Thursday Highlights

G’day

  1. Belorus hard man and age defeats youth.
  2. The exceptionalism gambit turned.
  3. And that same essay through other eyes.
  4. Criminals and crime.
  5. Speaking of which, … how about in verse?
  6. Memory and charity. Our parish had a memorial liturgy to remember.
  7. Acting ability noted.
  8. That’s a request that should be ignored.
  9. Another version of realpolitik.
  10. Gas methods

17 responses to “Thursday Highlights

  1. 2.The exceptionalism gambit turned.

    So for months now you’ve been making an argument that Obama is too exceptionalistic. He’s using drones against countries we aren’t at war with, his NSA is listening in on too much, even the Bin Laden raid was a horrible act of war against poor Pakistan.

    Now Obama’s problem is that he doesn’t believe in American exceptionalism! Evidence, why the Russian President writes an op-ed saying the US should drop its claims to exceptionalism! And to make it even more absurd, Republicans who have lined up to bash Obama for not being enough excpetionalist are at the same time fawning over Putin, the man who argues America should drop exceptionalistic claims!

    This would be amazing except we’ve had so many years of the ‘quantum Republican’ (they don’t actually stand for anything in particular, rather what they stand for can be best described as a probability wave of positions that are superimposed upon each other at the same given moment in time)>

  2. Boonton,
    That isn’t how exceptionalism works. If I think America is exceptional that doesn’t mean it is a license to commit international crimes and normal rules of conduct don’t apply to us. Mr Sandefur, if I remember (or was it Mr Darrel), who pointed out that the US (via the Declaration and Constitution) was the only nation founded on an idea and not an ethnic history … except Timothy Snyder points out the same holds true of Lithuania … as well as any number of Communist regimes. Your POV on exceptionalism is akin to the Penn State football scandal, Paterno and the coaches were regarded as exceptional so …

    even the Bin Laden raid was a horrible act of war against poor Pakistan. …

    I’ve called it an assassination. I’ve also said instead of drones we should use special forces, which may be seen as an act of war by the nation, but they are more effective and require a firmer commitment.

    Now Obama’s problem is that he doesn’t believe in American exceptionalism.

    You’re citing what is “exceptionalism” (drones, NSA, &c) indicate, like Obama, you have no clue what that term means.

  3. I’ve called it an assassination.

    Except provision had been made to receive a captured Bin Laden alive, and if the operation could have been carried out with less risk of US troops by using drones to level the house and then send in special forces to only retrieve DNA from the bodies to confirm Bin Laden’s identity.

    And since Bin Laden was neither a citizen of Pakistan nor an authorized guest there really isn’t anything to complain about. The US was/is at war with Al Qaeda and no one disputes that Bin Laden was Al Qaeda’s leader. National sovereignity runs in both directions, in order to claim sovereignity the nation has to accept responsibility for what happens inside its borders. Either Pakistan allowed an entity the US was at war with to set up a headquarters in their territory, or they could not control their territority. In both cases that voids the claim to sovereignity.

    I’ve called it an assassination. I’ve also said instead of drones we should use special forces, which may be seen as an act of war by the nation, but they are more effective and require a firmer commitment.

    Why shouldn’t the special forces forgo body armour, night vision, and perhaps even guns? They can fight in hand to hand combat ala Captain Kirk in the original Star Trek series. Which leads me too:

    who pointed out that the US (via the Declaration and Constitution) was the only nation founded on an idea and not an ethnic history

    The problem is you seem to have no idea what you’re talking about. You have some fuzzy sense that drones are bad because they lack the ‘honor’ or ‘committment’ of hand to hand combat. That has been a common feeling through time. I’m sure there were people who felt that guns and cannons lacked the ‘committment’ of calvery charges and clashing swords but if the ‘idea’ you’re talking about is laws…well no laws of war would ever rule out the use of drones. When lacking any actual things to complain about intelligently, you substitute hyperbole (“international crimes and normal rules of conduct don’t apply to us”

    You’re citing what is “exceptionalism” (drones, NSA, &c) indicate, like Obama, you have no clue what that term means.

    You seem to be arguing that America is ‘exceptional’ in that it adheres rigerously to international laws and norms…which is kind of strange since how could they be norms or even laws if only America adheres to them? Yet you cite over and over those who say Obama’s problem is that he rejects American exceptionalism because he doesn’t do *enough* drones, NSA, etc.

