Saturday, December 5, 2009

So Where Do We Draw The Line?

From an article in the New York Times:

The White House has authorized an expansion of the C.I.A.’s drone program in Pakistan’s lawless tribal areas, officials said this week, to parallel the president’s decision, announced Tuesday, to send 30,000 more troops to Afghanistan. American officials are talking with Pakistan about the possibility of striking in Baluchistan for the first time — a controversial move since it is outside the tribal areas — because that is where Afghan Taliban leaders are believed to hide.

One of Washington’s worst-kept secrets, the drone program is quietly hailed by counterterrorism officials as a resounding success, eliminating key terrorists and throwing their operations into disarray. But despite close cooperation from Pakistani intelligence, the program has generated public anger in Pakistan, and some counterinsurgency experts wonder whether it does more harm than good.

The rationalization for remote attacks hardly makes our cause exemplary. Killing innocent people in the process generates more animosity against us. Expanding the area we will attack along with our capability to loiter above and strike increases the likelihood that innocents will die. On one hand we have the number of bad guys, or suspected bad guys, that were taken out. On the other we have the innocents we eventually apologize for. For us, it's like the bright side of cost benefit analysis because valuable American lives were not endangered in the process. For them, it's as if their lives are considered cheap and inconsequential.

There is no light at the end of the tunnel.

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