And there are also plenty of countries who became involved in post 9/11 invasions ("the war on terror") in Iraq & Afghanistan as allies who now regret their part in "doing the job". Quite a few which withdrew their forces from from Afghanistan before the "job" was completed (if you believe it ever can or will be successfully completed. I don't, do you?)
While the Tony Blairs & John Howards may not have any regrets about taking their countries to war (that they are likely to admit to, anyway) , the citizens of their countries overwhelming do have regrets. I seriously doubt there is much stomach for further participation in such ventures.
I also think you'd be hard-pressed to convincingly argue that those debacles have made the world a safer place from "terrorism" .... if anything, they have achieved more, not less, hostility towards the US & its allies, especially from the countries which have been targeted & attacked.
You are conflating the issue of nations dealing with terrorists within their own borders and nations dealing with those that reside within the borders of other nations.
The "job" that I contend we can expect our neighbors "get done" (if they don't want us to do it) is to eliminate the threat to us posed by terrorists within their borders. After all, this, and not participating with us in invading countries, is what determines whether or not we send Predators into their skies.
I'm happy to address your comments concerning these invasions, but for now prefer that we remain on topic.
I don't see how you can "neutralize the terrorists" in Pakistan, or elsewhere, while not condoning drone attacks at the same time. The two have gone hand in hand, surely?
No they have not and they do not have to going forward.
You made the argument that condoning drone attacks
is part of what I contend the US should expect from these nations
; what we have referred to, during this discussion, as "getting the job done." That is simply not the case.
What the US should expect from these nations is the elimination of the threat these terrorists pose to the US. How they do it is immaterial, as long as it is effective. If they do this, there will be no drone attacks for them to condone or condemn.
If they (and by "they" I mean the governing leaders) are unable or unwilling to eliminate the threat then the US, in my opinion, is justified in sending in the drones. Whether or not they condone this action will depend largely upon the internal politics of their countries and the degree to which they are, themselves, aligned with the terrorists. Regardless, it is not an expectation of the US that they condone the attacks and it certainly isn't necessary to "get the job done." In fact, their being faced with the decision to condone or condemn drone attacks, is proof that they cannot or will not "get the job" done on their own.
Also, it appears that civilian "collateral damage" is gaining Al Qaeda support amongst the people living in the drone-targeted areas, where there was little support before. Which seems to me to be counter-productive if the objective is to neutralize support. Does it mean that these civilians who are now sympathetic toward Al Qaeda, following the drone attacks, could be considered "suspected terrorists", too?
Should they be "neutralized" as well?
Where does it all end?
First of all, you have misstated the goal I've addressed or created a new one for the sake of your argument. The goal is not to neutralize support of terrorists
, it is to neutralize the terrorists
Conventional wisdom tells us that eliminating support for terrorists among the general population is a means by which the threat posed by the terrorists can be neutralized, but this is far too often seen as a simple matter of "live and let live."
Often, a considerable share of the general population is quite sympathetic to the violent anti-Western goals of the terrorists. This doesn't make them terrorists (unless they join the extremist groups) nor even our enemies (unless they provide material support to the terrorists), but it does make any goal of eliminating general support quite difficult if not impossible.
In other situations the support of the locals is based on the good deeds the terrorist do for them: providing food, medical supplies and schools. The US supplies these nations with billions of dollars in aid; with great amounts specifically earmarked for humanitarian needs. Unfortunately, we cannot control what is done with all of this money and, obviously, a lot of it isn't making its way to the locals who support the terrorists who they see as benefactors
In any case, eliminating the threat is the goal. If the governments of these nations choose to so, in part, by neutralizing local support for the terrorists then they are not only free to try, the US provides them financial aid to support them in their attempt.
I suppose there might be some small successes in terms of US propaganda efforts ("Uncensored" radio broadcasts for example) but I doubt they do much to win the hearts and minds of folks who see us a nation of infidels or who are impoverished and oppressed by their own government).
We can't make these governments use the money we give them to improve the living conditions of their people.
(Ironically enough, with our military actions in both Afghanistan and Iraq, providing the locals with food, medical supplies, schools and infra-structure has been a major part of the mission. The strategy has had varying levels of success, but it required an invasion to implement it
Complying with the amorphous demands of the terrorists is not a rational option. It is not in our best interests to entirely withdraw, both physically and politically, from this region, and millions of people living in the region do not want us to, and if we did millions more would change their minds and seek for us to return.
In any case, the demands of the terrorists are not finite. They can never be satisfied.