    And if you claim exceptionalism means exceptional respect for the law, you should be able to clearly, coherently, and intelligently explain in great detail the exact laws you feel have been broken and how they’ve been broken. Waving your hands around saying ‘drones, NSA, etc.’ indicates a lack of attention. Not something you’d expect from ‘exceptional’ legal diligence.

  4. Boonton,

    Except provision had been made to receive a captured Bin Laden alive …

    Except the ROI meant that was an infinitesimal chance.

    and if the operation could have been carried out with less risk of US troops by using drones to level the house and then send in special forces to only retrieve DNA from the bodies to confirm Bin Laden’s identity.

    You don’t seem to realize the OODA loop that the special forces had come to since starting Iraq. At the start of Iraq a special forces team would go on a mission every six or so weeks. By 2010 or so, each time was running 4-5 missions a night, starting a mission and going on a second based on intelligence from the first and going though a few more iterations of that. Drones can’t match that.

    Either Pakistan allowed an entity the US was at war with to set up a headquarters in their territory, or they could not control their territority. In both cases that voids the claim to sovereignity.

    Says who? That is wrong.

    You have some fuzzy sense that drones are bad because they lack the ‘honor’ or ‘committment’ of hand to hand combat.

    This is what is known as a straw man argument. It is not my argument against drones. Evidence has been shown that drones, like other bombing strategies, raise a lot of antagonism and resistance to the drone authors and support for those they hunt. This, is my view, is not the case with special forces attacks which is the actual reason I prefer them.

  5. Except the ROI meant that was an infinitesimal chance.

    So what? If the orders were to kill him there would be no chance at all since even a Bin Laden holding his hands up with a white flag would have just resulted in an execution shot to the head.

    At the start of Iraq a special forces team would go on a mission every six or so weeks. By 2010 or so, each time was running 4-5 missions a night, starting a mission and going on a second based on intelligence from the first and going though a few more iterations of that. Drones can’t match that.

    And a handgun isn’t the same as a fully automatic rifle. Again so what? A key factor your neglecting is

    1. Drones expand the powers of special forces by not requiring them to be tied up on missions that can be done by drones (for example, simply watching who comes and goes from a building in a hostile area).

    2. Drones dramatically lower casualities on both sides. If you send troops in, those troops are going to fight like hell to get out which means they are more likely to shoot than not. A drone can opt to only shoot after deliberation and without any concern for its personal safety.

    That being said drones can’t do everything. For example, troops had to go in on the Bin Laden raid to confirm that the mysterious tall man who never left the house was really Bin Laden as well as to collect physical intelligence from the house.

    Sovereignity

    Says who? That is wrong.

    Says the last three thousand years of history. Territorial integrity cuts both ways.

    This is what is known as a straw man argument. It is not my argument against drones. Evidence has been shown that drones, like other bombing strategies, raise a lot of antagonism and resistance to the drone authors and support for those they hunt

    Is this why Al Qaeda appears to have less than 100 members in the country of Afghanistan? You forget that plenty of civilians have been killed by special forces operations and that doesn’t make anyone happier. In both cases, though, untargetted shelling or carpet bombing (which was the previous paradign in warfare) creates many more victims.

    And the other question is, of course, ‘raises antagonism relative to what’?

  6. Boonton,

    If the orders were to kill him there would be no chance at all since even a Bin Laden holding his hands up with a white flag would have just resulted in an execution shot to the head.

    Uhm, that is a not-bad description of how it went down.

    Says the last three thousand years of history. Territorial integrity cuts both ways.

    Now you’re making stuff up. You even decided that China attacking US citizens because they were doing things legal in the US but that they objected to was problematic … an alas exactly your justification for your actions. Just ’cause someone is doing something that bothers you doesn’t mean you can attack without that being an act of war. And no, Yemen cannot go to war with the US. It’s the Joe Frazier in the bar thing (Joe is in a bar and some guy is growsing about how he lost money on Joe and is going to beat the crap out him. Joe turns to him and drawls, “If you hit me, and I find out about it ….”)

    Is this why Al Qaeda appears to have less than 100 members in the country of Afghanistan?

