"The debate is that we've been doing this so long we're now bombing low-level guys who don't deserve a Hellfire missile up their ass." Roger Cressey, former US National Security Council official.
That quote is from Jane Mayer's excellent and provocative piece, "The Predator War", which appeared in last week's (Oct 26, 2009) issue the The New Yorker magazine. As it turns out, Cressey is a proponent of using the remotely controlled Predator UAV (unmanned aerial vehicle) drones to reach out and kill militants on either side of the Pakistan/Afghanistan border. Some facts that might surprise you from the article include:
1) The Obama administration, which has been accused by some of dithering on Afghanistan, has in fact launched more Predator attacks in its first nine and a half months in office than the George W. Bush administration launched in its final three years. Many of these attacks occured in Pakistan.
2) The US runs two Predator drone vehicles. The American military operates nearly two hundred Predator drones. An unknown number are operated by the CIA.
3) In 2009, Predator drone strikes have killed between 326 and 538 people. An unknown number of these were civilians, so-called collateral damage.
The ethical questions raised by the article are important. Targetted killings have been used before by Britain and Israel to preempt terrorist organizations, but the Predator program raises of accountability and convenience. As the program expands, which targets are deemed legitimate, how are the costs of collateral damage assessed, and what is the impact on local populations?
These questions became very real for me and some fellow Canadian Forces chaplains today when an infantry lieutenant-colonel who had been in theatre showed us some Predator footage taken very recently in Afghanistan. In these eerily clear videos, taken at night, human bodies show up in the thermal imaging as busy black dots. For the commander viewing this imagery in a command post, it is vital intelligence - those black dots could be insurgents planting roadside improvised explosive devices, or moving into or away from an ambush position. However, the commander seeing these images may only have a brief window of time to order an airstrike that will obliterate those little black dots.
Watching these videos in class, I was reminded of what counter-insurgency expert Andrew Exum was quoted as saying in Mayer's article about the impact of this technology on the warrior ethos: "As a military person, I put myself in the shoes of someone in FATA (Pakistan's Federally Administered Tribal Areas "and there's something about pilotless drones that doesn't strike me as an honorable way of warfare. As a classics major, I have a classical sense of what it means to be a warrior. There's something important about putting your own sons and daughters at risk when you choose to wage war as a nation. We risk losing that flesh-and-blood investment iof we go too far down this road." Which sounds good for Exum, perhaps, but for the young Lt.Col who showed us that footage, the chance to blow up the dudes who killed some of his men the previous day with an IED is too good to pass up, and a legitimate way to pursue his goals.
You can read an interview with Mayer here, and there is also a transcript of Mayer's Oct 22 interview with Rachel Maddow here.
- ► 2016 (44)
- ► 2015 (32)
- ► 2014 (63)
- ► 2013 (90)
- ► 2012 (161)
- ► 2011 (150)
- ► 2010 (184)
- Pagans Have it Rough Too
- Yoga, Curry Make for Good Army Training
- Another Canadian Soldier Killed in Afghanistan
- Christian Science Monitor Warns About Proposed Isl...
- Vatican row delays Anglo-Catholic text
- Data Shows Suicides in CF Increased Last Year
- Canadian Soldier Killed In Afghanistan
- President Obama Attends Repatriation at Dover AFB
- US Administrator Resigns in Afghanistan, PTSD Par...
- Padre supports British troops in Afghanistan
- Notable Quotable: On the Convenience of War By Re...
- Mike Jernigan Again on Living With PTSD
- Book Review: The Good Soldiers
- Different Takes on NATO
- Notable Quotable: John R. Allen on How Many Anglic...
- Military Picture of the Week
- Top Canadian Anglican Not Worried About Rome's Ove...
- Notable Quotable: A Canadian Captain on Afghan De...
- Rome's Anglican Overture Raises Celibacy Question
- PBS Frontline Documentary Nails the Afghanistan Qu...
- Church Joke of the Week
- Anglicans Welcomed Home?
- British Soldier and Artist Exhibits His Work From ...
- New Military Wife Writes Book on Her Experience
- Notable Quotable: General Stanley McChrystal
- Libraries and Readers Wade Into Digital Lending
- Military Picture of the Week
- British police officer boosts Afghan female police...
- US Defence Department and Sesame Street Team Up
- NATO explains itself for a new generation
- With the US Marines in Helmand Province
- Afghan Prison Update
- On Living with Our (Growing Number of) Muslim Neig...
- With a US Chaplain in Basra, Iraq
- Say What? The Johannine Michael Jackson
- One Veteran Slowly Learns to Manage PTSD
- Debate on Canadian Involvement in Afghan Prisons S...
- No Drag Dragon Boat Day
- US Military Announces New Steps To Address Domesti...
- Military Image of the Week
- On the Perils of Hot Sauce
- When Mothers Go to War
- The Patience of Creation - Today's Sermon
- ▼ October (43)
- ► 2008 (106)
- Adventures in Alberta (11)
- Adventures in Atlantic Canada (17)
- Adventures in Ontario (1)
- American Civil War (1)
- Anglican Church (53)
- Anglican Military Ordinariate (5)
- Beer (2)
- Blogs and Blogging (13)
- Book Reviews (52)
- Canada At War (11)
- Canadian Armed Forces (21)
- Canadian Forces Chaplain School (2)
- Chaplain Stories (16)
- Chaplaincy Issues (7)
- Children's Ministry (4)
- Christianity and Islam (4)
- Christianity and Society (12)
- Church and Society (6)
- Church History (5)
- Cool Stuff (11)
- Cultural Studies (1)
- Death and Dying (3)
- Depression and Suicide in the Military (9)
- Drones (3)
- ebooks (7)
- Ethics and Society (31)
- Evangelism (1)
- Family News (4)
- Films (4)
- Firearms (1)
- Friday Theology (7)
- Funny Stuff (36)
- Gaming and Ethics (6)
- Good Friday (1)
- Homiletics and Preaching (6)
- Interfaith Dialogue (3)
- Language Play of the Week (9)
- Literacy and Literature (12)
- Liturgy (1)
- Living History (1)
- Marriage and Relationships (3)
- Marriage and Society (1)
- Me and My iphone (12)
- Mental Health (8)
- Military and Literature (2)
- Military and Society (57)
- Military and Spirituality (39)
- Military and Suicide (12)
- Military Chaplaincy (100)
- Military Culture (7)
- Military Ethics (67)
- Military Families (10)
- Military Goats (10)
- Military History (60)
- Military History American Civil War (5)
- Military Humour (32)
- Military News (220)
- Military Picture of the Week (36)
- Military Rantings (10)
- Military Reading (3)
- Military Service (41)
- Minature Wargames - My Figures (18)
- Miniature Wargames - Battle Reports (11)
- Miniature Wargames - Miscellaneous (2)
- Music (1)
- Oh Canada (9)
- Over There (122)
- Physical Fitness (1)
- Pluralism (1)
- Prayer (1)
- PTSD Issues (44)
- Random Stuff (1)
- Religion and Conflict (5)
- Religion and Society (63)
- Religion In The News (9)
- Royal Canadian Regiment (4)
- Running (36)
- Saints Days (1)
- Seen on the Run (16)
- ser (1)
- Sermons (153)
- Spirituality (18)
- Terrorism (1)
- The Bible and Society (3)
- The Great War (1)
- Theology (21)
- Travel Stories (2)
- Video Gamex (1)
- Volkswagen Westfalia (8)
- Wanderings (8)
- War and Literature (3)
- Worship (3)