“When the drones hit, they don’t see children.”

Drones have replaced Guantánamo as the recruiting tool of choice for militants; in his 2010 guilty plea, Faisal Shahzad, who had tried to set off a car bomb in Times Square, justified targeting civilians by telling the judge, “When the drones hit, they don’t see children.”

We are fighting “Muslim Extremist” we are told. People who want to kill American’s because we are rich and free. They hate us because we are Christians. The people in the middle east are insane, violent, and hateful. That’s why they tell us we are at war – with terrorism.

We have so successfully taken the human element out of battle that it barely touches our heart. We barely find even the most mild of interest in the headlines. “12 killed by Drones in Pakistan”, “Drone strike on Iran border”, and the list goes on. We are killing terrorist, not humans, we are at war with terrorism, not people, and killing is as easy as a video game when young men fly missiles into the homes of our enemy even with their family inside – I guess killing children doesn’t serve to radicalize anyone. Right?

War should be gruesome, grotesque, and bloody. That only serves to remind the people how horrible it is. When we take those elements out – the wars never end, the killing never ends.

Plus – other countries are watching. What future effect does our actions have?

Justly or not, drones have become a provocative symbol of American power, running roughshod over national sovereignty and killing innocents. With China and Russia watching, the United States has set an international precedent for sending drones over borders to kill enemies.

Muslim Extremist
People are people. People are motivated by survival, anger, and the need to take action. It is all too easy to blame terrorism on religion. “They are Muslim’s who hate Christians and Jews.” Is that really the case? Even if it is true for a very select few – how much easier is the United States making it on their recruitment efforts?

Would you rise up against your enemy if a Drone strike killed your wife and children, destroyed your home, evaded your lands?

How many terrorist attacks have their been in Japan or Costa Rica – two countries without a military? Think about it.

There have been at least 2000 deaths (publicly acknowledged by the government) since 2004 caused by Drone attacks. Estimated loss of civilian life is unknown.

Loss of Liberty in America
It is foolish to believe that militarism has not harmed us at home as well. We have given up an almost infinite amount of privacy and liberty to aid our “war on terror”.

The Patriot act made it legal for the Government to invade our privacy – all in the name of safety. How many years will that legislation haunt us after the fighting is over? As we speak American citizens are being murdered without trial when they found themselves on the President’s “Kill List”.

Even if they are criminals – which I am sure many are – can we really justify the death of an American citizen without trial? Can we justify blatant violations of the constitution? What presidence does this set for future use by the military? Who makes these decisions, who decides if you are an enemy, who has that right if not the people themselves? A trial by one’s peers is the only justice. Is it not true that our liberties are most important to us in times of war than in times of peace? We must uphold them not when it is easy, but when it is most difficult!

What about the Long Term?

Mr. Blair, the former director of national intelligence, said the strike campaign was dangerously seductive. “It is the politically advantageous thing to do — low cost, no U.S. casualties, gives the appearance of toughness,” he said. “It plays well domestically, and it is unpopular only in other countries. Any damage it does to the national interest only shows up over the long term.”

Will our children be better off because of this war? Will drone attacks help the world in the long run? Is this a popular ploy that keeps American casualties low and pole numbers high – yet makes death tolerable and other countries despise us? These are important questions for our future. Before you support the war effort decide for yourself what type of future our actions are building. Is this a war for a means to an end or perpetual – will killing and war be like maintenance on a car. Necessary to maintain our spending and superpower status? I think you know the truth already.

Peace is sustainable, War is not
$1,452,000,000,000 in direct spending. That doesn’t include loss of productivity at home, life, indirect costs, other Government agencies like the FBI, CIA, and more.

Countries overstretch, go bankrupt, make enemies they either have to destroy completely or fight with forever, powerful countries become weak from war, and are eventually overtaken by the strong. That will be are fate if we cannot end this perpetual war.

It’s not like the days of antiquity either – when two kings could meet in the battlefield and come to a peace agreement and end it all. Rather we have made enemies, many of them, spread across the world. There is no single person we can come to an agreement with to end the fighting.

Rather our only strategy can be a long term peace strategy. We must build rapport, respect, and trust with our enemies in hope we one day become friends. Without that we will suffer the same fate as all other great empires.

