• Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Subscribe
  • RSS

The Never Ending War On Terror

The Washington Post’s Greg Miller reports today that the Obama Administration has been developing a plan that essentially assumes that the War On Terror, epitomized most especially by kill lists and drone strikes is going to last for some time to come:

Over the past two years, the Obama administration has been secretly developing a new blueprint for pursuing terrorists, a next-generation targeting list called the “disposition matrix.”

The matrix contains the names of terrorism suspects arrayed against an accounting of the resources being marshaled to track them down, including sealed indictments and clandestine operations. U.S. officials said the database is designed to go beyond existing kill lists, mapping plans for the “disposition” of suspects beyond the reach of American drones.

Although the matrix is a work in progress, the effort to create it reflects a reality setting in among the nation’s counterterrorism ranks: The United States’ conventional wars are winding down, but the government expects to continue adding names to kill or capture lists for years.

Among senior Obama administration officials, there is a broad consensus that such operations are likely to be extended at least another decade. Given the way al-Qaeda continues to metastasize, some officials said no clear end is in sight.

“We can’t possibly kill everyone who wants to harm us,” a senior administration official said. “It’s a necessary part of what we do. . . . We’re not going to wind up in 10 years in a world of everybody holding hands and saying, ‘We love America.’ ”

That timeline suggests that the United States has reached only the midpoint of what was once known as the global war on terrorism. Targeting lists that were regarded as finite emergency measures after the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, are now fixtures of the national security apparatus. The rosters expand and contract with the pace of drone strikes but never go to zero.

Meanwhile, a significant milestone looms: The number of militants and civilians killed in the drone campaign over the past 10 years will soon exceed 3,000 by certain estimates, surpassing the number of people al-Qaeda killed in the Sept. 11 attacks.

The Obama administration has touted its successes against the terrorist network, including the death of Osama bin Laden, as signature achievements that argue for President Obama’s reelection. The administration has taken tentative steps toward greater transparency, formally acknowledging for the first time the United States’ use of armed drones.

Less visible is the extent to which Obama has institutionalized the highly classified practice of targeted killing, transforming ad-hoc elements into a counterterrorism infrastructure capable of sustaining a seemingly permanent war. Spokesmen for the White House, the National Counterterrorism Center, the CIA and other agencies declined to comment on the matrix or other counterterrorism programs.

Privately, officials acknowledge that the development of the matrix is part of a series of moves, in Washington and overseas, to embed counterterrorism tools into U.S. policy for the long haul.

The article also notes that the CIA is seeking to expand its own fleet of armed drones, a development which I find kind of odd and potentially troubling. Do we really want an intelligence agency to have access to its own fleet of armed drones? Shouldn’t that kind of thing be consolidated with the military, where weapons like this ordinary belong, with the CIA providing logistical and intelligence support on an as-needed basis? If nothing else, a development like this suggests that the CIA is going to continue its transformation from an agency primarily dedicated to the gathering of intelligence to a paramilitary organization. Whether that is a good idea or not is something I’ll leave for the experts to ponder, but it strikes me as a mistake.

Glenn Greenwald, meanwhile, comments on the institutionalization of the “kill list” first implemented by President Obama when he targeted Anwar Al-Awaki:

The “disposition matrix” has been developed and will be overseen by the National Counterterrorism Center (NCTC). One of its purposes is “to augment” the “separate but overlapping kill lists” maintained by the CIA and the Pentagon: to serve, in other words, as the centralized clearinghouse for determining who will be executed without due process based upon how one fits into the executive branch’s “matrix”. As Miller describes it, it is “a single, continually evolving database” which includes “biographies, locations, known associates and affiliated organizations” as well as “strategies for taking targets down, including extradition requests, capture operations and drone patrols”. This analytical system that determines people’s “disposition” will undoubtedly be kept completely secret; Marcy Wheeler sardonically said that she was “looking forward to the government’s arguments explaining why it won’t release the disposition matrix to ACLU under FOIA”.

This was all motivated by Obama’s refusal to arrest or detain terrorist suspects, and his resulting commitment simply to killing them at will (his will). Miller quotes “a former US counterterrorism official involved in developing the matrix” as explaining the impetus behind the program this way: “We had a disposition problem.”

The central role played by the NCTC in determining who should be killed – “It is the keeper of the criteria,” says one official to the Post – is, by itself, rather odious. As Kade Crockford of the ACLU of Massachusettsnoted in response to this story, the ACLU has long warned that the real purpose of the NCTC – despite its nominal focus on terrorism – is the “massive, secretive data collection and mining of trillions of points of data about most people in the United States”.

(…)

What has been created here – permanently institutionalized – is a highly secretive executive branch agency that simultaneously engages in two functions: (1) it collects and analyzes massive amounts of surveillance data about all Americans without any judicial review let alone search warrants, and (2) creates and implements a “matrix” that determines the “disposition” of suspects, up to and including execution, without a whiff of due process or oversight. It is simultaneously a surveillance state and a secretive, unaccountable judicial body that analyzes who you are and then decrees what should be done with you, how you should be “disposed” of, beyond the reach of any minimal accountability or transparency.

On some level this strikes me as being an inevitable outgrowth of characterizing our response to the September 11th attacks as a “Global War On Terror.” Terror is a tactic, not a nation, a group, or an individual. You can’t bomb terror out of existence, you can’t capture it on the battlefield, and you can’t negotiate peace with it. On some level, fighting a “War On Terror” makes as much sense as calling World War One a “War On Tanks.” By characterizing the conflict in this way, though, our government has essentially made it inevitable that we would be fighting a never-ending war that would continue to provide us with excuses to intervene throughout the world, either with ground troops or drone strikes. That’s because you can never really say that you’ve defeated “terror.” Modern terrorism is something the world has been dealing with since the 1970s at least, and now that we’ve declared war on it we are essentially bound to keep fighting for the foreseeable future, and using increasingly distasteful tactics to do so.

One thing about this report that does stand out, of course, is how the list of people who the United States will be targeting for assassination without due process of law has been given the Orwellian name “Disposition Matrix.” Much as we’ve come to refer to torture as “enhanced interrogation” and the supposedly discontinued practice of sending terror suspects off to CIA black sites in foreign countries as “extraordinary rendition,” our government has now apparently decided to call the targeted killing of human beings by a name so bland as to make one forget what it actually is, a kill list. Of course as Micah Zenko notes, the members of the military and intelligence community have already developed a rather cavalier attitude about the practice:

Having spoken with dozens of officials across both administrations, I am convinced that those serving under President Bush were actually much more conscious and thoughtful about the long-term implications of targeted killings than those serving under Obama. In part, this is because more Bush administration officials were affected by the U.S. Senate Select Committee investigation, led by Senator Frank Church, that implicated the United States in assassination plots against foreign leaders—including at least eight separate plans to kill Cuban president Fidel Castro—and President Ford’s Executive Order 11905: “No employee of the United States Government shall engage in, or conspire to engage in, political assassination.”

Recently, I spoke to a military official with extensive and wide-ranging experience in the special operations world, and who has had direct exposure to the targeted killing program. To emphasize how easy targeted killings by special operations forces or drones has become, this official flicked his hand back over and over, stating: “It really is like swatting flies. We can do it forever easily and you feel nothing. But how often do you really think about killing a fly?”

There’s something disturbing about that, but it seems to be nothing more than a reflection of the cavalier attitude that the leaders of these man back in Washington have about the Drone War. Largely because it’s convenient and less bloody, at least to American forces, they’ve latched onto these attacks as the new best way to fight this War On Terror of theirs. The fact that it’s resulted in the deaths of as many as 3,000 civilians doesn’t seem to bother them at all, or if it does it seems as though they are considered acceptable collateral losses.

Spencer Ackerman hits on what this means for Obama’s legacy:

Obama did not run for president to preside over the codification of a global war fought in secret. But that’s his legacy. Administration officials embraced drone strikes because they viewed them as an acceptable alternative to conventional ground warfare, which it considered too costly and too public, but the tactic has now become practically the entire strategy. Micah Zenko at the Council on Foreign Relations writes that Obama’s predecessors in the Bush administration “were actually much more conscious and thoughtful about the long-term implications of targeted killings,” because they feared the political consequences that might come when the U.S. embraces something at least superficially similar to assassination. Whomever follows Obama in the Oval Office can thank him for proving those consequences don’t meaningfully exist — as he or she reviews the backlog of names on the Disposition Matrix.

So, if we do elect a President Romney in two weeks and you find yourself complaining about his Drone War, just remember that you can thank Barack Obama and the “Disposition Matrix” for that, as well as for the fact that we’re likely to be fighting the “War On Terror” for many years to come.

Related Posts:

About Doug Mataconis
Doug holds a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May, 2010 and also writes at Below The Beltway. Follow Doug on Twitter | Facebook

Comments

  1. cd6 says:

    just remember that you can thank Barack Obama and the “Disposition Matrix” for that, as well as for the fact that we’re likely to be fighting the “War On Terror” for many years to come.

