUY
    BLAH BLAH
    BLAH

    It is possible that someone is right about some things & wrong about others, it is possible that reasonable people may disagree & have valid reasons. But we’ll have none of that here by gawd!

  20. 20
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    The Obama administration considers any military-age male in the vicinity of a bombing to be a combatant.

    Do you know who else considered any military-age male in the vicinity to be a combatant?

  21. 21
    El Tiburon says:

    Glenn Greenwald had a couple really good posts about this, but I didn’t even bother to link them because I know what would happen in the comments section

    Yep, good thing it is only the right who silences the critics.

    Also Hamsher.

  22. 22
  23. 23
    agorabum says:

    The alternative is that we do nothing (aside from police actions, i.e. try to develop intel and arrest/prosecute Al Queda members when they leave their remote strongholds and enter the west).

    Now, that may be the right thing to do. But when Al-Alwaki was helping that sudanese kid put on his underwear bomb and patting him on the back as he went to the airport, I felt he became fair game for death from above. Or bullets.

    If someone withdraws from modern society and proceeds to wage war on modern society, society can wage war back. But I also think that, with the death of Bin Laden and Al-Alwaki, it’s time to dial it back. But we should have no illusions about what it is we are doing when we wage war. War is unadulterated cruelty, and you cannot refine it.

  24. 24
    Gin & Tonic says:

    The Polish thread yesterday wasn’t enough? Need another 350+ comment thread?

  25. 25
    Corner Stone says:

    I’d love to see in 50 years or so what intel supported the belief that Awlaki was the #1 threat to the US over the likes of Ayman al-Zawahiri.

  26. 26
    flukebucket says:

    @zombie rotten mcdonald:

    hell, it’s only a matter of time before our police forces use drone strikes on our own citizens. Less danger of being video taped than a taser murder, you know.

    And if the taser murder is taped what is the punishment? Two weeks paid vacation. It would be the same with a droning. Mistakes were made. So sorry. Will do better next time. Shit happens.

  27. 27
    Forum Transmitted Disease says:

    What on earth would make you think this “kill list” is legit?

  28. 28
    Mike Goetz says:

    @Schlemizel:

    So true.

  29. 29
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    Did you know that Syria tried to blame the Houla massacre on Al Qaeda? I kid you not, they did.

    Everyone’s punching bag, for whatever reason.

  30. 30
    Matthew Reid Krell says:

    @Villago Delenda Est:

    Do you know who else considered any military-age male in the vicinity to be a combatant?

    Menachem Begin?

    I’m a self-hating Jew, so I’m allowed to say that.

  31. 31
    schrodinger's cat says:

    OK what is so special about the drones, is it any better if a manned aircraft drops a bomb on you? I don’t get this hand wringing focused solely on drone attacks. Could somebody please enlighten me, am I missing something here.

  32. 32
    Corner Stone says:

    The Obama administration considers any military-age male in the vicinity of a bombing to be a combatant.

    Military age male? Hell, if you’re dead then you are (err, were) a combatant. Period.

  33. 33
    SatanicPanic says:

    Glenn isn’t always wrong. Sometimes he’s right. But when he’s wrong he won’t admit it and when he’s right he annoying. That being said, what Obama is doing is terrible.

  34. 34

    @comrade scott’s agenda of rage: Come on, we have much bigger bombs now. I’m sure it will work this time.

  35. 35
    Corner Stone says:

    @Forum Transmitted Disease:

    What on earth would make you think this “kill list” is legit?

    That using a kill list is legit, or that the existence of a “reported” kill list is legit?

  36. 36
    El Tiburon says:

    @Marc:

    I don’t see the difference between drones, bombs, and bullets.

    Let me help you out here, and full disclosure: I am not nor I have ever been in the military. BUT, BUT, I do have a functioning brain.

    1. Drone: remote controlled by people sitting comfortably in air conditioning watching a video screen. Think Wii or PS2 or Nintendo. These bombs then drop out of the air and indiscriminately kill anyone or anything in the blast area radius. Drone operator then goes home and has a cold beer.

    2. Bomb: this is what is dropped from the drone.

    3. Bullets: these devices are expelled from some sort of firearm by a person in near proximity to the target. This also means the person firing the bullet is in danger of getting hit and killed as well. Unlike the drone operator, this person may never go home again – or if they do, it may be with only half a brain or half a body.

    Do you have a little better understanding now of the difference between a drone, a bomb and a bullet?

    Now, do you want me to explain to you how this may affect the US policy and the use of force?

    Do you really need this explained to you?

  37. 37
    Dr. Squid says:

    I have a great idea: Let’s just let them kill us. Glenn Greenwald will be happy then.

    What.

    Is.

    Your.

    Alternative?

    @schrodinger’s cat: Glenn Greenwald is paid to be outraged and wring his hands, just like Bill Donahue is about people who dare to criticize rapists who are also priests.

  38. 38
    Corner Stone says:

    @El Tiburon:

    Also Hamsher.

    She’s pure evil you know. And more powerful than a SpaceX Dragon capsule.

  39. 39
    slag says:

    I read this TNC piece and I agree with it wholeheartedly. One issue I have with how we handle “national security” is that it lacks transparency. One question I always have about these decisions is “Why?”. And most of the time, the answers I get are nothing more than sheer conjecture. It’s not helpful.

    Robert Wright highlights a mildly substantive answer to the question:

    When a few officials tentatively offered a defense, noting that the attack had failed because the terrorists were forced to rely on a novice bomber and an untested formula because of stepped-up airport security, Mr. Obama cut them short.
    __
    “Well, he could have gotten it right and we’d all be sitting here with an airplane that blew up and killed over a hundred people,” he said, according to a participant. He asked them to use the close call to imagine in detail the consequences if the bomb had detonated.

    But then Wright adds glibly:

    But, hey, so long as things don’t get out of control before election day, why worry?

    I may be feeling overly generous today, but I don’t think that’s quite fair.

    We’ve started down a path that is really hard to get off of. But I think we’d have to be fools to not see that all well-intentioned people would like to get off this path. It seems to me that it’s become a matter of how.

  40. 40
    Cargo says:

    Obama’s such a warmonger! If only we had a great liberal President like John F. Kennedy or Franklin Roosevelt, who beat our swords into ploughshares and never went to war on anyone!

  41. 41
    Maude says:

    @schrodinger’s cat:
    I’m with you. I don’t get it.
    If we dropped Tunch on someone, that would be mean.

  42. 42
    beyond left says:

    History will not be kind to Obama on the drone wars…

    I want to believe that if I had the intel and information that Obama has access to, I would also order drone strikes, but I am having a hard time imagining that. Are we really in a state of permanent war against “terrorism?”

  43. 43
    El Tiburon says:

    @Marc:

    And Greenwald will attack Obama whether he deserves it or not, so you’re better off using a source that isn’t permanently stuck on the “hate” button.

    What a maroon.

    So much hate here.

    There are many disappointments and truly bad acts for which President Obama is responsible, but for one day at least, on this single issue, he demonstrated authentic and important leadership on a civil rights issue that affects millions.

  44. 44
    Mino says:

    Nobody, but nobody, believes that either side will stop with the drones. Only self-hating Dems would pretend otherwise, and they probably have their own agenda.

  45. 45
    Svensker says:

    Yes, John Cole. 100%

    Also, too,marijuana. Not to mention banksters.

    Still better than the opposition but why does he have to be so dang stinky on this stuff?

  46. 46
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    @El Tiburon:

    Yup.

    Drones make it easier to kill. It’s very easy to kill if you don’t see the face of the person you’re killing. Being in an air conditioned control room looking a video screen makes it like playing Doom or any other first person shooter. Except you’re actually killing someone on the other side.

    Bullets, on the other hand, are far more up close and personal, and by the way, the other guy can shoot back, and physically harm you. Which creates a totally different dynamic about the use of deadly force.

    The notion that guys bombing from jets are “brave” is ludicrous, especially when you’ve got air supremacy. The greatest danger then becomes you’re so giddy with the thrill of the kill that you fuck up the landing of the plane.

  47. 47
    SatanicPanic says:

    @schrodinger’s cat: I think the issue here is that they’re cheaper to operate so they can drops more bombs? (I’m spitballing here)

  48. 48
    wrb says:

    I’m looking forward to the personal bodyguard drones.

    Drone tasering the unsuspecting is going to replace cow tipping and give a whole new meaning to the term “lit up.”

  49. 49
    Calouste says:

    sets a horrible precedent (I can’t wait until we are drone striking right across the Mexican border),

    What kind of precedent? The US has been invading and supporting coups in Latin America for the last 200 years.

  50. 50
    Heliopause says:

    Our world is becoming Eminiar VII and the only hope is for a passing starship to declare General Order 24.

  51. 51
    Corner Stone says:

    Drone technology isn’t like stealth fighter technology. I’m actually surprised we don’t see AQ or AQAP sponsored drones surveilling our troops in MENA.
    Maybe they are and I just can’t find a credible report. But it’s coming, sooner or later.

  52. 52
    Stuck in the Funhouse says:

    And people thought he was kidding, when Obama stated near daily on the stump for the 2008 campaign, that he was going to escalate the fight against AQ, taking nothing off the table. You can be outraged, but not claim surprise Obama is using whatever means, to carry out his campaign promise.

    And nobody with half a brain gives a shit what Glenn Greenwald thinks, or where he lives. Big YAWN

    I’m really sorry you supported the Iraq war, dude, but give it a rest, the emo. OMG look what Obama is doing just like Bush, when he told you he was going to in this case.

    By all indications that I can find, the targeting protocols have been greatly tightened up, as much as can be for conducting legal means of warfare. And the civilian death toll has lessened for individual attacks from drones.

  53. 53
    RalfW says:

    This has been one of the worst aspects of Obama’s presidency. I support him in a number of his policies and positions, but he comes up short on regulating Wall Street, and he is downright awful on civil liberties and in particular he’s in with the immoral war machine on drone attacks.

    I’m not a pacifist, I think there are justifiable times to use force.

    But drone attacks that cannot establish the validity of targets? Really hardly different from Nazi V1 buzz bombs. (There, yes, I’m going Godwin).

  54. 54
    El Tiburon says:

    @schrodinger’s cat:

    OK what is so special about the drones, is it any better if a manned aircraft drops a bomb on you? I don’t get this hand wringing focused solely on drone attacks. Could somebody please enlighten me, am I missing something here

    Drones are remotely controlled. It does not matter if they are shot down as no pilots are inside. Also, if we are flying US jets and dropping bombs, that is an explicit act of war.

    Secretly – ahem – flying drones and dropping bombs is covert and not even really happening. It’s more like an accidental tourist going a little off target.

    I can’t seriously believe people don’t see the difference in utilizing a drone over a fighter jet or some kind of land-based missile.

  55. 55
    Mino says:

    @El Tiburon: Hello. It’s very cost effective, too. Remember, we’re on a budget.

  56. 56
    Corner Stone says:

    @Villago Delenda Est:

    Bullets, on the other hand, are far more up close and personal, and by the way, the other guy can shoot back, and physically harm you. Which creates a totally different dynamic about the use of deadly force.

    Drones are also fire and forget type weapon choices. Like when you fire into a bakery to kill “militants” but no one knows their names or nationalities. People using bullets still have the gift of using HUMINT to make decisions.

  57. 57
    Mino says:

    @Corner Stone: Yep. MAD is still fully operative.

  58. 58
    Egypt Steve says:

    What makes Greenwald increasingly insufferable to me is not the substantive points he makes, which are usually right on. It’s his total lack of interest in practical solutions to the moral corruption that he rightly points out. You can hate on Obama all you want, but what’s the alternative? What do we do?

    That, and his assumption that Obama can only be acting from evil intent. I’m no insider in Washington politics but I suspect that the institutional constraints and pressures that Obama faces are immense and I give the guy credit for doing what he can.

  59. 59
    Raven says:

    @RalfW:

    “cannot distinguish the validity of targets”

    I’ll bite, tell me what form of target identification does?

  60. 60
    SatanicPanic says:

    @El Tiburon:

    but for one day at least, on this single issue, he demonstrated authentic and important leadership on a civil rights issue that affects millions

    Such effusive praise! Now that he got that out of the way he can go back to supporting Ron Paul

  61. 61
    Felinious Wench says:

    @Mattminus:

    Texas is one step ahead of you.

    You can pretty much assume that whenever a weapon exists, our Texas cops are going to go after it. We’re creative when it comes to potential weapon use (new toys!), especially when it comes to patrolling the border. Drones against the drug cartels…which will soon turn into drone strikes against suspected illegal border crossings.

    What could go wrong?

  62. 62
    Politically Lost says:

    @Dr. Squid:

    What is the alternative to due process-less killings of unnamed and unidentified victims?

    Gee…I don’t know, we could possibly…you know… Identify who we are killing and why. And, maybe even throw in some evidence that they are actually doing something… uhm.. you know…wrong.

  63. 63
    El Tiburon says:

    @RalfW:

    This has been one of the worst aspects of Obama’s presidency. I support him in a number of his policies and positions, but he comes up short on regulating Wall Street, and he is downright awful on civil liberties and in particular he’s in with the immoral war machine on drone attacks.

    This is the crux of the matter isn’t it? What is MORE important, really, than LIVING and your CIVIL LIBERTIES? Oh, and also that WALL STREET almost destroyed the planet.

    What policies of Obama’s compare to these policies mentioned above? Equal pay for women? Marriage for gay people? Does it really matter that we have Lily Ledbetter or the end of Don’t Ask Don’t Tell if the President can kill anyone of us at anytime on his sayso? Or that he can lock us up and throw away the key? Period?

    This is what Greenwald has been arguing for years now. Yes, Obama is going to nominate a not terrible Supreme Court Justice and he is going to sign some good legislation. But the entire time he is consolidating executive power to nullify the Constitution when it comes to LIVING and the ABILITY TO BE FREE.

  64. 64
    beyond left says:

    @schrodinger’s cat: I think that drones are worse because there are no pilots at risk of being shot down with drone attacks. It takes away any immediate negative consequences (to US forces) out of the equation and makes it easier to order the attacks because no US personnel are at risk.

    Functionally, I don’t know if there is a difference between piloted bombing and drone bombing. Drones probably can do some things that piloted craft can’t do due to he necessity of carrying all that stuff that pilots need to stay alive in the cockpit. Drones can probably fly in a wider range of conditions and can maneuver (dive, climb, bank, etc.) in ways that pilots couldn’t tolerate.

    From the ground, I don’t think there is a difference between a bomb dropped from a piloted aircraft and one dropped from a drone…

  65. 65
    wrb says:

    I’m actually surprised we don’t see AQ or AQAP sponsored drones surveilling our troops in MENA.
    Maybe they are and I just can’t find a credible report. But it’s coming, sooner or later.

    In a battlefield we could probably jam them pretty easily. Why we haven’t seen AQ drones over Minneapolis or Providence yet, I don’t understand

  66. 66
    Mino says:

    Politicians have NO faith in the ability of Americans to take it and not lose their shit again. And they’re probably right.

  67. 67
    slag says:

    @beyond left:

    Are we really in a state of permanent war against “terrorism?”

    I sometimes wonder exactly which constraints would be helpful in inspiring us to innovate our way out of this situation. I think Greenwald’s right that political pressures are the best–if not only–way to do it. But no matter which direction I look, there’s no there there. Greenwald’s an optimist in this regard and hasn’t yet realized that we’re pretty much screwed.

  68. 68
    Nick says:

    “If they run, they’re VC. If they don’t run, they’re well-disciplined VC.”

  69. 69
    Brachiator says:

    Glenn Greenwald had a couple really good posts about this

    No, he doesn’t.

    But I suppose the only answer is to get out of Afghanistan and to cease all operations in Pakistan.

    I got no problem with that.

    What you do about Pakistan will still be a problem.

    @El Tiburon:

    Drone: remote controlled by people sitting comfortably in air conditioning watching a video screen. Think Wii or PS2 or Nintendo. These bombs then drop out of the air and indiscriminately kill anyone or anything in the blast area radius. Drone operator then goes home and has a cold beer.

    Bullshit.

    Let’s look at some cold, hard facts. A lot of Balloon Juicers are convinced that hunting Al Qaeda should be solely a police action. OK. No problem.

    What do you do when a government is complicit with the bad guys and will tip them off? The US uses drones because the government of Pakistan refuses to deal with Al Qaeda, lies about hunting them down, and at times helps them escape. The US cannot put soldiers on the ground, and uses drones instead. Drones are used in Yemen and elsewhere for similar reasons.

    The Bush Administration had similar problems with Pakistan, but pretended they were getting co-operation. The Obama Administration is bad at dealing with the lies and bullshit of aspects of diplomacy. Whether this is good or bad, I will leave for you.

    Also, the part of the story that Balloon Juicers clearly and consistently ignore is that drone targetting depends on getting the assistance of locals in Afghanistan and Pakistan, and these people who co-operate are ruthlessly hunted down and killed.

    And CIA and other military and intelligence personnel have to be on the ground in the area to co-ordinate what is done.

    This is why Al Qaeda went to great lengths to set up the ambush in which 7 CIA operatives were blown to shit. Al Qaeda very skillfully used a double agent who supposedly had high value information and used him to sucker the over-confident CIA operatives into being in a location where they could all be conveniently dealt with. The goal, which succeeded for a time was to hobble the drone program and to severely punish the CIA for their role.

    This is far from relying on some yokel in a remote location with a beer at arm’s reach.

  70. 70
    liberal says:

    @Marc:

    I don’t see the difference between drones, bombs, and bullets.

    Well, there is a difference. I think the drone attacks are both morally wrong and strategically counterproductive (create more “enemies” than…well, why can’t we just declare victory and get the hell out of there?), but from a utilitarian perspective, it’s cheap on lives. Look at the invasion of Iraq: at least low hundreds of thousands killed. Invasion of Cambodia: number of deaths due to carpet bombing and destabilization probably the same (or almost the same) order of magnitude as those from Khmer Rouge rule.

    But overall, yeah, sucks.

  71. 71
    middlewest says:

    I can’t be the only one who finds it a bit ridiculous that a guy who used to enthusiastically defend Bush’s war crimes now can’t seem to write a word about war or civil liberties without preemptively accusing other people of hypocrisy because they don’t care for another former Bush-supporter blogger he adores.