    Pretty effective 100. We have thousands of men deployed in enduring freedom yet those less than 100 killed more than 25 soldiers in just the last 3 months. Amazing men those.

    You forget that plenty of civilians have been killed by special forces operations and that doesn’t make anyone happier.

    I forget nothing. Public response to drones is not the same. You don’t read the thing I link very often to you. This is, alas, not something I’m making up. “One of this country’s most knowledgeable writers about Yemen is Greg Johnsen, author of The Last Refuge: Yemen, Al-Queda, and America’s War in Arabia. Johnsen is often read as arguing that American drone strikes in Yemen do more harm than good, because they spawn increased membership in the jihadi forces there.” from Lawfare. See also this blog (which is linked where I got that quote now now is in my feed, so I thank you for that). I haven’t seen the same reaction to the sort of intensive special forces operations as were done in Iraq. And why do you think special forces ops like those done recently kill many civilians? Can you back that up, i.e., … Cite?

  7. Now you’re making stuff up. You even decided that China attacking US citizens because they were doing things legal in the US but that they objected to was problematic … an alas exactly your justification for your actions.

    US citizens making war on China from US soil would be an act of war by the US on China if the US refused or couldn’t do anything about it. Making war is well defined here and would not simply be differences between our countries in what is legal in one and not the other (for example, advocating freedom for Tibet).

    Just ’cause someone is doing something that bothers you doesn’t mean you can attack without that being an act of war.

    Are you making a case that Bin Laden was just ‘bothering us’ or was participating in acts of war?

    Al Qaeda in Afghanistan

    Pretty effective 100. We have thousands of men deployed in enduring freedom yet those less than 100 killed more than 25 soldiers in just the last 3 months. Amazing men those.

    1. A suicide bomb, well targetted, can indeed kill a lot of people even if his group is very small. The Navy Yard shooter seems to have achieved almost the same level of casualities (when you count wounded) and he appears to have been a group of one mentally disturbed man.

    2. You are aware that Al Qaeda is not the only source of violence in the Middle East….in fact they aren’t even the primary source of violence.

    Johnsen is often read as arguing that American drone strikes in Yemen do more harm than good, because they spawn increased membership in the jihadi forces there

    It’s very popular to say war is counter productive, but the fact is people go to war not because it’s counter productive but because it is very productive. It is very hard negotiating a peace or abiding by a surrender to someone. Killing them takes them off the table and has the added benefit of intimidating others who might be inclined otherwise test your strength.

    A strike that kills some top operatives, esp. ones that have been coordinating attacks against the US is IMO almost certainly quite effective. Even if this makes a few dozen new members join a jidhadist group for a while, the trade-off is probably a good one (most who join such groups do not end up in any real attacks on the US, most will likely be loosely affiliated for a while then drop away or at worse get involved in local disputes). While I acknowledge the risk that, say, killing Bin Laden may inspire some 15 yr old today to become a Dr. Evil ten years from now setting off nukes in America, on average I’d say it’s more likely that fewer people are dead or will die in both America and the rest of the world because of the Bin Laden raid and even because of the raids elsewhere.

  8. And why do you think special forces ops like those done recently kill many civilians? Can you back that up, i.e., … Cite?

    This isn’t a well formed citation but consider the movie Black Hawk Down. Here you have a force sent to capture one man, the force gets pinned down and hundreds end up getting killed or wounded in the desperate firefight to free our men.

    Now consider a drone mission to take out a warlord. If the warlord isn’t there or if it’s a ‘trap’, the drone can simply abort and return home. Or it can be sacrificed without much concern. Even the helicopter we had to leave behind on the bin laden raid was a concern to the military because of the intel it might provide…even though the team had set off demolition charges in it. Even if the drone shoots and it turns out the target wasn’t the objective, you are still likely to get fewer innocent deaths than if you have a team of special forces shooting through to get to that person, then shooting out to get back home. Not saying we can get rid of all our troops and bow down to the robot army…yet….but it’s very clear to me drones mean fewer deaths on all sides.

