Archive for Hamilton Nolan

New and Improved Rules for Drone Warfare

Posted in Loon Violence with tags , , , , , , on April 27, 2012 by loonwatch

Drone in Iran

This photo released, Dec. 8, 2011, by the Iranian Revolutionary Guards, claims to show US RQ-170 Sentinel drone which Tehran says its forces downed. (AP Photo)

Drone warfare has made killing people from afar easy and virtually risk free.

Now the Iranians claim that they’ve reverse engineered a captured US drone and cracked its secrets. This claim was met with skepticism, but even if it’s true and the technology proves useful, can anyone imagine Iranian drones in the skies over Western countries? Of course not!

In the real world, we kill and they die, not the other way around. If that sacred rule is broken, they are clearly engaging in “terrorism,” which merely gives us an excuse to unleash even more death and destruction. If the Iranians don’t grasp the rules, they can expect to be obliterated.

US drones prowl the skies of a growing list of countries, killing suspected terrorists and innocent civilians with mindless efficiency. Heavy with sarcasm, Hamilton Nolan describes new, relaxed (and frightening) rules that will allow the US to expand drone warfare, in Yemen and beyond.

New and Improved Rules for Drone Warfare

by Hamilton NolanThe Gawker

Good news for people who love freedom, hate terrorism, and people who do not live in Yemen and will never visit Yemen and do not appear to be from Yemen or its surrounding areas: the U.S. government is relaxing its rules for drone strikes in Yemen. When it comes to incinerating more or less inscrutable targets with unseen missile attacks like Zeus himself, why be encumbered by a bunch of bureaucratic rules?

The new policy reportedly ”includes targeting fighters whose names aren’t known but who are deemed to be high-value terrorism targets or threats to the U.S.” No more pesky hours of intelligence-gathering before you can vaporize that jeep from above. But do these rules go far enough in eliminating those who Hate Our Freedoms and Familes and Children, and Our Children and Families’ Freedoms™? We think not. A few common sense edits for the future of warfare:

  • If someone is carrying a machine gun, RPG, or shoulder-fired missile that looks like an imminent threat to any Coalition soldiers, whether from the Western world or from the Muslim world, they may be killed.
  • If someone in an area known for militant activity appears to be transporting cargo with brown and grey markings consistent with databases of the graphic skin that covers the outside of missiles or rockets and moves with an intent to set up and fire those armaments at Coalition forces, they may be blown up.
  • If someone is determined through confirmed intelligence of a reliable nature to be forming a terrorist group with the intent and capability of causing mass casualties in America or in any territory of an American ally in the Middle East, and they cannot be apprehended without significant risk of loss of civilian life, they may be kabazongaed to bababooey with a f***ing Hellfire, bro.

A little common sense goes a long way.

**********

Now We All Agree the Afghan War Was Not Worth Fighting

Posted in Loon-at-large with tags , , , , , , on April 16, 2012 by loonwatch

Afghan Graves

“Speak good words to an enemy very softly; gradually destroy him root and branch.” ~ Pashtun Proverb

For many, it seemed as if the 9/11 terrorist attacks instantly indicted the world’s 1.5 billion Muslims, and transformed many Muslim-majority countries into potential bomb targets.

No Afghans were identified among the hijackers involved in the attacks, but US-ally-turned-Prime Suspect, Osama Bin Laden, had taken refuge in Afghanistan’s forbidding lands. After then-President George Bush rejected repeated offers by Taliban leaders to turn over the Saudi-born suspect, the US  invaded the already war-torn and impoverished country in October, 2001.

No Iraqis were identified among the hijackers involved in the attacks, and though the public was initially led to believe otherwise, Bush later acknowledged that Iraq had nothing to do with 9/11. Soon a new excuse was proffered: US-ally-turned-Scary Global Menace, Saddam Hussein, supposedly had Weapons of Mass Destruction.

