Winning Hearts and Minds

I guess sooner or later, the people we liberate get sick and tired of having their wedding parties blown up:

Afghan President Hamid Karzai has given U.S. special forces two weeks to leave a key battleground province after some U.S. soldiers there were found to have tortured or even killed innocent people, the president’s spokesman said on Sunday.

The decision by Karzai could further complicate negotiations between the United States and Afghanistan over the presence of Americans troops in the country once most NATO forces leave by the end of 2014.

Speaking at a news conference in Kabul, Karzai’s spokesman Aimal Faizi said villagers in Wardak province had lodged a series of complaints about operations conducted by U.S. special forces and a group of Afghans working with them.

The decision was reached at a Sunday meeting of the Afghan National Security Council, chaired by Karzai, Faizi said.

“The Ministry of Defense was assigned to make sure all U.S. special forces are out of the province within two weeks,” he said.

“After a thorough discussion, it became clear that armed individuals named as U.S. special forces stationed in Wardak province were engaging in harassing, annoying, torturing and even murdering innocent people,” Faizi added.

Sunday’s announcement came days after Karzai issued a decree banning all Afghan security forces from using NATO air strikes in residential areas, in a bid to curb civilian casualties.

While you are watching Oscars tonight, imagine what you would feel like if all of a sudden all the houses around you blew up because someone on the other side of the world decided that the neighbor who lives down the street might have connections to terrorism. Why, I bet you’d be willing to join the cause of the people who just blew up your neighborhood. After you put the fires out and bury your neighbors, of course. Relax, those kids were collateral damage and part of the fog of war.

But then again, let’s remember- you had it coming. I mean, why else are you living where you are? Obviously you brought this on yourself and your neighbors for living down the street from someone who may or may not have been a terrorist. Shit happens, bro.






124 replies
  1. 1
    srv says:

    We don’t care if Obama does it.

  2. 2
    Yutsano says:

    This will seal the immunity issue. And our soldiers will all be out. I think it’s time to accelerate the departure timeline, we’re not accomplishing anything good there now.

  3. 3
    hildebrand says:

    A question – and by no means is this trying to find a way to absolve Obama and his administration of the sins of the drone program – how do we fight this fight? Even if we decided to pull out of all of the various ugly spots in the world, this would not automatically make people love America or Americans. There are people (not unlike our own Talibangelicals – who thankfully have not gone to this particular wall too often) who are quite content to blow people up to try to make a point – what are we to do about them?

    I mean this seriously – we cannot simply ignore the violent wings with the hopes that they will become non-violent – we have to figure out how to deal with them with something approaching actual justice, but without putting too many people in harms way. How do we do this? Is it possible to do this without bleeding over into the gray realms of dodgy actions for the sake of the greater good?

  4. 4
    Roger Moore says:

    @Yutsano:

    we’re not accomplishing anything good there now.

    What do you mean we’re not accomplishing anything good. We’re blowing up tons of Those People. What more do you want?

  5. 5
    Yutsano says:

    @Roger Moore: An eight digit bank balance and a purple unicorn as my best friend. I’m not greedy.

  6. 6
    Chris says:

    Tortured or even killed innocent people. Fancy that.

    My own knee jerk question – so, did anything happen to the people who were doing that? Or were they just following orders?

  7. 7
    Hill Dweller says:

    @Yutsano: I think Obama is trying to get out as fast as possible, but the Pentagon is busy undermining him.

    In the last couple of months there have been dueling leaks. The WH leaks a story saying no troops by next year, only to be followed by a story citing the Pentagon saying they want troops after 2014.

  8. 8
    Corner Stone says:

    @srv:

    We don’t care if Obama does it.

    I don’t think that’s fair at all. Of course it’s of great concern that this is happening but I trust President Obama to handle this responsibility and make the right decisions.
    It comes down to the fact that we have only two choices, selective and targeted drone strikes as reviewed/approved by administration officials or do nothing at all.
    Faced with that reality, it’s clear we need to support a tough stance moving forward, even as much as it may not suit our left of center beliefs.

  9. 9
    James E. Powell says:

    My question is why limit it to one “key battleground province?” Why not get the US military, official and unofficial, the hell out of Afghanistan altogether?

    In a paraphrase of Joshua from WarGames, the only way to win is to leave.

  10. 10
    Yutsano says:

    @Hill Dweller: Any troops stay with the same condition we were supposed to have in Iraq: immunity from prosecution for any war crimes. The Iraqis (rightly) told us to go fuck ourselves, so we left. We’ll get the same treatment in Afghanistan. The Pentagon won’t stay if soldiers can be tried in Afghan courts.

  11. 11
    Roger Moore says:

    @Yutsano:

    a purple unicorn as my best friend.

    I’m not a bronie, so which one is that?

  12. 12
    PsiFighter37 says:

    @srv: I think, if anything, the last 4 years has been illuminating in that the firebaggers who live in an idealistic world think we can sort out a situation where no bad things happen, whereas realists accept that bad shit will happen sometimes, but won’t say that Barack Hussein Obama was solely responsible for blowing innocent brown people up.

    Reality and pragmatism is a bitch, isn’t it?

  13. 13
    scav says:

    I’m more than ready to cut the budget for the military, especially as they’ve seemed to spend all their money on gear and let the people end of things down. And some are worried about letting in women and gays? Wouldn’t want to injure that fine flush of honor and manly heroism.

  14. 14
  15. 15
    Chris says:

    @hildebrand:

    My favorite prof back in undergrad had a theory that we would end up going for some version of containment. Leave the area from Morocco to Pakistan and Central Asia to Central Africa mostly alone, only intervene when it’s really necessary, don’t stay long, preferably use local surrogates (like we did with the Islamic Courts Union in Somalia, where the warlords and Ethiopians did all the muscle work).

    Not honestly sure whether that’s more or less ugly than the Bush doctrine.

  16. 16
    Corner Stone says:

    @PsiFighter37:

    whereas realists accept that bad shit will happen sometimes

    Agree 100% with this. As a pragmatist, it’s pretty set that sometimes bad shit will happen. And when that bad shit happens we, as a politically centered class, need to be ready to accept the consequences.
    Even though I hate, hate, hate, the torture and killing of innocent people I am just not sure where we go from here given the need to support the admin’s need to continue keeping us safe.