    And another thing:
    because they spawn increased membership in the jihadi forces there

    Why? Consider a strike on a multi-vehicle convoy in the middle of the Yeman desert with multiple heavily armed men. When you last did a road trip did you hire a 5 or 6 vehicles filled with armed men to escort you? Places where that is the custom are either places or are people who have a lot of different ways they could encounter a violent death….drone attack being probably one of the more exotic possibilities. Really why would death by drone really spark so much real anti-US action in such a violent area? Is this the Captain Kirk theory that says people will respect you if you kill someone in a fist fight but not by shooting them with a laser from 1000 miles away?

  9. Also, the theory that drones cause more people to be jihadists than jihadists killed to me sounds like a throwback to the whole ‘9/11 was really blowback for US sins in the Middle East’ idea that was trashed after 9/11 and ended up probably ending Ron Paul’s GOP nomination campaign. The causal theory seems to be as follows:

    Step 1. Peaceful Arabs living a quiet, simple life doing whatever they do in the mountains of Afghanistan or Yemen (cue image of a dirt house, woman holding a bucket of water, maybe a goat in background).

    Step 2. US drone blows up house next door. Children killed, people tearing their hair out screaming.

    Step 3. Teenager instead of becoming simple farmer or going to college to be a doctor becomes a terrorist planting backpack bomb in train tubes in London.

    The only thing that’s really plausible here is step 2. People do cry and get very upset when people are killed. Step 1 is a mental image that’s profoundly ignorant, no place in the world is simple. Yemen, Afghanistan and other countries were never simple. They have long histories with many different factions. The people who hold to step 1 are simply avoiding doing any work to actually learn about the places they are talking about.

    Step 3 doesn’t seem to comport to reality. None of the 9/11 hijackers had any history of being ‘oppressed’ or ‘victimized’ (for example, losing family members in the Iraq war). In fact many of them lead above average lifestyles when compared to their fellow countrymen. In the post 9/11 attacks we’ve seen not a single person cite as a motivation actual direct harm imposed on them by US action (for example, a father avenging the death of a young child by an errant US bomb). The closest you get is fuzzy citations of ‘Muslims harmed’ by US operations in Iraq and Afghanistan but not specific attacks.

  10. Boonton,
    You need to ponder what I wrote a little more.

    This isn’t a well formed citation but consider the movie Black Hawk Down. Here you have a force sent to capture one man, the force gets pinned down and hundreds end up getting killed or wounded in the desperate firefight to free our men.

    BHD was pre-Iraq. I noted that during the Iraq war our expertise at spec ops increased by many orders of magnitude. Instead of one mission (which like BHD) might fail there which took 3-5 weeks to plan, by mid-Iraq a team was running 4-6 missions per night, with the second mission based on hard intelligence (papers, documents, questioning) from the first and so on through the last. This is completely different than your drone capability.

    Even the helicopter we had to leave behind on the bin laden raid was a concern to the military because of the intel it might provide…even though the team had set off demolition charges in it.

    This is even more true of drones. Get the guts and hack the drone, eh?

    Not saying we can get rid of all our troops and bow down to the robot army…yet….but it’s very clear to me drones mean fewer deaths on all sides.

    Implausible. It requires thinking a highly trained man in room with a rifle is less accurate and more discriminating than a drone. Is this like you pretending that if add a less to group you raise the average more than if you add more? Just wishful thinking to align with your preconceptions.

    Is this the Captain Kirk theory that says people will respect you if you kill someone in a fist fight but not by shooting them with a laser from 1000 miles away?

    You keep returning to this? I keep telling you because it is more effective. You ignore that and go for the romance. Geesh.

  11. Boonton,

    US citizens making war on China from US soil would be an act of war by the US on China if the US refused or couldn’t do anything about it. Making war is well defined here and would not simply be differences between our countries in what is legal in one and not the other (for example, advocating freedom for Tibet).But US citizens doing things permitted or encouraged in the US in lands that the US unofficially is not happy about Chinese occupation is the point.

    Making war is well defined here and would not simply be differences between our countries in what is legal in one and not the other (for example, advocating freedom for Tibet).

    Except is isn’t well defined. I can train at using a rifle here legally. You can too. We can camp. No laws are broken.

    Are you making a case that Bin Laden was just ‘bothering us’ or was participating in acts of war?

    Bin Laden wasn’t living near the Yemen capital.

