Monday, February 20, 2012

The Constant Drone

Salon contributor Gary Kamiya is one of those writers I generally enjoy reading; he's thoughtful, intelligent and he articulates his points incisively. Today's column from him, however, made me roll my eyes more than a few times. It starts with the basic premise, and it's one that the emo-prog contingent has been scratching its collective head over for months now: Why oh why do so many liberals support the use of drone strikes to kill terrorist targets and even (clutches pearls) American citizens engaged in terrorism overseas? At Salon, the cognitive dissonance and unfocused outrage over this supposed paradox has typically been the domain of Glenn Greenwald, who delivers, as you'd expect, lengthy condescending lectures on it at regular intervals. To his credit, Kamiya at least approaches the subject with some measure of balance and a welcome lack of obnoxious piety, but it's still somewhat baffling that there are those on the left who are baffled that Americans by and large condone the use of armed drones in prosecuting the war against the terrorist threat.

I'd get deeply into it, but thankfully two people have already said everything that needs to be said on the subject. From the personal and political perspective there's this:

Oliver Willis: Why Do Liberals Support Drone Strikes?/2.8.12

And from a thorough and enlightening military perspective, this:

Osborne Ink: Drone Hysteria Is Stupid/1.30.12

By the way, Kamiya himself admits the reality of drone-waged warfare -- which he inexplicably calls "dirty," as opposed to what clean kind of warfare I'm not quite sure -- in a paragraph that inadvertently winds up being one of the funniest things I've read in an online publication in quite a while.

"The dirty war has been tactically effective. It has killed significant numbers of top Taliban and Al-Qaida leaders, including bin Laden himself, and forced other radical jihadists underground, disrupting their command and control and generally making their lives difficult.

Finally, dirty war has a proven historical track record. Agents of the American OSS and the British SOE, fighting behind enemy lines, carried out major acts of sabotage and subversion, tied up Axis troops and provided invaluable support to resistance groups. (I should know: I wrote a book about the SOE.) Dirty war tactics helped win World War II.

So why stop using such an effective instrument?

The answer is simple: Because it is not effective."

Sure, he goes on to make the claim that while drones are tactically effective, the ongoing use of them isn't strategically effective in the long term -- but it's amusing as hell to come across this particular double-take-worthy statement.


Matt said...

I for one would like to know what constitutes a "clean war". Slopping through bloody mud to stab someone with a bayonet?

Mart said...

Predictable Mart rant..

I love when a list has the only three options available in the whole spectrum of thought. What about Willis discussing Greenwald's #4. Drone attacks makes people angry, get out of their business and they will be out of ours. (I think Willis lost the argument when he said he is OK with Obama, but not Bush pulling the trigger. What about insane Prez Santorum behind the paddles?)

What are our rules of engagement? (Currently limited to killing brown people in mostly Muslim countries.)

Are drones only OK if we use them?

Would it be OK for Iranian drones to target Israeli and US nuclear laboratories in response to their nuclear scientists being blown to pieces the past few years?

OK for Russia to drone Chechnya? OK for China to drone Tibet monks? OK for Chavez to take out Bush's Dallas neighborhood in revenge for the failed 2002 coup?

Drones are now being marketed to USA police country wide. Will they only be an eye in the sky, or will they be armed? Who is the decider to pull the trigger? Is it OK to drone bomb a suspected terrorist safe house in the US? Drone bomb a Michigan militia? Of course we should target us some Black Panthers.

When a group of young Saudis men can plan 911 from Munich and Miami...OMG the terror is everywhere...we gonna need a lotta drones...

What is the chance of being killed by a Muslim terrorist again?

Also too, the whitewashing of drone attacks by our media is reprehensible. Maybe they would not be so cool if they stop showing the video game view from the drone, but showed the splattered bodies. That's what the hearts and minds we are winning see on their TV's in the middle east.

Chez said...

You nailed it in the first three words and could have -- and maybe should have -- stopped there.

Alan said...

Dirty war. Bad stuff. Unamerican I say!

Next thing you'll tell me is that someone, on a cold Christmas Eve, would attck and defeat a drunken enemy across the river. Just plain dirty and despicable, and something America should never do!

Anonymous said...

Because we love to tell ourselves what we want to hear, and then go out of our way to find information supporting what we already believe.

No one seems to want to challenge themselves, anymore. They are only interested in challenging the other guy.

Anonymouse said...

Americans need to learn that WWII style conflicts are a thing of the past. You can't out kill an insurgency, especially one where the participants celebrate death. You need as close to a 25 to 1 force and you need those boots on the ground for decades if not longer. You need a motivated population willing to put up with the long occupation, along with the economic costs and the deaths of soldiers that come along with it. You need a fighting force that never, ever gives in to the desire to launch reprisals for the umpteenth time that one of their boys gets killed and suddenly no one in the town knows anything or is willing to point out the insurgents even though they all know who did it. You need to prop up a regime that the locals don't respect or even like because its the best of what is available.

Even then, its a crap shoot. The Brits, who took Imperialism and made it a science, were eventually bled dry by trying to hold on to everything at once. Me personally, I think we don't have the stomach for this and we should have rationally worked on a national energy policy to extract us from the Middle East back in the 70's. But that would require middle America to curtail on their lifestyle and so...yeah, here we are.

Villemar said...

The problem is that now Gary Kamiya, an excellent writer indeed and responsible for some great articles when he was executive editor (and prior to that under the David Talbot era); is stuck situationally where he has to genuflect to the pack of Snarling Greenbeckistani Hyneas that have overrun the place.

This all began when Joan Walsh took the reigns in 2008. First, she chose as a business model page hits as the prime driver of revenue over content (this is why every single article makes you "continue Reading" as a way to double every count). Secondly, she allowed Gresham's Law of Internet Discourse to flourish when she allowed comments to go completely unmoderated. So, Salon soon became a magnet for every nutter with an axe to grind against this POTUS. Although IMHO Joan has been an unreconstructed PUMA and Master Concern Troll; the chief driver of Obama Derangement Syndrome at Salon soon became our dear friend Mr. Greenwald. His minions, over the course of the past few years, literally drove out all of the Salon veterans (myself included) and other truly sharp minds who committed the mortal sin of not hating Obama with the white-hot passion of elevendy kajillion suns. They used to be confined to Greenbeck's articles, but that ended a while ago.

It's too bad. A few weeks ago Kamiya wrote a great piece about the GOP's Cult of Obama Hate; but unforutnately had to not only ignore the 800 lb elephant in the room but also throw in a courtesy scrap of red meat to placate the hyenas by adding a few lines along the line of, "Although Obama is a fucking asshole War Criminal who personally gets off of killing brown babies in the Middle East for lulz, this GOP onslaught is truly historical in its intensity..." Et cetera.

Salon is Greenbeck Country now there's no way around it. It's just too bad Kamiya has to self-censor now to coddle those lunatics (and I can assure you even withought reading the comments that he was still savaged by many for being an Obamapologist who let him off easy for his unspeakable bloodthirsty acts of horrific genocide).