Drone Strikes Change Anonymous Washington Debate

The Los Angeles Times (11/2/09) gives readers a mostly upbeat account about the use of unmanned drones in Afghanistan and Pakistan– weapons that have killed hundreds in Pakistan in recent years. But Times reporter Julian Barnes tells us their popularity with U.S. military officials has “changed the nature of the current policy debate in Washington.” The evidence:

The technology allows us to project power without vulnerability,” said a senior Defense official. “You don’t have to deploy as many people. And in the modern age you want as little stuff forward as long as you can achieve the effects as if you had lots of people forward.”

But some officials caution that policymakers should not rely too heavily on the unmanned drones.

“It has made some people feel there can be a pure counter-terrorism mission without any counter-insurgency strategy,” said a government official. “But that isn’t truly viable without taking on a certain amount of risk.”

Huh. So some anonymous government officials really seem to love them, while other anonymous government officials think they should be used in conjunction with other types of warfare. What a debate!

In the same piece, readers are told that in Pakistan the drones are unpopular–“much of the population believes they have killed civilians as well as militants.” In other words, they believe in things that happen to be true.

About Peter Hart

Activism Director and and Co-producer of CounterSpinPeter Hart is the activism director at FAIR. He writes for FAIR's magazine Extra! and is also a co-host and producer of FAIR's syndicated radio show CounterSpin. He is the author of The Oh Really? Factor: Unspinning Fox News Channel's Bill O'Reilly (Seven Stories Press, 2003). Hart has been interviewed by a number of media outlets, including NBC Nightly News, Fox News Channel's O'Reilly Factor, the Los Angeles Times, Newsday and the Associated Press. He has also appeared on Showtime and in the movie Outfoxed. Follow Peter on Twitter at @peterfhart.