Via Wired comes another essay in the endless argument against our high tech force.
Taking the Measure of a Slam-Dunk Weapons System
Robot war. It just couldn’t be cooler, could it? Especially if the only blood you spill is the other guy’s, since our “pilots” are flying those planes from thousands of miles away. Soon, it seems, the world will be a drone fest. In his first nine months, President Obama has authorized more drone attacks in the Pakistani tribal borderlands than the Bush administration did in its last three years in office and is now considering upping their use in areas of rural Afghanistan where U.S. troops will be scarce.
In Washington, drones are even considered the “de-escalatory” option for the Afghan War by some critics, while CIA Director Leon Panetta, whose agency runs our drone war in Pakistan, has hailed them as “the only game in town in terms of confronting or trying to disrupt the al-Qaeda leadership.” Among the few people who don’t adore them here are hard-core war-fighters who don’t want an armada of robot planes standing in the way of sending in oodles more troops. The vice president, however, is a drone-atic. He loves ’em to death and reportedly wants to up their missions, especially in Pakistan, rather than go the oodles route.
—Drone Race to a Known Future
Why Military Dreams Fail — and Why It Doesn’t Matter
By Tom Engelhardt
Mr. Engelhardt starts here then goes on to try and breathe life into some dead cliches.
The Wonder Weapons Succeed — at Home
So why am I not excited — other than the fact that the drones are also killing civilians in disputed but significant numbers in the Pakistani tribal borderlands, creating enemies and animosity wherever they strike, and turning us into a nation of 24/7 assassins beyond the law or accountability of any sort? Thought of another way, the drones put wings on the original Bush-era Guantanamo principle — that Americans have the inalienable right to act as global judge, jury, and executioner, and in doing so are beyond the reach of any court or law.
And here’s another factor that dulls my excitement just a tad — if the history of air warfare has shown one thing, it’s this: it never breaks populations. Rather, it only increases their sense of unity, as in London during the Blitz under Winston Churchill, in Germany under Adolf Hitler, Imperial Japan under Emperor Hirohito, North Korea under Kim Il Sung, North Vietnam under Ho Chi Minh, and of course (though we never put ourselves in such company, being the exceptions to all history), the United States after 9/11 under George W. Bush. Why should the peoples of rural Afghanistan and the Pakistani borderlands be any different?
Really? “round the clock” bombing hurt the Germans so bad their air force stopped flying. Not the morale but the INDUSTRY was destroyed. Towards the end of the war, their aircraft were made of wood and scraps. Same with Japan. It was the atomic bomb that forced them to end the war, their military was reduced to meeting the allies with sharpened bamboo sticks on the beaches of Japan.
The Viet Cong and North Vietnam were aided and abetted by the USSR. Without the flow of arms, technical know how, intelligence and surface to air missiles, North Vietnam would have folded. They LOST the Tet offensive. America lost the will to fight due to losses (fueled by Russian aid). Iraq both times did not have that aid. And got their brains beat out both times.
Of course, you know the results of this sort of magical thinking about wonder weapons (or technologies) and their properties just as well as I do. The atomic bomb ended nothing, but led to an almost half-century-long nuclear superpower standoff/nightmare, to nuclear proliferation, and so to the possibility that, someday, even terrorists might possess such weapons. The electronic battlefield was incapable of staving off defeat in Vietnam. That impermeable anti-missile shield never came even faintly close to making it into our skies. Those “smart bombs” of the Gulf War proved remarkably dumb, while the 50 “decapitation” strikes the Bush administration launched against Saddam Hussein’s regime on the first day of the 2003 invasion of Iraq took out not a single Iraqi leader, but “dozens” of civilians. And the history of the netcentric military in Iraq is well known. Its “success” sent Secretary of Defense Rumsfeld into retirement and ignominy.
Huh, MAD (mutually assured destruction) kept the Cold War cold. Would he have liked WWII to be come WWIII? Nuclear proliferation is the result of humans wanting to kill each other. India did their bomb on their own. North Korea may have had some help, Pakistan did theirs on their own. So did China. The USSR stole nuclear secrets. We killed the Rosenburgs for their crime in aiding the USSR and making the world a more dangerous place.
The GAO, in the report cited, liked to claim bombs carried by airplanes that didn’t fly (bad weather, mechanical problems etc.) as dropped. Donald Rumsfeld left as SecDef because of the insurgency after the war. We won that one not just with the surge, but by air power and our high tech advantage. The Sons Of Iraq would not have succeeded if it were not for US military might backing them up. Contrawise, the insurgets have had help from Iran, Al Queda and other evil doers. Not enough to save them, just enough to break our hearts.
True, Reagan’s impermeable shield was the purest of nuclear fantasies, but the “high frontiersmen” gathered and, taking a sizeable bite of the military budget, went on a decades-long binge of way-out research, space warfare plans and commands, and boondoggles of all sorts, including the staggeringly expensive, still not operational anti-missile system that the Bush and now Obama administrations have struggled to emplace somewhere in Europe. Similarly, ever newer generations of smart bombs and ever brighter missiles have been, and are being, developed ad infinitum.
Really? My career field is in missile defense. We do what you call impossible everyday. Critics keep insiting that the system wont work or that our enemies are too dumb to build missiles that can hit us. Or they argue that terrorists will sneak a bomb past our borders. Now they try to have it every which way but lose. They won’t lest us strengthen our borders, now will they lest us build anti-missile systems. Nor do they believe our intel.
Our weapons work. Not the way politicians want them to, but they do work. Civilian deaths? It’s called war for a reason. Sadly terrorists and other scum surround themselves with innocent people. We don’t attack we’re cowards. We hit them and we are cruel. Well, they want cruel, and they admit that they love death more than we love life.
Mr. Engelhardt goes on to lament the monies spent on drones. Classic hippe arguments that don’t hold water. Every dollar spent on our military brings back civlian returns and makes sure that people are free to read this blog and Mr. Engelhardt’s too. We must fight them. We care about innocent lives and grieve their loss. The enemy does not. Their bloodlust knows no bounds. Well our weapons have a longer reach and bigger punch. Too bad for them.
The last paragraph is a risible mention of the Terminator movies. *facepalms* In the real world American Soldiers, Marines, Sailors and Airmen risk their lives. Drones help save our people, innocent civilians and our allies.
To hell with the enemy.
Drones are tools nothing more.
“The object of war is not to die for your country but to make the other bastard die for his.”
General George S. Patton