  72. 72
    flukebucket says:

    @beyond left:

    History will not be kind to Obama on the drone wars…

    I disagree. I think that in the future drone strikes will be as common as no knock raids and warrantless wire tapping. And I still think that drone strikes are better than fire bombing the entire city.

  73. 73
    Corner Stone says:

    @Brachiator:

    The US uses drones because the government of Pakistan refuses to deal with Al Qaeda, lies about hunting them down, and at times helps them escape. The US cannot put soldiers on the ground, and uses drones instead. Drones are used in Yemen and elsewhere for similar reasons.

    Isn’t this an act of war? If we sent a fighter-bomber to execute the attack, would it be more or less an act of war?

  74. 74
    liberal says:

    @Brachiator:

    Al Qaeda very skillfully used a double agent who supposedly had high value information and used him to sucker the over-confident CIA operatives into being in a location where they could all be conveniently dealt with.

    I completely agree with your overall point, but I do want to say that IIRC many said the CIA tradecraft in this instance was just crap.

  75. 75
    Zandar says:

    Greenwald really would actually have good points if he stopped his paragraphs about two-thirds of the way through their current length.

    It’s that last third of his component text blocks, where he takes his “good points” and then either attacks Obama voters as soulless, murdering bastards who are all accomplices to murder, belittles them as impossibly stupid rubes who simply cannot appreciate his own near-infinite purity of purpose, or bemoans them as pathetic patsies trapped voting in a sucker’s game with no real possible point, that really does kind of ruin his logic.

  76. 76
    liberal says:

    @Corner Stone:
    Most of the shit we’re doing in Pakistan could be considered acts of war. The key point, as far as I can tell, is that it’s not an act of war unless the sovereign (here, Pak.) decides it is. Someone there just luvs themselves that American “aid” money.

    That being said, if someone bombed a militarized US border post and killed twenty plus soldiers, we’d likely end up bombing the crap out of them. (Well, considering the Stark incident…maybe not.)

  77. 77
    Stuck in the Funhouse says:

    We need to get our troops out of Afghanistan, ASAP, and there will be no further need or directive to strike Taliban personnel in Pak, or Afghan.

    And as for AQ, I think there is a case for not continuing drone strikes into perpetuity, per the reason you can’t kill every terrorist in the world, and Obama is going to have to draw some lines on that at some point, because the military has a way of finding reasons to do what they are doing, until ordered to stop. I don’t know if we are at that point yet, but the question needs to be pressed on Obama, for making such calls, wherever drones are operating.

    The tightening of targeting protocols have always been my problem with using drones, used not in a situation where troops are under attack. As an assassination program for AQ and Taliban leaders. They have made some significant efforts in this area, but need to be monitored, or oversighted on when to cease such operations, now that many, if not most of AQ leadership has been killed, at least in Afghan/Pak.

    And when the our combat troops leave the battlefield, there should be no more targeting the Taliban imo.

  78. 78
    Jeff Spender says:

    @Brachiator:

    This is far from relying on some yokel in a remote location with a beer at arm’s reach.

    This.

    These operations are actually really complex and don’t just involve someone in a bunker somewhere controlling a remote-controlled plane with a joystick.

    What makes this situation so much more vital is that Pakistan has a shit-ton of nukes and doesn’t even give a shit. If one of them goes missing–do you even want to think of the consequences of a terrorist organization with a nuke and no qualms about using one? After all, they don’t exactly have a country to retaliate against.

  79. 79
    Davis X. Machina says:

    I sense a fair amount of resistance to drones qua drones — “into the uncanny valley of death rode the six hundred” as it were.

    The argument worth having is the one about having a largely unchecked hegemon employing lethal force abroad more or less without let or hindrance.

  80. 80
    Corner Stone says:

    @Zandar: Maybe he has accurately depicted the types of Obama voters who have nothing more substantive to respond than the pithy DRONES in my EEEERRRRYYYWHHERR.

  81. 81
    RalfW says:

    @Raven:

    Well there really wouldn’t be much difference between a B52 pilot in a seat over the target area, and a drone pilot in a US bunker, so in many instances, there is no difference at all. So point taken.

    I shorthanded the earlier comment too much. As has been pointed out by other commenters, the drone attacks allow a detachment and a covertness that renders war and killing to mere video-game-ness.

    It turns out that Orson Scott Card is someone who’s politics I rather dislike, but he did write a book that has colored my view for decades.

    The 1985 novel Ender’s Game (I didn’t know about or read the 1977 serial) rather too presciently foresaw a time when war would be fought so remotely, so detachedly that the tacticians don’t even know its for real. Only the dead are really dead.

    I realize that many past technologies have allowed man to step farther and farther from literally seeing the other combatant. And maybe one should shrug and say, war progresses this way. But I think it is morally wrong to let technology make accountability and ramifications ever more distant.

    I also opposed the photo/news silence about returning war dead under Bush. For similar reasons of not accounting for the human costs of our choices.

  82. 82
    slag says:

    @Zandar: I don’t think it ruins his logic. I think it hurts his cause. But then, I don’t come from the DougJ school of thought that says that the only way people will be coaxed into doing the right thing is through shame and fear.

  83. 83
    Marc says:

    @El Tiburon:

    Nice way of missing the point. But you’re dedicated to missing the point, so that’s not surprising.

    We are in a war. People die in wars. The victims do not care if they are killed by drone or bombs dropped from a plane.

    Whenever I see someone using drones as some sort of talisman I know I’m dealing with someone who is not honest. If you’re against attacking AQ bases in Pakistan you shouldn’t care if we attack them with bombs dropped from planes or with drones. The issue is the attacks, not the delivery mechanism.

  84. 84
    FlipYrWhig says:

    @Villago Delenda Est: People have been lamenting the implications of killing at a distance pretty much since the invention of gunpowder. Probably since the invention of the spear or slingshot. And yet no one says that it’s frightening that American soldiers use guns instead of swords. They may say that guns make it easier to kill indiscriminately. If the problem with drones is that they make it easier to kill indiscriminately, OK, point taken. But in that case the horrible thing is indiscriminate killing, and the method makes no difference. Cluster bombs are terrible, napalm is terrible, space lasers are terrible, etc. Why get hung up on “drones”?

  85. 85
    PZ says:

    I agree this is terrible for civil liberties. What bothers me with these conversations is there is a failure to admit civil liberties don’t win you any votes. This doesn’t put Obama off the hook-not doing the right thing because it’s unpopular is the definition of cowardice. However, it does explain why these things go on.

    If you assume Obama and Romney are the same on civil liberties, then you have to look at where they stand on other issues and vote according to that. It seems to me finding out how to make civil liberties a winning political issue would be a better use of time than screaming about how Obama is so horrible…

  86. 86
    Davis X. Machina says:

    @FlipYrWhig:

    People have been lamenting the implications of killing at a distance pretty much since the invention of gunpowder.

    Longer than that — Paris was despised because he was an archer, not because he wouldn’t return Helen…

  87. 87
    Paul Siegel says:

    I don’t understand all this fuss about drones. Invading a country, like Iraq or Afghanistan, and doing “regime change” is OK but selectively killing leaders of Al Qaeda is not?

    Drones are far more preferable to out-and-out war.

  88. 88
    Corner Stone says:

    @Jeff Spender:

    What makes this situation so much more vital is that Pakistan has a shit-ton of nukes and doesn’t even give a shit

    So we’re back to the “ninjas” defense. Great.

  89. 89
    Marc says:

    @Zandar:

    Greenwald makes dishonest arguments, ignores inconvenient facts, and engages in a lot of bad-faith mind reading. If I see someone doing that I don’t care whether they’re on my team or not. He’s useless as a guide to what is actually true, and he has injected pure poison into the online environment for liberals through his regular character assassination of people who dare to disagree with him.

  90. 90
    Jeff Spender says:

    @Corner Stone:

    What “ninjas” defense. I’m not exactly in favor of using drone strikes, but if someone has a better idea of keeping those nukes secure with the current regime in Pakistan in charge, I’m all ears.

    How do we keep the bad guys away from the big horrible bombs?

    Do you know, Corner Stone?

  91. 91
    Marcellus Shale, Public Dick says:

    well, if the drone poilicy rests or exists only on the credibility and the legitimacy of barrack obama , i suppose that is one way to get right wingers to acknowledge his legitimacy and credibility.

    i am not sure its the right way, or the best way, or the means to an end in any sense, but its a thing that exists.

  92. 92
    Hill Dweller says:

    @Corner Stone:

    Isn’t this an act of war? If we sent a fighter-bomber to execute the attack, would it be more or less an act of war?

    Keep in mind there is a battle for power in Pakistan between the civilian leaders, who are more supportive of anti-terrorism, and the ISI/military, who use the terrorists for their own purposes. The government looks the other way privately, while feigning outrage publicly about drones. The ISI/military actively tries to undermine US/NATO efforts in Pakistan/Afghanistan.

  93. 93
    Raven says:

    @RalfW:

    I realize that many past technologies have allowed man to step farther and farther from literally seeing the other combatant.

    Read the posts from last week when Paul Fussell died. He, EB Slegde, James Jones all make the point that even the immediate troops behind the infantry don’t really know what it’s all about. This is just the logical extension.

  94. 94
    slag says:

    @PZ:

    It seems to me finding out how to make civil liberties a winning political issue would be a better use of time than screaming about how Obama is so horrible…

    Yes yes yes. That said, I have no idea how to make civil liberties a winning political issue. I’ve only seen examples of how not to do it and lack imagination for the other.

  95. 95
    DMcK says:

    The problem with the drone program isn’t that it’s using drones instead of fighter-bombers, or whatever. The problem is that one man – ONE – is calling the shots on how they’re used. If even Obama is impervious to the moral consequences of “collateral damage”, the blatant unconstitutionality of consolidating that much power in the hands of the President, targeting American citizens, etc. …well yeah, that’s a frightening precedent. A stain on his legacy and a strain on my ability to pull the lever for him again.

  96. 96
    wrb says:

    Damn, there is a lot in this thread that I’ve never read on BJ before.

  97. 97
    Corner Stone says:

    @PZ:

    This doesn’t put Obama off the hook-not doing the right thing because it’s unpopular is the definition of cowardice. However, it does explain why these things go on.

    Are you accusing someone of cowardice?

  98. 98
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    @FlipYrWhig:

    Well, it’s the cool tech du jour. And it makes it easier to kill without immediate, personal ramification. You’re not risking a pilot and his flying machine. Just a drone, remotely piloted.

    It still creates all the problems associated with “collateral damage”, though. As in turning people who might have been “meh” about the US into “Death to the Great Satan!” recruits.

    I’m not much for air strikes, either, mainly because they’re as indiscriminate. Artillery wouldn’t be much better in that regard.

  99. 99
    Torminbin McMildidindinin says:

    I can’t wait until we are drone striking right across the Mexican border

    Hahaha!


    Congress Paves Way for Unmanned Drones in U.S. Commercial Airspace

    “Ready to see drones flying over your house? A new bill passed by Congress will give commercial, private and military unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) greatly increased access to U.S. airspace that’s currently reserved only for manned planes.”

  100. 100
    Raven says:

    @DMcK: Bullshit, if he wasn’t involved at this level you bitch about that.

  101. 101
    Stuck in the Funhouse says:

    @DMcK:

    If even Obama is impervious to the moral consequences of “collateral damage”, the blatant unconstitutionality of consolidating that much power in the hands of the President, targeting American citizens, etc. …well yeah, that’s a frightening precedent.

    Actually, you are exactly wrong. The constitution expressly grants the president, in his commander in chief roll, the sole duty of conducting warfare that congress has authorized. For the obvious reason of the chaos ensuing from it being done by committee, at least on a tactical level, that we are talking about here. And also for strategy, but that is less sensitive to FUBAR from too many cooks in the kitchen.

  102. 102
    RalfW says:

    @FlipYrWhig:

    Cluster bombs are terrible, napalm is terrible, space lasers are terrible, etc. Why get hung up on “drones”?

    I’ve opposed them all, over time. I don’t have a fantasy that we’ll go back to lines of men in red wool loading muskets, but the advances in killing devices is abhorrent.

    Particularly when we invest in them but not armor for troops, don’t give a shit about the effects on locals of tons of depleted uranium bombs, etc.

    It’s still considered horribly anti-American to say this, but the Iraqi civilian casualties in Bush/Cheney’s misadventure are a long term stain on America.

    As are our long-term exporting on land mines, our use of cluster bombs, etc.

    Perhaps I should just go right on over to full-on pacifism, but that seems utterly unworkable as well.

    ETA: what @DMcK says, also, too.

  103. 103
    4jkb4ia says:

    I am proud of you, John, simply for posting about it, for the very little that is worth.

    If you read the article, you know that Obama is saying to himself that as long as he didn’t kill women and children, he is OK. So men who are not connected to women and children in a lawless area could be another Abdulmutallab if they are connected to someone who could be an imminent threat. If Awlaki is the standard for imminent threat that’s not particularly comforting. I want to see that OLC memo even more now.

    (11-11, Isner and Mathieu, on serve, 5th set, and Mathieu just had a break point. It’s clay. It can’t happen again. You have to assume.)

  104. 104
    Yutsano says:

    @liberal: Pakistan is an interesting situation. They’re playing both sides and they know they’re playing both sides because they need a force that will have influence in Afghanistan. The reason? India. Pakistan is completely paranoid about India gaining influence in Afghanistan (which they are and the Afghans are welcoming) because then they’re basically surrounded with no good options but to attack India directly. And both states have nukes now. Pakistan needs American military aid money, so they will loudly protest the bombings for internal political reasons but still gladly cash the American military aid check. Remember last year when the wingnuts threatened to reduce military aid to Pakistan and they shit kittens over it? They need us because they have no one else. And we need them because they are our supply line to Afghanistan. The route from Kazakhstan is much more costly and requires Russian cooperation. I personally think we should just get the fuck out and let them decide how they can live without our aid. But we need out of Afghanistan first.

  105. 105
    Jeff Spender says:

    @Stuck in the Funhouse:

    Actually, you are exactly wrong. The constitution expressly grants the president, in his commander in chief roll, the sole duty of conducting warfare that congress has authorized.

    This was my thought as well. I don’t think these strikes are unconstitutional because they fall into the purview of the President’s power as commander-in-chief.

    The question really is whether or not it’s a good strategy. I don’t really like it, but like I’ve said before, does anyone have any better ideas?

  106. 106
    Egg Berry says:

    @Villago Delenda Est:

    Do you know who else considered any military-age male in the vicinity to be a combatant?

    The U.S. when bombing Dresden in WWII?

  107. 107
    4jkb4ia says:

    Edit is just flashing, so it is worth very little that I am proud of John, not that he posted about it.

  108. 108
    Raven says:

    @Villago Delenda Est: Or a 4.2, LAW, 106 RR. I want everyone of these fucks killed with a dull deer antler.

  109. 109
    TK421 says:

    @Corner Stone:

    “One of the worst aspects of this is the damn wingnuts have latched on and hypocritically stroke this policy like fucking crazy.”

    Yes, Cornerstone, that is indeed one of the worst aspects of this, sure, right.

    @Xecky Gilchrist:

    “The drone shit is horrible, no doubt, and is one issue where “the Republicans are worse” is only convincing instead of a slam-dunk.”

    It’s worse for children or pregnant women to be blown to pieces by a drone from a Republican than a Democrat. Is that what you are saying?

  110. 110
    Corner Stone says:

    @Jeff Spender:

    I’m not exactly in favor of using drone strikes, but if someone has a better idea of keeping those nukes secure with the current regime in Pakistan in charge, I’m all ears.

    So destabilizing the civilian leadership by continuing the drone policy is somehow a plus?
    And how many nukes have the ISI put into terrorists hands? Because they’ve had control of the nukes all this time.

    The ninja defense is the claim that if we exit Afghanistan, or change our current MENA policies, then some sneaky black clothed terrorists will gain control of Pak’s nukes.

  111. 111
    FlipYrWhig says:

    @DMcK: I think it would help make that case to give up on calling the issue “drones” and instead calling it “war powers” or something.

    And, IMHO, you’d think that Congresspeople out of respect for their branch of government would want to flex their muscles and rein in the powers of the presidency and executive. You’d think that liberal civil libertarians and conservative libertarians could team up and make a big stink about it. Why don’t they? Wouldn’t that be a potent campaign for someone like Greenwald to wage with the tools at his disposal? There’s a difference between saying something is bad and helping bring it to a stop.

  112. 112
    Zandar says:

    @Corner Stone:

    The funny part is my theory on Greenwald pretty much goes for you and your little concern troll mob as well, as you have a disturbing penchant for wholesale redistribution of his most egregious bullshit yourself on a fairly regular basis.

    But then again I call them as I see them, and his stuff really does come across through reductio ad absurdum so well precisely because it’s so one-dimensional and transparently brutish.

    Much like, I might add, your own stuff.

  113. 113
    liberal says:

    @Jeff Spender:
    AFAICT our policies in Afh/Pak are on net increasing the likelihood of a disaster in terms of Pakistani nukes, because they’re destabilizing Pakistan.

    The fact of the matter is that 9-11 was essentially a one-off, and while it’s terrible that thousands of Americans died, in the big scheme of things it was a pinprick. Full destabilization of Pakistan would be a much bigger deal, orders-of-magnitude bigger.

    The obvious conclusion to draw from this is to get the hell out of Agh, just leave Pak alone (aside from maybe converting the billions of military aid into some kind of domestic aid), and spend what would be much less effort trying to locate and disable any real terrorist plots as they unfold. (Right now most of the “triumphs” we hear about are idiot losers who are entrapped and persuaded to go ahead.)

    The strategic calculus, ISTM, is pretty obvious here.

  114. 114
    Marc says:

    @DMcK:

    We’re in wars, and people die in wars. I’m puzzled by the idea that people don’t believe that this has always been happening.

    In the second world war we killed hundreds of thousands of civilians in intense bombing raids on Japanese and German cities. We dropped nuclear bombs on two Japanese cities. And we’re getting this hyperbolic rhetoric about Obama, as if the leaders of major nations hadn’t been making these sorts of decisions since we’ve had major nations.

    The logical leap from “drones on camps in Yemen” to “killing people at a whim at home” is, to put it charitably, also not obvious. We tell people to kill others in battle and we expect them not to kill people at home. One does not necessarily bleed over into the other.