    I agree with Doug. Obama was irresponsible to start this so called War on Terror. If we elect Romney and Romeny does something, well then its Obama’s fault.

    Vote GOP!

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 9 Thumb down 1

  2. Geek, Esq. says:

    Honestly, this is what the population wants.

    Bush wasn’t unpopular for his anti-terrorism policies, it was his anti-diplomacy policies and invasion of Iraq that were unpopular.

    If Democrats/liberals/libertarians thought that killing terrorists wherever they were to be found was ever unpopular with the American voter, they were kidding themselves.

    That’s not to say that there isn’t reason for concern. There is. But the failure is that Congress hasn’t provided any kind of guidance, let alone institutional check on this behavior. Operating in that kind of vacuum, any President is going to “do everything I can under the law to prevent terrorist attacks.”

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 10 Thumb down 3

  3. Rafer Janders says:

    The article also notes that the CIA is seeking to expand its own fleet of armed drones, a development which I find kind of odd and potentially troubling. Do we really want an intelligence agency to have access to its own fleet of armed drones? Shouldn’t that kind of thing be consolidated with the military, where weapons like this ordinary belong, with the CIA providing logistical and intelligence support on an as-needed basis? If nothing else, a development like this suggests that the CIA is going to continue its transformation from an agency primarily dedicated to the gathering of intelligence to a paramilitary organization. Whether that is a good idea or not is something I’ll leave for the experts to ponder, but it strikes me as a mistake.

    Well, here I have to agree with Doug. It’s a good point, and one I’ve been thinking about lately.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 0

  4. john personna says:

    I’m not sure you have the right focus with this piece. The premise, a continuing “war on terror” should surprise no reader at a political news forum, such as this. They also know the focus on Obama vs Romney is kind of pointless.

    The invention of a war on intention was made ten years ago, and it stuck. People buy it, wrongly in my opinion, because they accept killing over there to “prevent’ killing here.

    The population has accepted militarism. Saying either candidate “does it” totally ignores that there is no mandate to stop it.

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 19 Thumb down 0

  5. Geek, Esq. says:

    @Rafer Janders:

    Except that the CIA has always had a strong paramilitary element, it’s just more visible during some decades than during others.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

  6. john personna says:

    @Geek, Esq.:

    We were typing the same idea. For what it’s worth, I think GWB had a choice. He could have demilitarized terrorism, and maintained a criminalization.

    In my opinion there was nothing wrong with calling “mad bombers” just that, and if they formed groups, calling them “criminal organizations.”

    If Afghanistan sheltered a criminal organization, that would elevate it to state conflict, and war in a narrower sense, with them.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 9 Thumb down 0

  7. john personna says:

    @Geek, Esq.:

    I remember there used to be laws against CIA assassination. One of the weird things about drone killing is that while it is less discriminate, it is also more legal, more “war” and less “murder.”

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 0

  8. PD Shaw says:

    We are not at war with terror, that’s hyperbole. There is an authorization to use military force

    against those nations, organizations, or persons he determines planned, authorized, committed, or aided the terrorist attacks that occurred on September 11, 2001, or harbored such organizations or persons, in order to prevent any future acts of international terrorism against the United States by such nations, organizations or persons.

    While this language is far more flexible than the Greenwalds of the world would like, we are in the process of running out of the rational limitations of the authorization. By what analysis is a 17 year old girl someone who “authorized, committed, or aided” the 9/11 attacks or harbored those who did?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 0

  9. Tsar Nicholas says:

    Islamofacist terrorists think in terms of 50 or even 100 years. Or more. They’re not in any rush. They’ve been waiting for over 1000 years to reestablish the Caliphate. They’re still wanting to avenge the Moors. It’s a function of their religion. They want to get to paradise. They’re not looking to get home to mom and dad, apple pie and their Chevrolets.

    That’s the essence of the asymmetrical war in which we’re now enaged and, no doubt in a suprise to the spaced out chattering classes, in which the West has been engaged since Munich ’72. There won’t be a gala surrender ceremony a la Tokyo Bay ’45. There won’t be a formal armistice a la 1918. We won’t sign papers, shake hand, pat each other on the backs, and then enter into a free trade pact with them. Terrorism doesn’t work that way.

    In addition to being hampered by the loopy left we’re also hampered by the dumbing down of the general public. Zombieland can’t remember what happened 5 minutes ago and next week for them merely is a opaque hypothetical. Terrorists are not saddled with such lack of attention spans or cloudy thought processes.

    Ultimately it’s law of the jungle shit with these vermin. Kill or be killed. The media-academe cabal won’t ever grasp that. They’re too busy preening at cocktail parties or counting their trust fund money. Hopefully that won’t be the death of us.

    Poorly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 21

  10. bookdragon says:

    I agree that calling it a ‘War on Terror’ was dumb. However, what it actually is, a war on Al-Qaeda and it’s allies, is an on-going war since they have certainly not disbanded or surrendered.

    I agree with most of the criticism (although I find using drones considerably less disturbing than firing missiles remotely or sending in combat troops). Otoh, I have family living in both Northern Ireland and Israel. The question of how to combat opponents willing to use terrorist tactics on civilian targets within your country has not been answered satisfactorily in any case I know of.

    I understand why records are closed on issues touching national security, but judicial review could still be implemented. Ideally, congress would pass provisions requiring some level of over-sight. Unfortunately, congress has neither backbone nor interest in addressing the issue.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 0

  11. john personna says:

    @PD Shaw:

    When you have an authorization

    against those nations, organizations, or persons he determines planned, authorized, committed, or aided the terrorist attacks that occurred on September 11, 2001, or harbored such organizations or persons, in order to prevent any future acts of international terrorism against the United States by such nations, organizations or persons.

    You are fighting an intention, “to prevent any future acts.”

    I really don’t get how you say “no we aren’t fighting a war on terror,” given those words.

    (Americans have of calling non-declared things “wars.”)

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  12. john personna says:

    @Tsar Nicholas:

    -1 for irrational paranoia

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 15 Thumb down 0

  13. wr says:

    @Tsar Nicholas: And since you’re among the brilliant few who are able to see the truth of our frightening enemy, you’ll be joining up to fight them, right? After all, you know they need to be exterminated like bugs — surely you must be willing to put your own immediate needs on hold to save America.

    Oh, wait. You decide that an uncountable number of human beings must be killed, but you can’t be bothered to dirty your dainty little hands with their blood, or to risk a hair on your oh-so wise head.

    What a loathesome display of ignorance, hate, bloodlust and cowardice. You may be the perfect Republican.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 2

  14. Rob in CT says:

    The invention of a war on intention was made ten years ago, and it stuck. People buy it, wrongly in my opinion, because they accept killing over there to “prevent’ killing here.

    The population has accepted militarism. Saying either candidate “does it” totally ignores that there is no mandate to stop it.

    THIS.

    Those of us who argued from 9/12/01 on that this whole “war on terror” concept was badly flawed lost the argument.

    I lament this, and I won’t go so far as to say we’ve lost it forever and ever… but political reality is that there is not a strong block of voters who will vote against “WoT” policies such as these.

    The argument must be won first, and the politicians will likely follow. Good luck with that. I’ve had no success.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 6 Thumb down 0

  15. mantis says:

    Does anyone think we should not be killing the worst Al-Qaeda terrorists where we find them?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 1

  16. Well, mantis, the other possibility is that we should be capturing them and mining them for intelligence.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 0

  17. mantis says:

    @Doug Mataconis:

    Well, mantis, the other possibility is that we should be capturing them and mining them for intelligence.

    Sure, that would be ideal, but it depends on where they are, no?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 1

  18. It also depends who they are. There have been allegations that many of the people targeted in drone strikes have been low level targets of limited value.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  19. rudderpedals says:

    If the drone targets are of limited value why do you want to capture them instead?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  20. I was merely giving Mantis an alternative.

    If, however, it’s true that the drones are being used on low-value targets then it puts the fact that they’ve resulted in 3,000 civilian deaths into a new light.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

  21. jd says:

    We’ve always been at war with Eastasia Terror.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 0

  22. Scott says:

    Its too late now but if I were asking debate questions, I would have like to ask each candidate to justify the GWOT and preemptive war on moral, ethical, and theological grounds.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  23. john personna says:

    @mantis:

    Does anyone think we should not be killing the worst Al-Qaeda terrorists where we find them?

    If we were truly honorable people we’d use some kind of due-process, wouldn’t we?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 0

  24. john personna says:

    Do you guys know what “swatting” is?

    The fact that people hack emergency response to send swat teams to peaceful residences for general amusement (sarc) should give pause to anyone who “drone” on “reasonable intelligence.”

