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Harvard Study Suggests Drone Strikes Can Disrupt Terror Groups

timothy posted about 2 years ago | from the water-is-really-really-wet dept.

The Military 429

An anonymous reader writes "Can drone strikes rid the world of terror groups? Many have argued that drones/UAVs seem to be a logical weapon of war: ground troops are not needed and strikes can be specifically targeted against terror-cell leaders (so-called 'decapitation strikes). Others have argued that such attacks only fuel more anger towards the United States and the West while also trampling on nations like Pakistan's sovereign rights and territory. Two recent studies published by Harvard University's Kennedy School of Government suggest 'On the basis of comprehensive analyses of data on multiple terrorist and insurgent organizations, these studies conclude that killing or capturing terrorist leaders can reduce the effectiveness of terrorist groups or even cause terrorist organizations to disintegrate.' It seems then drones and UAVs will be a weapon of war for a long time to come."

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429 comments

Drones strikes are great... (5, Funny)

GodfatherofSoul (174979) | about 2 years ago | (#40726187)

...it's when we miss that we cause problems.

Re:Drones strikes are great... (4, Insightful)

cpu6502 (1960974) | about 2 years ago | (#40726259)

Don't worry. We'll just do like President Clark in Babylon 5: "Redefine the problem so it no longer exists. There are not homeless on Earth. They are simply..... displaced..... persons."

You see the U.S. drones did not miss the target..... everyone in the killzone is defined as an "enemy combatant" even if they weren't. Hence the president can claim zero civilian casualties in his speeches.

Re:Drones strikes are great... (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40726355)

Don't worry. We'll just do like President Clark in Babylon 5: "Redefine the problem so it no longer exists. There are not homeless on Earth. They are simply..... displaced..... persons."

You see the U.S. drones did not miss the target..... everyone in the killzone is defined as an "enemy combatant" even if they weren't. Hence the president can claim zero civilian casualties in his speeches.

Do you ever contribute anything useful? I mean, really. Just bullshit scenarios with no basis in fact and useless hyperbole. That's all I ever see from you.

Re:Drones strikes are great... (4, Insightful)

Sir_Sri (199544) | about 2 years ago | (#40726399)

That's how politics is sabotaging honest analysis and discussion of possible effectiveness, and a legitimate discussion of what needs to be improved for such technology to actually be useful.

Flying two stealth helicopters into Pakistan and shooting up a house full of people wasn't about to make them any happier than a drone strike would. But at least the helicopters make it seem like the US side was taking some human risks to achieve its goals, but if the Pakistanis had shot down the helicopters, or if it was the wrong building, someone not particularly high value or the like it would have played out very differently.

What the article is trying to analyse is whether or not targeted assassinations can actually be effective at tearing apart terror networks. It seems reasonably obvious that they can be, on the occasion that they're targeted on the right people, and then actually kill those people. Even if you kill innocent civilians at the same time, those angered to take arms against in retaliation don't have the practical experience or leadership role in an existing terrorist network to pick up where the dead guy left off. That's almost classic Clausewitz destroying their political and military organizational capabilities, and not being particularly concerned with the total mass of the enemy force, as long as it can't organize it's not a serious threat.

It's also pretty obvious, as you somewhat cynically point out, that claiming 'zero casualties' and so on are lies. Tracking the repercussions of those, and and long term consequences of drone strikes is going to be much messier. You might be able to tear down the Al Qaeda networks of suicide bombers and so on, but the next guy might be happy to use drones against you (or for other, less directly murderous purposes, like drug running).

Honestly, my biggest fear with drone strikes in the long run is more about what crazy people will do with the technology when it trickles down enough into the civilian world ( you can already get RC flying vehicles it's just cost prohibitive at the moment). Are you going to see the 'minutemen' or equivalent using drones to shoot people trying to (potentially illegally) cross into the US for example? How about Italians or Spaniards trying to sink immigrant ships off their southern coasts. That sort of thing could go badly real fast. Do you want rich people using drones to 'patrol' the area their estates and, because it's their right to defend their property, shooting anyone who might look like they're illegally trespassing? Sure, this might work for taking down Al Qaeda, but I'd be far more worried about whomever is next on the list (which could be a reborn version of Al Qaeda for all it matters).