  115. 115
    TK421 says:

    @flukebucket:

    “Oh and by the way, America still tortures, has always tortured and will always torture when it is deemed necessary.”

    IF that’s so, do you think it might be because Americans just shrug their shoulders and say “well, it always happens, nothing to do about it?”

    @agorabum:

    “War is unadulterated cruelty, and you cannot refine it.”

    So that makes it alright to intentionally fire missiles at children?

  116. 116

    @FlipYrWhig:
    ‘Drones’ is a scary word that brings to mind images of Skynet taking over the Earth. Also, because Bush thought war was a game to be played for his own personal pride, and fucked it up so badly, America seems to have forgotten that this kind of military intervention is absolutely normal and Obama is only switching to the most efficient, precise methods that have the least risk.

    @El Tiburon: and @Corner Stone: outline that lack of context quite well. Like the bombing in Yemen, this would totally be an act of war if the government hadn’t said ‘Come and get ’em.’ Pakistan is a particularly fucked up case where the government is so corrupt and turned against itself that even though they’re officially our allies, telling them all the details leads to lots and lots of betrayal. Despite that, their official position is that this is okay.

    In conclusion, slippery slope arguments are no more valid here than when you’re claiming gay marriage will enable turtle marriage. No, we’re not going to be drone bombing our own citizens. We’re not going to be bombing anything with drones we wouldn’t have bombed with regular planes.

  117. 117
    RalfW says:

    @Paul Siegel:

    I don’t understand all this fuss about drones. Invading a country, like Iraq or Afghanistan, and doing “regime change” is OK

    No. No it’s not. It’s ridiculous to think it’s either/or. One can oppose both.

  118. 118
    Corner Stone says:

    @Hill Dweller:

    Keep in mind there is a battle for power in Pakistan between the civilian leaders, who are more supportive of anti-terrorism, and the ISI/military, who use the terrorists for their own purposes. The government looks the other way privately, while feigning outrage publicly about drones. The ISI/military actively tries to undermine US/NATO efforts in Pakistan/Afghanistan.

    This is a rational response by the ISI. They don’t have our best interests at heart.
    Is destabilizing the civilian leadership of Pakistan somehow in our best outcomes?

  119. 119
    Brachiator says:

    @Corner Stone:

    Isn’t this an act of war? If we sent a fighter-bomber to execute the attack, would it be more or less an act of war?

    There is no way for the US to achieve anything they want in the region. I already noted they should get out.

    However, I have noted before here that the US foolishly chose to back and prop up Pakistan as part of our Cold War strategy. We have always been dopes.

    But also, there is no police action, depending on the goodwill or work of the Pakistan military or intelligence services that will help us.

    So, there are no good alternatives to anything. Bullshit like formal or informal declaraations of war are meaningless.

    @liberal:

    I completely agree with your overall point, but I do want to say that IIRC many said the CIA tradecraft in this instance was just crap.

    To be clear, the CIA were absolute fools here. There was a long article, or podcast, about this. The double agent convinced the seven agents to all come out to greet him. This was some of the dumbest shit violation of rules and common sense imaginable. As is often the case, military and intelligence people got complacent, and also could never imagine that the Taliban and Al Qaeda could mount a serious counter-intelligence operation against them.

    This was a tragic loss of life of the CIA agents. And also completely avoidable.

    And also, too, for the sake of some folks, I am not saying that the Taliban and Al Qaeda are inscrutably crafty sinister opponents. But they are not just primitives fighting the way they have since the time of Alexander the Great. They are no fools. Neither are the people of Pakistan, who pursue their own strategic interests independent of what anyone in the US, liberal or conservative, might think.

  120. 120
    Jeff Spender says:

    @Corner Stone:

    So destabilizing the civilian leadership by continuing the drone policy is somehow a plus?
    And how many nukes have the ISI put into terrorists hands? Because they’ve had control of the nukes all this time.

    I don’t remember making that claim.

    So how do you see this working out, Corner Stone? Do you see an exit from Afghanistan (which I support) and then…what? Tensions building between India and Pakistan that could lead to war? I mean, there’s not much we can do about this in the long run, and it’s something they have to sort out, but in the meantime–there are a lot of nukes.

  121. 121
    liberal says:

    @Yutsano:

    And we need them because they are our supply line to Afghanistan. The route from Kazakhstan is much more costly and requires Russian cooperation. I personally think we should just get the fuck out and let them decide how they can live without our aid. But we need out of Afghanistan first.

    Yeah, but that’s precisely the point. Being in Afg now serves no strategic purpose whatsoever, in the sense that on net our being there is a strategic loser because of the destabilizing influence on Pakistan.

    We don’t need Karzhai, we don’t need Pakistan. AQ has never been a true strategic threat to the US, and isn’t currently. The only hard-nosed thing we “need” from the Middle East/South Asia is to ensure that no single hegemon gets control of the oil riches of the region. And right now we don’t have to do much for that.

  122. 122
    TK421 says:

    @Marc:

    “We’re in wars, and people die in wars. I’m puzzled by the idea that people don’t believe that this has always been happening.”

    We’re in wars. How did that come to be? I guess it just happened. Countries don’t decide to wage a war; they simply wake up one day and are in one. So it’s nobody’s fault.

    People die in war. So that makes it alright to intentionally fire missiles at children. It’s totally impossible to be in a war without intentionally destroying children. That’s just how it is.

    And what’s with the people who think people have never died in wars? Absolutely no one at all–literally, no one–is expressing that opinion, but what’s with the people who are expressing that opinion?

  123. 123
    Stuck in the Funhouse says:

    @Jeff Spender:

    The question really is whether or not it’s a good strategy. I don’t really like it, but like I’ve said before, does anyone have any better ideas?

    Pretty much where I am at on drone strikes. There was a point during Bush and early in Obama’s term, where there were just way too many fuck ups and drones and other aerial attacks were killing far too many civilians, imo. This has improved considerably, with Obama more hands on with approving targets, and standards on probabilities of killing civilians. It is goulish business, but that is war, where the innocent always pay a bigger price than they deserve. But all my readings, from a bunch of different sources, leads me to the impression that AQ is all but wiped out, internationally, and is unable to mount serious terror operations. OBL himself said that was due to drone strikes killing his commanders in the field. He oughta know, I figure.

  124. 124
    Corner Stone says:

    @Zandar: This is fucking rich coming from you. “reductio ad absurdum”?
    Shit, that should be your byline.
    Or as DougJ would say, back atcha.

  125. 125
    Davis X. Machina says:

    @Marc:

    We tell people to kill others in battle and we expect them not to kill people at home. One does not necessarily bleed over into the other.

    The essential problem as Raymond Aron pointed out ages ago, is that the monopoly on legitimate violence in support of order doesn’t scale. The state holds it over the individual, but no one, or nothing, holds it over the state.

  126. 126
    PZ says:

    @Corner Stone: I probably should rephrase this. Unlike a lot of people, I don’t claim to know what is going on in President Obama’s head. Maybe he does believe this is the best course of action. Maybe he’s doing it solely because he’s afraid to look weak on terrorism. I don’t know.

    My point is even if you assume it’s an act of political cowardice, this doesn’t change the fact politicians have no incentive to work on behalf of civil liberties. Despite all the blog posts writing about how horrible this is, Obama will suffer no political repercussions from his actions. Also, if Romney does become President, he will not be pro-civil liberties by any stretch of the imagination. What seems to be the best course of action moving forward is trying to make this a winning political issue. How you do this, I don’t know. But it is doable-look at the massive shift on gay rights over the last decade. Complaining about how the President is horrible and singing the praises of guys like Ron Paul, however, doesn’t come across as a winning strategy…

  127. 127
    FlipYrWhig says:

    @Villago Delenda Est: Sadly, the effect of just about every military innovation has been to make it easier and less risky to kill the guy at the other end of the scope. Civilian casualties are horrible. Creating a structure where the president can issue kill orders without a modicum of checking and balancing is worrisome. But I think it needlessly confounds an otherwise simple ethical proposition to insist on saying the issue is “drones.”. And IMHO a huge part of the reason why people in the blogosphere do that is so that Obama can be made to look uniquely monstrous. Because if the issue is actually “civilian casualties,” unfortunately most presidents lack a sterling record.

  128. 128
    Todd says:

    @Egypt Steve:

    You can hate on Obama all you want, but what’s the alternative? What do we do?

    In the GG mindset, you can let the attacks happen and let people die, while wringing your hands and wishing that there were a solution AND handsomely profiting from your prose. The only real outrages occur whenever a glibertarian LGBT activist declares them to occur, and that is usually on issues that have meaning only to gay activists. In those instances, action must be taken immediately, lest every principle of civilization be crushed, or something.

  129. 129
    liberal says:

    @Jeff Spender:

    Tensions building between India and Pakistan that could lead to war? I mean, there’s not much we can do about this in the long run, and it’s something they have to sort out, but in the meantime—there are a lot of nukes.

    Not a lot we can really do. One thing is to try to minimize the chance Pak destabilizes any more; getting the hell out of there would appear to serve that, IMHO. As for the India/Pak dispute itself, ISTM there’s not a lot we really can do about it. Maybe in the medium run we can try to beef up the control elements for Pak nukes, so they’d be useless or at least less useful if someone stole them.

    But overall there’s not a lot we can do about many of these problems.

  130. 130
    Marc says:

    @TK421:

    If you believe that Obama is intentionally targeting children, yup. But this is the sort of inflammatory crap that I expect from the Obama-hating left. We’re supposed to picture toddlers being deliberately murdered by black Hitler. As opposed to people who’ve announced their intention to kill Americans, for example. Or mistakes. Presumably we’d need a warrant to shoot someone a battlefield, if you had a coherent idea other than “Obama evil babykiller, anyone who defends Obama evil babykiller.”

  131. 131
    Dave says:

    The drone attack is just the latest iteration of when a global power uses superior technology and firepower against a vastly inferior other to keep their own men out of harm’s way. Like a B-52 over Vietnam or a British fleet blockading and shelling a city into surrender. The US is hardly the first nation to do this, and is far from the last.

  132. 132
    TK421 says:

    @Dr. Squid:

    “I have a great idea: Let’s just let them kill us.”

    Do you really think that blowing up innocent people is doing anything at all to protect the USA?

    What is the alternative? How about we stop blowing up innocent people? It might actually help us out, in addition to being the moral, legal, and ethical course of action.

    In Yemen, U.S. airstrikes breed anger and sympathy for al-Qaeda

    Hmm, could breeding sympathy for al-Qaeda actually come back to haunt us??? Do you think?

  133. 133
    Mumbly_joe says:

    @schrodinger’s cat: I’d say that one significant difference between drones and manned aircraft is that it makes waging death substantially cheaper. Not only in the economic sense (though drones are cheaper to make, train, and fly than manned aircraft), but also in terms of human lives and political capital. There’s no risk of downed aircraft and captured or dead soldiers, which means there’s little political risk in deploying drones in situations where Americans would never be okay with committing troops.

    While keeping Americans out of harms way is itself aguably a good thing, this also frees the executive to wage this type of war much more freely and covertly, with much less oversight than the American people would demand from a manned air campaign (see Libya).

  134. 134
    liberal says:

    @Stuck in the Funhouse:

    It is goulish business, but that is war, where the innocent always pay a bigger price than they deserve. But all my readings, from a bunch of different sources, leads me to the impression that AQ is all but wiped out, internationally, and is unable to mount serious terror operations.

    Mostly agree, but the point here is that if there ever was a strategic purpose to the whole Afg mess, it’s been accomplished (nation-building there is destined to fail anyway). So in that sense, civilian deaths are immoral insofar as there’s no larger strategic justification.

  135. 135
    TK421 says:

    @Marc:

    “If you believe that Obama is intentionally targeting children, yup.”

    Awlaki Family Protests U.S. Killing of Anwar Awlaki’s Teen Son

  136. 136
    Yutsano says:

    @liberal: It also doesn’t help that Afghanistan is neighbours with Iran, and we would just LOVE to have a permanent military installation right near there. Which is why even after get out of there the base in Kazakhstan will stay put. And of course we’ll have a presence in Afg just so we can ratchet up Iran’s paranoia about us. Pakistan is a Cold War legacy support because India had some socialist governments during the 70’s and the Soviets were getting rather friendly with them, so Pakistan was our counterbalance. Lots of bullshit going on that we’re wasting money and lives on just for a huge game of Risk.

  137. 137
    srv says:

    Dammit! When is BJ going to get a Bat Signal for drone threads?

    Cleek, I need something simpler than going all RSS.

  138. 138
    owlbear1 says:

    To fix the “I’m the President and get to fucking kill whomever I want” Bullshit foisted on us by Dumbfukya is going to either take a weak Republican president facing off against a overwhelming Democratic congress OR a massive earthquake that swallows D.C. and ‘K’ street.

    Protesting in the streets isn’t going to do it.

    And Barack Obama sure the fuck isn’t either.

  139. 139
    patroclus says:

    I think drone strikes are acceptable so long as they work, that is, they take out legitimate Al Qaeda targets. But I don’t like them if they don’t work; by missing their targets or by striking innocents.

    Because the analysis is not all or nothing in every case, I disagree with Dear Leader Greenwald’s take on the issue.

  140. 140
    Zandar says:

    @Corner Stone:

    And you so ably demonstrate my theory in action. I appreciate it.

    Thanks for playing.

  141. 141
    Brachiator says:

    @Corner Stone:

    This is a rational response by the ISI. They don’t have our best interests at heart. Is destabilizing the civilian leadership of Pakistan somehow in our best outcomes?

    No. Part of the problem here is that the US military, looking for simple solutions to complex problems, have quietly backed the Pakistan military and intelligence services, in opposition to Obama foreign policy.

    The civilian government has tried to create new openings with India. There has already been some trade agreements, which can only help both countries.

    But elements of the civilian government have always been corrupt. Problem is, corruption in the military is worse. Becoming an officer is a standard way of getting ahead. And the machinations of the ISI and the military have in the near term and long term retarded Pakistan’s development. This includes keeping shit festering in Kashmir.

    Destabilizing the civilian government is the worst possible outcome. The history of military rule in the country has been an unrelenting history of failure and missed opportunities.

  142. 142

    @liberal:

    The fact of the matter is that 9-11 was essentially a one-off…

    Huh? The US embassy bombings in Kenya and Tanzania don’t count because…they happened in Kenya and Tanzania? The USS Cole bombing, which followed a failed attempt on the USS The Sullivans?

  143. 143
    Marc says:

    @Davis X. Machina:

    Agreed. We need to push back at the boundaries of state power for exactly that reason. But a lot of the arguments on this subject really do have the logical structure

    1) Obama ordered remote attacks to kill wartime opponents
    2) This is unprecedented
    3) If we allow this to happen we’re giving the OK to domestic murder at will

    The logical leaps in steps 2 and 3 are gigantic and the people making these arguments don’t even realize it.

  144. 144
    NR says:

    @Marc:

    If you believe that Obama is intentionally targeting children, yup.

    If you fire a missile into an area where you know there are children, then you have targeted children. Pretty simple.

  145. 145
    Redshift says:

    If Bush and Cheney had done this, more than just a few civil libertarians and random cranks like me would be screaming bloody murder.

    I agree with you that this is bad policy, but this line is complete bullshit. Bush and Cheney did do a lot of this (and probably did even more that we just don’t know about, because they were more secretive). We don’t have to rely on “what if” speculation here. Please point out to me the people who were screaming bloody murder then (about this) who aren’t now.

    Trying to shame people into sharing your priorities is fine. Shaming them by accusing them of partisan motivation because they don’t agree with your priorities is stupid.

  146. 146
    Jeff Spender says:

    @liberal:

    One thing is to try to minimize the chance Pak destabilizes any more; getting the hell out of there would appear to serve that, IMHO. As for the India/Pak dispute itself, ISTM there’s not a lot we really can do about it. Maybe in the medium run we can try to beef up the control elements for Pak nukes, so they’d be useless or at least less useful if someone stole them.

    First, I have a question. What information do you have that leads you to believe that getting out of Afghanistan or Pakistan would stop the country from destabilizing further, and how does this information support your position on this matter?

    I think if we concentrated on securing the nukes as best we could, we’d be in a better position.

    But I think as far as the India and Pakistan situation is concerned–we need to find ways to circumvent an all out war. If nukes fly from either side, it’s not going to be pretty.

  147. 147
    TK421 says:

    @Todd:

    “In the GG mindset, you can let the attacks happen and let people die, while wringing your hands ”

    That is an absolutely idiotic thing to say. Absolutely ridiculous. It would be harder to think up a dumber comment.

    Did you support George Bush’s bombings and invasions under the guise of “what, do you want to let them kill us?” Because that was exactly the same justification the Bush administration offered.

    Can you really think of no better way to protect our country from terrorism than firing missiles at weddings? How about inspecting imported cargo containers, putting air marshals on more airline flights, securing bomb-making materials, infiltrating terrorist groups, instead of blowing innocent people to bits?

    And there is the small matter of innocent people being destroyed making someone wanting to attack the destroyer. That might be an important consideration.

  148. 148
    Stuck in the Funhouse says:

    @liberal:

    It is a valid moral dilemma, or question, I think. But so long as we have combat soldiers in the field, being targeted and killed by the Taliban and the risk of killing civilians that always comes with warfighting, there is also a moral dilemma and question of doing whatever we can, or the president doing it, to protect those soldiers we sent over there to fight for us.

    And killing Taliban commanders falls under that POTUS moral imperative. And is why I said earlier, we need to get our troops out of the field as soon as possible, to remove that question from even needing asked.

  149. 149
    Marc says:

    @TK421:

    “children” morphed into “teen son of top anti-American terrorist trainer, who holed himself up in a remote and lawless corner of Yemen”. One of these things is not like the other…

  150. 150
    geg6 says:

    @Mike Goetz:

    I’m with you. I fail to see how drones are any worse than any other weapon and, in most ways, think they are vastly superior. I just can’t get excited over them. Unless, in some hilariously unrealistic future, we stop all wars and conflict among people and nations, I don’t see why anyone gets so worked up about them. I’m curious. Does Greenwald go on screeds like this over the newest assault guns? He doesn’t? Well, then he’s a hypocrite. Shocking.