  17. 17
    Scamp Dog says:

    @hildebrand: I’d go with good police work. There was an attempt to bomb the World Trade Center in 1993, and most of the people involved were in custody by the end of 1994. They were eventually convicted.

    There’s some whining out there by conservatives that Clinton didn’t respond vigorously enough, but I think invading random countries and managing the occupation badly is likely to increase our risks, not reduce them.

  18. 18
    sparrow says:

    @hildebrand: Tell me why we need to fight this fight at all? Why can’t we focus on preventing attacks on our own soil as best we can and not go into unwinnable wars against nouns?

  19. 19
    Keith G says:

    Let’s see… Pakistan has about 20 million males at (or about to be at) adolescence and we are giving those youngsters every reason to hate the U.S. and help their radicalized friends.

    Yes we have killed some bad guys, but we are planting the seeds and spreading fertilizer for an even bigger crop of “badder” bad guys.

    Think of it. The first crop didn’t have the drone war as a motivating factor. A new generation of very mad young men have a very tangible reason to act against us. How can this be a winning policy? This is a stupid policy not at all logical and not worthy of a Nobel Peace Prize winner.

    He is messing this up.

  20. 20
    The Other Chuck says:

    @hildebrand: You go after the money and support networks. A terrorist without funds is a protester.

    Oh, and selling munitions to all corners of the world might also not be a great idea, which is of course why we’ll never stop doing it (not just us, Russia and China too).

  21. 21
    SatanicPanic says:

    Bombing wedding party part of Obama’s war on traditional marriage!

  22. 22
    srv says:

    @PsiFighter37: hildebrand talks about Justice. I’m sure Muslims and others of the third world will come to accept Justice by Drone.

    Drone pilots get combat medals now, Orwell would have no doubt found this all very courageous.

  23. 23
    BillinGlendaleCA says:

    @Chris: Wasn’t that the US Afghan policy from 1979-2001? I’m not sure that worked out overly well.

  24. 24
    hildebrand says:

    @The Other Chuck: This makes a great deal of sense – and likely works with the notion of treating this as a law enforcement issue.

  25. 25
    Heliopause says:

    imagine what you would feel like if all of a sudden all the houses around you blew up because someone on the other side of the world decided that the neighbor who lives down the street might have connections to terrorism.

    Forget that, imagine how you would feel living with the knowledge every minute of every day that this could happen on the secret say-so of somebody on the other side of the planet. I wonder what that must feel like, as an American I have no idea.

  26. 26
    PsiFighter37 says:

    @srv: I had a discussion with a friend of mine a couple years back about the whole Wikileaks thing. He’s uber-liberal/no compromise on principals, just like some of my friends here (as well as elsewhere) are.

    You know what I say to that? Fuck that. If you can envision everything in a theoretical world, it’d be all fine to criticize, but this IS the real world, and exposing the work of hard-working career State Department employees is uncalled for.

    I am more liberal than most, but when it comes to the liberal/firebagging freakout over foreign policy, I think it is an awful lot harder to play armchair quarterback.

    And if you respond with ‘well, what about GWB’ – well, any sane person who was paying attention knew they were full of shit, balls deep.

  27. 27
    JoyfulA says:

    @Corner Stone: My thinking is that these drone strikes may be necessary as the least damaging way to protect our troops in Afghanistan. So let’s get all our people out of Afghanistan as soon as possible (2 weeks sounds OK with me) and stop the drones.

  28. 28
    burnspbesq says:

    The former tank guy has no idea how to deal with a situation where tanks are worse than useless. Imagine that.

    Asymmetrical warfare is a bitch, because the old rules are obsolete. What does it mean to take reasonable precautions to limit civilian casualties when the bad guys (who don’t wear uniforms or insignia) have terrorized the local population into allowing them to mingle? If you let the bad guys hide ordinance in your shed, are you really an innocent civilian? Does than answer change if they tell you they’ll make you watch them rape your daughter if you report the cache of ordinance in your shed to the authorities?

    That said, in a sane world we would say that we’ve achieved our objectives, get our equipment out, and repeal the AUMF and the Patriot Act. Alas, this is not that world.

  29. 29
    minutemaid says:

    Know nothing wr0ng w@y Cole talking out of his ass again about something he read on yahoo news while sitting on his ass in front of a computer surrounded by house pets.

    Yea, a real authority on what is happening on the ground in Afghanistan. Idiot!

  30. 30
    burnspbesq says:

    @JoyfulA:

    (2 weeks sounds OK with me)

    And do what with the billions of dollars worth of equipment in theater?

  31. 31
    burnspbesq says:

    @minutemaid:

    Explain how you’re any better.

  32. 32
    Roger Moore says:

    @The Other Chuck:

    You go after the money and support networks. A terrorist without funds is a protester.

    It might help quite a bit if we stopped propping up corrupt autocrats, since that’s the main thing that makes terrorists from those countries target us rather than other Western countries. That probably means giving up our addiction to oil, since that’s the main thing that makes us so eager to back Middle Eastern strongmen in the first place. Also, too, it might help if we said no to Israel once in a while.

  33. 33
    Argo says:

    @Heliopause: They probably don’t have a clue, in that sense.

    To be precise, 28.1 percent of Afghanistan residents age 15 and above can read and write, according to the CIA. That puts the illiteracy rate in Afghanistan at 71.9 percent.

  34. 34
    JoyfulA says:

    @burnspbesq: How long will it take to get all that stuff loaded on planes? However long it takes, but no goofing off.

  35. 35
    Roger Moore says:

    @burnspbesq:

    And do what with the billions of dollars worth of equipment in theater?

    Haul out what we can, give what might be useful to the Afghan government, and do our best to destroy the rest. Two weeks might be a bit of a too tight a timescale to manage that, but that’s going to be the general picture when we finally get out. I’d rather abandon and destroy billions of dollars of valuable equipment than waste billions of dollars and plenty of soldiers’ lives defending it indefinitely.

    (Edited to sound less flip.)