Re:Drones strikes are great... (1)

PopeRatzo (965947) | about 2 years ago | (#40726539)

What the article is trying to analyse is whether or not targeted assassinations can actually be effective at tearing apart terror networks.

I'm pretty sure that targeted assassinations would actually be effective at tearing apart just about any organization.

You needed a study to tell you that?

Re:Drones strikes are great... (1)

Sir_Sri (199544) | about 2 years ago | (#40726633)

You needed a study to tell you that?

To quote myself in, literally, the next sentence:

It seems reasonably obvious that they can be

As i replied somewhere else below, they actually might not be. It seems obvious that killing people in charge of hostile organizations can be useful. It's a matter of whether or not drone strikes can effectively kill people at a high enough rate to actually degrade organizational capabilities.

The US has done about 310 drone strikes in pakistan total (bush and obama), which under Obama is at a tempo of about 1 a week. So then how quickly is Al Qaeda able to replace that capability*, and, obviously, I only casually looked up Pakistan, a serious study should be looking at multiple countries.

*If you can't directly measure their capability to train replacements, the way you could with a regular army, you need an assessment of organizational capability that's less direct. Coming up with that measurement is important too, because you might learn a lot of meta info about the organization in trying to figure out how to assess its organizational capabilities.

Re:Drones strikes are great... (2)

Sir_Sri (199544) | about 2 years ago | (#40726675)

Addendum to my previous reply:

targeted assassinations

can only be effective if you actually kill the right person. Which is something else you need to assess, and figure out if you are, on average, killing the *right people* at a high enough rate.

Re:Drones strikes are great... (3, Interesting)

sortius_nod (1080919) | about 2 years ago | (#40726757)

Even killing the right person can do nothing to break up an organisation.

Look at Hamas. So many of their leaders have been assassinated over the years that almost none of the top structure are original Hamas leaders. They are still strong, & still an effective guerrilla army.

The only way to make an terrorists lay down their arms is either with dialogue or to commit war crimes on a grand scale. Even then peace is not guaranteed.

Re:Drones strikes are great... (2)

cpu6502 (1960974) | about 2 years ago | (#40726607)

>>> you can already get RC flying vehicles it's just cost prohibitive at the moment

http://www3.towerhobbies.com/cgi-bin/wti0001p?&I=LXCXF4**&P=7 [towerhobbies.com]
$330 RTF (ready-to-fly)
I actually worked in the same company that initially developed drones in the late 90s. This is where they started.

Re:Drones strikes are great... (1)

Sir_Sri (199544) | about 2 years ago | (#40726659)

Ya but that's not enough to mount weapons on or do much other than take pictures, and even then, with a 2.6 kilo craft you'd have to have a pretty light camera (which you can get of course, but again, more money), but I grant you, in the context of was saying that wasn't perfectly clear.

Re:Drones strikes are great... (5, Insightful)

khallow (566160) | about 2 years ago | (#40726671)

Are you going to see the 'minutemen' or equivalent using drones to shoot people trying to (potentially illegally) cross into the US for example? How about Italians or Spaniards trying to sink immigrant ships off their southern coasts. That sort of thing could go badly real fast. Do you want rich people using drones to 'patrol' the area their estates and, because it's their right to defend their property, shooting anyone who might look like they're illegally trespassing?

You have very ideologically peculiar concerns. It's far more likely that a lone nut uses one to shoot people on a highway or in a mall. "Minutemen" can just shoot people with guns, if that were their inclination. It doesn't seem to be. Nor do Spaniards and Italians seem xenophobic enough to shoot strangers on sight now, much less with military-grade drones. And rich people killing people who merely trespass? What planet do you come from? They risk jail by doing that. Far better to call the cops and throw the trespassers into jail for a while.