  151. 151
    NR says:

    @TK421:

    That is an absolutely idiotic thing to say. Absolutely ridiculous. It would be harder to think up a dumber comment.

    Oh, give him some time, I’m sure he’ll manage.

  152. 152

    @liberal:

    Man, you are full of ’em today.

    We don’t need Karzhai, we don’t need Pakistan.

    And we don’t need a nuclear war, whether it involves us directly or not.

  153. 153
    Marc says:

    @NR:

    So if you surround yourself with children you immunize yourself from being attacked? And you have no personal moral responsibility at all?

  154. 154
    owlbear1 says:

    The problem isn’t the drones. The problem is, “I get to kill whomever I choose.”

    Arguing about the weapons used to implement the policy is MISSING THE POINT!!

  155. 155
    TK421 says:

    @Redshift:

    “Bush and Cheney did do a lot of this (and probably did even more that we just don’t know about, because they were more secretive)”

    Over the last three years, the Obama administration has carried out at least 239 covert drone strikes, more than five times the 44 approved under George W. Bush.

    http://blogs.reuters.com/david.....ackfiring/

    But at least we don’t have to worry about Obama being secretive like Bush was, right?

    The government claims to have secret evidence tying Awlaki to past operations, but did it really have information that showed him to be an “imminent danger” in the future?

    The Obama administration’s worrisome thinking on targeted killings

  156. 156
    geg6 says:

    @schrodinger’s cat:

    Apparently, it’s because it’s robots. Don’t know why that is far more horrible and inhumane than firebombing Dresden, but I’m sure Glenn Greenwald has a 40,000 word screed posted somewhere explaining it.

  157. 157
    RalfW says:

    @Mumbly_joe: For similar reasons, a volunteer military who’s recruitment is aided by depressed civilian workforce wages and high unemployment allows a detachment by armchair elites that is dangerous. The number of Congrespersons or TV pundits who have a son or daughter in uniform is miniscule.

    Even Bush’s refusal to put the wars in the budget provided a level of public disavowal of the costs and impacts of war.

    We rarely see injured vets, coffins, or the massive bills that are due to be paid. Vietnam showed people how ugly war was right over the dinner hour. So now we only have sanctioned embeds and sanitized nooz.

    ETA: Not to mention that defense budget cuts are strictly off limits, but social spending is “ruining us.”

  158. 158
    TK421 says:

    @Marc:

    “So if you surround yourself with children you immunize yourself from being attacked?”

    It’s funny, I used to think killing children to take down a legitimate target was something the bad guys did. I guess it’s okay for the good guys, too.

  159. 159
    srv says:

    @Jeff Spender:

    would stop the country from destabilizing further

    Objectively, these countries are so much more stable since we’ve been f’ing with them. I guess invasions, occupations trolling insurgencies/civil wars are stabilizing in some universe. Have any ‘information’ on that?

    See DSM-IV

  160. 160
    stinkbait says:

    Greenwald is a fucking idiot and so are you Cole. As if there was still any doubt.

    Google “Greenwald sock puppet”. Or go clean up dog puke. Both equally productive.

  161. 161
    NR says:

    @TK421: Everyone the United States kills is automatically a bad guy. Duh.

  162. 162
    Suffern ACE says:

    I don’t know. This is kind of what I thought it would look like. Back when the rightist torturers used to mock those of us who were against the wars with “You want some kind of police action. You want them read their miranda rights. Ha ha ha” I figured that this is what using the military and intelligence for a global police action would look like. Especially since they aren’t exactly hanging out in camps in Sudan and Afghanistan any longer.

  163. 163
    Dr. Squid says:

    @Politically Lost: I guess the evidence that al-Awlaki had sent off the underpants bomber just missed you. If you don’t personally read it, then it doesn’t exist, right?

    Smarter monkeys, please.

  164. 164

    @Marc:
    Ditto. The people arguing that we shouldn’t be in Afghanistan and Pakistan at all, I have some sympathy with. That’s a very legitimate argument. It’s also not the argument that’s taken up two thirds of this thread.

  165. 165
    sherparick says:

    Actually, our country was doing things like this even before we were our own country. Starting with the King Phillip’s War, through “Wounded Knee” (and particularly think about event that precipated “Wounded Knee,” the death of Sitting Bull. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sitting_Bull. It was more personal, and less at a distance, but it was still murder, because, after all, after all the so call glory and music and other BS, war is always about killing and murder. And we we are accomplices to it, as this policy has the support the vast majority of the American people, as did the dropping of the boms on Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

    Politically, a foreign war without a draft can go on a long time, as long as elites support it as most people are going to base their vote on local issues. The Philippine Insurrection, with Mark Twain and Ambrose Bierce playing the Glenn Greenwaldl role, went on for close to 14 years, and killed a huge number of Filipinos, but because it was fought by regulars and volunteers, McKinley, TR and Taft all got elected with huge majorities. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/P.....surrection

    I point this out because my disagreement with John and Glenn is not that this is morally dubious and legally dangerous policy, but that restraints on executive action are particularly new in American History. It was the post-Watergate, post-Vietname restraints, both moral and legal, that were knew, and they started being shredded in the 1980s, starting with Reagan and Iran-Contra affair, through Clinton on Bosnia and Kosovo, and were blown completely up by after 9/11.

  166. 166
    TK421 says:

    @Marc:

    ““children” morphed into “teen son of top anti-American terrorist trainer, who holed himself up in a remote and lawless corner of Yemen”. One of these things is not like the other…”

    Oh, okay, so it’s alright to kill a 16-year-old child if his parents are up to no good (based upon secret evidence which we aren’t allowed to see, of course).

    And if someone is “holed up” in a lawless area, they are okay to kill too. They must be up to “no good”, right? They’re in a bad neighborhood. What nerve people have to compare this to the Trayvon Martin murder.

    Marc, from Balloon Juice: “I support killing the children of America’s enemies”

  167. 167
    Jeff Spender says:

    @srv:

    Objectively, these countries are so much more stable since we’ve been f’ing with them. I guess invasions, occupations trolling insurgencies/civil wars are stabilizing in some universe. Have any ‘information’ on that?

    Er…there’s a reason I asked him directly.

    More to the point, I’m playing devil’s advocate because I want to inform my own opinion, and it doesn’t do any good to listen to people who don’t…you know…know what they’re talking about.

    I’m not always about arguing to be right about something.

    Meh.

  168. 168
    TK421 says:

    @sherparick:

    “Actually, our country was doing things like this even before we were our own country. ”

    Who gives a rat’s ass?

    If you were alive in 1850, would you say “slavery has been going on since the dawn of time”? Or “child labor is as old as civilization”?

  169. 169
    FlipYrWhig says:

    @owlbear1: As long as people keep saying the issue is “drones,” we’re going to keep getting bogged down in the matter of what makes drones different from other weapons that kill at a distance or that cause civilian casualties or that can be used too easily.

    But it’s also important to talk about what might be done to stop this. Seems like you’d need a law against it to be passed by Congress, or a court case, both of which would have to be slugged out all the way to the Supreme Court. Are there any plans to make that effort?

  170. 170
    Dr. Squid says:

    @TK421: Did you fucking notice that we were doing that without drones?

    War sucks. It was inherited, unless your history started on 1-20-09, in which case it’s all Obama’s fault because only he suxxors and don’t mention Bush because he doesn’t exist so shut up that’s why.

    You purists are willfully ignorant.

  171. 171
    Jeff Spender says:

    @Frankensteinbeck:

    Ditto. The people arguing that we shouldn’t be in Afghanistan and Pakistan at all, I have some sympathy with. That’s a very legitimate argument. It’s also not the argument that’s taken up two thirds of this thread.

    I have sympathy with the argument we shouldn’t be in Afghanistan or Pakistan as well, and it’s what I’m inclined to argue.

    But what I cannot abide is people making claims and arguments without evidence. Which is why I’m asking questions. IMO means nothing in a case like this.

    Seriously, I want to know what other people would do that would be better.

  172. 172
    FlipYrWhig says:

    @TK421: Is the point that Obama is uniquely awful, or is the point that America kills too many innocent people? Because on these threads it always seems like there’s an oscillation between those two points.

  173. 173
    TK421 says:

    @Dr. Squid:

    “I guess the evidence that al-Awlaki had sent off the underpants bomber just missed you. If you don’t personally read it, then it doesn’t exist, right?”

    There’s an old saying: the invisible and the non-existent look very much alike.

    The government killing someone, then saying “we have evidence they were guilty, let’s leave it at that” doesn’t cut it.

  174. 174
    srv says:

    What if we made robots that could do all the torturing? Wouldn’t that be an optimization over freedom bombs at the dinner table?

    Even Asimov saw a need for the Fourth Law.

  175. 175
    Brachiator says:

    @liberal:

    Not a lot we can really do. One thing is to try to minimize the chance Pak destabilizes any more; getting the hell out of there would appear to serve that, IMHO. As for the India/Pak dispute itself, ISTM there’s not a lot we really can do about it. Maybe in the medium run we can try to beef up the control elements for Pak nukes, so they’d be useless or at least less useful if someone stole them.

    We don’t have any control or power here. The US didn’t even see it coming when India and Pakistan developed their nukes.

    And Pakistan is proud to be a member of the nuke club. I doubt that they will let anyone steal them. And they would not be easy for any nation or group without a sophisticated military infrastructure to use; nor would they be easily dismantled to make a dirty bomb. There are far easier ways to do something like that than to steal a bomb from Pakistan.

    I would be a little concerned with both Indian and Pakistan developing missiles. India recently launched a misssle capable of reaching China.

    None of this is a direct threat to us. But people either don’t know, or don’t care to recall that India and China have gone to war before, and that there is a disputed area of Kashmir controlled by China.

    And people also forget that India kicked the ever living shit out of Pakistan in helping Bangladesh gain independence. This adds greatly to Pakistan’s paranoia and resentment towards India. And the US had backed Pakistan in this conflict. But the bottom line here is that the US and the world have an interest in the stability of this region, but what the countries in the region do ultimately exceeds our ability to control them. Influence, maybe, but control, hell no.

  176. 176
    flukebucket says:

    @TK421:

    IF that’s so, do you think it might be because Americans just shrug their shoulders and say “well, it always happens, nothing to do about it?”

    Well, I guess you could write a letter to the editor of your local newspaper.

  177. 177
    schrodinger's cat says:

    @geg6: To the person on the ground it does not make a difference.
    @Mumbly_joe:If oversight is the problem, then why isn’t Congress doing something about it.

    Also to all the hand wringers, what about Pakistan? Should Obama just let it go to hell in a hand basket?

  178. 178
    Yutsano says:

    @FlipYrWhig: A court case would be rather problematic. Who has standing to sue as a plaintiff? Which jurisdiction? On what do you base the case on? Nope, Congress would need to assert their authority as an co-equal branch of government and pass restrictions on drone strike usage and determination of who is an enemy here.

    Yeah I think that last part is funny too.

  179. 179
    wrb says:

    The good old days:

    http://www.airforcetimes.com/n.....ef_071708/

    Air Force and allied warplanes are dropping a record number of bombs on Afghanistan targets.
    __
    For the first half of 2008, aircraft dropped 1,853 bombs — more than they released during all of 2006 and more than half of 2007’s total — 3,572 bombs.
    __
    Driving the increasing use of air power are fights in southern Afghanistan, where the Marine Corps arrived last winter, and battles in eastern Afghanistan, where Taliban and other insurgents use the border region with Pakistan as a safe haven.
    __
    Army Maj. Gen. Jeffrey Schloesser, who oversees ground operations in eastern Afghanistan as commander of Joint-Combined Joint Task Force-101, told reporters insurgent attacks were up 40 percent this year compared with 2007.
    __
    Information from the Air Force shows that in June warplanes released 646 bombs — the second-highest monthly total for Afghanistan or Iraq. The record was set in August 2007, when 670 bombs fell on Afghanistan.
    __
    As high as those numbers are, they may understate the intensity of the combat. The statistics do not include cannon rounds shot by fighters or AC-130 gunships, Hellfire and other small rockets launched by warplanes, and assaults by helicopters. In close-quarter firefights where friendly soldiers could be wounded if bombs are used, cannon fire and missiles are often the preferred alternative.
    __
    Inside Afghanistan at Bagram Airfield, the Air Force keeps a squadron each of A-10 Thunderbolts and F-15E Strike Eagles. From outside of Afghanistan, the Air Force launches B-1B Lancers.
    __
    Also flying over Afghanistan are remote-controlled MQ-1 Predators and MQ-9 Reapers, both able to attack targets, and AC-130 gunships. Foreign warplanes dropping bombs include French Mirage 2000 fighters and British Royal Air Force Harriers, typically flying out of Kandahar Airfield.
    __
    For Air Force jets, the preferred bombs are laser-guided bombs and satellite-controlled Joint Direct Attack Munitions.
    __
    The most frequently used bombs are the 500- and 2,000-pound satellite-guided Joint Direct Attack Munitions and 500-pound laser-guided Paveway bombs. Unguided bombs sometimes are used, typically when the target is a safe distance from coalition troops and civilians.

    40,000 bombs had been dropped on Iraqby the time we were a few years into it. I don’t know where the total ended up.

  180. 180
    TK421 says:

    @FlipYrWhig:

    The point is, would people please stop voting for bad people who do bad things? Please? Is that a lot to ask?

  181. 181
    BigIslander says:

    What Greenwald and others ignore is that Obama is faced with only a few choices, none appealing: (1) He can invade Pakistan and Yemen and put “boots on the ground” to root out Al Qaeda and the Taliban; he can use drones and accept the inevitable “collateral damage” (though Iraq tells us that “boots on the ground” is no guarantee of fewer civilian casualties); or (3) he can just call if all off and we can wait until Al Qaeda recovers enough to pull off another 9/11. Greenwald is right to remind us of how this war has caused us to compromise, if not totally discard, our principles. But Greenwald has the luxury of pontificating without bearing any actual responsibility for anyone or anything. That makes his easy outrage annoying, to say the least.

  182. 182
    Soonergrunt says:

    The Obama administration considers any military-age male in the vicinity of a bombing to be a combatant. That is an amazing standard that shares an ugly synergy with the sort of broad-swath logic that we see employed in Stop and Frisk, with NYPD national spy network, with the killer of Trayvon Martin.

    This is just fucking wrong, no matter how you slice it.

  183. 183
    Marc says:

    @TK421:

    You’re a dishonest piece of shit. Welcome to the pie filter.

  184. 184
    RalfW says:

    @geg6:

    Don’t know why that is far more horrible and inhumane than firebombing Dresden

    I don’t think there’s a lot of moral clarity about Dresden. Am I so out of the loop that I think Dresden was horrible but most Americans think it’s mighty fine? It seems to me that many of those who pay attention see Dresden as morally ambiguous at the least.

    Frankly, of course, most American’s haven’t a clue about Dresden now. I mainly learned about it because I read Kurt Vonnegut on my own in H.S. in the 80s and wanted to understand what the heck he was writing about.

  185. 185
    Marc says:

    @Soonergrunt:

    It’s also not true for targeting. It’s a method for accounting for casualties in the aftermath of a strike.

  186. 186
    TK421 says:

    @flukebucket:

    Many people here sure like absurd false choices.

    So…if I wrote a letter to the editor, that probably wouldn’t stop drone attacks against civilians, so…that makes drone attacks against civilians alright? Or what? What is your point?

  187. 187
    TK421 says:

    @Marc:

    “It’s also not true for targeting. It’s a method for accounting for casualties in the aftermath of a strike.”

    So you’re telling yourself that how we account for deaths makes no impact upon who we target? As in “hey, let’s just kill those people there who might be guilty–we can count them as legitimate targets no matter what, after all!”

  188. 188
    patroclus says:

    @TK421: So, you’re for Romney?? Is he going to stop the drone strikes? If you believe this, why?

  189. 189
    Brachiator says:

    @FlipYrWhig:

    Is the point that Obama is uniquely awful, or is the point that America kills too many innocent people?

    Neither. As always, Syria can kill hundreds of people, and oppress millions. But the only thing that some people care about is the use of drones by the US.

    And blaming Obama, which is ridiculous.

  190. 190
    TK421 says:

    @patroclus:

    “So, you’re for Romney?? Is he going to stop the drone strikes? If you believe this, why?”

    1) There are more than 2 choices.

    2) Since Obama has conducted many, many more drone strikes than George W. Bush, perhaps Republicans are better on this issue.

  191. 191
    SatanicPanic says:

    The distinction between actively looking for kids to kill and killing them by accident is lost on some people here. I’m not saying either is a good thing.

  192. 192
    slag says:

    @BigIslander:

    What Greenwald and others ignore is that Obama is faced with only a few choices, none appealing: (1) He can invade Pakistan and Yemen and put “boots on the ground” to root out Al Qaeda and the Taliban; he can use drones and accept the inevitable “collateral damage” (though Iraq tells us that “boots on the ground” is no guarantee of fewer civilian casualties); or (3) he can just call if all off and we can wait until Al Qaeda recovers enough to pull off another 9/11.

    Are these our only choices though? I can never help but wonder. Admittedly, though, it is always faith-based wonder I engage in. You could be totally right.

  193. 193
    AxelFoley says:

    @Stuck in the Funhouse:

    And people thought he was kidding, when Obama stated near daily on the stump for the 2008 campaign, that he was going to escalate the fight against AQ, taking nothing off the table. You can be outraged, but not claim surprise Obama is using whatever means, to carry out his campaign promise.
    And nobody with half a brain gives a shit what Glenn Greenwald thinks, or where he lives. Big YAWN
    I’m really sorry you supported the Iraq war, dude, but give it a rest, the emo. OMG look what Obama is doing just like Bush, when he told you he was going to in this case.
    By all indications that I can find, the targeting protocols have been greatly tightened up, as much as can be for conducting legal means of warfare. And the civilian death toll has lessened for individual attacks from drones.

    This.

    Another day, another Greenwald rant, with Cole faithfully following like a little puppy.

  194. 194
    Dr. Squid says:

    @TK421: You do read, don’t you? Or is Greenbeck your only source for news.

    Al-Awlaki had this tendency to surround himself with a shitload of kids. The strike that blew him up came when he was a good half mile away from them. Too bad one 16yo got blown up with him, but better that than forty 10 year olds.