  36. 36
    Corner Stone says:

    @PsiFighter37:

    I am more liberal than most, but when it comes to the liberal/firebagging freakout over foreign policy, I think it is an awful lot harder to play armchair quarterback.

    You are right on, as usual. It’s pretty obvious that we need to put forth a concerted front supporting the admin’s position here until we get our troops out.
    Anyone who argues against targeted drone strikes just isn’t living in the reality we are faced with. It’s pretty straightforward as a pragmatic proposition. We can do nothing or we can trust our President to make the right choice.

  37. 37
    BillinGlendaleCA says:

    @Roger Moore:

    That probably means giving up our addiction to oil

    Yup, there’s the problem we’ve got a pusher that likes to give money to folks that don’t like us much. If we try to clamp down on his finances he might just not be there for our next fix.

    ETA: Saying no to Israel might help on the margins.

  38. 38
    Corner Stone says:

    @JoyfulA:

    My thinking is that these drone strikes may be necessary as the least damaging way to protect our troops in Afghanistan. So let’s get all our people out of Afghanistan as soon as possible (2 weeks sounds OK with me) and stop the drones.

    I’d have to say I agree with that assessment. Not sure how we keep our people in country safe without the targeted drone strikes.
    Once we can remove those troops we can end all drone strikes in the region.

  39. 39
    PsiFighter37 says:

    @Corner Stone: Jesus, stop trolling me. You aren’t subtle at all, asshole.

  40. 40
    Corner Stone says:

    @PsiFighter37: Stop being such a disgusting piece of shit so willing to toss other people’s lives in the fucking garbage bin and I may consider it.
    It must be god damned easy to be you, so comfortable trusting and loving politicians.
    Fuck you.

  41. 41
    srv says:

    @PsiFighter37: I don’t think there’s any evidence that State was making decisions based on Realism. In fact, there are a variety of old skool realists who think the ‘liberal’ Right-to-Protect and Arab Spring crowd has OD’d on the Flavor-Aide.

    But Biden and John McCain’s good friend have started kicking those folks to the curb

    Susan Rice is not going to be getting that National Security Advisor slot me thinks.

  42. 42
    Scamp Dog says:

    @srv: I find it disturbing myself, but I feel kind of downbeat about our whole approach to things military and defense. Inside the Beltway, we’ve decided torture sorry, enhanced interrogation techniques are just a policy choice, which we can’t prosecute, of course. If establishment Washington is OK with that, they won’t have any trouble with drones. Sucks, but that’s America today.

    This isn’t the country I thought it was when I was growing up.

  43. 43
    Heliopause says:

    @Argo:

    What’s the literacy rate got to do with it?

  44. 44
    burnspbesq says:

    @JoyfulA:

    However long it takes

    The best estimate I’ve seen is 9-12 months if we have to bring it all out by air. There are only so many big transport planes in our inventory, and nationalizing FedEx and UPS is probably not a viable option.

    If we have a secure overland route out to a deepwater port in Pakistan, the timetable shrinks to about six months; the constraint is the availability of suitable shipping and the time it takes to do a round trip from Pakistan to Kuwait.

  45. 45
    PsiFighter37 says:

    @Corner Stone: I am not saying it’s easy, but you know what? Put yourself in Barack Obama’s goddamn shoes, with whatever intelligence he’s got access to, and then say you’d sit on your hands and be a-okay.

    I’d have a different opinion if someone else was running the show, but Barack is someone I trust to make the right decision. And maybe part of that is having met the man personally after he became big shit but before he was THE SHIT (in September 2004), but when it comes to the foreign policy stuff, I think he’s got the right sense of what to do.

    So you can go kindly fuck yourself with your pie-in-the-sky idealism. Thanks.

  46. 46
    Temporarily Max McGee (soon enough to be Andy K again) says:

    @Roger Moore:

    That probably means giving up our addiction to oil, since that’s the main thing that makes us so eager to back Middle Eastern strongmen in the first place. Also, too, it might help if we said no to Israel once in a while.

    Whether we give up the oil addiction or the wells just run dry- which they will do, and sooner rather than later with demand getting higher all the time- which means that these nations that are dependent upon food imports to grow or sustain their populations aren’t going to be able to do that any longer. The population of Saudi Arabia in 1960 was just over 4 million, now it’s over 28 million (with 8-9 million guest workers figured in there). Saudis didn’t grow the food required to grow their population, nor did most of the rest of the Muslim world. It was imported, either through petroleum profits or as part of aid packages (some of that food aid to the nations without much oil coming from the countries with oil money).

    This cannot be a secret in those parts of the world. Those who dole the money out to the likes of OBL have to know this. People in those parts of the world were happy enough to live under authoritarian regimes when it seemed like an endless smorgasbord, but now?

    Talk about Israel all you want, but it’s a red herring, imo. Behind it all is a choice. Logically that choice inj the Muslim world is between starvation on the one hand and, on the other, changing the culture so that the places that produce food will give it away. There’s an illogical option, and that’s the one chosen by these terrorists: Extortion.

  47. 47
    FlipYrWhig says:

    It’s bad. It shouldn’t happen. How do you stop it from happening? Well, that’s the issue, ain’t it? But, you know, even if the whole thing only ever took place with crystalline transparency and careful review, never just on Obama’s say-so, and not at all with drones, it would still mean that someone somewhere was running the risk of blowing up the wrong house. The way to eliminate the possibility of blowing up the wrong house is to get the fuck out there entirely. So let’s do it. The rest is a distraction.

  48. 48
    Chris says:

    @srv:

    The neocons of the Bush years combined the utopianism of liberalism with the moral vacuum of realism. Really nasty mix. Not exactly sure where Obama is.

  49. 49
    JoyfulA says:

    @burnspbesq: I have grave doubts about a secure overland path (to anywhere, actually), so I’ll take 9 months and 2 weeks.

    I’d like to nationalize UPS and FedEx cargo planes, but I can see how that idea might not “fly.”

  50. 50
    Keith G says:

    @JoyfulA:

    My thinking is that these drone strikes may be necessary as the least damaging way to protect our troops in Afghanistan.

    Until the criteria for targeting is made a bit less secret, I have to assume that a number of those strikes are to protect the Pakistani government (or parts thereof) and not our troops.