Yes, I do believe that the unnecessary killing of innocent people, some of them the poorest & most oppressed the world (already, prior
to the drone attacks ) in is any way justifiable .... particularly when the definition of "terrorist suspect" is so unclear & there has been so much secrecy about the details & the extent of the attacks.
Who doesn't believe that unnecessary killing of anyone is unjustifiable? Certainly not me.
The rub, of course, is with the term unnecessary, and the issue of what is necessary.
If it is necessary for an individual to be killed and it cannot be accomplished without also killing true innocents, then their deaths can become necessary.
If you believe that the proclaimed necessity
for killing the individual is based on his or her ability to embarrass a government or even threaten its power, then it's quite easy to make the case that not only are the collateral deaths unjustified, so is the killing of the individual.
If, on the other hand, if you believe the individual is not only bound and determined to kill you and as many of your friends and neighbors as possible, but is capable of making good on the threat and in the process of doing so, then violence in the service of defense is justified. To save thousands of innocents the death of a handful can be perceived as necessary.
I don't hope to persuade you to my thinking about this, but to point out that this is a morally complex issue upon which people of good faith can disagree about and which only absolutists will find simple.
The victims of these drone attacks (& any in the future) are mostly civilians, most of whom do not have the luxury nor the education to participate politics. Same as casualties of the Iraq & Afghanistan invasions were overwhelmingly civilians. Same as almost any war you can name.
"Mostly" only in the sense that the targets are usually accompanied by their families when they are hit. The retainers that may be killed are not the targets, but they are not innocent civilians either.
A major reason for Obama's increase in the use of drone attacks is, I believe, is the fact that they are so relatively surgical and keep collateral deaths at a minimum. Obviously, he has decided that leaving the targets alone is not an option, and that the deaths of a small number of innocents is a necessity.
This is what I don't understand or accept about your argument, Finn.
If you can see the victims of 9/11 in NYC as innocent casualties of an extreme, unjustified & aggressive attack (as I do) how can you not also see the civilians in Yemen or Pakistan in the same way?
It is almost as though you consider their lives have less value, somehow, than American lives.
We would never dream of referring to the casualties of 9/11 as "collateral damage". You'd find that deeply offensive, I'm sure.
Why then can you not get that the innocent victims in other countries are human casualties, too?
The way I see it, the casualties of 9/11 died at the hands of extremist fundamentalists. There was no justification for their deaths. They were not combatants in a war.
The innocent casualties of the drone attacks are dying at the hands of a very powerful aggressor using advanced technology in countries they are not even at war with. And they have no effective way of responding or defending themselves.
I can't justify the totally unnecessary loss of civilian lives in either.
The drone attacks are intended to prevent future 9/11's. They constitute violence in the service of defense; a concept with which you've stated you agree.
I do view Pakistanis and Yemenis, in general, in the same light that I view Americans, in general. As a people they are no less human than Americans. There are some that I consider to be evil (in whatever way you want to define that term) as there are some Americans who I consider to be evil.
I agree, at least in this regard with Obama, that it is necessary to kill the people (whether or not they meet the definition of evil) who are actively plotting to attack our country.
If we had a means of picking them out of a crowded street and killing them and only them, this would, obviously be the best method of eliminating them.
Unfortunately we don't, and so the best method is the one that reliably limits the number of collateral deaths to something like 10 or less, and to people who, for the most part, choose to be around the target.
Admittedly this is a cruel calculus. It shouldn't make anyone feel good. Doing what is necessary often doesn't feel good.
I don't expect Yemenis and Pakistanis to welcome or celebrate these attacks, but I do believe that the recruiting effect is far less powerful than it is with the bombing of villages or the invasion of a country. In any case, at this point I am not overly concerned with the recruiting effect. I don't think it's a wise tradeoff to accept a few more 9/11's without retaliation in order to get on the good side of the Arab Street.
I deliberately do not refer to those who are not the target but who die as a result of these attacks as "collateral damage." Your argument in this regard is directed at a straw man.
Some contend that an argument for defensive or even retributional violence applies equally to the terrorists as it does to America; that the past sins of the US led to 9/11.
I don't believe it does, but even assuming it does, we are not required to pay for the sins of our government any more than ordinary Yemenis, Pakistanis and Afghanis are required to pay for the sins of the terrorists. Fortunately, in this conflict we have the greater means of eliminating a threat to us and it would be a betrayal of their oaths if our government did make use of them.
Apparently President Obama sees it the same way.