    And this was after underpants bomber, after toner-cartridge bombs, and before the surgical implant bombings could be carried out.

    We destroyed an entire country of 23 million in Iraq (thanks George) over several years, and the purists are worried about a few thousand hating over some drones? That hate-over-war ship sailed long ago, and that blowback hasn’t hit yet.

    But if it makes you feel better to blame PBO for everything, knock yourself out.

    Please.

  195. 195
    slag says:

    @TK421:

    1) There are more than 2 choices.

    You are just adorable!

  196. 196
    TK421 says:

    @Brachiator:

    “Neither. As always, Syria can kill hundreds of people, and oppress millions. But the only thing that some people care about is the use of drones by the US.”

    Yet another absurd, obviously foolish false equivalence.

    Do you really, truly think that a person can only care about one of those issues? Really?

    “The use of drones” isn’t the issue, anyway. The killing of innocent people by drones, is the issue. And very likely hundreds of innocent people have been killed.

    a new analysis by an independent Washington think tank estimates that more than 300 civilians have been killed by drones since President Barack Obama took office

    Link

    But I’m sure the millions of people in countries where drones are obliterating random people don’t feel oppressed. How could they, right?

  197. 197
    Heliopause says:

    There is a conceptual difference between most military aircraft and the drone. The drone is conceptually an instrument of terror. It tells everybody anywhere in the world that if the U.S. wants you dead, for whatever reason, you will end up dead, no matter where you are. Of course, the propaganda version of this is that it is a weapon of precision.

  198. 198
    Soonergrunt says:

    @Marc: Post op number crunching becomes post hoc justification.
    I say this as somebody who has no serious moral qualms with the fact that Anwar Al Alawki’s son was killed as collateral damage. Al Alawki needed ending, the US had every right, legal, moral, and otherwise to destroy a walking, talking Al Quaeda C&C node, and the safety of his son was his responsibility, not ours.
    Having said that, I have a real issue with the idea that some schmuck walking past a house on the way home from work gets counted as a hostile combatant on no other evidence than he was inside the blast radius. Because if they’re accounting for him that way today, then next week they’ll describing him that way in a press release, and the week after that, they’ll just say “fuck it. They’re all terrorists anyway” when they press the red button.

  199. 199
    Marc says:

    @wrb:

    But history magically started on the day Obama took office. How is it possible that the drone attacks could be *instead* of something that killed more people, as opposed to an evil scheme of black Hitler?

  200. 200
    Marc says:

    @Soonergrunt:

    Fair enough; that’s hardly a new problem, however. The body counts in Vietnam were a running joke.

  201. 201
    Ron says:

    I hate the drone strikes too, and in general Obama’s record on civil liberties has sucked, but I have no idea how to fix the issue.

  202. 202
    flukebucket says:

    @TK421:

    Nobody says it is okay. I am just telling you that there is not one god damn thing you can do about it. Do you think that there is. Tell me then, what is your proposal? A million drone haters march?

    And as far as Bush vs Obama on the issue I think you would have to ask yourself which strategy is killing fewer people? Targeted drone strikes or carpet bombing from 30,000 feet?

  203. 203
    Davis X. Machina says:

    @Marc: tis esti ho hēgemōn tōn hēgemonōn?

  204. 204
    Dr. Squid says:

    @TK421: No. Romney is at heart a coward, and he’ll do whatever he’s told. Drone strikes would likely increase further under Romney, plus there’s that invasion of Iran the neocons are just itching for.

  205. 205
    FlipYrWhig says:

    @Yutsano: I think Congress could put itself back into the picture, on the model of something like the Church Commission, and I think libertarians and liberal civil libertarians could be well-served to throw their energies into trying to make that happen. Then it would get stuck in courts in a knockdown drag out battle over the limits of the president’s war powers. Then we could see how it all came down. I think it would be much more constructive to work out how to change the status quo than to find new ways to say the status quo sucks hard. Is anyone doing that?

  206. 206
    schrodinger's cat says:

    @Heliopause: This was true even before the era of drones, Obama is not doing something new, only the means he is using are somewhat newer.

  207. 207
    FlipYrWhig says:

    @TK421: I don’t think the No Bad Things Party has as big a constituency as you seem to.

  208. 208
    Davis X. Machina says:

    @Heliopause: The same argument could have been made in Gulf of Sidre, in 1986 — no drones there.

  209. 209
    TK421 says:

    @Dr. Squid:

    “Too bad one 16yo got blown up with him”

    No, you aren’t paying attention. (If I were a snotty punk I would taunt you with “can’t you read?”) Here is the link, once more, for you to read:

    http://abcnews.go.com/Blotter/.....8fCtNmyrRS

    Two weeks after Anwar al-Awlaki was killed by the US, his 16-year-old sun was also killed by the US. Isn’t that a remarkable coincidence. (Note: people who are 16 years old are not adults, but children.)

    “And this was after underpants bomber”

    Which Anwar al-Awlaki said he had nothing to do with.

    “We destroyed an entire country of 23 million in Iraq (thanks George) over several years, and the purists are worried about a few thousand hating over some drones?”

    Do you really think people are only angry about one of those things? Again, it’s tempting to ask YOU if you can read, since basic reading comprehension would preclude such a base-level mistake.

  210. 210
    Mumbly_joe says:

    @Brachiator:

    Neither. As always, Syria can kill hundreds of people, and oppress millions. But the only thing that some people care about is the use of drones by the US.

    In elementary school, we’re taught that two wrongs don’t make a right. Syria’s awfulness doesn’t serve to excuse the misbehavior of the United States, nor is the existence of greater evils elsewhere in the world a valid reason not to excuse the excesses of our own government. The fact that the Holocaust happened doesn’t mean that Japanese Internment was okay.

  211. 211
    TK421 says:

    @flukebucket:

    “Tell me then, what is your proposal? A million drone haters march?”

    You say that sarcastically, but why is that a bad idea?

  212. 212
    Mumbly_joe says:

    @Brachiator:

    Neither. As always, Syria can kill hundreds of people, and oppress millions. But the only thing that some people care about is the use of drones by the US.

    In elementary school, we’re taught that two wrongs don’t make a right. Syria’s awfulness doesn’t serve to excuse the misbehavior of the United States, nor is the existence of greater evils elsewhere in the world a valid reason to to excuse the excesses of our own government. The fact that the Holocaust happened doesn’t mean that Japanese Internment was okay.

  213. 213

    @Jeff Spender:

    “The question really is whether or not it’s a good strategy. I don’t really like it, but like I’ve said before, does anyone have any better ideas?”

    Jeff, thank you for saying this.

    I have my doubts about drone strikes but you know what? I have not seen any alternatives that are practical and make sense brought up. Not from Greenwald, not from anyone else.

    (The following is not directed at Jeff)
    I certainly wouldn’t want to be in the President’s shoes when it comes to this issue, because there are only three choices: 1) You take out a terrorist before he cooks up a possible future attack or 2) You send in the troops and things could get bogged down or 3) You do nothing, and later, when an attack happens, you get it from all sides when it’s found out that you could have done something, but you did not.

    And no, I am not letting this one issue decide whether I’m voting for Obama in November. There are many more issues besides this one, and the only sane, practical alternative is to vote for Obama. None of this single-issue bs for me.

    Besides….if you think that Mittster and the GOP will cease all drone strikes and pull all of our troops out of the Middle East and swear to never, ever go to war….you are, sadly, seriously mistaken.

  214. 214
    TK421 says:

    @Dr. Squid:

    “Drone strikes would likely increase further under Romney”

    Evidence, doctor. Mature people draw conclusions based upon evidence. What is your evidence for this?

  215. 215
    FlipYrWhig says:

    @TK421: See, here’s the kind of thing I mean. You just said the issue was dead innocents, not drones per se. But then you swerve back into “drones” so you can say that Obama is worse with drones than Bush. Well, is Obama worse on dead innocents than Bush? Isn’t that what you said you were most concerned about?

  216. 216
    Trurl says:

    Yeah, war crimes and wholesale murder does tend to stain one’s legacy.

    And all of you who will vote for this sociopath again will have the blood of his victims on your hands.

  217. 217
    David Koch says:

    O.T.

    Jail Bait

  218. 218
    owlbear1 says:

    I think calling it a war is the first thing that has to go.

    They are organized criminals. To treat it like a law enforcement issue means gathering evidence, presenting that evidence to the public, THEN conducting attacks(I am assuming none of the terrorists aren’t actually going to surrender) on those individuals.

    It’s the “We’re at War” cry that enables the “Secret Evidence” and “anybody within a 100 yards must also must Terrorists” line of bullshit.

  219. 219
    TK421 says:

    @Marc McKenzie:

    “I have not seen any alternatives that are practical and make sense brought up. ”

    Yes, there is no way to protect America without blowing up innocent people. Remember how overrun our country was by enemies before we started blowing up innocent people? And how that only stopped when we started blowing up innocent people?

    If only we were relatively safe and secure before that; we might do something radical like “look at history” to find ways of protecting ourselves.

  220. 220
    FlipYrWhig says:

    @TK421: Organize it, try it, if it works, bully for you. That goes to the question of praxis, and how to change the status quo. But I wouldn’t have a lot of hope that it would resonate with very many people.

  221. 221
    patroclus says:

    @FlipYrWhig: Indeed. In my state, there are only two major parties. TK421’s refusal to answer my questions honestly provides no information whatsoever that is relevant as to who to vote for. Fairly typical for someone who believes wholeheartedly in whatever Dear Leader Greenwald has to say…

  222. 222
    FlipYrWhig says:

    @Trurl: What president doesn’t have blood on his hands?

  223. 223
    Dr. Squid says:

    @TK421: So you’re saying the gummint just kills willy-nilly, then produces “evidence” post hoc, like Mark Fuhrman on a grand scale.

    *eyeroll*

  224. 224
    TK421 says:

    @FlipYrWhig:

    “I don’t think the No Bad Things Party has as big a constituency as you seem to.”

    There must be armed guards and barbed wire keeping people from choosing another alternative. Because it can’t be that millions of people are just callous and lazy, and would rather delude themselves into believing a (D) after someone’s name guarantees they are good than do the work required to make a better country.

  225. 225

    “I think it would be much more constructive to work out how to change the status quo than to find new ways to say the status quo sucks hard. Is anyone doing that?”

    Nope. The latter is much easier to do; the former requires actual effort, will, and a desire to actually get control of the levers of power.

  226. 226
    FlipYrWhig says:

    @Heliopause: Every Vietnam movie treats helicopters that way, no?

  227. 227
    FlipYrWhig says:

    @TK421: Maybe they are just callous and lazy. But you need to outvote them.

  228. 228
    wrb says:

    I come down on this where I did in previous threads.

    When the administration was debating the surge these were the visible choices:

    1) Withdraw and do nothing. Expected outcome: possible fall of PK, possible wild nukes,
    certainty of AQ setting up open high production Terrorist training & striking us again and again.

    1) Surge, maybe “winning;” maybe winning over hearts and minds of AF due to our inspiring, kindly and well, disciplined military; maybe causing them to hate us up close; certainly many tons of bombs dropped as frightened troops call in air support.

    3) Pulling out and fighting over the horizon, never expecting to win, but disrupting AQ sufficiently. Far fewer people killed by Americans.

    I preferred 3, the administration chose 2 but is now transitioning to 3.

    I can’t respect criticism of 3 unaccompanied by honest confrontation with the consequences of 1 or 2.

    Which do you pick?

  229. 229
    TK421 says:

    @Dr. Squid:

    “So you’re saying the gummint just kills willy-nilly, then produces “evidence” post hoc”

    Evidence would be a step up. Instead, they kill people who might possibly maybe some day be some kind of threat, then “classify” them as enemies and call it a day.

    Some people are bothered by this.

  230. 230

    “… Glenn Greenwald had a couple really good posts about this, but I didn’t even bother to link them because I know what would happen in the comments section…”
    Apparently, you didn’t know.
    You have better comments contributors than you guessed. :-)

  231. 231
    irmaladuce says:

    Wait, wait, wait. Are you telling me that people oppose the drones because it’s not SPORTING to attack an enemy without providing them the opportunity to kill you first?!!

    Also, whether they’re operating drones from a computer, dropping bombs from a plane or bludgeoning an enemy with a club, soldiers — the people who do the actual killing and risk the actual death & dismemberment– don’t decide who we kill or why. Those decisions always come from people far removed from any field of battle. We’ve been going to war a lot longer than we’ve had drones.

  232. 232

    @TK421:

    From the link:

    Abdulrahman al-Awlaki died in a separate U.S. drone strike on Oct. 14 along with six others, including Ibrahim al-Bana, an Egyptian whom U.S. officials identified as an operational al Qaeda leader.

    [emphasis added]

  233. 233
    Chris says:

    @FlipYrWhig:

    I think Congress could put itself back into the picture, on the model of something like the Church Commission, and I think libertarians and liberal civil libertarians could be well-served to throw their energies into trying to make that happen.

    The Church Commission was kind of an anomaly, and its results were short-lived. Things were put back to normal by the Iran-contra thing – not because any new laws were written or old laws overturned, but because the executive decided to simply ignore the law, and when it got caught, let itself off the hook by simply pardoning everyone involved in the conspiracy. It was “Mr. Marshall has made his decision, now let him enforce it” at its finest.

    Theoretically, Congress could put itself back into the picture, but I don’t think anyone there has the balls for it. The early seventies were the high-water mark of efforts to restrain the executive, and there isn’t nearly as much public support for restraining the national security state now that there was then.

  234. 234
    TK421 says:

    @owlbear1:

    “They are organized criminals. ”

    Excellent point. This can not be said enough: Al-Qaeda doesn’t deserve to be called an army. They are thugs with delusions of grandeur.

  235. 235
    Dr. Squid says:

    @TK421: My evidence is the Republicans only needing a body to hold a pen in order to do what they want, which is tax cuts and endless war.

    Since you can’t see that, I can only assume that your constantly shifting standards mean that you really are for the candidate with constantly shifting standards (Romney).

  236. 236
    Brachiator says:

    @TK421:

    Do you really, truly think that a person can only care about one of those issues? Really?

    Let me be blunt. There are some Balloon Juicers, by their own prior comments, who don’t give a shit about any “brown people” anywhere in the world. They only care if the US kills them.

    They yearn for an easy isolationism that Ron Paul would admire. And they are concerned about drone strikes only because it involves the US in a conflict, not because of any larger moral issue.

    @Mumbly_joe: See above.

  237. 237
    TK421 says:

    @irmaladuce:

    “Wait, wait, wait. Are you telling me that people oppose the drones because it’s not SPORTING to attack an enemy without providing them the opportunity to kill you first?!!”

    Are you kidding me?

    This kind of avoidance of the real issue can’t be accidental. It really is starting to look intentional. “The person I voted for is doing horrible things. How can I avoid thinking about that? I know, I’ll criticize a point that is trivial to the matter at hand!”

  238. 238
    lacp says:

    Whoever is elected President this fall will be launching drone strikes in January. Whoever is elected President this fall won’t give a pinch of shit what people who don’t like drone strikes think.

    So what exactly is the purpose of this post?

  239. 239
    FlipYrWhig says:

    @irmaladuce: There really are similar complaints about cannons, for betraying the traditional warrior ethos. There’s a speech about that, IIRC, in Ludovico Ariosto’s poem _Orlando Furioso_, which is from the early 16th century.

  240. 240
    Mumbly_joe says:

    @irmaladuce: Nobody’s arguing that.

  241. 241
    srv says:

    @Jeff Spender:

    Their combined activities have uprooted many of the traditional modes of tribal governance, complicating efforts to restore stability. Pakistani military operations too have not been ideal from the US context. The selective counterinsurgency approach adopted by the military has attempted to delineate between groups actively hostile to Pakistani interests, and those – like the Haqqani Network and the Afghan Taliban — that may have future strategic utility in reestablishing Pakistan‟s sphere of influence and helping contain its external enemies.
    __
    As senior US officials and officers have made all too clear – along with some Afghan counterparts – this means some elements of the Pakistani governance and forces are supporting groups that are actively at war with the United States and Afghanistan. This strategy is causing a steady deterioration in Pakistani and US relations, and complicating the prospects for future US aid. It also is helping to strengthen extremists who ultimately may become an active threat to Pakistan.

    Afghanistan is a civil war.

    Our actions increase the likelihood of instability in Pakistan as we are fighting a civil war by proxy with a proxy whose government/military are ideologically split on this issue.

    http://csis.org/files/publicat.....kistan.pdf

    The rest of the studies like this basically come down to how the white man can help our brown ‘allies’ in Pakistan.

    The best case is that they really aren’t that split, they’re just shaking us down for as much as they can get. The worst case is a civil war in Pakistan.

  242. 242
    TK421 says:

    @Dr. Squid:

    “My evidence is the Republicans only needing a body to hold a pen in order to do what they want, which is tax cuts and endless war.”

    That isn’t evidence, but whatever. Anyway, let’s be sure to vote for Obama because he hasn’t brought us endless war.

    President Obama’s speech formally declaring that the last 43,000 U.S. troops will leave Iraq by the end of the year was designed to mask an unpleasant truth: The troops aren’t being withdrawn because the U.S. wants them out. They’re leaving because the Iraqi government refused to let them stay. Obama campaigned on ending the war in Iraq but had instead spent the past few months trying to extend it.

    http://www.nationaljournal.com.....e-20111021

  243. 243
    Raven says:

    @lacp: Generate clicks.

  244. 244
    slag says:

    @TK421: Simply adorable!

  245. 245
    Suffern ACE says:

    @TK421: Same complaint, different day. Heard it over and over for 25 years thundering from above. You’d think after all that time I’d start seeing some kind of results. Maybe a party that could poll 5%, or field candidates for local offices. Some kind of left group that was about solving problems that people actually have rather than getting back at Democrats and longing for the destruction of the Empire that we live in. Haven’t seen it yet. I won’t see it. You wouldn’t even join it if it existed, since it would need to address people’s actual concerns rather than piss them off.

  246. 246
    TK421 says:

    @Temporarily Max McGee (soon enough to be Andy K again):

    “whom U.S. officials identified as an operational al Qaeda leader.”

    Oh, that’s good. I mean, it’s not like it’s US policy to classify all military-aged men in the middle East as Islamic militants.