We might as well worry about ecoterrorists blowing up construction equipment or car lots. Or Luddites blowing up factories.

Re:Drones strikes are great... (1)

Teresita (982888) | about 2 years ago | (#40726557)

When Little Boy turned little girl into a pile of ash, I suppose she was an enemy combatant too.

Re:Drones strikes are great... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40726727)

Meh. If we hadn't done that to her, the Soviets would have done worse.

Re:Drones strikes are great... (1)

toastar (573882) | about 2 years ago | (#40726269)

That's what these are for http://i.imgur.com/L68TB.jpg [imgur.com]

Re:Drones strikes are great... (2)

jez9999 (618189) | about 2 years ago | (#40726287)

Or when you hit, and they turned out to be innocents. Or when you hit, and you know full fucking well innocents will die but you go ahead anyway. Like with double-taps.

Re:Drones strikes are great... (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40726601)

You naive fools believe that what happens in Pakistan is reflected in the Pakistani media, or the American media (or western media, for that matter). Look at what the purpose of the organization is, and you'll find out, quite quickly, that "truth" is relevant, only in that it's more convenient than fabrication in some situations.

We killed "American drone strikes killed 12 non-combatant villagers" does not mean, that the Americans were involved, a drone was involved, that there was a strike, that anyone died, that 12 people died, that anyone who died was a non-combatant, or that the people who may have died were villagers. What that phrase means is that either an American media company, without conspiring with anyone else, is attempting to sell you to advertisers, or that the Pakistani media organization is accomplishing the object of whichever minder is theirs. Usually, that minder, too, is the almighty dollar, but it doesn't come with USG strings attached. They publish what they're paid to publish. Journalism, as we wish to believe it existed at some time, is a myth.

Re:Drones strikes are great... (3, Informative)

Gorobei (127755) | about 2 years ago | (#40726401)

...it's when we miss that we cause problems.

Yep. I read the original paper: it hardly talks about drone strikes at all: it is about the effectiveness of killing the leaders of relatively young, violent NGOs.

I would really hope that no one in power reads the Slashdot "article" and believes that drone strikes are scientifically justified effective policy: the effects of mistargeting are not included; the operational changes in response to a drone strategy are not included (e.g. misinformation goes up as people call "terrorist" on their enemies.)

This is a paper examining narrow, historical data. It shouldn't be read as claiming broad strategic policy proposals.

Re:Drones strikes are great... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40726629)

I'm sure obama thinks his first drone strike in Yemen was great too, 14 women and 21 children dead. He's only creating more terrarrrissttt!ss! Want an American killed? Our dictator in chief will put him on a kill list and send a drone strike aimed at said American. Who needs Gitmo anymore? We have smart missiles that can do the job of getting around that pesky 'indefinite detention' hoolaboo. The Hope and Change we all wanted.

In much the same way... (3, Insightful)

Genda (560240) | about 2 years ago | (#40726209)

That a tactical nuke can disrupt a picnic... this is news?

Really.... (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40726211)

These organizations are not really organized, any disruption will disrupt their operation momentarily, until they regroup in a not-so-organized fashion, which doesn't take too long. This is why the war on terror is endless, and some people still don't get it.

Headline != article (5, Insightful)

tomhath (637240) | about 2 years ago | (#40726221)

FTA

these studies conclude that killing or capturing terrorist leaders can reduce the effectiveness of terrorist groups or even cause terrorist organizations to disintegrate

The studies conclude that killing the leaders of terrorist groups hurts the groups.

UAVs are one tool available, as are Special Forces, and traditional military force. I suppose the conclusion of the headline is correct though, UAVs are an effective weapon. Who knew?

Re:Headline != article (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40726439)

Also, UAVs are unlikely to replace Special Forces anytime soon, as they are unconductive towards more hands-on techniques such as torture that can also be instrumental in suppressing the terrorist encroachment. Not to worry, though. The technology is constantly evolving and we can all be reasonably safe as long as our research continues to be funded.