    You are aware that Al Qaeda is not the only source of violence in the Middle East….in fact they aren’t even the primary source of violence.

    Actually I wasn’t aware that Afghanistan was considered in the Middle East, I figured it and Pakistan were in Asia.

    It’s very popular to say war is counter productive, but the fact is people go to war not because it’s counter productive but because it is very productive.

    Bombings of civilian centers in WWII were counterproductive. This raised the will to resist every civilian population it was used on and increased the vehemence and hatred toward the opposition.

    A strike that kills some top operatives, esp. ones that have been coordinating attacks against the US is IMO almost certainly quite effective.

    I haven’t argued they are “ineffective.” I have argued (a) they are acts of war against the nation in which those people reside and (b) are less effective than spec ops. Argue the point, not the straw man.

    The problem with the Bin Laden raid is moral, it was an assassination pure and simple. Own it. If you think it was better for the world, you advocate assassination.

  12. Boonton,
    One further thing, you who celebrate the Bin Laden assassination. Are you conflicted that torture was used to gather crucial evidence to find him? Or not?

  13. This is even more true of drones. Get the guts and hack the drone, eh?

    Not really, I suspect the military would feel more comfortable with a drone being captured by an enemy than, say, a stealth bomber. And a lot of the advantage of a drone comes from the infrastructure behind it, not the actual tech of the drone. Drones work because we have numerous bases to launch them, secure communications uplinks and so on. A country like Iran simply capturing one drone isn’t going to help them replicate that. You might end up with a hacking danger but even that can be minimized by changing encryption codes just like you get a new credit card # if someone steals your wallet.

    Also, of course, even a large drone is much smaller than a plane designed to carry humans. That means it’s much easier to design a self destruct system that really destroys everything worth knowing in the case of a wreck.

    Implausible. It requires thinking a highly trained man in room with a rifle is less accurate and more discriminating than a drone

    A highly trained man in a room with a rifle is a very valuable asset who you will kill to protect and that man will kill to protect himself…esp. if he is surrounded by a lot of enemies. Consider the Bin Laden raid. Unlike BHD, it was planned much better. Still those on it had a very hard time *Not* shooting the women and children they encountered. Each time they wondered “is this one hiding a suicide vest?”. Every male adult they encountered they did kill on the assumption they were almost certainly armed (and many were, but some of the teens might have been unarmed bystanders).

    Better planning and training helps but it doesn’t alter the equation. Boots on the ground mean killing people to keep those boots safe and get them home. That’s killing people over and above your actual target.

    War on China

    Except is isn’t well defined. I can train at using a rifle here legally. You can too. We can camp. No laws are broken.

    So in China it’s illegal to own a rifle and ‘camp’ as though you’re in a militia. In the US it is legal. How is camping in the US making war on China? Is it your assertion Bin Laden’s only act against the US was housesitting without properly being listed on the lease?

    Bin Laden wasn’t living near the Yemen capital.

    No terrorism against the US has originated from Yemen?

    War as counter productive

    Bombings of civilian centers in WWII were counterproductive. This raised the will to resist every civilian population it was used on and increased the vehemence and hatred toward the opposition.

    WWII demonstated we can increase the deaths of civilians faster than civilians can increase their ‘vehemence’. Abusing civilians can be counter productive in occupations (i.e. Germany in Poland and the Ukraine….if they were nicer they might have worked with civilians who hated Stalin). But Germany lost the war because they lost air superiority while the allies maintained and expanded it.

    One further thing, you who celebrate the Bin Laden assassination. Are you conflicted that torture was used to gather crucial evidence to find him? Or not?

    From what I understand little or no torture directly lead to him. Cheney and his defenders want to link torture so they can justify their moral failures during the Bush years but yes I would say the use of torture was immoral even if it lead to Bin Laden but the ‘assassination’ was not. But I would also assert assassination is not properly used against legitimate military targets, even if they are named individuals. Assassination would be something like killing the President of Egypt because he belonged to the Muslim Brotherhood or killing a leader because he kicks out American oil companies. Killing a commander of enemy forces is not IMO.

  14. Boonton,

    . Drones work because we have numerous bases to launch them, secure communications uplinks and so on.

    Which when the tech is lost, is no longer so secure.

    A country like Iran simply capturing one drone isn’t going to help them replicate that.