    Again, use logic. We are killing Pakistani civilians like they were 1st graders waiting for Reading Circle. And all the Pakistani government does is issue pro forma complaints.

    The greater object may not be protecting troops there or civilians here, but to “weed out” elements of the growing Pakistani radicalism.

    Terrorists based in Pakistan who want to fuck up the US can best do so by destabilizing their own government then watch the US scramble in the resulting shit-storm.

    I think that is a large part of why we are killing those folks over there and I am not sure it’s working out as planned.

  51. 51
    burnspbesq says:

    @Scamp Dog:

    we’ve decided torture sorry, enhanced interrogation techniques are just a policy choice, which we can’t prosecute, of course

    Before you go down that road, give just a little bit of thought to how much more difficult it would have been for the Dems to keep control of the Senate in 2010 if Bush, Cheney, Gonzalez, and Addington had all been under indictment and awaiting trial. Would Republican control of both houses of Congress have been a price worth paying to force a trial that the prosecution would have stood a very good chance of losing?

  52. 52
    FlipYrWhig says:

    @PsiFighter37: Even if you never trusted any politician, as long as someone is shooting deadly projectiles from a distance, someone else might catch the damage, and it would still be bad, and it’s been true since the first person decided to throw a pointy stick rather than holding it the whole time. The one has nothing to do with the other. The same is true of the whole “rule of law” line of argument. If everything that happened with drones or targeted assassinations was totally 100% legal, would anyone now fixated on “rule of law” be satisfied with that? Hardly. It’s an ethics and morality argument, not a legal one.

  53. 53
    Corner Stone says:

    @PsiFighter37:

    I’d have a different opinion if someone else was running the show, but Barack is someone I trust to make the right decision.

    HAHAHA. Thanks, bro. I’ll see if we can have that inscribed on a few headstones.
    I’m sorry if you confuse “idealism” with the idea that I’m not comfortable giving any man(woman) the power of unchecked life and death.
    Now please excuse me while I consult with Senator Incitatus.

  54. 54
    burnspbesq says:

    @Corner Stone:

    You do understand, I presume, that if you get the kind of transparent, a priori review that you seem to want, anyone identified as a potential target will dig a deep hole and pull the dirt in on top of himself.

    It would be more intellectually honest for you to say that you don’t want any actual or potential enemy of the United States killed at any time for any reason, than to engage in this ridiculous shell-game.

  55. 55
    FlipYrWhig says:

    @Chris: Obama is basically a Niebuhr-inspired just-war / humanitarian-intervention guy. Then, in terms of his naked political calculations, he knows (if he didn’t when he got started) that you can never be faulted for being too aggressive in dealing with terrorism and suspected terrorists.

  56. 56
    Roger Moore says:

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

    Talk about Israel all you want, but it’s a red herring, imo.

    It may well be a red herring, but it’s not our red herring. It’s the distraction of choice for the strongmen in MENA who don’t want to deal with the complaints of their citizens. And, frankly, I think that a lot of what we’re supporting there is horrifically immoral, so it would be a good thing to back away from it even if it didn’t give us bad publicity with the Arab street.

    Behind it all is a choice. Logically that choice inj the Muslim world is between starvation on the one hand and, on the other, changing the culture so that the places that produce food will give it away. There’s an illogical option, and that’s the one chosen by these terrorists: Extortion.

    I don’t think they’re thinking that far ahead. They’re responding to conditions of today, not theoretical worries about food production in the future. Lots of those oil-rich countries have very high unemployment, especially among the young, and extremely static and stratified social structures. The guys with the oil money aren’t sharing it with their citizens, or are sharing only enough to prevent complete social collapse; they’re spending a whole lot more on massive security forces to keep themselves in power. It’s not a stable situation. Maybe it will be the threat of starvation that causes the whole thing to collapse in the end, but the threat of upheaval has been there all along.

  57. 57
    FlipYrWhig says:

    @Corner Stone: of course you’re not comfortable with that. But if it weren’t the case, and nothing was happening solely at Obama’s discretion, but it was still happening, would you be any more comfortable with that? People would still be dying half a world away at the push of a button. It would just be happening with more input from other parts of the government.

  58. 58
    Keith G says:

    @PsiFighter37:

    I’d have a different opinion if someone else was running the show

    Great.

    Someone else will be running the show soon enough, and they will do everything Obama has done (or refused to do) and add to it. I was hoping Obama would be transformational in this regard, but those were not the choices he has made. I will still keep my Obot decoder ring, but I will continue to hope he can find a way to unwind some of the longer term issues he is placing before us.

  59. 59
    👽 Martin says:

    @hildebrand:

    I mean this seriously – we cannot simply ignore the violent wings with the hopes that they will become non-violent – we have to figure out how to deal with them with something approaching actual justice, but without putting too many people in harms way. How do we do this?

    Well, you have to learn how to assess when you’re going to do more harm than good. We suck at this – american exceptionalism, bitchez!

    If you’re going to do more harm than good, then you have to learn to live with it as everyone else would have to live with your actions.

  60. 60
    Keith G says:

    @burnspbesq:

    It would be more intellectually honest for you to say that you don’t want any actual or potential enemy of the United States killed at any time for any reason, than to engage in this ridiculous shell-game.

    Hey Corner Stone, I think you just got accused of siding with the terrorists.

    Holy flashbacks Batman! It’s 2003 and you’ve just been “Roved”.

  61. 61
    JoyfulA says:

    @Keith G: It could be that we’re also targeting enemies of the Pakistani state, as you said. Remember that Pakistan is like Nigeria and Iraq in that disparate peoples and even enemies were stuffed into national boundaries that made no sense to the new citizens therein. There are probably clumps of millions that Islamabad views as dubious and untrustworthy.

    And I can see why we’d want to keep Pakistan stable, regardless of what we think of their current government. That bomb thing.

    (What we really need to do is get rid of the right-wing Saudi elementary schools they’ve been constructing all over the Muslim world with petrodollars for the last 20 years. The last thing the world needs is more inculcation of fundamentalist religion, whether in Texas or Pakistan.)

  62. 62
    👽 Martin says:

    @Keith G:

    Hey Corner Stone, I think you just got accused of siding with the terrorists.