Summary – A Foreign Policy of Peace
If you are a conservative that supports the war consider these facts:
1. It is a fallacy that terrorism is born out of Islam. The truth is their religion unites them with commonality and their hatred, anger, and radicalization is developed over time.
2. We are breeding a culture of radicalization and anti-Americanism in countries abroad. More war will only breed more war. Peace is the only option to stop this process.
3. The use of Drones is immoral. It desensitizes us from the cost of taking a life and makes us look insensitive to the rest of the world. It also establishes a precedence for other world powers.
4. The short term cost of this War is costly.
5. The long term cost of this War is even more costly. (perpetual war, perpetual enemies, bankruptcy, the fall of an empire, radicalization)
6. The loss of Liberties at home is happening now – using “the war on terror” as an excuse.
7. We are setting an example for other nations.
8. A strong national defense without nation building is more ethical, cheaper, and sustainable than what we have now.
9. Peace is sustainable.

This post was inspired and in partial response to Canadian Rattlesnake.

12 thoughts on ““When the drones hit, they don’t see children.”

  1. Rattlesnake

    We are fighting “Muslim Extremist” we are told. People who want to kill American’s because we are rich and free. They hate us because we are Christians.

    That is partially true, but it would be more accurate to say that they hate the West because it is “decadent” and lacks piety. And I don’t know what they think of Christians, but Muslim Palestinians haven’t been tolerant of Jews for decades if not longer.

    We have so successfully taken the human element out of battle that it barely touches our heart.

    That is a good thing, I think, because it allows people to think rationally.

    can we really justify the death of an American citizen without trial?

    No. Is that really happening? That is appalling. I agree that liberty must be protected, even in times of war. But some sacrifice might be necessary, otherwise more liberty may be lost.

    Before you support the war effort decide for yourself what type of future our actions are building.

    I think another good question to ask is what type of future inaction would cause.

    It is a fallacy that terrorism is born out of Islam. The truth is their religion unites them with commonality and their hatred, anger, and radicalization is developed over time.

    That doesn’t eliminate the fact that many terrorists are Muslims. The only thing that can be done now is to try not to repeat in the future whatever behaviour caused their hatred in the first place, if that is possible. So far, whenever appeasement has been tried, it has failed. Regardless of how these people got this way, they hate the West now. As for what course of action should be taken, I really don’t know.

    I agree that the war needs to come to an end. But that can only happen when they stop fighting the West. Somehow, the threat must be removed, and if that means destroying them, so be it. Obviously, that isn’t good, but I think it is the lesser of two evils. Peace can come from war, but decisive action must be taken and future generations will be better off if the threat is removed. Can you imagine a world where Germany is still ruled by Nazis? Germany is the way it is now mostly because of World War II (and the Cold War). Maybe the Nazis wouldn’t be around now if World War II hadn’t happened, but whatever would have eventually caused their demise likely would have happened long after more Jews and others were killed and when Nazi Germany had built up a greater empire. I am not saying Islamic extremists are the same as Nazis, but the point is that war is necessary to rid the World of evil, and, is in that sense, the lesser of two evils. I am convinced that the Muslim extremists are not willing to be peaceful, but maybe I’m wrong. Again, I think history suggest they aren’t (when peace has been offered, they have rejected it. For example, when Israel offered to compromise with Palestine and allow two states, the Palestinians rejected their offer and will accept nothing short of the cessation of Israel’s existence).

  2. Pingback: Some Thoughts on Foreign Policy « Canadian Rattlesnake

  3. engineerdude

    Most of my response is in the post Canadian Rattlesnake made. But I’ll add this: when the airplanes were hijacked on 9/11, the hijackers saw children. They saw every single American that they wanted to kill. As far as I know the US doesn’t go out of its way to make it a point to kill innocent people. It responds to aggressors.

    Whoever is to ‘blame’, the damage has been done, and whilst I agree that small steps should be taken to avoid war, it’s proving to be very difficult in todays world. Then again, the more wars you get yourself into, the more enemies and so on, as we’ve all seen.

    1. Atticus Finch

      I’m certainly not “blaming” America or American’s for what happened, but it is a lot easier to justify killing innocent children if it was your child, nephew, wife, brother – that was killed at some point over the last few decades. We have been involved in mid-eastern politics for decades…

  4. jon

    Hats off to both Atticus and Rattlesnake for the high-level discussion. It’s great seeing smart people discuss key issues in a reasonable way.