Re:Headline != article (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40726471)

Drones would be a great way to eliminate the leaders of warring nations as well, thus bringing the wars to a short conclusion and letting the people get back to their lives. Too bad the Geneva Convention disallows assassination of those who wage the wars.

Re:Headline != article (4, Informative)

khallow (566160) | about 2 years ago | (#40726547)

Too bad the Geneva Convention disallows assassination of those who wage the wars.

Not true. Such leaders are valid military targets.

Re:Headline != article (1)

Jah-Wren Ryel (80510) | about 2 years ago | (#40726707)

Too bad the Geneva Convention disallows assassination of those who wage the wars.

Not true. Such leaders are valid military targets.

He said, she said.
How about a cite instead of a bare assertion?

Re:Headline != article (1)

TapeCutter (624760) | about 2 years ago | (#40726563)

When has anyone ever paid attention to that clause? Surely you remember Bush giving Saddam 48hrs to "get out of town"? - And then when the time was up firing a cruise missle directly at him, which of course missed and killed a Jordainian taxi driver.

Re:Headline != article (2)

Sir_Sri (199544) | about 2 years ago | (#40726505)

Who knew?

A similar problem, on the effectiveness of patriot missile systems was looked at for years. (e.g. from 1992 http://www.fas.org/spp/starwars/congress/1992_h/h920407h.htm)

As it turned out, the US was *completely* wrong in it's early assessments of how effective their missile intercept technology was. That's why you do studies like this. It was quite possible UAV's were never, or almost never, successfully killing the person targeted, or that just killing a person (even a person with some leadership experience) was of virtually no value because they could be easily replaced.

Think of it this way. Fighting the german army in WW2, if you'd been able to kill 500 Colonel level officers with targeted strikes, that may have had some civilian casualties, it wouldn't have actually gotten you very much, the german army would have had literally thousands of Colonels (probably over 10 000), are more people who could have been quickly trained and promoted to fill those vacancies. Al Qaeda is much harder to pick apart, and figure out how relevant anyone is. There have been, apparently, 310 drone strikes in pakistan alone (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Drone_attacks_in_Pakistan), so presumably they've tried to kill around 350 people with that. So how relevant are those 350 people to Al Qaeda (in addition to the couple of thousand other people killed as a side effect of the drone strikes)? It's entirely possible that killing those guys, at a rate of what is now about 1 target a week is inconsequential to al qaeda's capability, but, the study studies more than just pakistan, and what it does look at it sees as actually being effective.

Re:Headline != article (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40726521)

Hey, when we're done 'proving' the short term effectiveness of violence (again). Then we can make a market selling the technology into state, county and municipal police departments. By then they'll be fairly well staffed with people who have already been trained to use these little hummers to the best of their abilities, indiscriminately, too.

But wait, there's more!

When the arms traders and secondary markets open up, we'll have yet another product development cycle ready to incubate out of the universities and more spin-off jobs to keep the progress comin' along.

Gosh, suddenly I long for the good ol' days, when terrorism was but a gleam in the eyes of the Haganah. You know, before the British gave in, gave up their mandate and the middle east began to fall apart...

Before you start throwing missiles (0, Flamebait)

Tastecicles (1153671) | about 2 years ago | (#40726225)

...Ask yourself, then answer: who is the real terrorist?

The man fighting to keep his family and his livelihood against corporate interests?
Or the man who wages war from a bombproof office, nine thousand miles away, that he might steal that which does not belong to him?

Re:Before you start throwing missiles (4, Insightful)

Tailhook (98486) | about 2 years ago | (#40726307)

The atavist exploiting soft targets because the world fails to conform to his faith.

Re:Before you start throwing missiles (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40726323)

...Ask yourself, then answer: who is the real terrorist?

The man fighting to keep his family and his livelihood against corporate interests?
Or the man who wages war from a bombproof office, nine thousand miles away, that he might steal that which does not belong to him?

OMFG. Crawl out of your parent's basement and stop drinking the Occutard Kool-Aid.