    No, he got accused of demanding a unicorn.

    The drone list is not determined by the President alone. The gang of 8 has to sign off on everyone on the list, and people on the list need to be renewed every 6 months. If Congress wants more participation, they’re damn well empowered to participate.

    We spent 8 years under Bush demanding that Congress check his power. Those of us who keep asking for Congress to do this suddenly got labeled as Obots, simply because we asked the legislative branch to do the same shit under Obama as we asked them to under Bush. Everyone else instantly gave up on Congress and now want something that they never would have expected under Bush. We’re not the ones who changed attitudes when Obama got into office, it’s guys like Corner Stone who did.

  63. 63
    Corner Stone says:

    @burnspbesq: Come on, counselor. You can do better than this. Well, you specifically probably can’t but this argument is garbage and always has been.
    We don’t need my approval or the NYT or the DC NatSec Clique’s A-OK to kill enemies who mean us harm.
    But I’ll shut up if you can tell me who we are killing and on what basis.

  64. 64
    Corner Stone says:

    @👽 Martin:

    We’re not the ones who changed attitudes when Obama got into office, it’s guys like Corner Stone who did.

    HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!!

    That may be the funniest god damned shit you have ever typed here.
    I CHANGED FROM WHEN BUSH WAS IN OFFICE BUT YOU DID NOT?

  65. 65
    Corner Stone says:

    @FlipYrWhig: That begs the question. Would it still be happening?

  66. 66
    Svensker says:

    The older I get, the more I think the Quaker way is the most rational. Don’t bother people in the first place. If they’re acting irrationally, try to work things out using understanding and seeing what they’re seeing. It sounds pie in the sky pollyanna, doesn’t it? But I think it’s as least as effective as killing and torturing and threatening — and much less expensive.

  67. 67
    burnspbesq says:

    @Corner Stone:

    But I’ll shut up if you can tell me who we are killing and on what basis

    If they don’t need your approval, then they don’t need mine, either, and if they don’t need my approval it logically follows that I have no need to know.

    Nice try.

    You want something like the FISA Court? Then you need to explain why anyone should think that the Targeted Killing Court will do a better job of protecting whatever values you want it to protect than the FISA Court has done of protecting your right not to be electronically surveilled.

  68. 68
    Keith G says:

    @👽 Martin: So nothing an administration does is stupid, or counterproductive, or bad, unless Congress says so? Presidents should not exercise moral agency (or even common sense) unless confronted by outside forces?

    Seems to me that’s a bit like saying that if the bodega owner cared about me shoplifting, he would have kept his eye on me.

  69. 69
    FlipYrWhig says:

    @Corner Stone: Almost certainly it would, because the legislative branch has proved it doesn’t have any interest in checking executive power, and the judicial branch gives wide latitude to the executive on anything war-related. If I’m right, then I’d be a bit happier knowing that there’s some kind of control over the process, but we’d be no closer to actually stopping these things from happening in the first place. I’d like to see more oversight because of the bad implications for the US constitutional system if there remains so little of it. But oversight isn’t necessarily going to result in fewer unjust casualties and deaths. Even perfect oversight wouldn’t do that if the overseers had no more sensitive consciences than the people in the executive branch have at present.

  70. 70
    FlipYrWhig says:

    @Keith G: But that’s just it. The president and whoever’s in the loop in the executive branch are “exercising moral agency” right now. And not everyone thinks that’s enough. So you need even more cautious, skeptical overseers from the other branches if you want to have a situation that’s an improvement over what we have now. I’m not confident that there are a lot of those people of conscience and restraint on hand.

  71. 71
    Redshirt says:

    Meh. It’s better than carpet bombing.

  72. 72
    FlipYrWhig says:

    @👽 Martin: to be fair, the thing that produces the charge of Obottery isn’t the desire for Congress to do something, it’s being perceived as maintaining that whatever Obama is during now is good enough. Of course it’s more complex than that. And I agree that the way to tighten up the status quo is for Congress to exercise its powers. And I likewise acknowledge that THIS Congress isn’t about to do diddly, mostly because they actually kind of like the idea of letting it be the president’s responsibility–and, frankly, it’s probably for the best that they butt out, because when they DO weigh in on these matters, you get things like the Defense Authorization Act giving the president MORE powers, not less.

  73. 73
    Keith G says:

    @FlipYrWhig:

    I’m not confident that there are a lot of those people of conscience and restraint on hand.

    I totally agree. What I find frustrating is that I figured there was one such person. Seem I misjudged.

  74. 74
    FlipYrWhig says:

    @FlipYrWhig: um, DOING now, not “during now,” whatever that would mean.

  75. 75
    FlipYrWhig says:

    @Keith G: well, that’s what we (or at least I) don’t know. Is the authorization process totally willy-nilly, or do the fuck-ups happen just after the trigger gets pulled? In my imagination, at least, the debate over what to authorize is messy and occasionally nasty, in no small part because fuck-ups tend to occur. I haven’t seen anything to indicate that drone strikes and targeted assassinations and such are being treated cavalierly.

  76. 76
    Corner Stone says:

    @burnspbesq: So you can’t, then?
    Thanks.

  77. 77
    Corner Stone says:

    @FlipYrWhig:

    I haven’t seen anything to indicate that drone strikes and targeted assassinations and such are being treated cavalierly.

    You mean beyond the reported “flip book” ?

  78. 78
    burnspbesq says:

    @Corner Stone:

    If you think burning down a field of strawmen is “winning,” then you win. I’d prefer to have a serious discussion on this topic, and you seem incapable.

  79. 79
    Redshirt says:

    Let me ask some questions:

    When the stereotypical wedding party gets droned bombed, does anyone here think it was intentional (and not because the new Number 2 of AQ was at the wedding, but completely unrelated people), or accidental?

    Do you disprove of the use of drones as they are being used, or do you disprove of this war in specific, or even war in general?

    Do you believe Obama has some nefarious purpose to his use of drone warfare?

    What do you expect this Congress to do?

    Are you concerned that Obama wields this power, or that the power exists at all?

  80. 80
    JasonF says:

    @Heliopause:

    imagine what you would feel like if all of a sudden all the houses around you blew up because someone on the other side of the world decided that the neighbor who lives down the street might have connections to terrorism.