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

  25. David M says:

    @Doug Mataconis:

    If, however, it’s true that the drones are being used on low-value targets then it puts the fact that they’ve resulted in 3,000 civilian deaths into a new light.

    I find it highly unlikely we aren’t targeting lower value individuals.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  26. Davebo says:

    If, however, it’s true that the drones are being used on low-value targets then it puts the fact that they’ve resulted in 3,000 civilian deaths into a new light.

    Channeling Glenn Harland…

    “Disturbing if true”

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  27. Geek, Esq. says:

    @john personna:

    No. There is nothing dishonorable about killing the enemy before he kills you. People who decide to wage armed attacks but remove themselves beyond the reach of law enforcement have no right to complain about lethal force finding them.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 1

  28. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @Doug Mataconis:

    If, however, it’s true that the drones are being used on low-value targets then it puts the fact that they’ve resulted in 3,000 civilian deaths into a new light.

    This.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  29. mantis says:

    @john personna:

    If we were truly honorable people we’d use some kind of due-process, wouldn’t we?

    What form would that due process take? How far would it extend? Do we need due process for every bullet fired?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  30. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @Geek, Esq.:

    People who decide to wage armed attacks but remove themselves beyond the reach of law enforcement have no right to complain about lethal force finding them

    Geek, true. But what about the people who find themselves residing along side of them thru no fault of their own? And die in the hellfire missile attacks too?

    “Tuff shit?” Really???

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 0

  31. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @mantis:

    What form would that due process take? How far would it extend? Do we need due process for every bullet fired?

    Mantis, you have a problem with due process?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  32. john personna says:

    @mantis:

    I know that if I lived down the street in Yemen, and a missile just exploded, I would not be happy at all.

    The morality we use for drone strikes is not “reversible.” We don’t put ourselves in the position of “gosh, if I lived in remote Yemen or Afghanistan, as a law abiding citizen, how much would it bug me that houses can just go ‘boom’ in the night?”

    (We make movies about what it would be like if aliens did it to us, even as we do it to others, which is kind of shallow.)

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 0

  33. john personna says:

    @Geek, Esq.:

    Thank God you can certify every death for us, as a real live terrorist.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

  34. michael reynolds says:

    I do get a bit squinty at the idea of the CIA having its own drone fleet. This sounds like a job for the Pentagon, not for CIA.

    1) Are there people actively plotting to blow up Americans planes and cities? Yes.
    2) Should we try to stop them? Yes. I think we all agree thus far.
    3) Should we attack them or simply defend and react? That’s where we diverge.

    If we don’t attack them we cede the initiative. If we don’t attack them we make their planning and training infinitely easier. Therefore, realistically, we make it easier for them to kill Americans. I don’t think that’s arguable. We make it easier for them to kill Americans.

    The counter-argument is a variation on what used to be the standard liberal hair shirt: they attack us because we do bad things to them.

    Like? Like put troops in Saudi Arabia at the request of the Saudi government to forestall further conquests by Saddam Hussein.

    Like? Back repressive regimes. Except of course, Islamist terror groups actually are repressive. They just want a different repression.

    Like? Draw cartoons of Mohamed?

    The problem with the hair shirt argument is that it’s just an argument for endless cringing acquiescence. To avoid being hated we had to let Saddam Hussein invade Kuwait and probably SA as well and impose a repressive regime which we’d be hated for allowing?

    And what if Matt and Trey do another Mohamed episode? Do we outlaw that? How far does this hair shirt approach go? Are people under the impression that various militants around the world are going to abide by some strict live-and-let-live plan?

    I think this is naive. There are actual bad guys, they are not figments. They want to attack us for various reasons – some of which we might ameliorate, but in ameliorating might only cause to multiply. Retreat does tend to encourage advance. Weakness does encourage aggression.

    People don’t just hate us for what we do. They hate us because they know damned well that we are the force for democracy, pluralism and tolerance and they don’t like those things. “They” won’t be happy until we are entirely out of the middle east. And then? What if “we” somehow insult Muslims abroad? What if we allow advertising of bikini-clad women near Muslim communities in Europe and the US? Once we empower them, why would they settle for getting us out of the middle east? Islam is a world religion, after all, an indivisible group, according to the extremists. If Saudis or Pashtuns can take umbrage at Israelis picking on Palestinians, why wouldn’t they be equally outraged at any perceived attack or insult on any Muslim anywhere?

    Sorry, no. You hang pirates. You cut off their safe haven support, and you burn their ships and you hang them. And if the pirate’s neighbors don’t like it, then the pirate’s neighbors had better get busy hanging the pirates themselves.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 6 Thumb down 1

  35. john personna says:

    Sorry, no. You hang pirates. You cut off their safe haven support, and you burn their ships and you hang them. And if the pirate’s neighbors don’t like it, then the pirate’s neighbors had better get busy hanging the pirates themselves.

    Deh Bala wedding party bombing

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  36. michael reynolds says:

    @john personna:

    Yeah, sometimes innocent people get hurt. Here’s one for you. War is fwcking awful. That’s why we like stable governments, preferably democratic ones, where some order can be maintained. I’m sure there are terrorists in London right now, and in Paris and Toronto. But when we find them we call their intelligence people and their cops and they arrest the bad guys. So we don’t have to blow them up.

    Unfortunately Pakistan wants to play footsie with terror groups. And Yemen doesn’t control all their country. And there is no government in much of Afghanistan. If we could call up the Pakistani cops we wouldn’t be blowing up their countryside, would we?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 0

  37. Herb says:

    Largely because it’s convenient and less bloody, at least to American forces, they’ve latched onto these attacks as the new best way to fight this War On Terror of theirs. The fact that it’s resulted in the deaths of as many as 3,000 civilians doesn’t seem to bother them at all, or if it does it seems as though they are considered acceptable collateral losses.

    If we started with the drones, then maybe I would be more concerned about them. But considering the War on Terror had previously involved invading and occupying two countries, I have no problems preferring the “convenient and less bloody” option.

    PS. Conventional war results in many more civilian casualties. Look it up.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 0

  38. mantis says:

    @OzarkHillbilly:

    Mantis, you have a problem with due process?

    Obviously I do not, but it has no place on the battlefield. I believe we are at war with al Qaeda, and I believe we are winning because we are taking the fight to them. We are finding the leaders and we are eliminating them.

    Is there an argument that we have taken the drone war too far? Absolutely. But I find arguments that we should let their generals carry on when we could kill them instead unpersuasive.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  39. john personna says:

    @michael reynolds, @mantis:

    Well, you’ve both internalized the “global war on terror,” haven’t you?

    You can’t put yourself in the situation of someone in a country which is not at war, which does not have a military in the field, but which is “remotely targeted” because a criminal conspiracy is (or simply may) be operating within their borders.

    Obviously if your daughter’s wedding party was taken out, you wouldn’t be so “we must break eggs to make omelets.”

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

  40. anjin-san says:

    Obviously if your daughter’s wedding party was taken out, you wouldn’t be so “we must break eggs to make omelets.”

    If you have a blueprint for a world where innocents don’t die, I for one am all ears. It will be something new in human history.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 0

  41. michael reynolds says:

    @john personna:

    Come on, “Can’t put yourself in the place of?” To a fiction writer?

    I can also put myself in the place of a kid who dies at 35,000 feet when his plane is blown out of the air by some fanatic we could have killed.

    Where there is law, we should obey the law. Where there is no law we revert to a more primitive code: survival. Show me that we can peacefully arrest terrorists in Pakistan or Yemen or the Pashtun tribal areas and I will be with you in demanding an immediate halt to the drone war.

    There is a very long list of countries where it would be unthinkable to fly drones. There is a much shorter list where it is quite thinkable. Are we flying drones over Japan or France or Russia? No.

    We did not force Pakistan to get into bed with terrorists. We didn’t create the chaos in Somalia or Yemen. We are not required to let our people die because those people can’t organize a competent government.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

  42. mantis says:

    @john personna:

    Well, you’ve both internalized the “global war on terror,” haven’t you?

    No, I don’t think we’re at war with terror. I think we are at war with certain people, and yes that war is more or less global in nature. And it is not a matter of my “internalizing” it, it is a demonstrable fact. Do you disagree?

    Obviously if your daughter’s wedding party was taken out, you wouldn’t be so “we must break eggs to make omelets.”

    Don’t put words in my mouth. I don’t think we’re making omelets; I think we are fighting a war. And my friend died in the World Trade Center when he was just going to work, in a country that was not at war. We are now, and that sucks. I would prefer your world of unicorns where innocents never die, but I don’t know where that place is.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 0

  43. Herb says:

    @michael reynolds:

    “Show me that we can peacefully arrest terrorists in Pakistan or Yemen or the Pashtun tribal areas and I will be with you in demanding an immediate halt to the drone war.”

    This.