    It’s almost like we should be rolling up on these people and arresting them, instead of firing high explosives in their general direction. I mean, some of them seem to have families.

  247. 247
    lacp says:

    @Raven: And it appears to be doing a damn fine job of it.

  248. 248
    FlipYrWhig says:

    @Chris: Agreed, but the first step in changing what we have now is challenging Congress to find its balls. They’re the ones who can do something about it, and we elect them. Does Glenn Greenwald ever talk about that? I mean, if he wants something changed, and John wants something changed, and there are dozens of posters chomping at the bit to make this evil stop, well, stop wanking and get to work.

  249. 249
    Corner Stone says:

    @Dr. Squid:

    Al-Awlaki had this tendency to surround himself with a shitload of kids. The strike that blew him up came when he was a good half mile away from them. Too bad one 16yo got blown up with him, but better that than forty 10 year olds.

    His 16 yr old son, also a US Citizen, was killed in a drone strike over a month later. Seemingly as collateral damage to another target.

  250. 250
    Morbo says:

    Man, talk about poisoning the well…

  251. 251
    Enhanced Voting Techniques says:

    @Villago Delenda Est:

    Do you know who else considered any military-age male in the vicinity to be a combatant?

    General Sherman. Much like eugenics, collective punishment is another American idea.

  252. 252
    TK421 says:

    @slag:

    I know, new parties never get anywhere. So who gets your vote this fall: Federalist Party or Whig Party?

    If spending your ire on people who want voters to go third-party instead of on people who knowingly kill innocent people makes you feel better, then go ahead.

  253. 253
    TK421 says:

    @FlipYrWhig:

    “the first step in changing what we have now is challenging Congress to find its balls. They’re the ones who can do something about it, and we elect them. Does Glenn Greenwald ever talk about that? ”

    Yes.

    Whew, that was easy.

  254. 254
    wrb says:

    @FlipYrWhig:

    stop wanking and get to work

    I’mma gonna sell T-shirts and bumper stickers:

    “Wanking for Change”

  255. 255
    Trurl says:

    @lacp:

    Whoever is elected President this fall will be launching drone strikes in January. Whoever is elected President this fall won’t give a pinch of shit what people who don’t like drone strikes think.

    Exactly. He should focus on the areas where there are significant differences between the candidates like domestic spying and Wall Street immunity.

  256. 256
    TK421 says:

    @lacp:

    “Whoever is elected President this fall will be launching drone strikes in January. Whoever is elected President this fall won’t give a pinch of shit what people who don’t like drone strikes think.”

    Could that possibly be because many people who don’t like bombings against innocent people don’t do anything about it? They merely walk into the voting booth and pull the lever for the same group, no matter what?

  257. 257

    @owlbear1:

    They are organized criminals.

    You know who else that’s been said about, don’t you?

    Sorry, but it’s war. Asymmetric, to be sure, but it’s war, akin (not identical) to privateers of old. The asymmetry adopted by AQ was adopted to elicit just such a response from you.

  258. 258
    TK421 says:

    @Temporarily Max McGee (soon enough to be Andy K again):

    “You know who else that’s been said about, don’t you?”

    What does that have to do with anything?

  259. 259
    WB says:

    @Marc:

    Yeah, like when GG really let loose his irrational hatred of Obama in this post:

    But just as it’s intellectually corrupted to refuse to criticize him when he deserves it, the same is true of refusing to credit him when he deserves it. Today, he deserves credit. LGBT equality is one area — and it’s an important area for millions of Americans — where he has conducted himself commendably and deserves praise.

    Feel the hate.

  260. 260
    Amir Khalid says:

    @TK421:

    1) There are more than 2 choices.

    Obama, Romney and …?

    2) Since Obama has conducted many, many more drone strikes than George W. Bush, perhaps Republicans are better on this issue.

    Please elaborate. Would a President Romney/Whoever be more scrupulous than Obama in picking targets and when to strike at them? Or is there some strategy or some weapon, better able to discriminate between the right targets and non-combatants, that Obama hasn’t thought to use?

    The drone strikes are bad, I have no illusions about that. Even one noncombatant killed is too many for me. But they they look like the least bad option available, and they do seem to be working in that a considerable number of bad guys have been taken out. If you don’t like Obama’s approach, you’ve got to have something better in mind, and someone who would go with that alternative. Do you think Romney could come up with a better approach?

    As far as Pakistan is concerned, I figure the US is dealing as well as anyone can with an imperfect ally that is essentially at war with itself, and not just over its US alliance. The sources of its political instability — ethnic division, corruption, its ongoing strife with India among other things — were baked in before independence, and if it falls apart I doubt the US would be all that much to blame.

  261. 261
    TK421 says:

    @FlipYrWhig:

    “See, here’s the kind of thing I mean. You just said the issue was dead innocents, not drones per se. But then you swerve back into “drones” so you can say that Obama is worse with drones than Bush. ”

    No, I did not “swerve” back to anything, I was asked specifically about drones.

  262. 262
    FlipYrWhig says:

    @TK421: Enlighten me. What does Glenn Greenwald propose be done to fix this state of affairs? He does a lot of consciousness-raising and moral witnessing on his blog. Great, that’s a buttload more than I do. What else, besides shame, is in his toolkit? Petitions are cheap. Marches? Lobbying? Direct action at candidate events? What’s the plan? It doesn’t have to be him, but it has to be some group of people undertaking collective action in physical space at some point, no?

  263. 263
    slag says:

    @FlipYrWhig: My only question is this:

    Let’s say that tomorrow Congress finds its voice and…Boom…no more drone strikes. They’re done. Finnis. Over.

    What then? What’s the next move?

  264. 264
    Dr. Squid says:

    @TK421: Piss off with the Yeahbut crap, chumbolone. Your evidence is irrelevant. My assertion that The GOP are warmongers is at least backed up by something. You have, “Well they’re out but they don’t like it so shut up that’s why,” as evidence for why the GOP is actually better.

    You really did assert that, chump.

    Fucking Paultroons. How do you breathe without being reminded?

  265. 265
    lacp says:

    @TK421: That’s certainly one reason. Sometimes they’re not given a whole lot of choices. Like where I am, Pennsylvania, you want to run a third-party candidate? Good luck…..it took a ruling from the state supreme court many years ago to force write-in/third-party votes to even be counted. Actually getting on a ballot is damn near impossible.

  266. 266
    Dr. Squid says:

    @TK421: No, you just proved that you’re a lying chumbolone trying to talk your way out of getting caught at it.

  267. 267
    travis says:

    Anybody read Forever War? All our worst fantasies will one day come true. Apparently.

  268. 268
    NR says:

    @Dr. Squid: Well since Obama has brought us tax cuts and endless war too, where does that leave us?

    Gee, if only there were someone running who wouldn’t give us tax cuts and endless war. Oh wait, there is.

  269. 269
    FlipYrWhig says:

    @TK421: So the Republicans are better on drones, or might be, but the Democrats are better on, let’s say, bunker-buster bombs. And eventually some president will have robot super soldiers, and we’ll get to say that that guy is way worse on robot super soldiers than any previous president. Why is that significant? If the issue isn’t the weaponry, dismiss that question and talk about the terrible impact of whatever weaponry is being used, and the heedlessness of whatever president is using them. But, see, what’s going to happen is that you’re going to lose your ability to have something uniquely damning to hang on Obama, which is vital to this whole line of discussion.

  270. 270
    TK421 says:

    @Dr. Squid:

    My assertion that The GOP are warmongers is at least backed up by something.”

    What? What was it backed up by? You didn’t offer anything.

    Oh, and by the way: supporting horrible things because something a little more horrible MIGHT happen otherwise is not good.

  271. 271
    NR says:

    @Dr. Squid:

    Your evidence is irrelevant.

    I think all you Obots should just save a lot of trouble and get this tattooed on your foreheads.

  272. 272
    irmaladuce says:

    @TK421: What is this horrible thing? Using the best technology available to minimize casualties? I am not the one avoiding anything. I know my country has enemies, some of whom have to be killed. The less often we have to launch a full scale invasion to do that, the better.

  273. 273
    Jeff Spender says:

    @srv:

    Our actions increase the likelihood of instability in Pakistan as we are fighting a civil war by proxy with a proxy whose government/military are ideologically split on this issue.

    I see. Thank you for clarifying this.

    I agree with you.

  274. 274
    NR says:

    Actually, it’s a good campaign slogan when you think about it. Obama 2012: Your evidence is irrelevant.

  275. 275
    TK421 says:

    @travis:

    “Anybody read Forever War? All our worst fantasies will one day come true. Apparently.”

    That war ended, at least.

  276. 276
    FlipYrWhig says:

    @NR: She sounds interesting. And how many people have heard of her? Why isn’t that the big project, getting her name out there, rather than dogging these threads with stale Obama-sux-ism?

  277. 277
    TK421 says:

    @NR:

    Who needs evidence when you can call people names?

  278. 278
    owlbear1 says:

    @Temporarily Max McGee (soon enough to be Andy K again)
    :

    You know who else that’s been said about, don’t you?
    Sorry, but it’s war. Asymmetric, to be sure, but it’s war, akin (not identical) to privateers of old. The asymmetry adopted by AQ was adopted to elicit just such a response from you.

    Where are Al Qaeda’s tanks, planes, and aircraft carriers?

    Oh that’s right they can’t afford and they lack infrastructure to build them.

    They also have VERY strict rules about what religion you need to be.

    Sounds like a gang to me.

    Al Qaeda are “Privateers’? Really?

    I guess I am just so gullible.
    Gee shucks…

  279. 279
    Corner Stone says:

    @Dr. Squid:

    So you’re saying the gummint just kills willy-nilly, then produces “evidence” post hoc

    “Evidence”? People have been suing in court for any kind of evidence and have been getting rebuffed by national secrets.
    We’re dealing with a “trust us” rationale.

  280. 280
    FlipYrWhig says:

    @TK421: Like “sociopath”?

  281. 281
    TK421 says:

    @irmaladuce:

    “Using the best technology available to minimize casualties? ”

    Blowing up whoever you want and then saying “hey, didn’t you know that every single solitary man in the Middle East is a militant?” is not “minimizing casualties”. To minimize casualties would mean not firing missiles into civilian neighborhoods, but apparently that course of action is not in Barack Obama’s makeup.

  282. 282
    Pat says:

    @agorabum: If the govt. thinks al-Awlaki aided and abetted a terrorist, why can’t it show us the evidence? It won’t even do it post-mortem, because it has none. The President’s say-so was good enough. Good enough for al-Awlaki and his 16 year old son, and good enough for you too.

  283. 283
    patroclus says:

    I’m still awaiting TK421’s “evidence” as to what voting options I have other than Obama or Romney.

  284. 284
    TK421 says:

    @Corner Stone:

    “We’re dealing with a “trust us” rationale.”

    And they do, they do.

  285. 285
    patroclus says:

    I’m still awaiting TK421’s “evidence” as to whether Romney would stop drone strikes.

  286. 286
    Mumbly_joe says:

    @Brachiator: Well, my view is that murder should be a nation’s last foreign policy resort, not one of the first. The fact that drones are politically and economically cheap makes murder too easy a policy tool.

    My view is also that as a nation with a strong democratic tradition and stated commitment to human rights, we should rightfully be held to a higher standard of conduct than “fewer and lesser atrocities than our enemies”.

    Moreover, it’s due to that democratic tradition that we citizens bear some responsibility for the conduct of our government, much moreso than we bear for those of other nations. We owe it to our government to criticize our own excesses, even if someone, somewhere in the world, is doing something worse. As I alluded to before, your invocation fo Syria really does read as, “Don’t criticize Japanese internment, because the Holocaust”. And you’ve hardly rebutted that.

  287. 287
    TK421 says:

    @patroclus:

    “I’m still awaiting TK421’s “evidence” as to what voting options I have other than Obama or Romney.”

    You…you don’t really think I was making up the existence of other parties besides Democratic and Republican, do you? That would be…sad.

    http://www.jillstein.org/

    Don’t vote for Jill Stein for president, though–that would be wasting your vote. Instead, vote for either the guy who wants to enact Republican policies or the guy who wants to enact Republican policies. Put your vote to good use, in other words.

  288. 288
    TK421 says:

    @patroclus:

    Did you see post #154?

  289. 289
    patroclus says:

    @TK421: I’m still awaiting TK421’s “evidence” as to what voting options I have other than Obama or Romney (on the ballot in my state).

  290. 290
    TK421 says:

    @Pat:

    “If the govt. thinks al-Awlaki aided and abetted a terrorist, why can’t it show us the evidence?”

    Because it’s double secret evidence.

  291. 291
    patroclus says:

    I’m still awaiting TK421’s “evidence” as to whether Romney would stop drone strikes.

  292. 292

    @TK421:

    I mean, some of them seem to have families.

    So did the Kenyans and and Tanzanians who made up the majority of the fatalities when al Qaeda decided to bomb US embassies in those countries.

    Sherman’s name has been bandied about here this afternoon. Here’s the quote:

    You cannot qualify war in harsher terms than I will. War is cruelty, and you cannot refine it; and those who brought war into our country deserve all the curses and maledictions a people can pour out…

    After some specificities pertaining to that war in particular, Sherman continues:

    You might as well appeal against the thunder-storm as against these terrible hardships of war. They are inevitable, and the only way the people of Atlanta can hope once more to live in peace and quiet at home, is to stop the war, which can only be done by admitting that it began in error and is perpetuated in pride.

    Now if you’d like to point out that Yemen isn’t at war with the US, I’d have to agree, but I’d be remiss if I failed to point out that the region of Yemen in which al-Awlaki and his son were killed is outside of the control of the government of Yemen. It is so far outside of the control of the government of the country (which, btw, doesn’t have an extradition treaty with the U.S.) that when Awlaki was charged and tried in absentia (legal in that country) for conspiring to murder a French foreign national, the tribal leaders wouldn’t allow Awlaki to be taken in. Those tribal leaders were aiding and abetting Awlaki in his jihad, and in doing so made their citizenry vulnerable to harm in the same way the mayor and city council of Atlanta aided and abetted Joe Johnston and John Bell Hood, putting their citizenry in harm’s way.

  293. 293
    chopper says:

    @TK421:

    It’s almost like we should be rolling up on these people and arresting them

    right! let’s just fire up the ol’ police cruiser…

  294. 294
    slag says:

    @Amir Khalid:

    Would a President Romney/Whoever be more scrupulous than Obama in picking targets and when to strike at them? Or is there some strategy or some weapon, better able to discriminate between the right targets and non-combatants, that Obama hasn’t thought to use?

    I like these questions. Whenever I think about this problem in the abstract, I get angry and annoyed that this stuff is still going on. But then I get specific and think about the fact that we have a Con Law Professor in the WH with absolutely no political gain from his grassroots supporters side for engaging in these activities. This is someone who’s ambitious, reasonably intelligent, and loves to be loved by everyone (not just righties). And yet he still does this stuff. Why? Is he just a bloodthirsty maniac? Is that why he went after Osama with such persistent focus? Or maybe he thinks it’s good politics and thinks it’ll make him look tough and manly. But then, why the supposed secrecy? Is it just a feint so that he could look both tough and bad at keeping secrets at the same time?

    I have yet to work it out. And it seems to me that those who are most passionately vocal about these issues have yet to work it out also. Which, to me, seems like the larger problem. People just looking for easy answers and falsely claiming to have them. Snake oil salesmen to the left of me.

  295. 295
    TK421 says:

    @patroclus:

    I don’t know what state you live in, so…you “win”? I guess?

    Now you don’t have to feel bad about missiles fired at civilians or something?

  296. 296
    chopper says:

    @FlipYrWhig:

    the best part of political blogging is that you aren’t required to come up with any sort of policy alternative.

  297. 297
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    @Brachiator:

    And also, too, for the sake of some folks, I am not saying that the Taliban and Al Qaeda are inscrutably crafty sinister opponents. But they are not just primitives fighting the way they have since the time of Alexander the Great. They are no fools. Neither are the people of Pakistan, who pursue their own strategic interests independent of what anyone in the US, liberal or conservative, might think.

    Oh, please. They have brown skin, and are Mooslims. OF COURSE THEY ARE FOOLS.

    Silly.

  298. 298
    owlbear1 says:

    “If the govt. thinks al-Awlaki aided and abetted a terrorist, why can’t it show us the evidence?”

    Because that would reveal they are sucking up every bit of electronic communication and dumping into databases and sifting through it.

    The company I work for recorded just under 70,000,000 phones calls last MONTH.

    When it says, “This call may be recorded for training purposes.” Count on it being saved as a .wav file on a computer.

  299. 299
    patroclus says:

    @TK421: Indeed, I saw TK421’s non-answer contained in post#154, but I still am awaiting TK421’s “evidence” as to what voting options I have (on the ballot in my state) other than Obama or Romney and I am still awaiting TK421’s “evidence” as to whether Romney would stop drone strikes.

  300. 300
    FlipYrWhig says:

    @TK421: So what’s the plan to let people know about Jill Stein? How is the Green Party trying to get members? How about a Jill Stein + Gary Johnson event where they talk about how they disagree on many things but want to make a joint statement about the vitality of civil liberties and the exclusion of complex opinions from the political arena? Is the point to accomplish something, or is the point to show that you’re not a sellout?

  301. 301
    moderateindy says:

    @El Tiburon:

    Obama is going to nominate a not terrible Supreme Court Justice and he is going to sign some good legislation. But the entire time he is consolidating executive power to nullify the Constitution when it comes to LIVING and the ABILITY TO BE FREE

    First off Hyperbole much? Please delineate all the ways that Obama is consolidating Power to try to nullify the Constitution? Broad sweeping statements like that are easy to make and difficult to defend.
    Second, so what is your alternative? Mitt Romney?
    Because if you live in this country at this time that is your only alternative.
    This was my biggest problem with Bush and company pushing the Unitary Executive theory. The next Pres, regardless of who it is, wasn’t going to give up any powers that were granted his office. Just like the next President won’t give up any powers that Obama has added. Precedent is law. Even if the Obama administration has ended waterboarding, it seems as if the next guy can do it with impunity because the precedent has been set that using waterboarding can be done without retribution.

