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Comment count is 24
Mr. Purple Cat Esq. - 2013-10-14

Still think a 20 yo blissfully ignorant and indoctrinated great big yank with a machine gun is a scarier idea

SolRo - 2013-10-14

Except that one has the restraining power of legal repercussions to keep from going on a killing spree, while im sure the kill-bots murder of civilians will be excused as software error.

Mr. Purple Cat Esq. - 2013-10-14

Good point, though judging recent events it seems, the US anyway, can break geneva conventions, commit massacres of civilians, contaminate populated areas with depleted uranium and so on, pretty much do whatever they want, using drones *or* soldiers without any war crimes trials or repercussions from the other western nations. So I'd say its a moot point atm.

SteamPoweredKleenex - 2013-10-14

Yep. We've handed out stiffer jail sentences for leaking documents than we have for soldiers deciding to go civilian hunting.

Syd Midnight - 2013-10-15

Some jobs are always going to be cheaper when performed by a human than a robot. This will always be true of some jobs. Putting a human in the mix makes some robots cheaper because the human is the cheap part.

memedumpster - 2013-10-15

Military is about spending money, not saving it. The cheapest solution is not to wage war, and we all know America would burn the earth in fire before waging peace. Robots wont be missed by crying parents, so a robot army can engage in larger, more bloody (to the enemy) warfare without Americans caring. No one is paid money to manufacture a human either, so jobs! Jobs, plus wars larger in scale than WWII with soldiers no one minds seeing blown apart because of jobs, equals America finds a new amazing way to lose wars!

I, for one, welcome our stone age survivor of America's robot inquisition masters.

Old_Zircon - 2013-10-14

But see this technology will SAVE lives by killing more efficiently.

SolRo - 2013-10-14

The more indescriminantly you kill everything that moves with drones, the less insurgents there will be to attack your occupation force!

baleen - 2013-10-14

Drones work sometimes and don't work in other times.
It's been pretty hard for Taliban, which is a real, actual fascist organization and not simply a Pashtun independence movement, to actually set a foothold in a lot of the places now. By most accounts, Pakistani Taliban have been "decimated" by drone strikes.

I have found it very difficult to establish a permanent opinion on drone warfare. I find, like most issues, people tend to gravitate toward what is acceptable or appropriate reporting on the issue. I try to make myself uncomfortable here, but I think Democracy Now and their ilk wash the issue to frame a certain narrative.

I wish the Foreign Affairs articles on this were still public and not subscription only. One was a pro-drone, and the other an anti-drone warfare essay.

According to the New American Foundation, 6% of casualties from drone strikes were civilian. If you compare this amount to what the Taliban wrought on the civilian population of Afghanistan during the same time period (2004-2012), it pales in comparison. It's impossible to calculate "lives saved," but it's far from the Talibanic scorched Earth policies that killed tens of thousands of people and made refugees of many hundreds of thousands more. Is there a reason why they're suddenly calling for a truce?

I think an interesting experiment would be to stop using drones, then see how quickly we stop caring when the mass rapes and random public executions of schoolgirls becomes normal again.


Bort - 2013-10-14

Here's that "Out of Sight, Out of Mind" video to depict the casualties of drone strikes in Pakistan, using Pakistan's figures:


The video is willing to commit to 710 children / civilian casualties, and 2391 casualties from a nebulous "other" category they describe as "'alleged' militants" -- a fairer description would be "low-level terrorists, militants, and probably some people in the wrong place at the wrong time". (I call BS on this video for completely omitting the reality that, for every high-level terrorist, there are likely to be a LOT more low-level grunts.)

So, that is at least 710 people who did nothing to warrant their deaths. There is nothing good about that. And those alleged militants / terrorists, there's serious question as to who's al Qaeda, who's Taliban, and who's guilty of nothing. al Qaeda is the only one in that group who is really "our business" anyway, per the AUMF, so you may or may not see most of those 2391 as justifiable.

That said, take a look at what's happening in Iraq every weekend: al Qaeda sets off another round of bombs in marketplaces to deliberately kill as many civilians as possible, because the Iraqi government has the audacity to prosecute terrorists. al Qaeda are mass murderers, the more civilians they can kill the happier they are. The point of the drone strikes is to stop the next bin Laden; knowing what I know now, I sure wouldn't have minded if a drone had gotten him back in 1998 or so. But I do know that people would be bitching to this day about how we murdered that nice Mr. bin Laden.