    I’d even take it a step further and demand not just the peaceful arrest, but a successful conviction. Of course, to demand that we’d have to implement a legal structure that can handle terrorist suspects. We don’t have that and we won’t get it.

    We have, instead, Guantanamo Bay.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 0

  44. ptfe says:

    @michael reynolds: I think you’ve lost sight of the bigger problem, which is that the U.S. government is simply inventing lists of people to kill with drones with no oversight — these are secret lists made by intelligence agencies, not detective work put in front of a court. (And don’t forget that we’ve shown no qualms about having U.S. citizens on that list, in spite of their obviously more expansive legal protections.)

    And you’re also not putting much thought into this whole business of “terror.” Indeed, I would take your pirate quote and suggest that you’ve given the U.S. too much precision credit: when your pal next door blows up because the U.S. thought he was a terrorist but you know he was just a decent guy doing his best to get along in this crazy world, that doesn’t mean you suddenly start looking at all your other neighbors as possible terrorists, that means you channel your hatred toward the pig-fucker who blew up the other half of your townhouse — also known (now, to you) as a terrorist.

    This isn’t some abstract “Oh shit, sometimes people get hurt” problem, this is an issue of a government having both the capacity and the desire to blow people up remotely, and no accountability to go along with it. Yes, sometimes people get hurt, and yes, sometimes even oversight doesn’t remove mistakes. But accountability is critical, especially when death is on the line.

    I’d say that’s even more true when we’re using our technology in a worldwide effort to convince people we’re the goodies, when in fact our results don’t suggest we particularly care who’s good and who’s bad — which makes us look a whole lot like the baddies in the areas of concern.

    (Incidentally, Hiroshima and Nagasaki were in a nation at war, and the U.S. was at least good enough to drop pamphlets with graphic descriptions of the horrors about to be unleashed. And the people of Nagasaki — now living in a friendly nation with a first-world government — are still pretty bitter about that whole bonus-day-of-destruction thing we pulled 75+ years ago.)

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 0

  45. stonetools says:

    I think TBoggs put this best:

    Every year in Happy Gumdrop Fairy-Tale Land all of the sprites and elves and woodland creatures gather together to pick the Rainbow Sunshine Queen. Everyone is there: the Lollipop Guild, the Star-Twinkle Toddlers, the Sparkly Unicorns, the Cookie Baking Apple-cheeked Grandmothers, the Fluffy Bunny Bund, the Rumbly-Tumbly Pupperoos, the Snowflake Princesses, the Baby Duckies All-In-A-Row, the Laughing Babies, and the Dykes on Bikes. They have a big picnic with cupcakes and gumdrops and pudding pops, stopping only to cast their votes by throwing Magic Wishing Rocks into the Well of Laughter, Comity, and Good Intentions. Afterward they spend the rest of the night dancing and singing and waving glow sticks until dawn when they tumble sleepy-eyed into beds made of the purest and whitest goose down where they dream of angels and clouds of spun sugar.

    You don’t live there.

    Grow the f**k up.

    It applies to the drone war too. There is no modern war that doesn’t result in the death of innocent civilians. At best, you minimize losses.
    Doug’s solution-capture the terrorists-is also a non-starter. Sending commandos on raids to capture terrorists in countries like Yemen and Somalia sounds to me like deliberately planning potential clusterf**ks .

    What the anti drone war people seem to be saying is that if we just leave the jihadists alone, they won’t bother us. Unfortunately, we already tried that strategy. In 1990, we withdrew completely from Afghanistan and left then alone, in classic libertarian fashion. How did that work out for us?

    We don’t live in Happy Gum Drop Land, where there is some perfect option. Here on Earth Prime, drone war may be the least evil option. That doesn’t mean we can’t prosecute it more humanely. We should discuss that, rather than stopping it altogether.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 0

  46. Just 'nutha ig'rant cracker says:

    @Tsar Nicholas: If you’d stopped at paragraph 2, you would have made a cogent and insightful comment. Sadly, you lapsed into your own loopy Tsarmania and spoiled an otherwise intelligent comment. Zombieland indeed. You, sir or madam, are the president thereof.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  47. Just 'nutha ig'rant cracker says:

    @jd: I think jd wins the thread!

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  48. mannning says:

    First of all, we should recognize the proper name for the conflict we re in; that is, it is a Global War on Islamofascists or GWOIF. We have gained nothing by pussyfooting around in identifying the enemy for who he is. Second, we must fully account for the numbers of Muslims we are faced with. Out of the total worldwide population of Muslims of over a billion, a majority of these Muslims are not directly involved with terrorism. Fully 200 million to 400 million of them, however, are fundamentalists that sympathize and support the active radicals that are doing the fighting and terrorist assaults. The actual number of true jihadists is probably on the order of 1 to 2 % of these fundamentalists, or perhaps 2 million to 4 million men, which is quite enough to send many battalions to the urban insurgency types of wars we have been fighting. That these millions of Muslims have not become totally integrated into a union such as the Muslim Brotherhood is fortunate for us, as are the differences between the various sects—Shiites; Sunnis; Wahabbi, and a myriad of tribes– that keep them from uniting fully, is a great blessing to us in the short term. Geography and local conditions obviously play a part in this.

    Our pinpricks to this army in the form of leadership decapitation drone strikes are not effective in the long run, since replacements will move up to take the vacated command positions. Their real effect has been to disrupt local activities for a short term, while taking out many civilians in the process. Since it has been reliably reported that the group meetings are deliberately surrounded by family and others as a cynical form of protection or of creating damaging publicity, we are forced to incur civilian casualties to get to the terrorists themselves. It is likewise not clear that many of the men we have taken out are very important to the movements.
    .
    Another factor in this situation is the large numbers of Muslims that have immigrated to the West, including Europe and the United States. We currently do not and cannot monitor such a large number of aliens and prospective citizens adequately, and must rely on tips and a low key surveillance of activities surrounding Mosques and open events. The estimated 4 million Muslims in the US can produce a significant threat whenever they decide it is time. Their Haddith instructs them on how to behave in a foreign nation prior to the push to conquer: obey the laws; religious services can be curtailed or eliminated if necessary; they must remain faithful to Islam; they must stay in touch with their leaders; and they must be prepared to do the bidding of their leaders when the time is right. Theirs is the long view, spanning centuries, which means we will have a difficult time correlating their incremental moves and thwarting them. Drones used inside the US for strikes would be hard to swallow and difficult to justify.

    My conclusion is several fold: 1) The drone strikes overseas do have some effect on their teams, and despite the civilian casualties, the strikes should continue, as it does cause a disruption locally in the Muslim jihadist’s organization and planning; 2) Drone surveillance both overseas and in the US is a worthwhile endeavor, but there should be no strikes inside the US; 3) We must create a comprehensive plan of attack against the internal jihad or GWOIF, and its supporters, and execute the plan thoroughly. The bottom line is that our religious freedom law is not meant to be a suicide pact allowing a rogue religion that advocates the overthrow of the nation to continue to enjoy the protections of our laws.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 5

  49. Rick DeMent says:

    @mannning:

    First of all, we should recognize the proper name for the conflict we re in; that is, it is a Global War on Islamofascists

    While I think that the term Islamofascists is an oxymoron let’s put even a sharper point on it. It a war on religious fanaticism. specifically the type of religious fanaticism that seeks to export their brand of fairy tale and impose it on others though the use of violence. This really has nothing to do with Islam. I would feel the same about Catholic terrorists bombing bars in downtown Belfast (and I did). The problem is that invading countries and killing innocents is just not the best or even marginally effective way of dealing with the problem of international terrorism regardless of the religious or ideological roots of those who practice it..

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

  50. john personna says:

    @michael reynolds:

    We did not force Pakistan to get into bed with terrorists. We didn’t create the chaos in Somalia or Yemen. We are not required to let our people die because those people can’t organize a competent government.

    You’ve bought into a secret chain of command that only promises your safety in exchange for the death of anonymous others. How many others? Everyone is flexible on that, right? That, with very little proof or accounting that any one death (or any ten) actually prevented injury to you.

    @mantis:

    I say “you’ve bought into a war on terror.” You say “no.” And then you repeat several times that “we are fighting a war.”

    Against whom? Again, you have vague assurance from anonymous suits in the US government that some mud hut in Yemen was an appropriate target, and necessary to protect your safety. That is not war in any conventional sense. That is state sponsored assassination, in a very indiscriminate form.

    In war people have taken up arms against you, and die with guns in their hands. They don’t die at a wedding.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  51. john personna says:

    @anjin-san:

    The worst thing about these times is that we have become so cavalier about deaths at a wedding.

    The second-worse thing is that the world knows it. It is not actually a long term foreign policy win that we kill without law.

    It is classic might-makes-right imperialism. That always works in the short term, but always brings blow-back in the long term.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  52. Tony W says:

    @mantis:

    No, I don’t think we’re at war with terror.

