American Elephants

About Drones: by The Elephant's Child

Bruce Feirstein in the Wall Street Journal:

…I’m reminded of an interview I did in the summer of 1999 with a B-2 Stealth bomber pilot at Whiteman Sir Force Base near Knob Noster, Mo. Noting the seeming invincibility of the B-2, I asked what he thought would be the Air Force’s greatest challenge in the future?

Well before the age of drones, the bomber pilot’s answer was prescient: “I worry about antiseptic warfare, when you remove the blood component and can wage war without fear of taking any casualties. I’m concerned that our leaders won’t fully understand the consequences of what they are doing, because what seems cheap and clean is anything but.

The American people seem to approve the president’s drone strikes. Some reports have indicated that the controllers really have no idea who or how many they are hitting. It seems cheap and clean to eliminate al Qaeda leaders, but when we are eliminating whole families, and children, there will be consequences.

After four years of Barack Obama’s “diplomatic leadership” and billions of dollars in attempted friendship aid, a new public opinion poll reveals that 92% of Pakistanis now disapprove of the United States.

The results could have been worse. Not much. But a little.  Fully four Pakistanis out of 100 do approve of the United States, President Obama and his policies. They, however, seem to keep kind of quiet about their views in that rowdy land. That’s the lowest favorable rating Pakistan’s citizens have ever given their ostensible North American ally.

The recent high point was 27% approval but then public opinion went south. Something to do with a pack of stealth aircraft advancing toward the city of Abbottabad carrying a posse of Kevlar-coated heavily armed SEALS in night-vision goggles.  All without notice to Pakistan officials, elected or otherwise.

Since then, CIA drones have lingered inside Pakistan air space, watching and waiting until commanded to direct a large explosive device onto a car or two or some houses where residents were gathered. More than 350 times that’s happened.

Often, some of the people vaporized in such raids were on a list of terrorist suspects targeted for extinction by the American president.

I’m all for protecting the lives of our troops, but enacting “rules of engagement” that leave our troops open to enemy attack, and then blowing up people and cars and houses willy-nilly troubles me. There will be consequences, there are always consequences.

Many in the U.S. intelligence community also believe the drone war is contributing to the al-Qaeda presence in Yemen. Robert Grenier, who headed the CIA’s counter-terrorism center and was previously a CIA station chief in Pakistan, told The Guardian in June that he is “very concerned about the creation of a larger terrorist safe haven in Yemen.”

“We have gone a long way down the road of creating a situation where we are creating more enemies than we are removing from the battlefield,” he said regarding drones in Yemen.


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