    In a way that a country like Pakistan getting one helicopter will differ how?

    A highly trained man in a room with a rifle is a very valuable asset who you will kill to protect and that man will kill to protect himself…esp. if he is surrounded by a lot of enemies.

    Do you know the losses in Iraq to special forces were very very low? Apparently not. How many lost taking bin Laden … zero? Hmm.

    That’s killing people over and above your actual target.

    In a way putting a bomb into the building with your target doesn’t? Geesh.

    So in China it’s illegal to own a rifle and ‘camp’ as though you’re in a militia.

    Camping can be training.

    No terrorism against the US has originated from Yemen?

    Terrorist from the US just participated in the Nairobi mall attack. Does that give Kenya license to attack targets in the US?

    WWII demonstrated we can increase the deaths of civilians faster than civilians can increase their ‘vehemence’.

    No it didn’t. Battle of Britain and the civilian attacks on London? Read about before you spout that nonsense. Air superiority does not equal the effects of air attack on civilian targets. And yes, air superiority meant that we could attack military targets and installations which did matter. Air raids on Berlin. Not so much.

    Assassination would be something like killing the President of Egypt because he belonged to the Muslim Brotherhood or killing a leader because he kicks out American oil companies. Killing a commander of enemy forces is not IMO.

    So killing Yamamoto in WWII was not an assassination? Btw, this is disputed … some call it assassination, other do not. I prefer to call a spade a spade. In past times we have had a on principle refused to target other heads of state. Apparently this is no longer a view point defended by the modern liberal. Uniforms not important. Assassination not important. Torture, please ignore it was “just a little”. Liberals are not so liberal any more … or perhaps very principled.

    Abusing civilians can be counter productive in occupations (i.e. Germany in Poland and the Ukraine….if they were nicer they might have worked with civilians who hated Stalin).

    You still need to read Snyder’s Bloodlands I think.

  15. Which when the tech is lost, is no longer so secure.

    Agreed, I’m still unclear why you think the risk of classified tech. being lost in the field is greater with drones than with manned missions? Drones often have less classified tech on them than vehicles designed to carry men, they are easier to destroy or self-destruct should they crash or be captured. And on top of that any manned mission always carries the risk of the enemy capturing an actual soldier or pilot who may be forced to give up information that no drone could ever provide an enemy.

    In a way that a country like Pakistan getting one helicopter will differ how?

    I believe the British were able to decipher Nazi naval code due to the capture of a single German sub. Again I’m sure the loss of a single helicopter was not fatal to US military secrets, but all things considered I’m sure the military would have rathered the helicopter NOT have fallen into foreign hands.

    Do you know the losses in Iraq to special forces were very very low? Apparently not. How many lost taking bin Laden … zero? Hmm.

    Which demonstrates my point, when in doubt shoot since the woman holding what appears to be a baby may in fact be a suicide bomber. And US special forces have taken serious casualities on missions, for example it was reported that many members of the Bin Laden raid were later killed on a mission in Afghanistan when their helicopter either crashed or was shot down. The casualities to the US with drone missions, though, is always zero even if the mission turns out to be a trap or mechanical failures strike.

    In a way putting a bomb into the building with your target doesn’t? Geesh.

    Getting into a country and out is a tricky affair. It worked with Bin Laden, failed in the case of Iran and the hostage crises. In Afghanistan and Iraq special forces missions are supported by a large occupying army. Getting an army into an unfriendly country almost always ends up costing lots of lives. While fewer people happened to die in the case of the Bin laden raid than would have died if we had bombed the building from the air, the cost of the occupying invasion in terms of lives has to be added to the equation. The invasion of Iraq is estimated to have cost upwards of 100,000 Iraqi lives. The use of special forces in the case of Bin Laden maybe saved 3 or 4 lives of women and children not killed versus expected deaths if the house was leveled.

    Camping can be training.

    Training in the US by itself wouldn’t be an act of war unless it was paired up with some concrete action. I’m sure the military has war games that simulate a US-Sino war. That by itself would not be an act of war.

    Terrorist from the US just participated in the Nairobi mall attack. Does that give Kenya license to attack targets in the US?

