The Spectacle Blog

Drone War and its Discontents

By on 1.30.06 | 5:04PM

It is impossible to escape the impression that the LA Times commonly uses false standards of measurement against the military undertakings of the United States. That newspaper, for which it was not good enough to be against the troops, turns out to be against the drones, too.

The final graf in this vaguely agonized stand epitomizes its tone of mournful disapproval with a wistful coda: "The CIA does not even acknowledge that such a targeted-killing program exists, and some attacks have been explained away as car bombings or other incidents. It is not known how many militants or bystanders have been killed by Predator strikes, but anecdotal evidence suggests the number is significant."

Many significant statements can be put forward in defense of drones but also a few questions, such as: subtracting out (a) those nations that have given their approval for a strike -- like, as we've discovered, Yemen, (b) those nations that the US needn't strike -- like Australia or Poland, (c) those nations that have no government to ask for permission -- like Somalia, and (d) those nations that have given approval on the condition of their public disapproval -- like Pakistan, -- what offended country is left?

Come forward, you critics, with the name of that blighted land. Then we can talk. In the meantime: the "significant" number of "bystanders" is meant to make us queasy. But what alternative presents itself? What alternative can you drag down from the attic, up from the basement? "Public oversight?" -- so we can lash ourselves appropriately for killing off innocents with terrorists in their midst? How else would you prefer to eliminate real, live, individual foes? Better grow out those beards again, you CIA ops with knives between teeth. Toughen up your calluses; sharpen your grappling irons. But wait: is this the same crowd that bemoans our two-faced relationships with bad foreign governments, and breaks out in hives at the thought of -- assassination as government policy? Ask Victor Yuschenko, you foes of telecom-war, how his enemies kept collateral damage low.

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