Posts Tagged ‘Antiwar’

Here are 7 reasons why drones are scary and awful

Posted on March 21, 2014 at 4.41 pm

Thanks to Rare for publishing my latest:

By now you’re likely aware that our government has an extensive drone campaign in the Middle East and North Africa. Targets are selected personally by the President using a secret “kill list,” and though drone strikes are currently on the decline in Pakistan, they’re unlikely to go away entirely (particularly in Yemen) during Obama’s presidency.

But why do drones get so much attention? Bombs and planes have been around a long time—what makes drones so special?

Here’s seven reasons why drones are such a big deal:

1. Drones offer scary new surveillance capabilities. People are pretty much a fixed size. You can’t make a manned aircraft smaller than the person manning it. Drones, however, can be tiny. Super tiny. The size of bugs, in fact. When it comes to surveillance (and potentially assassinations), this makes drones much more of a threat than manned aircraft. You won’t miss the chopper hovering outside your window; you will miss the fly on the wall.

2. Drone warfare is bad for the drone pilots. Dropping bombs by remote control allows drone operators to be thousands of miles removed from their targets. It’s inherently uncertain and minimizes the very real psychological cost of hitting the kill button. Said one former drone operator, “We always wonder if we killed the right people, if we endangered the wrong people, if we destroyed an innocent civilian’s life all because of a bad image or angle.” When the American military is already suffering from a tragic suicide epidemic, adding the psychological strain of drone warfare can only make matters worse.

3. Speaking of the victims, the ratio of civilians to terrorists killed may be as high as 50:1. In Pakistan, a major target for US drone strikes, as few as 2% of those who die by our drone strikes are high-level terror suspects. As for the other 98%, it’s difficult to determine who’s a civilian and who isn’t. That’s because the Obama Administration classifies every male from 18 to 60 who is killed as a terrorist, regardless of evidence. This “guilty until proven innocent” rule gives the President free reign—all while pretending that every kill is a success. Many of these men are simply poor farmers in the wrong place at the wrong time. Some estimates put the civilian to terrorist kill ratio as high as 50:1!

Read the whole thing here.

Syria: By the Poll Numbers

Posted on September 2, 2013 at 12.11 pm

20%: Americans who think military action in Syria would be in the U.S. national interest

27%: Americans who think a military strike would improve the situation in Syria

17%: Independents who say a strike would improve the situation

30%: Democrats who say the same

31%: Republicans who agree

42%: Americans who back the use of military force against the Syrian government over its alleged use of chemical weapons

34%: Americans who still backed the use of military force in Syria after they had digested “a lot” of information on the Syrian government’s alleged chemical attacks

80%: Public approval for the 1990 Gulf War before it began

90%: Support for the U.S. action in Afghanistan before it began

76%: Approval for the Iraq invasion in 2003

(source)

“There are real concerns about the efficacy of action and deep fears of U.S. entanglement in Syria,” said James Lindsay, a foreign-policy expert and former Clinton administration official. “The public has a clear case of intervention fatigue after 12 years of engagement overseas, the longest stretch in U.S. history.”

Four takeaways here:

  1. That first figure indicates a growing understanding that just because we could invade somewhere doesn’t mean we need to or have to.
  2. If you had doubts about how similar establishment Republican and establishment Democratic foreign policy views are, have them no more — accounting for the margin of error, those numbers are identical.
  3. The more information someone has about this situation, the more likely they are to oppose intervention. For the blogger, this means: Keep writing. Keep spreading the word. Keep asking people to contact their reps to oppose this war. It can make a difference.
  4. Although there are apparently some irrational people who support war even though they don’t think it will improve the situation, overall, these numbers show progress: This is not 1990 or 2001 or 2003. We are tired of war, and it shows.

The Costs of War

Posted on January 1, 2013 at 11.32 am

I’m researching some of the costs of America’s wars since 2001 for a work project today. Most of this I’ve read about before — it’s not like I’m unfamiliar with most of the data. But all put together, it’s pretty heart-breaking. Here’s a sampling:

Dollars

  • $6 trillion+: The final costs of Iraq and Afghanistan
  • $16 trillion: The national debt
  • $720 million: The price of one day at war in Iraq
  • $300 million: One day of war in Afghanistan
  • $132 billion and growing: Annual Dep’t of Veterans Affairs budget
  • $50 billion: What we were told Iraq would cost

Freedom

  • Warrantless wiretapping
  • Indefinite detention
  • 1.7 billion of our emails read daily
  • Suppression of free speech
  • TSA security theater
  • Assassination of Americans

Lives

  • 1 million+ excess deaths in Iraq
  • 7.8 million+ refugees in Iraq
  • 6,518 American soldiers dead in Iraq and Afgh.
  • 16,495 total U.S. military deaths 2001-2010
  • 48,430 Americans wounded in Iraq and Afgh.
  • 1,655 military amputations from battle
  • 300,000 veterans have PTSD
  • 50 civilians killed for every one terrorist

The constant posture of attack our foreign policy takes today simply doesn’t work, and its price is high in dollars, freedom, and lives. If we want a safer and saner America, it’s time to end the wars.

[Sources include: 123456789.]