    I stand by my comment earlier this year – if the name of the military adventure includes the word “On” (e.g. “War On Drugs”, etc.) then it is a criminal pursuit, not a military one. To the original point, “wars” on things that will never cease to exist tend to go on forever and, more importantly, consume disproportionate resources of blood, treasure and our collective attention.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  53. john personna says:

    @Rick DeMent:

    Neither of those distinctions works as a definition for “war.” You can’t make war on minorities spread across nations. There can be no conventional engagement. All you can do is assassinate across those lands, if you are up for it.

    What if France decided it was still at war with Nazis, and drone attacked Nazi headquarters in Chicago?

    I know the reaction you just felt when I asked that. “They can’t, we’re stronger” right? Well that is what we are rubbing in faces of good, honest, nonviolent men across the Muslim world. We are rubbing it in their faces that we are stronger and can kill who we want.

    We can break a few eggs to make our omelet.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  54. Andre Kenji says:

    The problem with the term “islamofascism” is that the closest thing to fascism that exists in the Arab World are the Secular Military Regimes of things like the Baath Party, not Al Qaeda. Al Qaeda uses tactics that are similar to many anarchists groups in the past. Anyone that utters this word is saying that he/she does not understand a thing about Politics. Or anything.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

  55. john personna says:

    I guess the bottom line comes in two parts for me:

    1. I am willing to accept greater personal risk in exchange for fewer civilian deaths.
    2. I don’t believe that we are talking about much increase in risk, anyway

    (I could go into “most likely deaths” and odds for all of us, but I assume that would be too rational for my target audience.)

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  56. michael reynolds says:

    @john personna:

    You’ve bought into a secret chain of command that only promises your safety in exchange for the death of anonymous others.

    What I’ve bought into is the proposition that I’d rather see dead terrorists than dead Americans.

    I have no problem with Congressional oversight but it won’t change a thing and you know it. And obviously I want the best intel so we have the fewest errors. But innocents will still die.

    This is not a fight that we started. The onus is on the terrorists. They can end this tomorrow. The government of Pakistan could end their part of this if they chose. The people of Yemen and the Pashtuns could end this. They choose not to do so.

    As a consequence some innocent people will die alongside the terrorists. It’s tragic and awful. No one is saying it’s fun. I have a pretty good imagination, really, so yes I get the awfulness of it. But I can also see the awfulness of letting terrorists strike the US more frequently.

    How do you suppose the US government and the American people will respond if we have a sudden rise in actual terror attacks? I can tell you: they won’t take it. Do you think you’ll like that response? You’re seeing only what’s right in front of your face and turning away from the consequences of inaction.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  57. john personna says:

    @michael reynolds:

    You are making an emotional, fear based, argument. It is extremely unlikely that terrorism would ever rank as a significant cause of death in the US. It is remote, obscure, but scary. That makes it ripe for a certain type of cognitive error.

    How Americans Are Living Dangerously

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  58. Rafer Janders says:

    @Herb:

    Of course, to demand that we’d have to implement a legal structure that can handle terrorist suspects. We don’t have that and we won’t get it.

    Well, no, we have a legal structure. We have a perfectly good legal structure that convicts terrorists practically every week. We just pretend, when it comes to some suspects and not others, that we don’t have such a structure. In fact, however, there have been over 400 convictions of terrorist suspects (not including domestic terrorism) in federal court from September 2011 to March 2010 (the last date I could find stats for) according to the Department of Justice.

    http://www.scribd.com/doc/28990439/Weich-Letter-to-Leahy-Sessions-on-Terrorism-Prosecutions-in-Civilian-Courts

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  59. Herb says:

    @john personna: Here’s the bottom line for me:

    If you want fewer civilian deaths….we have to destroy these terrorist groups.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  60. john personna says:

    @Herb:

    The argument was never about killing “terrorists,” it is about killing “purported terrorists and everyone else in the house with them.”

    I’m sure it makes it easier to think about, to just assume everyone in the house is an honest to God terrorist, but it can’t be true, can it? Really?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  61. Herb says:

    @Rafer Janders:

    “We have a perfectly good legal structure that convicts terrorists practically every week.”

    You know, I probably would have agreed with you on the adequateness of the legal structure a few years ago. But now….I’m just not sure it’s up to the challenge.

    Here we are, Iraq’s over. The big round up in Afghanistan is over. We’ve got terrorists in Libya, Egypt, Yemen. We found Bin Laden in Pakistan. What do we expect a US court to do in all that mess?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  62. mantis says:

    @john personna:

    I say “you’ve bought into a war on terror.” You say “no.” And then you repeat several times that “we are fighting a war.”

    Against whom?

    Against al-Qaeda. Not a war on terror. Terror is not an enemy. Why do you keep pretending not to understand?

    Do you disagree that we are at war with al-Qaeda?

    Again, you have vague assurance from anonymous suits in the US government that some mud hut in Yemen was an appropriate target, and necessary to protect your safety. That is not war in any conventional sense. That is state sponsored assassination, in a very indiscriminate form.

    I have a lot more respect for our intelligence community and our military, that is for sure.

    In war people have taken up arms against you, and die with guns in their hands.

    You’re rather naive, aren’t you? The 19 men who attacked us eleven years ago were part of an army at war with us, and they didn’t die with guns in their hands.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  63. mantis says:

    @john personna:

    There can be no conventional engagement.

    We face an unconventional enemy in an unconventional conflict. The world has changed. Wake up.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 1

  64. Herb says:

    @john personna:

    “I’m sure it makes it easier to think about, to just assume everyone in the house is an honest to God terrorist, but it can’t be true, can it? Really?”

    I’m just a taxpayer, man. I pay someone else to think about that.

    And I rest assured that they do.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  65. john personna says:

    @mantis:

    lol, it’s kind of odd for you to ignore my focus, civilian deaths, while accusing me of naivety.

    And no, the 19 men who attacked us eleven years ago were part of an army in any conventional sense. They were part of an international criminal conspiracy of non-state actors.

    My sense of honor, not naivety, demands that I don’t lash out at civilians in fear of criminals who just might be in their midst.

    I mean, can’t you see that this demands both tribalism and that we view Yemenis as subhuman for all this to work? Look, gang drive-bys kill more in the US than terrorists. I don’t think you’d want police in your city to drone attack suspected gang hangouts. Why not? Because Americans are real people, of course.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  66. Rafer Janders says:

    @Herb:

    What do we expect a US court to do in all that mess?

    Um, if they’re arrested and brought to the US, I expect a US court to try them and, if the charge is proven beyond a reasonable doubt, convict them, and if not, release them. Just as they are able to do with every other federal crime.

    The fact that terrorists operate all over the globe isn’t some new circumstance that is unique to our time. This has, instead, practically always been the case so long as there has been international terrorism, and yet we’ve always been able to find, arrest and convict such people.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  67. john personna says:

    @Herb:

    You punted on an important issue. You KNOW that not everyone in the house was a “terrorist” and especially not one with access to US citizens. This is remote Yemen for God’s sake.

    We’re killing people on the 1 or 2 percent chance that they might kill an American.

    We demand a lot more of our police when the suspect is a real person.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  68. Rafer Janders says:

    @mantis:

    I have a lot more respect for our intelligence community and our military, that is for sure.

    It’s not a question of respect — respect is completely irrelevant. It’s a question of accountability and responsibility, and their proven track record of making disastrous mistakes, and how confident we are in life or death situations that they are accurate. Did you have respect to the intelligence community and military in 2003? If yes, you still have to account for the fact that they completely screwed up the attack on Iraq.

    The 19 men who attacked us eleven years ago were part of an army at war with us, and they didn’t die with guns in their hands.

    See, I’d don’t believe in glorifying them in this way. They weren’t part of an army at war with us — they were part of a cheap criminal gang.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  69. Rafer Janders says:

    @mantis:

    We face an unconventional enemy in an unconventional conflict. The world has changed.

    We’ve ALWAYS faced unconventional enemies in unconventional conflicts, from the earliest days of this country in the hundreds of years of Indian wars, to the “small wars” with resistance guerilla bands in the Philippines, the Caribbean and Central America from the early 1900s to the 1920s, to the Viet Cong in Vietnam, to international terrorist groups such as the Red Army Brigades, Baader-Meinhof and the PLO in the 70s and 80s, to state-directed terrorists such as Libyan and North Korean terrorists in the 80s and 90s, to the present day. This isn’t a new thing — it’s just a modern variation on the status quo.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  70. michael reynolds says:

    @john personna:
    It doesn’t have to rise to being a significant cause of death. Two suicide bombings in shopping malls at Christmas would cost us billions and send heavily armed cops to malls to run ID checks. You aren’t a dumb guy. You know that’s true. We’d become Israel.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  71. john personna says:

    @michael reynolds:

    I’m not a dumb guy, I know you are pulling “billions” out of your ass.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  72. Herb says:

    @Rafer Janders:

    “Um, if they’re arrested and brought to the US, I expect a US court to try them and, if the charge is proven beyond a reasonable doubt, convict them, and if not, release them. Just as they are able to do with every other federal crime.”

