Monday, February 11, 2013

Unintended Consequences

(Editorial cartoon by Joel Pett / Lexington Herald-Leader (February 6, 2013) and featured at McClatchy DC.  Click on image to enlarge and then hustle back.)

Doyle McManus took a look at the Senate confirmation hearings for the nominee to head the CIA and noted something I thought was quite interesting.  The first part of his op-ed piece dealt primarily with the issue of whether more oversight was needed when using drones to take out American citizens accused of being terrorists.  It's the latter part of the column that struck me.

Still, protecting the rights of U.S. citizens in Al Qaeda is only part of what is at stake; those cases are unusual. In the long run, a more important question may be whether the drone strikes, which have killed more than 3,000 people, are creating more enemies for the United States than they are eliminating.

Scholars who have studied the political effects of drone strikes in Pakistan and Yemen have argued that even well-targeted raids often claim innocent victims, and the result is a backlash against the U.S. Likewise, Hayden and retired Gen. Stanley A. McChrystal, the former U.S. commander in Afghanistan, have warned that too many drone attacks — in Pakistan, for example, where the CIA uses "signature strikes" against suspected militants without identifying them individually — can be a bad thing.

"What scares me about drone strikes is how they are perceived around the world," McChrystal told the Reuters news agency last month. "The resentment created by American use of unmanned strikes ... is much greater than the average American appreciates. They are hated on a visceral level, even by people who've never seen one or seen the effects of one."

During a hearing that lasted more than three hours, only one senator asked about that critical issue — a senior Republican, Susan Collins of Maine.

"If you looked at a map back in 2001, you would see that Al Qaeda was mainly in Afghanistan and Pakistan, and if you look at a map today, you would see Al Qaeda in all sorts of countries," Collins said. "If the cancer of Al Qaeda is metastasizing, do we need a new treatment?" ...

...Collins shined a light on a question that can be debated in public: Are drone strikes effective in the long run, or are they creating more enemies than they kill? That's a worthy target for Senate and House committees to go after.   [Emphasis added]

Apparently all but Sen. Collins believe the use of drones, even against US citizens, is acceptable.  The only quibble has to do with Congress having more oversight when it comes to US citizens.  The implication is that the US public is OK with drone warfare, an implication borne out by some polls which finds a strong majority in favor of their use, presumably because it means fewer American troops on the ground.

But if, as Sen. Collins suggested, the use of drones against any suspected terrorist is creating far more terrorists in many more countries, then the policy just might be flawed, something no one seems willing to discuss.  A FISA court or congressional oversight committee isn't going to do much in any case.

When one adds to the mix the fact that more and more countries now have their own drones and are presumably willing to use them, we may just have opened a whole new kind of hell hole. 

Labels: , ,


Anonymous Anonymous said...

You are so cool! I don't think I've truly read through something like this before.

So great to find somebody with original thoughts on this topic.
Seriously.. thanks for starting this up. This web
site is something that's needed on the internet, someone with some originality!

Here is my homepage: psp download site
my site -

6:43 PM  

Post a Comment

<< Home