Just WTF are "corporate interests"?!?!?! And what the hell does shouting "Allah Ahkbar!" when killing a bunch of innocent kaffirs have to do with "fighting corporate interests" anyway, after you pull a definition for that set of Occutard buzzwords out of your rectal database?

Re:Before you start throwing missiles (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40726499)

You sound like the sort of person who uses condescension to mask ignorance. Are you aware of just how strangling our government and corporate created foreign trade policies really are? This: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ward_Churchill_September_11_attacks_essay_controversy [wikipedia.org] should be an eye-opening read.

Provided, of course, that you are actually interested in gathering facts, however unpleasant, as opposed to drinking the "they hate us because we are so free and wonderful!" bullshit.

Re:Before you start throwing missiles (2)

khallow (566160) | about 2 years ago | (#40726715)

I see that you quote Ward Churchill and use the word, "facts" in the same post. That's pointless. He's not called "Walking Eagle" for nothing.

Re:Before you start throwing missiles (4, Insightful)

Genda (560240) | about 2 years ago | (#40726657)

WOW, repeat after me... Too much coffee... I'm not going to even touch the bigotry... like there aren't several million peaceful and productive Muslim's in the U.S. living theirs lives and not bothering ANYBODY. So let's just address the corporate thing. Can't speak for the guy before you, but if you knew anything about the region and its people, you could pretty much trace this whole mess back through a century and a half of corporations (mostly British in the beginning) screwing up the cultural development of the middle east for industrial and colonial purposes. I can tell reading isn't your first choice of entertainment or information (sorry, FOX News doesn't count as a source of information)... Let's try this, ever see the movie "Lawrence of Arabia" you know, arguable one of the best film ever made? [wikipedia.org] Remember Larry is English? If you had any hint of history under your belt, you wouldn't even be making the statement above.

The entire mess with Islam, is a logical progression of disasters that blossoms fully with oil companies succeeded in exploiting the inhabitants of the middle-east. The social and religious impacts of sudden wealth, the conflicts arising from the invention of the State of Israel, and the protracted use of wealth by Saudi Arabia (our good buddies in the region) to export the most violent and radical of Islamic faiths around the world (and we let them, because they give us oil), has lead to the geopolitical landscape you see today. Both Gulf wars were about oil. The failed attempt to turn Iraq into an American satellite was about oil. Our current support of the infant democracy in Libya... is about, repeat after me... OIL. don't get me wrong. If we can do something genuinely decent, we absolutely will, as long as we can get the goodies while we're at it. So, let's recap. If you're talking about American foreign policy, and you can't see the exchange of currency or corporate interest, you're not looking hard enough. Thanks for playing, please take a parting gift on the way out.

Re:Before you start throwing missiles (3, Insightful)

ShanghaiBill (739463) | about 2 years ago | (#40726325)

...Ask yourself, then answer: who is the real terrorist?

The "real" terrorist is the one who uses terror (seemingly random attacks on the general population) for political ends. Al Qaeda is a terrorist organization. The US Military is not. Neither is the Taliban.

Re:Before you start throwing missiles (4, Informative)

Tastecicles (1153671) | about 2 years ago | (#40726371)

what political ends? Please specify.

Check your history: al Qaeda did not exist before the Russians invaded Afghanistan. It is a list of names used by the CIA as contacts and cash funnels for the Mujahideen in the area - the name was devised by the CIA, not the names on the list. bin Laden was an ALLY back then (as nothing more than a name on that list), simply as a foil for the Communist regime.

Re:Before you start throwing missiles (1, Troll)

circletimessquare (444983) | about 2 years ago | (#40726421)

yeah, bin Laden turned on his former allies. what is that supposed to prove?

i never understood this nonsense line of thought: "bin Laden once got stinger missiles from the CIA a long time ago in the Cold War, so the USA is responsible for everything he ever did since"

ridiculous

Re:Before you start throwing missiles (1)

Tastecicles (1153671) | about 2 years ago | (#40726457)

You said it, not me. Smell your own, first.