Fear peddling administration officials repeatedly warned that we must not let the “smoking gun be a mushroom cloud,” but the Downing Street Memo proved to be the real smoking gun, later revealing they knew all along the WMDs threat was a blatant lie.  The final pretext was “spreading freedom and democracy” at gunpoint, and the US-led invasion of the already war-torn and beleaguered nation of Iraq began March, 2003.

America was dragged into war under false pretenses, yet it seems no one has been held accountable. While President Obama at least acknowledged the war in Iraq was “the wrong one,” he also claimed the war in Afghanistan was “the right one.” But was it?

Shock, anger, and the thirst for vengeance certainly played a role in the decision to go to war with Afghanistan in 2001, and the Afghan people have paid a heavy price. Yet in 2010, nearly a decade after the invasion, a report revealed that 92% of Afghans were unaware of the 9/11 attacks. The finding was confirmed last fall when Afghans were asked what they thought of the war and they simply said: “Why are you here?”

A growing number of Americans seem to be asking themselves the same question–even as the usual suspects gin up yet another senseless war, this time with Iran.

Now We All Agree the Afghan War Was Not Worth Fighting

by Hamilton Nolan, Gawker

For the first time since we invaded Afghanistan in the wake of 9/11, a majority of Republicans say that the war was not worth fighting. Even the superpatriots, the military do-or-die-ers, the America Firsters, the my-country-right-or-wrong crowd, have come to the conclusion that this war should never have happened. They’re right.

At this point, more than a decade on from the events that inspired us to invade Afghanistan in the first place, the burning sense of rage and desire for retribution and need to just do something have all faded away. We are more clear-eyed now. For almost every American that died in the Twin Towers, another American soldier has been killed in Afghanistan. Fifteen thousand more have been wounded. And tens of thousands of Afghan civilians have been killed or wounded in the fighting as well.

And was it worth it? No. It was not worth it. It was clearly not worth it. No rational person could say it was worth it. September 11 was a horrible tragedy. Our response to it, starting with a decade-long war in a nation that Americans neither know nor care about, was a tragedy as well. We have poured our blood and treasure into a desolate, poverty-stricken and already war-torn country halfway across the world—not to improve it, but to further destroy it. For this, we have gained nothing that we could not have gained with a much more limited and rational response.

You don’t send in the U.S. Army to invade an entire nation to find one man. You don’t send in the U.S. Army to invade an entire nation to deal with one numerically small terrorist group, for the same reason that you don’t use an M1 Abrams tank to tackle your household mouse infestation. You don’t cause tens of thousands of violent deaths to poor civilians to prove some vague notion of national toughness on a world stage. It is insane. The urge to lash out in a muscular fashion after 9/11 is perfectly understandable. But it is not rational, or ethical, or even, it is now clear, to our own national benefit. Such impulses are the reason that we need strong leaders. To prevent us from doing things like invading Afghanistan.

In the end, it turns out, America’s entire post-9/11 response was exactly wrong. The much-derided idea of treating the terrorist attacks as a crime would have been the rational thing to do. Doing our best to launch a world war was not to our benefit. It was not to the benefit of geopolitical stability. It was not to the benefit of the kids who entered the military, full of patriotism and love for their country, and ended up dead halfway around the world. It was not to the benefit of Afghan civilians, people who had nothing to do with any of this, who ended up bombed, shot, maimed, driven from their homes, victims of circumstance. We can fight, if we like, another decade in Afghanistan. When we leave, Afghanistan will still belong to the people who live there, and they, not us, will determine its future. Our stated goal took far too long to accomplish. Now that it’s been accomplished, we’re still in Afghanistan. And we’ll be there for years more.

A small group of bad men attacked targets in America. For this, we invaded an entire nation. Where they weren’t. Let’s not do that again.

***********************

Rethink AfghanistanThe war in Afghanistan is increasing the likelihood that American civilians will be killed in a future terrorist attack.