    Forget that, imagine how you would feel living with the knowledge every minute of every day that this could happen on the secret say-so of somebody on the other side of the planet. I wonder what that must feel like, as an American I have no idea.

    I have some idea. I would imagine they feel somewhat the same way I felt back in late 2001 when, on the secret say-so of somebody on the other side of the planet, a bunch of Americans got blown up.

    I don’t mean to justify our current operations — we ought to have been out of Afghanistan about a decade ago — but let’s not go overboard, shall we?

  81. 81
    Keith G says:

    @FlipYrWhig: There are so many threads to this Gordian knot. The question of targeted assassinations (are there untargeted ones?) is only one cord.

    I trust they are not being cavalier, but even given the likelihood of a serious mindset, I still fear this will be Obama’s biggest mistake as seen historically. Like FDR’s internment of Japanese Americans, this will eventually elicit a vigorous “What the fuck were they thinking?”

    Morality aside, the ill will, both present and future, that is being generated seems likely to out-pace any near-term security achievements or political gains.

  82. 82
    Corner Stone says:

    @burnspbesq:

    I’d prefer to have a serious discussion on this topic, and you seem incapable.

    What’s clear is that you are incapable of making a rational argument on this topic.
    You can run, I guess.
    Tell us all here, now. Who is dying by this implemented policy and in what parameters?
    If you can say with confidence that it is X, Y and Z because they met the ABC pre-conditions then I’ll agree with you.
    But you can’t. You can’t because we’re killing a bunch of “military age combatants” and otherwise incidentals we can’t so easily explain away. Any male between about 13 and 80 gets dead and we say they were complicit.
    You, even with your disgusting mindset, can’t tell me you understand how people are getting dead here.
    That’s more than evident.

  83. 83
    PIGL says:

    @hildebrand: since when is it the duty of the rest of the world to love America or Americans? Since when is it the right or the USA to enforce such love by applying the updated methods of the war of aggression in Vietnam against yet another pastoral society?

    You want to fight terrorists? Look to the Saudis, your security services, and your foreign policy.

    I’m so bored with the USA.

  84. 84
    Keith G says:

    @Redshirt: Your list of questions is interesting, but incomplete.

    @JasonF:

    I would imagine they feel somewhat the same way I felt back in late 2001 when, on the secret say-so of somebody on the other side of the planet, a bunch of Americans got blown up.

    God, I hope not.

    A small cell of a relatively small terrorist group gets lucky and pulls off a one shot event.

    The most powerful military in history belonging the the most advanced society in the world has been for years blowing up groups of your countrymen at will. Killing innocents…stopping to analyse and then killing more.

  85. 85
    El Cid says:

    This is all… part of… the plan…

  86. 86
    Heliopause says:

    @JasonF:

    I have some idea. I would imagine they feel somewhat the same way I felt back in late 2001

    No, you have no idea, and apparently didn’t read what I wrote.

    What’s it like living every minute of every day, year after year with that thought? And there’s nothing you can do about it? Takes a huge shitload of ugly American hubris to think you face anything remotely comparable.

  87. 87
    Lurking Canadian says:

    Here’s how I see this. In early 2003, Donald Rumsfeld was planning an attack that was going to kill large numbers of Iraqis. He wasn’t doing it in secret. He was doing it every night on CNN. So, by the arguments currently applied to Obama, Saddam Hussein had every right, indeed an obligation, to kill Rumsfeld before he could carry out his plans.

    Now, suppose Hussein, not having access to drones, instead sent a crack commando team with orders to assassinate Rumsfeld. Presumably Rumsfeld lives in a gated community, with 24-hour security, so these guys decide the only way they can get him is to plant a bomb at his granddaughter’s piano recital. Is there a single person in the United States, with the possible exception of Ward Churchill, who would have greeted that attack with “Meh. Rumsfeld’s a legitimate target. His granddaughter, her piano teacher and all her schoolfriends are just collateral damage”?

    If, as I suspect, the answer is that it is more likely it would have been viewed as giving the US the legitimate cause to go to war with Iraq that they previously didn’t have, what is the difference, beyond Us vs Them?

  88. 88
    El Cid says:

    @Lurking Canadian: Uh, duh, we are us, and they are them.

  89. 89
    El Cid says:

    Any nation-state which believes it has reasonable cause to use appropriate technologies to assassinate individuals likely linked to activities likly to illegitimately kill civilians should use internal procedures to approve and implement efforts to effect those assassinations forthwith, providing these efforts appear to concur with general internal governmental guidelines.

  90. 90
    Corner Stone says:

    @PsiFighter37: What’s really more than funny to me, or sad depending, is that all of my parody in this thread is exactly what you really, truly believe and type here all the time.
    You, sir, are one sick little bitch and I hope you never find yourself in a cave in the Hindu Kush mountains with shrapnel in your chest hoping some Western trained native can repair your missing/damaged heart.

  91. 91
    jamick6000 says:

    Good post. We’re terrorizing so many people who have done nothing to deserve it. It’s evil.

  92. 92
    PIGL says:

    @El Cid: If I ran the Dutch or Brazilian or Danish secret services, to name but a few, certain American billionaires and politicians, and their families down to their third cousins, would have been dropping like flies for the last ten years at least. And we’d see how the USA liked them apples.

  93. 93
    Corner Stone says:

    @PIGL:

    And we’d see how the USA liked them apples.

    “Apple sauce, bitch!”

  94. 94
    Redshirt says:

    @Keith G: How about answering some of them? I’m sincerely curious.

  95. 95
    Corner Stone says:

    @jamick6000:

    We’re terrorizing so many people who have done nothing to deserve it.

    I’m not sure what you mean? If they’re dead, then didn’t they deserve it?

  96. 96
    El Cid says:

    @PIGL: One must remain consistent with one’s logic, come what may.

  97. 97
    👽 Martin says:

    @Keith G:

    So nothing an administration does is stupid, or counterproductive, or bad, unless Congress says so? Presidents should not exercise moral agency (or even common sense) unless confronted by outside forces?

    Didn’t say that.

    Congress gave the executive this authority under the AUMF and refuses to engage in the results.