So, drones are bad news. The only thing worse than drones is every other option available to us.

baleen - 2013-10-16

The site you link to, a good one, states the BIJ and New American Foundation is there source.
Pakistan has lost tens of thousands of troops and many thousands of civilians to attacks from the Taliban. We know they are terrified of drones. They keep them moving and make it harder for them to target.

Taliban officials are reaching out for a truce, and one can assume this means at the very least a ceasefire, so in that regard drone strikes have been more successful.

I am under the impression that al Qaeda only exists when people need to make a point. Anti-interventionists, who were once largely against the idea that al Qaeda existed in Iraq or anywhere else, now seem zealous in pointing out that these places are CRAWLING with al Qaeda, and that any intervention at all will surely aide them.

The Taliban, on the other hand, is real. We know they're real because we, that is the United States, created them. We know what they want, and we know what would happen if they were able to assemble ground forces and retake Kabul. We know this because we've seen it already.

Again, maybe we should just shake hands with them and call the whole thing off. It would be interesting to see how civilians fare then.

baleen - 2013-10-16

From Out of Site: "The success rate is extremely low and the cost on civilian lives and the general well-being of the population is very high." No, it isn't. That's part of the point, it's actually not very high compared to any other intervention. THAT'S WHY, in keeping with the pros that the site lists, that Pakistan allows it and not troops and conventional bombing campaigns.

While most civilians deplore the use of drones in these countries, many do not, and all of those polled deplore the Taliban. A 2010 Pew research poll asked Pakistanis "Please tell me whether you support or oppose the United States conducting drone attacks in conjunction with the Pakistani government against the leaders of extremist groups," and 40% answered in support. 40% of Pakistanis supported foreign bombing in their own country!!! That is a far cry from damnation. In the same poll, "Support for the drone strikes range from 43% in Punjab to 36% in Sind. Opposition to the drone strikes ranges from 64% in Sind to 57% in Punjab."

Obviously, it depends on the news cycle in Pakistan. If terrorists murder a bunch of Pakistani children that week, its probably going to swing in favor. If a bunch of kids perish in a human shield operation in Swat, then Pakistanis favoring suicide bombings on American forces is going to jump upwards. My point is, it's complicated, and so are my opinions on the subject. I freely admit to flip flopping on this over the years.

baleen - 2013-10-16


Bort - 2015-06-06

Updated link for baleen:

http://securitydata.newamerica.net/drones/pakistan-analysis.ht ml

Well, the drone strikes have tapered off to almost nothing in Pakistan, the Taliban is able to pull off strikes more easily now, and it doesn't take more than a handful of Taliban strikes to kill as many civilians as the totality of the Bush / Obama drone program has. And, true to their nature, most drone critics have completely lost interest in the well-being of Pakistani civilians.

Meatsack Jones - 2013-10-14

Quit...arming...the robots.

chumbucket - 2013-10-14

I'm sure we'll soon discover some naked dude showing up in a parking garage trying to warn us of the same thing.

SteamPoweredKleenex - 2013-10-14

That's just the kind of prejudice I'd expect from a Meatsack!

memedumpster - 2013-10-14

We're gonna' have to kill Freckles.

yogarfield - 2013-10-14

what happens when the robots get their CCD permits? we won't know which ones are safe to shove!

SteamPoweredKleenex - 2013-10-14

Eventually it'll come down to the robots having a maximum manageable number of human deaths if humans ban civilian ownership of screwdrivers, soldering irons, and magnets.

yogarfield - 2013-10-15

and by CCD i meant CCW. FUUUUUCK

1394 - 2013-10-14

You are in direct violation of Penal Code 1.13, Section 9. You have 5 seconds to comply.

Mister Yuck - 2013-10-15

I think the scariest thing about arming robots is that, if we mass produce these things, it really makes capital the only kind of power someone needs to stay in charge. Right now you need capital and to convince a bunch of people to be your thugs. Every advance in military technology lowers the number of people you have to convince that you should be in charge. Good robots lower that number to one, conceivably.

SteamPoweredKleenex - 2013-10-15

True, but I'm figuring the more onerous people to try that will see their computer screens fill with a Guy Fawkes mask as their robo-army lines up to rape every human in their compound into Jell-O.

I mean, hacking's probably a lot easier than bribery.

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