    It doesn’t matter who the President is, and even if you were to elect someone that promised not to use drones in the way the Obama administration does, the guy after him could start it right back up.
    If your solution is to bitch about the policy and warn about the dangers of giving extra power to the executive branch in hopes that people will notice and pressure Obama to change, well; good luck with that. It could happen, of course that’s the same reasoning that sends me to the gas station to buy lotto tickets, and I imagine the odds are comparable.
    The truth is the only way to curb this type of power is for Congress to pass legislation and take away some of the extra powers that the executive branch has procured over the last 50 years, and then have he Supremes uphold that legislation. Sorry but that is the only long term solution and it also has lotto odds.
    So since that policy seems to be with us regardless of which party is in charge, it is silly to consider it when deciding who to vote for, and thus the rest of the legislation that gets passed does matter in the long run.

  302. 302
    geg6 says:

    @TK421:

    And who, exactly, is the magical person who never does a bad thing? Especially one who would be a head of state?

    You live in a dream world. Humans suck. All of us. I really don’t think this magically perfect human you seem to long for exists. Hell, Mother Theresa was a fucking grifter.

  303. 303
    Jeff Spender says:

    @slag:

    Which, to me, seems like the larger problem. People just looking for easy answers.

    Exactly this. Which is why anyone with any certainty about this issue is a moron.

    QUESTIONS. Ask them, but don’t assume you know the answer before you ask.

  304. 304
    TK421 says:

    @Temporarily Max McGee (soon enough to be Andy K again):

    “So did the Kenyans and and Tanzanians who made up the majority of the fatalities when al Qaeda decided to bomb US embassies in those countries.”

    Oh, so two wrongs make a right. What a morally and ethically sophisticated bunch one finds at Balloon Juice.

    So should we kill as many children as al-Qaeda did, or as many plus one to make a point, or as many minus one to make a point? How many innocent people is it alright for US missiles to blow up, Max? Ballpark figure, I mean.

  305. 305
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    @travis:

    You should read “Forever Peace”, by the same author, Joe Haldeman. It’s very apropos to this conversation, as drone technology is central to the plot.

  306. 306
    S. cerevisiae says:

    “Now who’s being naive, Kay?”

  307. 307
    FlipYrWhig says:

    @slag: Presidents fall in love with presidential powers, and I’m sure there’s even more romance for Obama, because the legislative branch has been a bag of salted dicks ever since Inauguration Day. I made an analogy before that no boss ever wants Human Resources to be _more_ involved in hiring staff. Well, I’m sure no president ever wants Congress to be more involved in making policy. Senator Obama would almost certainly take a different view, as would ConLaw Prof Obama, but _President_ Obama wants to cut the bullshit and get things done. It’s not an ideology of supreme executive power, it’s an ad hoc strategy arising from the stalemated politics of the other branches of government. YMMV.

  308. 308
    geg6 says:

    @RalfW:

    It seems to me that many of those who pay attention see Dresden as morally ambiguous at the least.

    Which is exactly my point. All heads of state are forced, at times, to do morally ambiguous things in order to protect the country and its citizens. The idea that there exists someone who would not ever be forced to do such things is nothing more than wishful thinking. Do I hate and revile Harry Truman because he dropped the bomb? No, I don’t. I think he looked at all the options available to him and chose the one he thought was best for the the US and its citizens. I was willing, even, to give W the same credit for a hard decision when it came to Afghanistan (though that ended when the Iraq sabre rattling began). I give Obama the same leeway.

    President Jeebus does not and never will exist. And I have my doubts about the guy ever existing in the past.

  309. 309
    TK421 says:

    @moderateindy:

    “Please delineate all the ways that Obama is consolidating Power to try to nullify the Constitution? ”

    Just off the top of my head:

    1) Obama asserts the right to deprive US citizens of life without due process (see Anwar al-Awlaki)
    2) Obama asserts the right to deprive US citizens of liberty without due process (see indefinite detention, National Defense Authorization Act)
    3) OBama asserts the right to start a war without Congressional permission (see Libya)
    4) ???Obama passes law forcing Americans to purchase a service i.e. health insurance (pending Supreme Court hearing)

  310. 310
    Jeff Spender says:

    @FlipYrWhig:

    Perspectives, how do they work?

    But seriously, I agree.

  311. 311

    @Enhanced Voting Techniques:

    Much like eugenics, collective punishment is another American idea.

    Sir Francis Galton was American? Auguste Forel? Winston Churchill? You-know-who?

    Undoubtedly, a lot of Americans believed in eugenics, but, ironically- in light of your revelation that eugenics is an American idea- it was an American whose discoveries disproved eugenics. Go figure.

  312. 312
    TK421 says:

    @FlipYrWhig:

    “President Obama wants to cut the bullshit and get things done. ”

    Like when he signed that executive order banning discrimination against homosexuals by federal contractors.

  313. 313
    FlipYrWhig says:

    @moderateindy: Yes, if this state of affairs is to change, it’s literally going to take an act of Congress. So where are the champions for this act of Congress to roll back arbitrary presidential powers? Look, self-avowed lefties and Greens and civil libertarians, don’t just moan about how it should happen, do what you can to make it happen, that is, if you actually care the way you say.

  314. 314
    Cato says:

    “They have brown skin”

    Afghans are white people (so are Iranians), and a good portion of Pakistanis could pass for white if they dressed in western clothing.

  315. 315
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    @Temporarily Max McGee (soon enough to be Andy K again):

    Why are you worrying about You Know Who when you should be worrying about U No Poo?

  316. 316
    Mumbly_joe says:

    @TK421: Some of us are familiar enough with game theory to realize that voting third party when 48% of the population is voting for full-on fascists, is probably not a winning strategy that leads to fewer war atrocities.

    Some of us decided not to vote for the lesser of two evils, in 2000. That worked out perfectly fine in the warcrimes department, if I recall.

  317. 317
    FlipYrWhig says:

    @TK421: Oh, come the fuck on, I’m obviously not saying he does everything he could or should, but that his implicit approach to war powers in particular is that he wants Congress to be as little involved as possible, because they are cretins.

  318. 318
    MBunge says:

    I think Cole starts threads like this just to remind everyone of exactly why liberals got the shit beat out of them for decades on issues of national security.

    Mike

  319. 319
    Cato says:

    Afghans are white people (so are Iranians), and a good portion of Pakistanis (especially in the northwest, where the war is) could easily pass for white if they dressed in western clothing.

    And, also, Muslim militants in Sudan waged a genocidal war against black-skinned Christians, but these inconvenient facts get in the way of the American compulsion to see the how world through American racial lenses.

  320. 320
    slag says:

    @FlipYrWhig: I don’t think we’re at odds here. But that doesn’t explain drone strikes, per se. Unless you’re suggesting Obama’s doing them just because he can. Which is, I think, an extraordinary claim.

    And I’d also point out that your argument is exactly why voting third party is quite possibly the least effective solution to this highly complex problem.

    Our President is acting too independently…Let’s vote for an Independent!

    Honestly, I feel dumber just spelling it out.

  321. 321
    brantl says:

    @schrodinger’s cat: You get to rain death from a drone with no personal risk at all. This is double edged, you might either kill flippantly, just to get out of the boredom of the mission (and not risk the cost of the plane), or you might be more reluctant to strike until you got the intended target alone, as you, yourself would not be at risk. Hard to say. I suspect the first would happen to many, after a while. War turned into a video game probably generates video-game morals.

  322. 322
    Brachiator says:

    @Villago Delenda Est:

    Oh, please. They have brown skin, and are Mooslims. OF COURSE THEY ARE FOOLS.

    Good snark, bad history.

    @Mumbly_joe:

    Well, my view is that murder should be a nation’s last foreign policy resort, not one of the first. The fact that drones are politically and economically cheap makes murder too easy a policy tool.

    Again, I broke it down to the hard case. The government of Pakistan is unreliable. You serve a warrant for the arrest of a suspected terrorist and someone is likely to warn them of any impending arrest. The government will make a great show of attempting to make an arrest, but nothing will be done.

    It is absolutely unacceptable to put an army on the ground.

    Don’t restate your principles. Give me a recommended solution.

    My view is also that as a nation with a strong democratic tradition and stated commitment to human rights, we should rightfully be held to a higher standard of conduct than “fewer and lesser atrocities than our enemies”.

    I hope to post something soon in an appropriate thread, on the War of 1812. We are a nation with a strong tradition in hypocrisy.

    As I alluded to before, your invocation fo Syria really does read as, “Don’t criticize Japanese internment, because the Holocaust”. And you’ve hardly rebutted that.

    It was not an argument that had anything to do with my statements. There was nothing to rebut. My point is that there are some Balloon Juicers, as is the case with many Americans, who don’t give a rat’s ass about anything other than their own comfort. Some conflicts and wars will ultimately impinge on you whether you choose to participate or not.

    So, an example here. If a British or even an American company sold drones to Syria, who in turn used them against innocent people 24 hours a day, seven days a week, there are a lot of folk here who would not even work up a worried knuckle on their keypad, posting about it. But if the US launches a drone strike, then they will immediately declare that the umpteenth wedding party has obviously been killed, along with hundreds of innocents and wail about the murder of “brown people.”

  323. 323
    owlbear1 says:

    @Mumbly_joe:

    Some of us decided not to vote for the lesser of two evils, in 2000. That worked out perfectly fine in the warcrimes department, if I recall.

    TOO SOON! TOO SOON!

  324. 324
    Hill Dweller says:

    @TK421: Yes, Obama has been awful on LGBT rights. By not signing said order, it must be because he wants the LGBT community to suffer.

  325. 325
    patroclus says:

    @FlipYrWhig: TK421 seems to be ignoring your questions just like he is ignoring mine. These aren’t irrelevant questions. If Romney won’t stop the drone strikes, what is the point? If Jill Stein isn’t even on the ballot in my state, what is the point?

    As you have said, if TK421 was serious, he would be advocating some sort of strategy designed to obtain the political power necessary to stop the drone strikes. But he doesn’t appear to be even slightly interested in doing anything of the sort. He won’t answer relevant questions.

  326. 326
    Cato says:

    PLEASE vote third party! Please oh please oh PLEASE especially if you live in Florida Ohio and Virginia! Make a statement! Stick it to the MAN!

  327. 327
    Raven says:

    @patroclus: Gee, maybe you people should stop fucking talking to it then, ya think?

  328. 328
    owlbear1 says:

    Really if the Republican party wasn’t so bat shit insane there might be a choice.

    Wish in one hand and pull shit out of your ass with the other…

  329. 329
    Cato says:

    I don’t get the obsession with the particular method. If anything, the cruise missiles and airstrikes Clinton and Bush used were worse than drones in terms of not killing civilians.

    ETA: If you want to say that any military action against Al Qaeda is wrong, period, because of possible civilian casualties, and that it’s better to let someone like Al-Awaki or bin Laden go than risk killing even one bystander, then have the balls to come out and say exactly that. Don’t babble about OMG SCARY DROOOOOOOOOOONEZ!

  330. 330
    Suffern ACE says:

    @TK421:

    Oh, so two wrongs make a right. What a morally and ethically sophisticated bunch one finds at Balloon Juice.

    Not being 8 any longer, yes. In terms of justice, two wrongs sometimes do make a right, despite what your mommy told you so you’d stop sniveling in the corner about the injustice of it all when both you and your brother were punished for fighting even though he started it.

  331. 331
    Todd says:

    @patroclus:

    TK421 seems to be ignoring your questions just like he is ignoring mine. These aren’t irrelevant questions.

    Give him a break. Its tough to type with only one hand when your chair is bouncing that much.

  332. 332
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    @Brachiator:

    Good snark, bad history.

    Precisely. Except when the teatards say it, it’s not snark.

  333. 333
    Cato says:

    People like TK421 only care about dead civilians when its from US weapons, as amply illustrated in the case of Libya and Syria.

  334. 334
    Todd says:

    @TK421:

    Like when he signed that executive order banning discrimination against homosexuals by federal contractors.

    Dude, c’mon – you’ve got to try to be a little less of a parody if you’re going to work as a proper left-progressive purity pony.

  335. 335
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    @Cato:

    By all means, give the vile pigshit that is Rmoney a molecule of hope in those states, and his appointed lickspittle, the vermin Cato.

    Please.

  336. 336
    sparky says:

    a. thanks, John, for posting this.
    b. it’s interesting that the arguments here, especially the defenses, seem centered on the practicality of this device, or political realities (whatever that term may mean), and not whether the spectacle of the US president deciding who lives and who dies–anywhere in the world, as a matter of course–without any restraints is something that ought to be.

  337. 337
    Davis X. Machina says:

    @Brachiator:

    If a British or even an American company sold drones to Syria, who in turn used them against innocent people 24 hours a day, seven days a week, there are a lot of folk here who would not even work up a worried knuckle on their keypad, posting about it

    They’d complain about the vendor, but not about the drones per se is my guess — Syria is after all a sovereign nation, and as such may be subjected to moral suasion from its fellow sovereign states, but no more.

    The only place left where you can find a full-throated defense of the Westphalian nation-state is on the left.

  338. 338
    brantl says:

    @FlipYrWhig: They aren’t using carpet bombs or space lasers or clusterbombs there, are they? So we’re upset about what they actually are using to do indiscriminate killing, aren’t we? Are you a little slow?

  339. 339
    Cato says:

    The only place left you can find a full-throated defense of the Westphalian nation-state is on the left.

    But only for non-western states. US Presidents are war criminals who should be tried in international courts, but Assad cannot be touched because argle bargle brown people.

  340. 340
    slag says:

    @sparky:

    b. it’s interesting that the arguments here, especially the defenses, seem centered on the practicality of this device, or political realities (whatever that term may mean), and not whether the spectacle of the US president deciding who lives and who dies—anywhere in the world, as a matter of course—without anyrestraints is something that ought to be.

    We’ve already had that argument. That argument was parts 1 through 2,568; we’re now on part 3,465. Maybe you haven’t been keeping up?

  341. 341
    James K Polk, Esq. says:

    One of the great moral imponderables is supposedly, like, How Do Good People Do Evil Things? But really it’s fairly obvious:

    Publish clear guidelines!

    Sleep well, America; don’t worry world. Our Kill Lists have the best warranty in the industry. 10 years, parts and maintenance! No deductible! Built to last!

  342. 342
    schrodinger's cat says:

    Prediction: This thread reaches 500.

  343. 343
    slag says:

    @brantl: You’re missing the point. When people cite statistics, they’re citing statistics on drone strikes being done now as opposed to drone strikes being done then. The underlying assumption is that drone strikes being done now is evidence that we’ve escaladed the killing up to 11 since Obama took office. Shock and Awe etc haven’t seemed to factor into that equation at all. Especially when people are making claims about Republicans being better on this issue. Which issue? Drone strikes or killing people?

  344. 344
    brantl says:

    @Marc: Actually, whether you ordered them to or not, it does!

  345. 345
    patroclus says:

    @Cato: I don’t think I’ve ever even partially agreed with anything Cato has ever said on this blog, but he actually makes a somewhat decent point here. The Assad regime, in just the past few days, has wantonly slaughtered more innocents than drone strikes have in several years, but there have been few, if any, posts whatsoever about it, and certainly not the high volume attacking Obama for using drone strikes against suspected AQ members.

  346. 346
    Cato says:

    Would anybody obsessing over drones really prefer cruise missiles and airstrikes from F-16s? Would that really make you feel any better?

  347. 347

    @TK421:

    How many innocent people is it alright for US missiles to blow up, Max?

    Begging the question, aren’t you? If the linked article is true- and you’re certainly using that article as your ammo- the trend has been to make more precise strikes so as to minimize collateral fatalities and injuries.

    Now if, as I think, you’re coming at this as a full-blown pacifist, all I can say is that while it’s a noble philosophy theoretically, in the real world it doesn’t always work, in that it depends on a foe who can be shamed into submission, and a mass of allies willing to passively accept the deaths of themselves and their own loved ones until the foe submits. It works against liberal, secular foes, but not against conservative religious fundamentalists who take the bloodier solutions offered in their holy scripture on faith. The latter are in a no-lose situation, and the former in a no-win situation.

    And with that…I’m out.

  348. 348
  349. 349
    Corner Stone says:

    @Brachiator:

    If a British or even an American company sold drones to Syria, who in turn used them against innocent people 24 hours a day, seven days a week, there are a lot of folk here who would not even work up a worried knuckle on their keypad, posting about it. But if the US launches a drone strike, then they will immediately declare that the umpteenth wedding party has obviously been killed, along with hundreds of innocents and wail about the murder of “brown people.”

    Please name these people.

  350. 350
    tybee says:

    @Raven:

    “Shrink, I want to kill. I mean, I wanna, I wanna kill. Kill. I wanna, I wanna see, I wanna see blood and gore and guts and veins in my teeth.
    Eat dead burnt bodies.
    I mean kill, Kill, KILL, KILL.”
    And I started jumpin up and down yelling, “KILL, KILL,” and he started jumpin up and down with me and we was both jumping up and down yelling, “KILL, KILL.”
    And the sargeant came over, pinned a medal on me, sent me down the hall, said, “You’re our boy.”

  351. 351
    Cato says:

    Didn’t the 9/11 hijackers come from places that were never bombed by the US in any way whatsoever? IIRC it was Saudi Arabia, Egypt, and the UAE. It seems like US-supported authoritarian countries is where terrorists come from, not countries that are bombed by the US.

    How many Iraqis terrorists have tried to strike at the US? Afghans? Or even, by proxy, Palestinians?

  352. 352
    Anthony says:

    @Corner Stone:
    Glenn Greenwald for one.

  353. 353
    Cato says:

    @Anthony:

    He’d point out the vendor, though. It’s better to say “If a Chinese company sold drones to Syria…”

    The only exception to the lack of outrage on the far left over non-Americans killing and brutalizing civilians I can think of is China in Tibet. And I guess that’s because Buddhism is sexy to the far left.

  354. 354
    Stuck in the Funhouse says:

    Damn, even Sparky shows up. The band is all back together, and even with wingnut troll Cato, to play with his organ. And the usual firebagger contingent, also too. Like ole times. Wait wait, don’t tell me. Yer on a mission from gawd?

  355. 355
    SatanicPanic says:

    @Cato: I was agreeing with your comments up until this one- you’re painting with too broad a brush- the left (or even “the far left”) has been outraged about Myanmar, North Korea, Nicaragua, Congo, etc. unless by “the far left” you are talking about Glenn Greenwald, in which case you’re probably right.