    My two cents — (stepping back at least a century in the U.S. and for many centuries in Europe): ‘free-trade’ and military might have been joined at the hip for a long time. “Defending our interests” abroad has historically meant ensuring low barriers for U.S. business. The game becomes complex as oil comes into the picture, and complex alliances are formed with Gulf states. Our concern about stability in the region doesn’t mean concern about stable open societies for the people of Middle East nations, but stability with respect to oil. Arab leaders that pose a threat to oil interests have been overthrown. (Democratically-elected Prime Minister Mohammad Mosaddegh of Iran was overthrown by the CIA and British intelligence in 1953. See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/1953_Iranian_coup_d%27%C3%A9tat)

    DId you learn about this in high school history class? I didn’t. I bring this up, not to change the subject from Afghanistan to Iran, or to link Arab terrorism to US oil interests, but to put the overall issue in the light of history. My point is simply that when someone in your group kicks someone in another group (unbeknownst to you), and someone from that group hates you for what appears to be no good reason, you’re likely to look for a sensible reason. Probably he don’t like the way I look or the way i talk or my values, etc. Without a clear view of our history in the region, it’s impossible to put together a clear causal account of what’s happened. And it’s clear that our school history classes weren’t designed to give us a clear view of that history.

    1. Atticus Finch Post author

      I agree Jon. Without an accurate/clear/unbiased view of history it is hard to nail down what’s going on. The more I learn though, the more I realize no one’s hands are clean when it comes to conflict and “stability” in the middle east…

    1. Rattlesnake

      Thanks to you as well. I’m always happy to be able to have disagreements on something without it being uncivil; something which seems to be increasingly rare.

  5. engineerdude

    I didn’t mean to say/imply that you were blaming America. As you said this topic can be very touchy and because of the content being discussed, it’s easy for us to misunderstand or try to grasp the other persons opinion when going through a medium such as the internet.

  6. philebersole

    Atticus, I agree with your post. I’d like to respond to some of the comments.

    I don’t think Muslim terrorists and authoritarian Muslim governments are equivalent to Hitler.

    There are many bad governments in the world today, and some of them are ruled by Muslim militants, but none of them is a threat to the existence of the United States and other democratic countries. None of them has committed slaughter on the scale of a Hitler or Stalin.

    The United States went to war with Japan and Germany (or rather the one attacked us and the other declared war on us.) I am old enough to remember that era. We made an all-out effort to win. The majority of able-bodied young males were drafted, and the rest of the country subordinated everything else to the war effort. After our victory, we occupied Germany and Japan with large armies, reorganized those countries and helped them to rebuild.

    Nobody has proposed making such an all-out effort in what we call the war on terror. American public opinion would not support it. Suppose instead of invading Germany and Japan, we contented ourselves with occasional bombing raids into those countries.

    In the current era, we have not been attacked by nations, but by terrorist organizations and in some cases individual terrorists. Our government has a right and duty to track down those individuals and bring them in, dead or alive. Indiscriminate killing is not an answer to terrorism, any more than executing innocent people is an answer to murder.

    On another matter, it’s true that many Muslims disapprove of the U.S. way of life, just as I disapprove of the authoritarianism of many majority-Muslim countries. This is not a reason or cause for going to war. If Muslim terrorists attacked Western countries because of perceived immorality, then their attacks would be directed more at Sweden, France and other secular European countries.

    The United States is under attack because the U.S. government has supported and continues to support authoritarian regimes in Muslim countries that are hated by their own people. The United States is hated because the actions of our government have resulted in the deaths of so many people in Muslim countries—many more than the number of Americans who have been killed by Muslim terrorists.

    The justification for American actions is that the deaths our forces cause are (1) unintentional or (2) justified retaliation. Maybe so and maybe not, but if Muslims take a different view, that is understandable.

    I have a good impression of the Muslims I have met—my good friend from Uzbekistan who recently became an American citizen, the Turkish guy who runs a tailor shop down the street, the Muslims who take part in the interfaith Thanksgiving service here in Rochester NY, the Somali and Afghan refugees I met when I was doing volunteer work for Catholic Charities. They all are people of great courtesy and dignity, who are grateful for any kindness.

    I could say more, but this comment may already be too long to read to the end.


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