Keith Boyea's Blog

Notes & Commentary on National Security, Current Affairs and Bourbon

Drone Wars

Thesis: The drones are coming home.

I don’t often prefer to comment on someone else’s blog post, because that’s what everyone else does and they all do it better than I do.  But I read this post on Crooked Timber today and wanted to offer comment.  The pertinent sentence is:

Once deadly violence has been adopted as an instrument, whether by a state, a nationalist movement or political organization, the class of ‘legitimate’ targets expands steadily, to include alleged propagandists, collaborators and so on, and then to would-be neutrals.

I would posit that this is exactly what has happened to the American drone war.  I want to point to 4  data points.  First, is the rapid escalation of drone strikes in Pakistan since President Obama’s inauguration.  Second is the drone strike that killed American citizen Anwar al-Awlaki in Yemen.  Third, the drone strike that killed Anwar al-Awlaki’s 16-year-old son, also in Yemen. (It is not clear if the son was the target or “collateral damage.”)  Fourth, and lastly, was Rick Perry’s suggestion at last night’s debate that Predator drones be used to enforce the border between Mexico and the US. (and as it turns out this is already being done.)

The point here is that the once the instrument was adopted, we’ve seen steady legitimization of the tactic and the range of potential targets now include American citizens and the acceptable “collateral damage” now includes American children.  In fact, the process happened almost exactly as Mr. Quiggin laid out–I have seen no evidence that Samir Khan, the other American killed in the al-Awlaki drone strike, was anything but an alleged propagandist. 

The targets of these killings are decided on in secret, the operations are planned in secret, and the rationale for killing them is secret.  In fact, no government official will even go on record to acknowledge that the United States was involved in the killings at all.  Without a public check on this power, the rest of us are destined to become “would-be neutrals” in the endless terror war.


Written by keithboyea

October 19, 2011 at 8:41 am

Posted in Uncategorized

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