    Agreed, 100%. Well, I don’t expect that, per se. I would like it, though. It sounds nice.

    We should implement it immediately.

    (But we should also kill these guys when we can. Covertly if possible to keep the ruckus down.)

    @john personna:

    “You punted on an important issue.”

    You’re right. I didn’t want to get into the whole HOO-RAH thing about the fine men and women in our armed forces. They too know that not everyone in the house is a terrorist. That’s why they’ll launch when the kids are at school. (This stuff is taken into account on any operation, I assure you.)

    And when those drone jockies find out later that the terrorist camp they bombed turned out to be a wedding party, they don’t get medals and commendations. They get a visit from the lead investigator…

    Trust the system a little bit. Not the whole way, but just a little.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  73. Rafer Janders says:

    Do you disagree that we are at war with al-Qaeda?

    I would disagreee we are “at war” with al-Qaeda, in the same way I’d disagree we are at war with the Mafia, or the Mexican drug cartels, or Chinese human traffickers, or any band of international criminals. I don’t believe large, powerful nation-states should or could be at war with small groups of criminals — it only serves to elevate the criminals in their and others’ minds.

    You know who does want to think that the US is at war with al-Qaeda? Al-Qaeda. They freakin’ love that idea.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  74. Rafer Janders says:

    @Herb:

    Agreed, 100%. Well, I don’t expect that, per se. I would like it, though. It sounds nice.
    We should implement it immediately.

    Um, we’ve already implemented it. We’ve been doing it since forever. See my post above about DOJ’s estimate of 400 plus convictions of international terrorist suspects in federal court from September 2001 to March 2010.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  75. Rafer Janders says:

    @michael reynolds:

    We’d become Israel.

    Yes, but that’s because we’re panicky, stupid and fear-driven, not because terrorism is particularly deadly.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  76. Rafer Janders says:

    @Herb:

    And when those drone jockies find out later that the terrorist camp they bombed turned out to be a wedding party, they don’t get medals and commendations. They get a visit from the lead investigator…

    Oh no! Not the lead investigator!

    Well, I’m sure that if my wedding party was ever blown up, I would rest easier knowing that the men who had brutally slaughtered my family and friends for no good reason later had a note of reprimand placed in their personnel files. It would balance the scales a little bit, and really take the edge off my desire to blow up a wedding party in the US in retaliation.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  77. john personna says:

    @Herb:

    Actually, I’m saying that you are over-burdening those fine men and women in our armed forces.

    When you ask them to “kill all terrorists” or “anyone associated with Al Qaeda” you are asking them to kill some number of civilians as well.

    You are asking those operators to live with having killed a wedding party for the rest of their lives.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  78. Herb says:

    @Rafer Janders:

    “Oh no! Not the lead investigator!”

    See, I thought you were for justice. My mistake.

    @john personna:

    “You are asking those operators to live with having killed a wedding party for the rest of their lives.”

    If that is the mistake they made, that is their burden. Why should I carry it?

    This is what I’m saying here. The way we do things is different from the way they do things. If we bomb a wedding party, someone screwed up.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  79. C. Clavin says:

    I do not like this at all…it’s one of the biggest problems that I have with the Obama Administration.
    But take note that Doug, or any of the critics he quotes, do not raise productive alternatives.
    It’s super easy to criticize. It’s much more difficult to actually do something other than sit behind a keyboard.
    You want you and yours to be safe…but you don’t want to kill the enemy.
    If the enemy is taken prisoner…cowards with absolutely no faith in our Justice system refuse to allow them to be brought to trial. Somehow that becomes ” …Obama’s refusal to arrest or detain terrorist suspects…” A more neutral analysis would be that Obama’s hands have been tied when it comes arresting and detaining terror suspects.
    Bottom line; what the f’ do you want? What would you do if you were in Obama’s shoes?
    Invade and occupy Iraq?
    Show me the feasible alternative.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  80. Rafer Janders says:

    @Herb:

    This is what I’m saying here. The way we do things is different from the way they do things. If we bomb a wedding party, someone screwed up.

    Of course we screwed up. But that’s what we’re saying here — that in this kind of situation, these screw ups are always going to happen, and will keep on happening, and if we don’t want these screw ups, we should reconsider how we operate. After all, “we’re better than al Qaeda!” isn’t the most prideful of boasts for us to be making.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  81. mantis says:

    @john personna:

    lol, it’s kind of odd for you to ignore my focus, civilian deaths, while accusing me of naivety.

    I don’t ignore your focus, I reject your dishonest argument. You are absolutely naive if you think our enemies will only fight on a traditional battlefield with guns in their hands. That’s denying reality.

    Plus, don’t whine to me about “ignoring your focus” when you ignore direct questions I pose to you.

    And no, the 19 men who attacked us eleven years ago were part of an army in any conventional sense.

    Again, we are not facing a conventional enemy. Wake up.

    My sense of honor, not naivety, demands that I don’t lash out at civilians in fear of criminals who just might be in their midst.

    You don’t have honor. You dishonestly accuse those who fight our enemies of “lashing out at civilians.” That’s not what they are doing and you know it.

    I mean, can’t you see that this demands both tribalism and that we view Yemenis as subhuman for all this to work?

    No, because it demands neither. Just because civilians get killed in wars does not mean we must view them as subhuman.

    Look, gang drive-bys kill more in the US than terrorists. I don’t think you’d want police in your city to drone attack suspected gang hangouts. Why not? Because Americans are real people, of course.

    No, asshole, we can go after criminals in our own country. We can work with allies to go after criminals in their countries. We cannot go after criminals in Pakistan or in Yemen.

    You haven’t made a single honest argument, John. Get bent.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 1

  82. Herb says:

    @Rafer Janders:

    “Of course we screwed up. But that’s what we’re saying here — that in this kind of situation, these screw ups are always going to happen, and will keep on happening, and if we don’t want these screw ups, we should reconsider how we operate.”

    This is the reconsideration.

    Shock and Awe was much worse.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  83. mantis says:

    @Rafer Janders:

    It’s not a question of respect — respect is completely irrelevant.

    I was responding to asshole John, who seems to think that our military is in the businesses of killing civilians for fun.

    See, I’d don’t believe in glorifying them in this way. They weren’t part of an army at war with us — they were part of a cheap criminal gang.

    A cheap criminal gang that has carried out multiple major attacks on our embassies, ships, and military installations around the world, a devastating attack on our greatest city, and has fought us for many years on the battlefields of Central Asia? That’s not a criminal gang, and I’m not “glorifying” them by saying so. I’m recognizing reality.

    We’ve ALWAYS faced unconventional enemies in unconventional conflicts

    And we’ve adjusted. Your comment does nothing to rebut my point; the fact that our enemy does not wear a uniform and fight in formation with a rifle does not make them any less our enemy.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  84. mantis says:

    When we were attacked on 911, we had some choices. We could take the fight to our enemy, finding them where they seek refuge and killing or capturing them through the use of solid intelligence work, covert missions, special forces, working with our allies, and of course, drone strikes, or we could start invading Middle Eastern countries and ensuring that way, way more chaos and instability would ensue and way, way more civilians would get killed.

    We know which path was chosen. Many of us fought against that in favor of the first choice. That is the path we are now pursuing, with no plans to invade yet another country, and we are winning the fight against al Qaeda, with far fewer civilian casualties than traditional war causes.

    Oh, I forgot, there is a third option. Do nothing and wait to be attacked again. There are a few of you on this forum who seem to think this is a good option. It’s not. It’s madness.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  85. Rafer Janders says:

    @mantis:

    I was responding to asshole John, who seems to think that our military is in the businesses of killing civilians for fun.

    Honestly, I do not think he believe that, and I don’t think an unemotional reading implies that. We can disagree among ourselves about public policy without insulting each other.*

    *Offer not applicable to wingnuts.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  86. mantis says:

    @Rafer Janders:

    Honestly, I do not think he believe that, and I don’t think an unemotional reading implies that.

    Yeah, it really does. He claims we are lashing out at civilians, he claims we kill indiscriminately, he claims we do not view civilians in other countries as real people. He imputes those motives to our entire military and intelligence services, and to me.

    We can disagree among ourselves about public policy without insulting each other.*

    We can, but he doesn’t. He can get bent.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 2

  87. Mikey says:

    @mantis:

    I have a lot more respect for our intelligence community and our military, that is for sure.

    If I may interject, briefly.