I didn't say anything about the circumstances surrounding bin Laden's sudden change of heart. I can't, I wasn't there, so I won't pretend to. It just seems a bit convenient that around the time massive mineral resources are discovered in the mountains of Afghanistan, suddenly he is public enemy #1!?

Something is not right.

Whatever you do... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40726495)

don't read or listen to Bin Laden, or those closest to him have written and said. Just Keep On Believing...

Re:Before you start throwing missiles (3, Insightful)

jpapon (1877296) | about 2 years ago | (#40726679)

around the time massive mineral resources are discovered in the mountains of Afghanistan, suddenly he is public enemy #1!?

Maybe, but it's also around the time he orchestrated a plot which ended in planes flying into the WTC and killing almost 4,000 people. I mean, if you're going to create some massive conspiracy to facilitate an invasion of a country, why would you choose the landlocked shithole with a long history of successfully resisting foreign occupations that is Afghanistan?

Re:Before you start throwing missiles (1)

microbread (2651139) | about 2 years ago | (#40726685)

If you choose to believe Bin Laden - certainly his opinion holds just as much weight as people who think they know why he did it - you can get answers.

A Reddit user had a good rundown of Bin Laden's own talks: http://www.reddit.com/r/WTF/comments/wcpls/this_i_my_friends_son_being_searched_by_the_tsa/c5cabqo?context=2 [reddit.com]

Note these are reasons for 9/11 rather than why he turned specifically, but it is certainly the occasion in the public's mind.

In particular:

In conclusion, I tell you in truth, that your security is not in the hands of Kerry, nor Bush, nor al-Qaida. No. Your security is in your own hands. - Osama Bin Laden

Re:Before you start throwing missiles (2)

Genda (560240) | about 2 years ago | (#40726765)

Go watch the movie "Charlie Wilson's War" [wikipedia.org] , (yes its fictionalized, but surprisingly accurate in its portrayal of the historical events) we spent over a billion dollars arming "The Mujaheddin" to smack Russia upside the head (and line the pockets of our war industries), and all we had to do, to ensure a lasting stability in the region was follow up with 10-20 million dollars to provide schools and infrastructure for the displaces Afghani freedom fighters. The people of Afghanistan would have been forever in our debt and with modern schools the country would have transformed over night into a democratic ally. Instead, we said "Fsck Off" Saudi Arabia provided support and religious schools through the Bin Laden family and indoctrinated a generation of Afghani leaders into the strictest and most radical of Muslim orthodoxies. Travel 25 years, and we have the world as it exists today. You do know, the only planes flying on 9/11 were the planes transporting the Bin Laden family out of the country, and that they are very close friends of the entire Bush family? Does nobody even bother to fact check any more? Jeez. They just bald faced lie to us, and for the most-part, the nation just swallows, rubs its collective tummies and asks for more... really sad.

Re:Before you start throwing missiles (1)

Mashiki (184564) | about 2 years ago | (#40726391)

Neither is the Taliban.

Wait a tick, the Taliban executed people in the soccer stadiums for you know, not having a sufficiently long enough beard, or for women not being with a proper male relative. Doesn't that fit the definition of terrorism?

What's that make groups like oh Hamas or Hizbullah anyway? Just names or are they actual terrorist groups too. After all they both fit your definition of terrorism pretty well. Not only that, but they pay people very well, and their families of people who strap explosives on themselves to kill large numbers of people.

he's right, the taliban is not terrorist (1)

circletimessquare (444983) | about 2 years ago | (#40726435)

because thy were the rulers at the time

terrorists seek political change from the status quo. the taliban was the status quo

so it accurate to call the taliban a brutal regime, but not terrorists. yes, terror was a tool they used: public executions, but that is not the traditional definition of terrorism: it's a not a surprise attack on innocents from a group not in power

Re:Before you start throwing missiles (1)

ShanghaiBill (739463) | about 2 years ago | (#40726545)

Wait a tick, the Taliban executed people in the soccer stadiums for you know, not having a sufficiently long enough beard, or for women not being with a proper male relative. Doesn't that fit the definition of terrorism?