    We can argue moral agency all we want, but since we will never be privy to the details behind these decisions, we will never agree on the results because it is nothing but 100% speculation. The best we can ever hope for is for our elected representatives, as a counterbalance to that authority to either agree with it and trust in that agreement, or oppose it and trust in that opposition.

    The only solution to this problem is through Congress because that power was granted by Congress. That was true with Bush and it remains true with Obama. Everyone seemed to be pretty clear on that point under Bush, and then went stupid about it under Obama.

  98. 98
    PIGL says:

    @El Cid: well, in fact, these individuals are willfully and maliciously endangering the lives and livelihood of the citizens of the states I mentioned, and their own nation, the USA, is thoroughly in their clutches and is either incapable or unwilling to act.
    Brazil, for example, has a positive duty to remove this menace, and the means to carry it out. And they have *much* more justification than the current American actions in the Afghanistan or Pakistan.

  99. 99
    BillinGlendaleCA says:

    @👽 Martin:
    Step 1: get out of Afghanistan(or be thrown out)
    Step 2: Congress repeals the AUMF.
    Step 3: Congress passes some oversight ala FISA.
    Step 4: Can I haz my unicorn?

  100. 100
    chrome agnomen says:

    i’d be a lot happier if we could use that military defense money for just that: defense.

  101. 101
    Joel says:

    Well, hopefully it stops soon.

  102. 102
    Joel says:

    @Lurking Canadian: bin Laden specifically targeted civilians. And was officially an enemy of the state where he was residing. Rumsfeld is an awful person and the Iraq war was a terrible travesty.

  103. 103
    Redshirt says:

    I ask my questions because there’s two distinct issues here, and they often get mixed up.

    Is it drone technology that’s the issue?

    Or war/violence/killing in general/specific?

    It’s important to separate the two debates as war/violence has a well established ground for debate. Drone tech is completely new, however, and opens boxes never opened before. For example, the use of armed drones domestically on the border. Or in the city. Or everywhere. Does it ever stop? The answers to these questions will determine our future.

  104. 104
    Corner Stone says:

    @Joel:

    Well, hopefully it stops soon.

    Indeed. Hopefully.

  105. 105
    El Cid says:

    @PIGL: As long as a nation is facing a threat which internal review procedures ensure have been sufficiently identified and to which plausible relation may be made with international law, it is justified in using available technologies to assassinate the threat its internal procedures identify, with the provision that those internal procedures can reassure that same government that it has taken sufficient care to avoid civilian casualties versus other potential routes of military action.

  106. 106
    👽 Martin says:

    @FlipYrWhig:

    And I likewise acknowledge that THIS Congress isn’t about to do diddly, mostly because they actually kind of like the idea of letting it be the president’s responsibility–and, frankly, it’s probably for the best that they butt out, because when they DO weigh in on these matters, you get things like the Defense Authorization Act giving the president MORE powers, not less.

    I agree. But when Congress authorizes the President to do something, not only does that imply permission to do something, but also implies an expectation to do something. That’s not to say that the President is without authority to decide here, but it’s not completely open ended either. If Congress tells the President to go to war, then by God we’re going to war and the President can shape how that happens and it’s scale, but he can’t stop it.

    As shitty as Congress is, if you respect how our government is structured, then you have to respect, at least to some degree, the actions taken by it. A better measure of Obama, IMO, would be whether he supports or opposes repealing AUMF. Gitmo keeps doing what it does not because Obama wanted it, but because in spite of Obama trying to shut it down on his first goddamn day in office, Congress told him to keep it running. Obviously he does not believe he can fully oppose the will of Congress.

  107. 107
    El Cid says:

    @Redshirt: Military attack from remotely piloted aircraft is not technologically distinct in any way from military attacks from piloted aircraft save the piloting aspect.

    Firing a missile at a target from a piloted aircraft versus a non-piloted aircraft is different in the operational background but not in the aspect of a missile being fired.

    Blowing up a target from a gravity-guided bomb, a smart-guided bomb, a fighter-released missile, a frigate-fired missile, a submarine-fired missile, a balloon-dropped missile, a hand-launched portable UAV, a drone-fired missile, or a fighter-plane fired missile is exactly the same thing.

    The particular technological vector delivering the explosive from a foreign nation-state is at times politically relevant but effect-wise irrelevant.

  108. 108
    Redshirt says:

    @El Cid: Remotely piloted, perhaps I’ll agree. Autonomous? Firmly disagree. Drones will be/already are pilotless, and soon enough they’ll be firing. This is a brand new debate and needs to be waged now, and firmly, as I’ve the feeling it will set the grounds for this new century. Which is going to be the sci-fi future we’ve all been waiting for.

  109. 109
    PIGL says:

    @El Cid: It does leave a lot of room for things that would utterly gobsmack the average American.

  110. 110
    pattonbt says:

    The reason we will lose is we are not willing to suffer the same human cost in theater as we expect of the enemy and allowable “collateral damage”.

    We’ve done everything we can to take our troops out of the casualty chain which one would argue is what you should do. But the more you remove the individual soldier from the cost and direct consequences of waging war (i.e. killing people) and making it easier to wage war from afar, you will never win the hearts and minds and thus never win the war.

    If you are not willing to let your soldiers die first (i.e. telling them they have to hold fire to secure / protect the civilian population over their own lives) you can not win a war of choice. If your soldiers can shoot first and ask questions later then you will lose. The only way you can demonstrate to the local population you “are there to help them” is to die for them before killing them “on accident” to protect yourself. If you do kill them to protect yourself they very quickly see why you are there – and it isnt to help them. We are in Afghanistan for bloodlust and nothing else.

    The only time you can fight a war without those restraints is a war not of a choice. So Afghanistan and Iraq were always going to be “lost”. You can not win a war of choice because you are not willing to sacrifice your blood before the local populations and still win the hearts and minds.

    In WW2 Hitler and Japan were evil and an existential threat to Europe and our allies, so we could wage murderous war and be damned the consequences. We would never be allowed to fight Iraq or Afghanistan that way because we chose to be there and the “threat” was not severe enough to allow us to remove the restraints to fight wars effectively (and to win).