    I served 20 years in the military (including a tour at JSOC) and currently work on several contracts with government agencies that have, shall we say, a sizable presence in counter-terrorism. The people with whom I have worked over nearly 30 years were–and are–almost without exception the finest people I have ever known, ethical and honorable almost to a fault. My current primary customer is without a doubt the hardest-working person I have ever met in my life. I have the highest respect for all of them, past and present.

    And yet I agree with John that “vague assurances from anonymous suits” are not sufficient. Why? Because even the most honorable can make mistakes. Even the most ethical are far from perfectly ethical. Even the hardest-working can be misdirected. Without oversight and adherence to the rule of law, the potential for abuse–even unintentional–is unlimited.

    I have the utmost confidence in our military, and in the agencies with which I work, but as Jefferson said: “In questions of power, let no more be heard of confidence in man, but bind him down from mischief by the chains of the Constitution.” We are a nation of laws, not of men, and not of Presidents. And the fact we’re at war with a shady enemy that acts in depraved and disgusting ways doesn’t change that.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 0

  88. Wayne says:

    IMO the War on this or that is overused. Many of them by their nature will never end. War on Murder, War on Cancer, War on Poverty, War on Speeding, War on etc will never end or will go on long after our lifetime. That doesn’t mean we should give up on them. The idea is to limit them as much as possible instead of allowing them to grow and get out of hand.

    Until universal peace breaks out, we will have terrorism. The idea is to limit it so it will not bring down buildings and kill large number of people. If we can do that, the “war” will not be officially “won” completely but it will be a success.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  89. Rafer Janders says:

    @mantis:

    Oh, I forgot, there is a third option. Do nothing and wait to be attacked again. There are a few of you on this forum who seem to think this is a good option. It’s not. It’s madness.

    No one thinks “do nothing” is a reasonable choice. That’s a straw man. But we may think that doing something for the sake of doing something, or worse, for the sake of being seen to do something, without properly calibrating all the costs to ourselves and to others, now and in the future, is not necessarily the wisest choice.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  90. Mike says:

    Few thoughts…

    EO12333 (prohibition on any government personnel engaging in assassination) is still technically in effect…it just has been gutted by Rule #1 of American foreign policy, which is that if the word “terrorism” is involved all the other rules don’t apply. If you want a laugh look up some of the legal arguments that have been put forth to justify how “targeted killings” in areas that are not combat zones (i.e., Yemen, Somalia, and Pakistan) are somehow not technically “assassination.”

    Regarding the “war on al-Qaeda” idea, that would be all well and good if we were only targeting al-Qaeda personnel, but there is pretty solid evidence that many of the folks that are on the kill list are NOT members of al-Qaeda or al-Qaeda associated groups, and are instead members of organizations like the Haqqani Network, who, while doing things like killing U.S. troops in combat in Afghanistan, have zero desire or capability to actually engage in a terrorist attack on U.S. soil or against U.S. citizens/facilities elsewhere worldwide. So making this become a binary choice between “kill people who want to kill Americans at home” and “do nothing” isn’t really accurate because many of the people on the list (probably) aren’t in the business of planning the next 9/11 or whatever other big bad theoretical you want to throw out. Of course, we can’t know this for certain because the kill list is subject to no review or accountability from anyone outside the Executive.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 0

  91. Andre Kenji says:

    Drones are not substitutes for soldiers. That´s a dangerous path.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  92. Mike says:

    Also, a lot of people seem to think that all the collateral damage in these strikes is “just war” and is not avoidable…allow me to throw this one tidbit of information out there are an indicator of a larger problem: under the current government rules, we can carry out drone strikes based on a “pattern of behavior,” without actually knowing who is being targeted. You don’t get to play the “well that’s war and it sucks, it’s either them or us, what are ya gonna do?” card when you are striking targets without even knowing who you are targeting and you accidentally blow up a family.

    And I say this as a serving military officer who has a full appreciation of the necessities of wartime and that terrible things are unavoidable in war, so please don’t level the “well you’re just a bleeding heart who wants us to stand by while we are all killed by terrorists” slur at me. There is a fundamental difference between collateral damage in a conventional war (or even wide-scale destruction of civilian areas as a result of indiscriminate methods of delivering ordnance in a conventional war) and “accidentally” killing civilians in a “targeted strike” (i.e., the closest thing we have to a “surgical strike”) when you DON’T EVEN KNOW WHO YOU ARE TARGETING.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 0

  93. michael reynolds says:

    @Rafer Janders:

    Yes, but that’s because we’re panicky, stupid and fear-driven, not because terrorism is particularly deadly.

    Yeah. Do you have a way to change that?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  94. Phillip says:

    My issue is that we are handing out death sentences for what amounts to thought crimes. Yes, we should be hunting down and killing people WHO HAVE ACTUALLY KILLED AMERICANS. Killing people who haven’t done anything yet is not defensible.

    In fact, I’d go so far as to say that using the threat of death and violence on innocents to change their expressed political views IS terrorism. I feel like some amoung us have stared too long into the abyss.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  95. michael reynolds says:

    @john personna:

    You don’t think terrorist attacks in American shopping malls at Christmas would cost us billions?

    Sorry, but on this issue – only on this issue – you are out of touch with reality. Do you think if I thought there were bombs going off at US malls I’d take my kids shopping? Do you think I’d object to metal detectors at the doors? You don’t think that ends up costing billions? Tens of billions more like.

    Look, John: people are what they are. They are not idealized people or perfect people or heroic people. Smart governments have to deal with people as they are, not as you may wish them to be.

    You’re proposing that:
    1) We back off attacking Al Qaeda. Which…
    2) Makes their planning and execution easier. Which…
    3) Makes successful attacks in the US more likely. Which…
    4) Results in more US deaths and more paranoia, more security, all the things you don’t want.

    Your rationale is:
    1) It’s bad to accidentally kill civilians. Which is…
    2) 100% true. But…
    3) Is not somehow the perfect closing argument.. Because…
    4) You are arguing for risking more American lives as a trade-off for Afghan or Pakistani lives.

    We should attack Al Qaeda as carefully as we can, with the greatest concern for innocent deaths. But to argue that we should simply stop wars because innocents are killed is absurd. It basically cedes control to whichever side shows the least concern for innocent deaths. It empowers the most brutal. All any opponent has to do to stop John Personna is shove an innocent person in the way of a bullet or bomb. It renders us helpless and gives all power to the most ruthless.

    In the process it forces us to take greater defensive measures inside the US which inevitably means more arrests, more imprisonment, less freedom.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  96. michael reynolds says:

    @Phillip:

    Killing people who haven’t done anything yet is not defensible.

    Sounds good, not realistic. Let’s take an actual, declared war. Old school war. Do we only kill the enemy soldiers who have actually killed one of ours? Do we only shoot down the bombers that have already dropped their load? Do we abstain from attacking supply lines because they aren’t the guys actually pulling the trigger?

    If not, then how is this different? Because Al Qaeda isn’t a nation state?

    Fine, then, let’s talk piracy. The pirate ship says, “Avast there, heave to or we’ll open fire!” Is it or is it not okay to fire first and take out the pirate?

    Take it domestic. Bad guy has gun to hostage’s head. Do we wait until he’s shot the hostage before shooting him?

    Of course we kill people before they kill us. Duh. Otherwise you lose. Haven’t you ever seen a cowboy movie? “No, Johnny Ringo, you shoot first. Take your time. And then I, Marshall Dillion, will shoot back.”

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  97. Mikey says:

    @michael reynolds:

    Yeah. Do you have a way to change that?

    Change it? Not likely, unless we figure out a way to re-wire stuff that’s the result of a few million years of evolution.

    Mitigate it? Absolutely. One of the advantages of being human is self-awareness. We know we have the tendency to overemphasize and overreact to rare but significant events, so we create processes by which we can re-prioritize things properly.

    This is, of course, both difficult and non-politically-popular, so I am not hopeful. But it is possible.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  98. Mikey says:

    @michael reynolds:

    Of course we kill people before they kill us. Duh. Otherwise you lose. Haven’t you ever seen a cowboy movie? “No, Johnny Ringo, you shoot first. Take your time. And then I, Marshall Dillion, will shoot back.”

    All I could think when I read this was “Han shot first!”

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  99. mannning says:

    Islamofascism
    Fascism= “A political philosophy, movement, or regime that exalts nation and often race above the individual, and that stands for a centralized autocratic government headed by a dictatorial leader, severe economic and social regimentation, and forcible suppression of opposition.” –Webster’s

    Since Islam is both a religion, a movement and a political philosophy that exalts Islam above all others, stands for a centralized and autocratic government headed by a dictatorial leadership, and has severe economic and social regimentation, and contains a significant radical membership that is dedicated to jihad and forcible suppression of opposition wherever found, that portion of their membership ( if not the totality of their movement)fully merits the label fascist, and to differentiate their form of fascism from other forms, we add the prefix Islamo, as in Islamofascism.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 2

  100. Rafer Janders says:

    @michael reynolds:

    Yeah. Do you have a way to change that?