Of course not. They didn't execute random people. They only executed lawbreakers. As long as you followed their laws, you had nothing to fear from them. They were repressive, totalitarian assholes, but that doesn't make them terrorists. "Terrorist" doesn't mean "bad guy."

Re:Before you start throwing missiles (2)

rubycodez (864176) | about 2 years ago | (#40726661)

wait a tick, bombing weddings with drones for political coin is terrorism. that would be the US government.

executing people for not following the law, that's just ruthless theocracy

Re:Before you start throwing missiles (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40726395)

Just picking example, I'd have to call the Taliban taking 40 hostages in a hotel last month [bloomberg.com] domestic terrorism.

Re:Before you start throwing missiles (1)

dkleinsc (563838) | about 2 years ago | (#40726537)

1. Please explain the difference between "terror" and "shock and awe" campaigns that hit civilians (accidentally or intentionally, there's no serious question as to whether civilians get hit)
2. Please explain how a totally innocent person on the ground in, say, Yemen, ensures that they won't be hit by a drone strike. Pretend that somebody who lives next door to that person gets accused of terrorism in complete secrecy - the innocent guy doesn't even know that the guy next door is a target.
3. By your understanding of the word, is the Fort Hood shooting an act of terrorism? How about a suicide bomber blowing up an IDF checkpoint? How about the attack on the USS Cole?

There have been many, many attempts to come up with a consistent definition of the word "terrorism", and they've all failed because it turns out the militaries of the world have done exactly the same thing.

Re:Before you start throwing missiles (1)

ShanghaiBill (739463) | about 2 years ago | (#40726743)

1. Please explain the difference between "terror" and "shock and awe" campaigns

Terrorists try to maximize civilian deaths. The 2003 "shock and awe" campaign tried to minimize civilian deaths while still achieving its military objectives. If you can't see the difference, I am sorry.

Please explain how a totally innocent person on the ground in, say, Yemen, ensures that they won't be hit by a drone strike.

They can't. They also can't ensure they won't get hit by an asteroid. What is your point?

By your understanding of the word, is the Fort Hood shooting an act of terrorism?

Well, the perp had a political objective, and although most of the victims were in the military, they were shopping at the time, so I guess I would consider that terrorism (although a borderline case).

How about a suicide bomber blowing up an IDF checkpoint?

No, of course not. An attack on soldiers at a military checkpoint is not terrorism.

How about the attack on the USS Cole?

No, I would not consider that terrorism. It was a military target. We were not at war at the time, but we knew there were hostiles in the area (we were there to show our support for the current regime) and should have been more alert.

There have been many, many attempts to come up with a consistent definition of the word "terrorism", and they've all failed because it turns out the militaries of the world have done exactly the same thing.

A consistent definition is only hard if you are trying to exclude yourselves or your allies, or if you expect every case to be black and white.

Re:Before you start throwing missiles (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40726367)

Whichever one poisons school children? The one that executes women for working outside the home without male oversight?
Oh, how about the one that sodomizes young children as part of a millennia-long tribal tradition?

This is stupid, anyhow. You can argue persuasively that the US should leave Afghanistan. But don't pretend like the vacuum won't be filled with misery. The promise of Afghanistan circa 1960-1970 is gone. It's a wasteland, like Cambodia after the Khmer Rouge executed all the teachers and merchants. It's not going to rise from the ashes. It'll just become a dependent of the Pakistani intelligence machine like in the 1990s.

Interesting fact: the average life expectancy in Afghanistan is almost exactly the same today as it was in 2000, ~45 years.

Re:Before you start throwing missiles (1)

Baloroth (2370816) | about 2 years ago | (#40726461)

...Ask yourself, then answer: who is the real terrorist?

The man fighting to keep his family and his livelihood against corporate interests? Or the man who wages war from a bombproof office, nine thousand miles away, that he might steal that which does not belong to him?