    If the attack was launched from the US then yes, assuming the US was unwilling or unable to address the attackers from its own soil. Since the Nairobi mall attackers were not on US soil I fail to see how this analogy follows.

    To make it work, if it was discovered the attack was coordinated by an American ‘Bin Laden’ directing terrorist campaigns from his home in Milford PA, the US would be obiligated to stop him.

    No it didn’t. Battle of Britain and the civilian attacks on London?

    Which civilians had it worse in WWII? The Axies or the Allies?

    So killing Yamamoto in WWII was not an assassination?

    Nope, no more than shooting down a Japanese plane was an assassination. Unless you can demonstrate Yamamoto had retired from the military and no longer had any role commanding military forces we were at war with, he was just as legitimate a target as any other member of Japan’s military.

    In past times we have had a on principle refused to target other heads of state

    If that was the case why was Hitler’s last days spent in a bomb shelter? What did he have to worry about if the ‘rule of honor’ said that he could not be targetted. He could have simply retired to his ‘wolf’s lair’ and announced to the allies that he would be there as ‘head of state’ and to kindly avoid any direct strikes on it.

    You still need to read Snyder’s Bloodlands I think.

    So little time……but I do often try…

  16. Boonton,
    Which civilians had it worse in WWII? The Axies or the Allies?Depends on which Allies. Did Poland and Lithuania have it worse than Germany? Yes. They were Allies not Axis.

    Nope, no more than shooting down a Japanese plane was an assassination. Killing a particular person is an assassination if by a nation, murder if by person. This is different than a soldier firing on an enemy to take a position. Again, you seem to deny that there is disagreement on this issue. I understand that some don’t call it assassination. I happen to disagree, as I said, I prefer to call a spade a spade.

    What did he have to worry about if the ‘rule of honor’ said that he could not be targetted. He could have simply retired to his ‘wolf’s lair’ and announced to the allies that he would be there as ‘head of state’ and to kindly avoid any direct strikes on it.As noted, Allies and Axis powers resorted to assassination during WWII. What of it? That does not mean we did not, at other times, renounce it.

    Since the Nairobi mall attackers were not on US soil I fail to see how this analogy follows.

    And the 9/11 tower attackers were not on Middle Eastern soil.

    The invasion of Iraq is estimated to have cost upwards of 100,000 Iraqi lives.

    Oooh, citing discredited studies. Wow. Amazing.

    Drones often have less classified tech on them than vehicles designed to carry men

    Piloted planes cannot be hacked. Drones carry the tech that allows them to be controlled remotely. And … less classified tech? Really? Why do you think that is true? Where have you read that?

  17. Killing a particular person is an assassination if by a nation, murder if by person.

    How do you reconcile this against your desire for more special forces operations which are almost always done against individual targets rather than generic ‘enemy forces’? How do you reconcile this against having a war against Al Qaeda whose membership quite often does not break double digets?

    And the 9/11 tower attackers were not on Middle Eastern soil.

    None of them were? Does that mean Bin Laden had nothing to do with 9/11?

    Oooh, citing discredited studies. Wow. Amazing.

    Let’s say civilian deaths in the Bin Laden strike was 5. Let’s say if the strike was done with drones or conventional precision bombing it would have been 25. What do you think the civilian deaths were due to the Iraq invasion if not 100K? 50K? 5K? Unless you very implausibly want us to believe the entire Iraq invasion resulted in zero civilian deaths you’re not even in the ball park quibbling about figures here.

    Piloted planes cannot be hacked. Drones carry the tech that allows them to be controlled remotely. And … less classified tech? Really? Why do you think that is true?

    Drones I suspect are designed to be more disposable. Since the military expects a higher portion of them to end up crashing or being shot down over enemy territory than, say, stealth fighters, one would presume they would be designed with that in mind.

    And since they do not carry people, you can make them disposable. For example, a lot of the tech in a stealth fighter is centered around protecting the pilot. If the pilot doesn’t have to be protected, you can ditch that protection and subsitute instead mass production. I wouldn’t be surprised, say, if military planners considered a 20% loss ratio acceptable for drone aircraft. That would be a diaster if applied to manned aircraft.

    So if you have it in mind that a certain class of weapons is highly likely to end up in enemy hands either captured or as wreckage you can work that into it’s design in such a way to minimize the intelligence risks.

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