    Large-scale population transfers with less twitchy, fearful and hyper-aggressive (ever notice how those often seem to go together?) ountries, such as Canada.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  101. Rafer Janders says:

    @michael reynolds:

    Do you think if I thought there were bombs going off at US malls I’d take my kids shopping?

    I dunno, when I lived in [unspecified European country for reasons of anonymity] there were [unspecified terrorist group] bombs going off quite frequently, and yet my parents still took us shopping. We didn’t cower inside all day, we just kept calm and carried on.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  102. Rafer Janders says:

    @michael reynolds:

    Take it domestic. Bad guy has gun to hostage’s head. Do we wait until he’s shot the hostage before shooting him?

    No, but we also don’t lob a grenade at him and the hostage, figuring that so long as it kills the bad guy, killing the hostage is an acceptable loss.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  103. Phillip says:

    @michael reynolds: Not realistic? Don’t be naive- the principal I describe keeps you safe, after all… When Iran gets drones as good as the predators, do you think it would be moral of them to kill all the Americans who would vote for war with Iran, as a preventative measure? That seems to be where your logic can be extended. What is your limiting principal?

    Old-style war: the people we are allowed to kill without proving a crime are the ones who are wearing the uniforms of an entitly we have declared war on. See: Geneva conventions, war crimes.

    And yeah, it is different because it is a nation-state. Nation states can be defeated- how do you defeat an organization where everyone who is sympathetic is considered a member? It isn’t like they can surrender if they don’t know we consider them part of the fight…

    I’ll note that all of your counter-examples are cases of clear-cut self defense, where hostile intent is not in question. How does this apply to a strike based on “known associations”?

    Under your logic, are Islamic militants justified in striking the American towns where drone operators live? In order to “kill them before they kill us”?

    This sort of reasoning is why Kant came up with the categorical imperative. And no, I don’t think that playing cowboy is ethical.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  104. mannning says:

    The term war, as in the Global War on Islamofascism, does not have to be a declared war, nor does it have to necessarily involve confrontation of armies in battle array as some have suggested. Used in this phrase it simply means conflict, and we most assuredly have that against Islamofascists around the world. There is no question that these serious conflicts can lead to a formal and declared war between nations.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 2

  105. buddhacosmos says:

    So , how is assassination different from conventional war? With drone strikes we’ve killed 3,000 innocents. The Iraq war killed at least 100,000 innocents. How is it that drone strikes are less moral? Do we have a court hearing for every enemy we kill on the field of battle. No.

    As in the controversy on gun control there is a contrived blindness in the idea that assassination is more reprehensible than war. If a tyrant goes to war, why kill a hundreds of thousands of military personel and civilians when you may just strike a leader and his cabinet. With this method the innocent and the civil servant don’t have to die. Only the aggressor.

    This is morality. it’s more like karma than being the big man’s scapegoat.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  106. buddhacosmos says:

    @mantis: I lke your point like mine. Why should the aggressors be safe while their troops and innocents pay the cost with their life. Targeting the problem seems very basic. uh!

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  107. Phillip says:

    @buddhacosmos: I do actually agree with that. I’d still have congress declare it, but war against the commanders and not the citizens makes a lot of sense to me.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  108. buddhacosmos says:

    @john personna: I see your point and it’s a good one. I’m just saying , targeted drone strikes, there is less death of innocents than when we put troops on the ground in Iraq. Where more than 100,000 innocents died in a conventional war. this doesn’t make the death of innocents in war more acceptable, but fewer wedding parties are disturbed. And that’s the best we can do and pursue and eliminate the true aggressor.

    i want to point up that the real problem here as we must be more concernd with here than there as people all over the world should be. The majority of the MATRIX” is made of US citizens at home. This is potentially most serious since the War on Drugs.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  109. anjin-san says:

    @ Phillip

    Old-style war: the people we are allowed to kill without proving a crime are the ones who are wearing the uniforms of an entitly we have declared war on. See: Geneva conventions, war crimes.

    So are you saying the fire bombings of Dresden and Tokyo were war crimes? The napalming of countless Vietnamese peasants? How about the innocents who died in the “shock & awe” bombings?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  110. Rafer Janders says:

    @anjin-san:

    So are you saying the fire bombings of Dresden and Tokyo were war crimes? The napalming of countless Vietnamese peasants? How about the innocents who died in the “shock & awe” bombings?

    Well, yes, those were war crimes. They were all the deliberate murder of innocent civilians for the purpose of spreading terror, i.e. terrorism. However, we weren’t conquered, so we weren’t prosecuted for those war crimes.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

  111. Andre Kenji says:

    Some months ago, Lisa Bloom on CNN complained that more young women knows how many are the Kardashian Sisters than knows about the number of countries where the United States is at war. My first thought was that no one knows exactly how many countries the United States is at war, because there are so many of them. Well, at least we don´t see new Kardashian Sisters each month, it´s easier to count them.

    We are not talking about a war that was authorized by the Congress. We don´t know exactly how many countries there are where drones are being operated. We know that there are drone bases in Afghanistan, in Ethiopia and Yemen, but no one knows. Maybe there are drones flying over my house in this exact moment, no one knows. That´s more complicated than a war where the Geneva Convention can be applied.

    Worse, don´t expect major terrorists to stay in large rural areas where they are an easy target for drones. Even worse, imagine when terrorists manage to build their own drones!).

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  112. Andre Kenji says:

    @mannning:

    The term war, as in the Global War on Islamofascism, does not have to be a declared war, nor does it have to necessarily involve confrontation of armies in battle array as some have suggested

    The term “war” denotes the idea that you can win a battle with terrorists solely using Military force. Being at war with something that´s almost a contradiction of terms(Islamofascism) is even worse.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  113. Phillip says:

    @anjin-san: Yes.

    Shock and awe less so. Valid military targets do have collateral damage. Mass slaughter aimed at breaking the will of a civilian population? Yes, war crime.

    Is your argument basically that because Americans did it, it’s un-American to call it that?

    Sorry, no. People get desperate and scared and make stupid calls, and in war more so, sure. But we need accountability, or else we do not have the moral standing to hand out death and call it justice.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  114. anjin-san says:

    Is your argument basically that because Americans did it, it’s un-American to call it that?

    Please show were I said that, or even inferred it.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  115. Mikey says:

    @Phillip:

    Mass slaughter aimed at breaking the will of a civilian population? Yes, war crime.

    It is now, based on Protocol I of the Geneva Conventions, but that was not written until 1977. I don’t think it was a war crime during World War 2. Back then it was just how wars were fought.

    I believe (but could be mistaken) that the German officials tried at Nuernberg were only prosecuted for Holocaust-related crimes, but not for dropping “buzz bombs” on London, for example.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  116. mannning says:

    @Andre Kenji:

    The term “war” denotes the idea that you can win a battle with terrorists solely using Military force

    Sorry, but you are off the mark rather badly. Your idea is simply too confining. Recall the concept of total war, where every possible avenue of engagement is undertaken, not just militarily, which is the right approach against terrorists, such as the Islamofascists we are currently fighting. Among the avenues of engagement, then, are: military; economic and financial; social; area denial; blockade; sanctions; propaganda, and political, to name most of the main ones. At least that is the thinking of Sun Tzu, and most generals of note since his time. You might profit by reading Tzu’s “The Art of War”.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 1

  117. mantis says:

    @Rafer Janders:

    No one thinks “do nothing” is a reasonable choice. That’s a straw man.

    No, it’s what many of you seem to advocate. Or rather, no other option is left once you eliminate every other one.

    But we may think that doing something for the sake of doing something, or worse, for the sake of being seen to do something,

    Speaking of straw men. Nobody is advocating this. I’m advocating identifying the leadership of al Qaeda and, if they are hiding out in countries who are uncooperative in this struggle, executing strategic strikes. I’m not arguing that these things shouldn’t be done carefully, nor am I saying that we can’t, or haven’t, taken it too far with the drone strikes. The basic principle is we do not let our enemies continue to wage war with us from safe havens like Pakistan and Yemen. And yes, a recognition that the people being killed will not always be all bad guys. War is hell. We are at war. The land of unicorns and rainbows does not exist.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  118. ajw93 (@ajw93) says:

    “Terror is a tactic, not a nation, a group, or an individual.” True enough, but I’d put it this way: “Terror is an emotion. TerrorISM is a tactic.”
    It’s laughable to me when a politician says, “no acts of terror will change our great nation,” and crap like that. Because that’s 100% incorrect. It’s exactly what has happened, and continues to happen. Soon we won’t be able to say, “I’d like my country back,” because no one will be alive who remembers. When I really feel tinfoil-hatt-y, I say to myself, that old joke about “What’s next? Internal passports?” isn’t going to be so funny when you need to go to Jersey one of these days.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0