  356. 356
    burnspbesq says:

    @ John Cole:

    Glenn Greenwald had a couple really good posts about this, but I didn’t even bother to link them because I know what would happen in the comments section- “HE LIVES IN BRAZIL! HE HATES OBAMA AND JUST USES THESE ISSUES FOR SELF-PROMOTION. HE’S A LIBERTARIAN! WHAT DOES HE HAVE ON YOU JOHN COLE?” And that would be just the first comment.

    Y’know, Greenwald’s not the only option. You could link to somebody who knows his shit and can write, like Scott Horton.

  357. 357
    Cato says:

    @SatanicPanic:

    I mean Glen Greenwald, Jane Hamsher, the A.N.S.W.E.R. crew, Code Pink etc.

    My favorite part of the whole Libya episode was when an A.N.S.W.E.R. meeting was heckled by real, actual Libyans when the clueless hippie at the microphone tried to portray Ghadaffi as some kind of misunderstood anti-imperialist.

  358. 358
    Cato says:

    I mean those people even defended Milosevic. Slobodan fucking Milosevic. A Fascist, white, Christian nationalist dictator waging a genocidal campaign against Muslim rebels, and yet they still took his side merely because the US and the West were against him.

  359. 359
    eemom says:

    @Stuck in the Funhouse:

    Late to the clusterfuck party, but lemme hazard a guess: Cole started off with his usual trollbait about Hamsher/Greenwald, and Corner engulfed it like a single-celled organism, amirite?

  360. 360
    burnspbesq says:

    @Corner Stone:

    I’d love to see in 50 years or so what intel supported the belief that Awlaki was the #1 threat to the US over the likes of Ayman al-Zawahiri.

    The intel probably didn’t support a conclusion that Awlaki was the number one threat. But he was definitely a legit target, and we could find him. Sometimes all you can do is all you can do. We’ll get Zawahiri eventually.

  361. 361
    SatanicPanic says:

    @Cato: Yeah, I am generally anti-military intervention, but I’m also on the side of being honest about what’s going on and listening to the people in the country in question. The world took a pass on doing anything in Rwanda and look how that turned out.

  362. 362
    Cato says:

    @SatanicPanic:

    Or Darfur. I had someone tell me with a straight face in 2003-04 or thereabouts that the US can’t intervene to stop a genocide in the Sudan because we once intervened unfairly in Nicaragua.

  363. 363
    Stuck in the Funhouse says:

    @eemom:

    yea, pretty much. But a nice thing happened to me on the way to another pointless flame war, to where I asked meself, who is this Greenwald fellow, and why is it I no longer give a shit what he says, nor that he is linked to blogs I am reading, like, say, this one? Strangely liberating, it twas.

  364. 364
    PIGL says:

    @Marc: You are not in a fucking war, you moron. Some foreigners want to harm some of your institutions for reasons that are not irrational. They resort to violence, including tacticts that can be described as terrorism. That does not make it a war. WW1 was war, WWII as a war. What’s happened in Congo for the last century or so is war. Get back to me when every town and village and farm and city has lost 1/4 of the men of military age. That’s when you’ll know you’re in a war.

    To adopt the language of war to describe and defend the murderous implementation American foreign policy is stupid inclusive-or evil.

  365. 365
    Cato says:

    @PIGL:

    Legally speaking, the US is at war with Al Qaeda and associated forces. It was passed as the AUMF.

    Again, legally speaking. That’s entirely separate from whether or not you think it is a good idea or not.

  366. 366
    PIGL says:

    @Cato: if this is war, than anything is a war. Plus what I just said.

  367. 367
    Cato says:

    Some foreigners want to harm some of your institutions for reasons that are not irrational.

    Funny, I didn’t know Bali, Casablanca, Istanbul, the Iraqi UN offices in Baghdad, passenger ferries in the Philippines, countless Shia mosques and processions, hotels in Amman, not to mention the Iranian embassy staff in Afghanistan were all “our institutions”. But dead Muslims don’t count unless they die from American weapons, remember.

  368. 368
    Cato says:

    @PIGL:

    No, under federal and international law, actions against Al Qaeda and associated forces are, legally speaking, a war. Notice I didn’t say “terrorism”.

    I’m talking about law not your personal opinion and how you feel.

  369. 369
    Cato says:

    And some of the published “not irrational reasons” for Al Qaeda’s campaigns include the liberation of East Timor (after it was subjected to genocide in the 70s) and western opposition to the genocide in Darfur. Oh, and they want the Caliphate back, too, including Spain. too. Real fucking rational.

  370. 370
    slag says:

    @PIGL:

    You are not in a fucking war, you moron. Some foreigners want to harm some of your institutions for reasons that are not irrational. They resort to violence, including tacticts that can be described as terrorism. That does not make it a war. WW1 was war, WWII as a war. What’s happened in Congo for the last century or so is war. Get back to me when every town and village and farm and city has lost 1/4 of the men of military age. That’s when you’ll know you’re in a war.

    So, are you saying the war in Afghanistan isn’t a war? The war in Iraq wasn’t a war? Vietnam wasn’t a war? Korea?

    Your definition of war seems arbitrarily exclusive.

  371. 371
    PIGL says:

    @Cato: Yes, I am totally sure that the USA has sprung into action to defend the Muslims of the world. And the UN. Tell it to the Marines, pal.

    And if the actions are legally war, then what happened to prisoners? Oh…..wait.

    “War” my ass.

  372. 372
    Cato says:

    @PIGL:

    That’s not the point. You said Al Qaeda is interested in attacking “our institutions”. It seems like they attack a lot of Muslims, too (especially Shia). But again, dead civilians don’t matter to people like you unless it’s from American bombs.

  373. 373
    Marc says:

    @PIGL:

    We have soldiers in Afghanistan, which is the “war” part. And, yup, people there are trying to kill Americans, and Americans are trying to kill them.

    Furthermore, wars don’t necessarily involve the level of carnage that you’re describing. None of your statements hold true for the US in World War I or World War II, and yet somehow those counted.

    The point, which you’re missing, is that wars do involve things that we would find intolerable in other contexts – like, for example, taking a gun and killing a stranger just because he’s wearing a different outfit. A lot of the people exercised about this can’t seem to recognize that this matters when discussing military tactics.

  374. 374
    Cato says:

    And flailing around and changing the subject doesn’t change the fact you’re wrong about whether there is a war between the US and Al Qaeda or not.

    Yes, war can be carried out against sub-state, non-state, or illegal actors. Ask the Barbary Pirates, or the Confederate States of America.

  375. 375
    Cato says:

    Or more accurately, the illegal, conspiratorial rebellion that called itself “The Confederate States of America”.

  376. 376
    salacious crumb says:

    I am just waiting for HE WHO SHALL NOT BE CRITICIZED EVAH Dear Leader Obama to announce his new war with another brown Muslim country Syria. and just watch ABL and Mnemosyne and eemom justify this act by saying “but but..Assad is a dictator who kills his own people!!”..”how dare you criticize Obama, you KKK loving Osama loving freak!!”

    I just like to replace Obama with Bush and Assad with Saddam.

  377. 377
    PIGL says:

    Dead civilians do matter to me. Of all kinds. The weight of history proves that they don’t matter to chauvinst, disingenous sophists such as yourself. It’s simply laughable for your sort to claim otherwise. Laughable and sickening.

    Oh yeah, and the Confederate States were sub, non, or illegal? Half your citizens disagree on that point to this day, while the Barbary Pirates were in fact the Barbary.

    In the concrete situation, calling actions against AQ a “war” is a transparent propaganda move to invoke the vague heroic memories of WW2 to justify any and all actions of your criminal empire on the grounds that “we’re at war”. And you know it.

  378. 378
    Cato says:

    Oh yeah, and the Confederate States were sub, non, or illegal?

    A combination of sub-state and illegal.

    Half your citizens disagree on that point to this day

    You’re ignorance of this country is astounding if you think that the population of the former Confederate States comes anywhere near to half of this country! And even among them, even if you assume 100% of southern whites are neo-Confederates (which is ridiculous), a not insignificant proportion of southerners are black.

    All that aside, it really doesn’t matter what their opinion is. No country ever recognized the CSA as an independent state. Not a single one.

    In the concrete situation, calling actions against AQ a “war” is a transparent propaganda move to invoke the vague heroic memories of WW2 to justify any and all actions of your criminal empire on the grounds that “we’re at war”. And you know it.

    I’m glad you have very strong feelings and opinions, but they don’t change the legal situation. The AUMF is the equivalent of a war declaration, and is recognized as such under national and international law.

    You keep confusing opinions and strong feelings with facts and legal status.

  379. 379
    Cato says:

    Dead civilians do matter to me. Of all kinds.

    Yeah, which is why I’m sure you supported the interventions in Bosnia and Kosovo. I’m sure you would have had no problem with the US supporting actions in Darfur, nor did you have a problem with Libya.

    Because dead civilians matter much more to you than first asking “Which side is the US on? That side? Then I’ll be on the opposite!” That’s not the entirety of your “reasoning” at all. Nope.

  380. 380
    Bruce S says:

    I see the drone strikes as problematic to say the least, but consider their use preferable to the other options. We’re at war with these fucks. That said I don’t particularly seek unanimous agreement with me and/or Obama on this and think it’s critical that folks like TNC to up the ante on debate over this and keep the rest of us honest about the risks and responsibilities. We’re in the terrain of warfare – going beyond norms or conventions of morality almost by definition, which is extremely dangerous even when one considers it necessary. I refuse to even use the word “just” in the context of war. “Necessary”, yes. But there’s no easy cleansing of the ugliness of all this.

    I also think it’s rather rich that while Cole links and quotes TaNehisi Coates comparing this to vigilantes in the South among other things, and then adds a piece of snarky bait about Glenn Greenwald, the usual morons who scream “Firebagger” whenever they’ve pissed their diapers because someone has the audacity to muster a critique of the US head of state, don’t have the balls to turn their ire on TNC, whose scathing comments are the substance of this post. The actual link has gone virtually without comment, relative to the BS about Greenwald. But the mere mention of Greenwald obviously drives some folks crazy – although to be stuck in this repetitive syndrome, you’d have to be more than a little crazy to begin with.

    And, of course, although I’m in agreement with the President on this one, it wouldn’t surprise me if I catch some flak as a “Firebagger” because it’s not about the complexity of any given issue, nor even about having Obama’s back – it’s about blood rituals at Balloon Juice and making noise whether or not you have the ability to make sense. Let’s focus this discussion of the horrors of war on the Evil that is Glenn Greenwald! There’s a plan to convince folks you’re a serious person!

  381. 381
    Corner Stone says:

    @Frankensteinbeck:

    Despite that, their [Pakistan’s civilian government] official position is that this is okay

    This is a flat out lie. Just stunningly wrong and inaccurate.

    We’re not going to be bombing anything with drones we wouldn’t have bombed with regular planes.

    Say what now?

  382. 382
    Corner Stone says:

    @Brachiator:

    Bullshit like formal or informal declaraations of war are meaningless.

    Sorry to disagree, but official declarations of war do actually still have meaning.

  383. 383
    Corner Stone says:

    @Zandar:

    And you so ably demonstrate my theory in action. I appreciate it.
    __
    Thanks for playing.

    You’ve learned well. Classic.

  384. 384
    El Cid says:

    It’s not my duty as a citizen to make my own decisions about US foreign policy. That I leave to the actual people in the Oval Office, because they are experts, and they have access to information I don’t have.

    Plus, if I think a lot about this sort of stuff, what good can come from it? If I end up saying stuff, and some of what I say turns out to be useful in making a Republican President, then that’s terrible.

    It’s a lot safer not to think about it much, or at the very least, refrain from saying anything.

  385. 385
    srv says:

    @Bruce S: Greenwald Derangement Syndrome ™

  386. 386
    dead existentialist says:

    @slag:

    now is evidence that we’ve escaladed the killing

    Oooh, we be pimpin’ our ride now.

  387. 387
    Anthony says:

    @El Cid:

    I can’t tell if you’re being sarcastic

  388. 388
    Keith G says:

    I fail to see how drones are any worse than any other weapon and, in most ways, think they are vastly superior

    A problem I have with the use of drones is that it makes the escalation and use of violence way too easy. Such ease will inevitably lead to ill advised (if not totally reprehensible) use.

    “If your favorite tool in a hammer….” Think about tasers. Sold initially as a lifesaving alternative to the use of deadly force, tasers are now often used as the first option to subdue a perceived pain in the ass citizen. I have no doubt that once there is a gravitational pull toward the significant over-use of a new gee-whiz push button, security state technology.

    I expect Obama to be a leader. He needs to layout a totally transparent, fleshed out, obvious to all process governing the use of this technology. This is our society’s chance to get ahead of the curve and do this right. The precedents set now will greatly influence others. If Obama plays small ball for short term advantage on this, we will suffer later.

  389. 389
    Cato says:

    @Keith G:

    Is it any worse than say, the cruise missiles Clinton used though? At least Obama hasn’t blown up any antibiotics factories.

  390. 390
    El Cid says:

    @Anthony: I can’t tell any more if it matters.

  391. 391
    slag says:

    @dead existentialist: Haha! Rollin’ with my dronies.

  392. 392
    Keith G says:

    @Cato: Yes it is.

    Cruise missile are much more clunky and more expensive to use. One needs to get a major firing platform (ship, sub, plane) with in 600-700 mi.

    BTW, care to compare the raw numbers used?

    The easier the trigger, the more the abuse.

  393. 393
    agorabum says:

    @TK421:
    “War is unadulterated cruelty, and you cannot refine it.”

    – So that makes it alright to intentionally fire missiles at children?

    No. Firing missiles that kill children is cruel. But when you wage war, you will have this kind of cruelty. That is the natural consequence of a ‘war on terror.’
    Also, no missiles are fired intentionally at children. They are fired intentionally at men, young and old. We just don’t give a damn about the children.

  394. 394
    sam b says:

    From the perspective of a non-American, the defensiveness of the American left on this bothers me.

    The amount of killing that has been and continues to be done by the US in the Middle East is so ludicrously out of proportion to the actual threat posed that it’s indefensible.

    It seems like a lack of moral imagination, like American left types who I’d agree with on almost everything are simply not able to grok the moral shittiness of what their government is doing. ‘The other guy would be worse’ is not an adequate defense, no matter how true it is (and I have absolutely no doubt that it is.)

    Imagine France bombing the shit out of your town, killing wedding parties, taking out vital infrastructure, knowing that you weren’t safe anywhere because a drone could appear from the sky and destroy your family at any moment.

    Imagine then that no one seemed to give a fuck about this, and that the French justified it on the basis that some Americans had been supporting people of other nationalities that had made occasional, failed attempts to commit acts of terrorism.

    Do you get it? do you understand why the rest of the world sees this as a suppurating moral wound, why it’s obvious that you haven’t fully recovered from the lunacy of the Bush years, why as a nation you come across as childish and cowardly?

  395. 395
    Keith G says:

    @sam b:

    Do you get it?

    Unfortunately no. Not anymore than GOPers got it when their leaders stepped off into the weeds.

  396. 396
    IrishGirl says:

    @Felinious Wench: that’s not true…the drones are human controlled, their targets verified by humans, the risk to civilians near the target is calculated by humans and finally a human authorizes the final strike.

  397. 397
    Cato says:

    @sam b:

    I’d actually be more pissed my government was either sheltering (Pakistan) or was so torn by internal strife (Yemen) that it could not capture wanted terrorists.

  398. 398
    IrishGirl says:

    Why does no one point out the fact that the number of civilian deaths dropped drastically from 2004 to 2011? Why do very few people on the left acknowledge the accuracy of the drones compared to every other technology available to us other than individual snipers? Why do people on the left expect that no civilians will ever be killed in times of war particularly when fighting an enemy that purposely hides among the innocent? And why does everyone think these drones are completely robotic without human control, which is not the case?

  399. 399
    Just Some Fuckhead says:

    Who won?

  400. 400
    Matt McIrvin says:

    ‘The other guy would be worse’ is not an adequate defense, no matter how true it is (and I have absolutely no doubt that it is.)

    Part of the problem is, it’s an election year.

    On the one hand, we’re in this terrible systemic situation in which there’s a bias toward military action, and everyone in power is more terrified of letting one terrorist go free than of killing a hundred innocent people. We all absolutely do have to keep up pressure on Obama and on the whole system and on the electorate to change that.

    On the other hand, the talk about this, especially from libertarians and further-leftists, sometimes veers into claims that the moral Laws of Robotics compel us to do stuff that will result in the other guy actually getting elected President, and the situation getting way worse. It’s shitty that we have to be scared of the wrong lizard getting in, but it’s what we’ve got to work with.

    It’s a genuine dilemma, and a hard balancing act.

    I actually like Greenwald and I think what he’s doing is important. But he does step into the latter territory more often than I’d like, and I personally reserve the right to ignore that.

  401. 401
    Yutsano says:

    @Just Some Fuckhead: The Girl Scouts. Or the nuns. One of the two.

  402. 402
    Corner Stone says:

    @sam b:

    the defensiveness of the American left on this bothers me.

    I’m sorry. Come again?

  403. 403
    sam b says:

    @Corner Stone: I mean, this is a contentious issue here on a blog where basically everyone leans left. I don’t think you’d find many defenders of US policy in the Middle East on equivalent sites anywhere else in the world.

    If I were American, of course I’d vote Democratic, in an instant. But I wouldn’t try and defend the indefensible – or maybe I would, (“if I were American”). I’d like to think that I wouldn’t be prejudiced by the fact it was ‘my guy’ allowing this to happen or my nation killing people. Who knows. It just seems a lot clearer from the outside – the futility of trying to wage war against terrorism with means that create more new terrorists, and the startling imbalance between the scale of the threat and the response to it.

  404. 404
    Duncan says:

    @comrade scott’s agenda of rage: To me, the 9/11 Twin Towers attack comes to mind. There must have been a lot of males of military age in those buildings, so they were obviously militants. Anyone was else was collateral damage, which al-Qaeda regrets. But they had to do something. Case closed.

  405. 405
    Duncan says:

    @Schlemizel: True, reasonable people can disagree and give reasons for doing so. But HE LIVES IN BRAZIL! HE HATES THE PRESIDENT!!!! aren’t good reasons or reasonable debate.

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