Posted by Chris at 1/26/2009 3:56 PM ...
Repeat after me - using aircraft to fire missiles at suspected terrorists and insurgents is counterproductive to success. Using unmanned aircraft for same is worse. Giving armed unmanned aircraft to the CIA with looser rules of engagement is just stupid. This time Predator drones firing missiles over Afghanistan got some of the people they were shooting at in Waziristan. Unfortunately, they also got a whole pile of innocent civilians, too.
We have to start asking ourselves when we cross the threshold from enhancing security by removing dangerous people from the field of play, and reduce security by actively recruiting for the enemy. Is it any surprise Pakistanis are pissed that we are still shooting people in their country without declaring war? Especially after Pakistan’s President Asif Ali Zardari told his people that they would stop in the Obama administration. If we get less cooperation from Pakistan in the horribly misnamed "War on Terror" due to these actions, how doe that makes us safer, or Afghanistan more secure and stable?
How is it that we've still not learned this lesson? Killing innocent civilians with artillery and airpower, forcing their survivors into the hands of the opposition, is a problem facing the United States since the Army of the Republic of Vietnam (ARVN) was doing it in the early 1960s. John Paul Vann railed against it until he died while working on CORDS in that country. This is not new, and it undoes any claims by USAF that airpower has a legitimate and useful softpower component. When you kill innocent people from the air in a spectacular and highly visible fashion, it doesn't really matter how many schools you build, how much medicine you deliver, or how many cross-cultural ties you create.