    Hence why I was against both. Im not saying that like “I told you so, nyah, ntah, nyah” just where I come from. Sure, it wasnt a palatable position, but if you cant fight to win, why fight. Our only option was what we had done – police type actions. I recognize that means we would get hit and bloodied without a bloodlust outlet but thats the price to be an actor on the world stage like we are.

  111. 111
    Redshirt says:

    Imperial wars are never very inspirational.

  112. 112
    Anne Laurie says:

    @Redshirt:

    Imperial wars are never very inspirational.

    Nonsense. The propaganda films are stunning!

  113. 113
    burnspbesq says:

    @Lurking Canadian:

    Is there a single person in the United States, with the possible exception of Ward Churchill, who would have greeted that attack with “Meh. Rumsfeld’s a legitimate target. His granddaughter, her piano teacher and all her schoolfriends are just collateral damage”?

    No, because the actual situation on the ground in theater and your hypothetical are qualitatively different.

    The law of war requires that reasonable steps be taken to minimize collateral damage. Your hypothetical assassination team clearly didn’t take reasonable steps to minimize collateral damage. The legally and morally appropriate thing for your assasination team to do was to ambush Rumsfeld in transit, preferably not in an area full of civilians. Or (wait for it) take out his vacation house with a drone when he and his security detail are the only people there.

  114. 114
    burnspbesq says:

    @PIGL:

    If I ran the Dutch or Brazilian or Danish secret services, to name but a few, certain American billionaires and politicians, and their families down to their third cousins, would have been dropping like flies for the last ten years at least. And we’d see how the USA liked them apples.

    Really? What’s their causus belli?

  115. 115
    burnspbesq says:

    @pattonbt:

    you will never win the hearts and minds and thus never win the war.

    You’re assuming that winning hearts and minds is the objective. There are still wars where the objective is to kill their people and break their shit before they kill your people and break your shit. Afghanistan should have been that kind of war, but we lost sight of what our true interests were.

  116. 116
    👽 Martin says:

    @BillinGlendaleCA:

    Step 1: get out of Afghanistan(or be thrown out)
    Step 2: Congress repeals the AUMF.
    Step 3: Congress passes some oversight ala FISA.
    Step 4: Can I haz my unicorn?

    #2 accomplishes #1.

    So your issue isn’t with Obama but with Congress, which was my point from the outset.

  117. 117
    pattonbt says:

    @burnspbesq: Buts that not how the war was sold. If it was sold on bloodlust alone, it would not have flown through. There had to be window dressing on other more fluffy (nation building) objectives tossed in.

    Winning hearts and minds was definitely an objective (and a prominently lauded objective) of the war because part of the war was nation building and democracy building. If it was to break shit we wouldnt have bothered with Kabul and Karzai and any of the other BS. We would have just razed the country (which was easily within our power to do).

    So again, based on our stated objectives, we lost. If they had been “just break shit” the war would have been over in one night and we wouldnt be having this discussion now.

  118. 118
    pattonbt says:

    @burnspbesq: Sorry, probably did not fully read and completely respond to your comment, specifically “Afghanistan should have been that kind of war, but we lost sight of what our true interests were”. Even if it were “that type of war” as you note, it still wouldnt have worked. If you levelled the place (carpet bombing), the collateral damage would have been too high a price to pay and if you invaded properly (with “to break shit” as your only objective) the human cost to us (our soldiers) would have been too high.

    Afghanistan is a nightmare of a theater and “unwinnable” from a war and occupation standpoint unless one thinks in decades and peoples will for war on that scale is non existent.

    Theres no question we could have done huge damage and high fived ourselves and walked and the short term high would have been great for those demanding bloodlust only, but the long term would be a nightmare. AQ wouldnt have been hampered any more than they are now. And the same chaos would have filled the void in the aftermath that was there before (as it will again once we leave now).

    But back to the Afghanistan war as it is and how it was sold, I ask, when we walk away, what will we have really accomplished? And I cant think of a single damned thing. It didnt bring us Bin Laden (that was done through good old fashioned police work and targeted action) and the country will fall apart within two years after we leave.

  119. 119
    El Cid says:

    @burnspbesq:

    Really? What’s their causus belli?

    It depends whether or not said nation-state’s internal policy and legal review considers that these arguments and legal rationales are sufficiently distant from the operative stage such that public release of this information is considered non-detrimental to the security goals.

  120. 120
    Maude says:

    The heavy equipment was taken out last year. It was in the news.
    That’s when the draw down began.

  121. 121
    dollared says:

    @pattonbt: Toppling the Taliban was worth it, because they were directly involved in 9/11 and payback is entirely appropriate.

    Withdrawal should have occurred within 180 days after that, and all your other points are exactly right.

    one.trillion.dollars.

    fuck.

  122. 122
    Phoenician in a time of Romans says:

    @Corner Stone:

    I’d have to say I agree with that assessment. Not sure how we keep our people in country safe without the targeted drone strikes.

    You have the biggest fucking army on the planet with the best weapons.

    And you’re saying “Oh, we have to murder a few women and children because our soldiers might not feel safe unless we’re raining down missiles on the population surrounding them”?

    Tell you what – put your soldiers back to base, tell them not to go out and seek trouble, and make it clear that (i) they’ll be gone very soon and (ii) any attempt to mortar them in the week or two left will be met by an angry attack helicopter.

  123. 123
    Phoenician in a time of Romans says:

    @JasonF:

    I have some idea. I would imagine they feel somewhat the same way I felt back in late 2001 when, on the secret say-so of somebody on the other side of the planet, a bunch of Americans got blown up.

    Cool – as I recall, the US responded by invading several countries in 12 years (and counting) of continuous war, killing probably hundreds of thousands of people.

    So you believe Pakistanis are justified in killing hundreds of thousands of Americans in response to the US using drones?

    Or is only white people who get to seek righteous revenge for actions taken against them?

  124. 124
    Phoenician in a time of Romans says:

    @dollared:

    Toppling the Taliban was worth it, because they were directly involved in 9/11

    Really?

    Proof?

    Or is it, you know, Al Qaeda, Taliban, Muslims in general – all those ragheads look the same… Or do you intend to try to weasel out of your statement that they were “directly involved in 9/11”?

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