Originally Posted by Chaz
*The program has killed 4700 people. I seriously doubt most of them where terrorists. It could make matters worst by making more people want to get revenge on America and become terrorists.
I just wan tto grapple with this for a little bit, because its something I too struggle with. I supported Biden's faction when it came to the debate on the future of Afghanistan, and so I feel I own some personal responsibility for making sense of the policy. I fully admit to being made uneasy by the nature of the thing - flying, killer robots obviously trigger the sci-fi dystopian sensation. But when considered against the alternatives, taken as part of an opportunity cost, it loses a lot of the surface revulsion. Its going to boil down to three options: full-scale occupation, limited and targeted assassinations, or withdrawal. Obviously the occupation option almost always tallies up with more bodies. The withdrawal option is limited so long as the argument exists for maintaining stability against the threat of extremists, although there is no denying that the administration has gone about securing a full-fledged withdrawal about as quickly as can be seriously considered, and far quicker than most people expected. So you're left with the targeted option. Its not a good option, but its a compromise made in full consideration of a public that at once demands security and expects that security to be achieved ... how, exactly? There are always going to be far more people that want to kill Americans than can be dealt with, for a variety of reasons. The issue comes to actually dealing with those who have the capacity and organization to do so - and the fact is, those people are largely localized in a few hotspots, and thats where the drones are, and that's where the civilian casualties follow.
COIN, as the only serious alternative provided to the Drone Program, simply doesn't work in Afghanistan - the analysis is that even though the Taliban have been responsible for the vast majority of civilian deaths, those deaths always follow American forces, and it doesn't matter to the Afghan people who ultimately is responsible: wherever the Americans are on the ground, that's where their civilian countrymen are being killed, and so they want us out. And that's been the trigger-point for the withdrawal. So, then, do we simply roll back the Drone program and leave security in Waziristan and Yemen to the local authorities? That's probably not a great idea, because the powers that be in those places are borderline failed states. Of course, the continuation of the Drone program further destabilizes those states, so its a hell of a Catch-22. The reactionary proposal is to simply cut the program and leave it to chance, I guess - most of these organized elements exist in lawless regions, and an assassination program is the only means of reaching them. And its an impossible gamble, because if an attack succeeds, and that attack is traced to one of these lawless regions, what then? The civil rights element of the argument is swept away immediately, as happened in the aftermath of 9-11. And so we see with the nomination of Brennan and some of the legal codification of the Drone program as part of an effort to establish legal norms that demonstrate a baseline level of respect for civil and human rights while not flinching from the necessary nature of disrupting these organization in regions where no one else can do the job. Its a hugely complex and difficult issue. And while I am fundamentally made uneasy by many of the things being done in the name of my country by people I voted for, I am also thankful that it is (seemingly) being handled in a thoughtful and thorough manner, in a manner totally contrary to the previous administration, and in a manner that the next administration would do well to draw upon. That isn't to say I agree with every decision, or think everything has been handled in a manner I approve of, but then again I'm not the fucking President.
That is to say, there are definitely questions worth raising, and debates worth having. But anyone who supported the Bush II administration and its policies should kindly keep the fuck out of the debate. They shouldn't have a seat at the table, and its telling that the most serious debates about this stuff are occurring within the Administration, within the Democratic Party, and within the larger American Left. I don't think that's necessarily healthy for the country, but there isn't going to be any 'reasonable' consideration for the opposition so long as the opposition pretends like the only thing wrong with it and its policies of the last 13 years is the messaging.