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.