Pretty sure it's the people who strap bombs to children to blow up in crowded areas and fly planes full of civilians into buildings. But your definition could be different. The end result of both actions will be just about the same.

But what about the kids of dead parents? (1)

cpu6502 (1960974) | about 2 years ago | (#40726231)

They grow-up desiring to get revenge on the Americans for killing their parents (who were just innocent bystanders). The cycle of hate never stops.

Re:But what about the kids of dead parents? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40726265)

Shock and awe works, so does love and flowers.

PS Don't buy either

Re:But what about the kids of dead parents? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40726279)

Children of the victims of the terrorists will also grow up.

Re:But what about the kids of dead parents? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40726337)

They grow-up desiring to get revenge on the Americans for killing their parents (who were just innocent bystanders). The cycle of hate never stops.

BULLSHIT

How many Japanese and Germans who lost their parents in WWII went on anti-US terrorist binges?

How many Russians who lost their parents in that same war went on German-killing sprees?

How many French who lost their parents in WWI spent their lives trying to kill Germans?

Damn close to ZERO in all cases.

Re:But what about the kids of dead parents? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40726389)

They grow-up desiring to get revenge on the Americans for killing their parents (who were just innocent bystanders). The cycle of hate never stops.

BULLSHIT

How many Japanese and Germans who lost their parents in WWII went on anti-US terrorist binges?

How many Russians who lost their parents in that same war went on German-killing sprees?

How many French who lost their parents in WWI spent their lives trying to kill Germans?

Damn close to ZERO in all cases.

The difference, my emotional angry excited fellow AC, is that those were all declared wars with definite, clearly defined endings. The nice thing about that is that hostilities finally end and reconstruction can begin. They can hope that things will be done peacefully and people will move on. It also helps that they weren't religiously motivated.

Modern "wars" are undeclared and perpetual. The military-industrial complex just loves it that way. The politicians love that too. They never really end. There is no definite reconstruction and reconciliation. It's not like WWII, where we can buy Volkswagen cars from a once-hostile nation and consider this nothing strange. The al quaeda types have no interest in peaceful trade or formal negotiations and treaties. Even if THEY wanted that, the US gov't finds having its own Emmanuel Goldstein to be too damned useful to give up, not even for peace. The politicians don't care. It's not like it will be their sons and daughters fighting and dying.

Re:But what about the kids of dead parents? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40726527)

They grow-up desiring to get revenge on the Americans for killing their parents (who were just innocent bystanders). The cycle of hate never stops.

BULLSHIT

How many Japanese and Germans who lost their parents in WWII went on anti-US terrorist binges?

How many Russians who lost their parents in that same war went on German-killing sprees?

How many French who lost their parents in WWI spent their lives trying to kill Germans?

Damn close to ZERO in all cases.

Sure, you're 100% right, I mean the Jews didn't spend the last 50 years hunting down Nazis either, did they ?

Oh wait, actually they did. And they never EVER gave up.

Tell ya what, why don't you book a trip to Afghanistan next year, and be sure to sew an American flag and a couple of
peace signs on your backpack. Maybe they will let you send a postcard back home before they behead your stupid simple-minded
ass.

Re:But what about the kids of dead parents? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40726393)

Ah yes. Who can forget the legions of WWII American orphans detonating car bombs on the streets of Tokyo or decapitating journalists in Berlin. Or those mangled Japanese nuclear orphans conspiring to poison the wells of small American towns.

Or Jewish holocaust survivors sending hit squads around the globe... oh... n'mind.

Re:But what about the kids of dead parents? (5, Insightful)

jklovanc (1603149) | about 2 years ago | (#40726515)

It would stop if people got past the "eye for an eye, tooth for a tooth" teachings of the Old Testament (I am not sure what the quran says about this but I bet there is a similar quote). People need to look at the specific people they are considering killing, see them as individuals and ask "Has this specific person wronged me or the people I an sworn to protect in such a way as to deserve death?". I believe in most cases the answer will be no; especially in generational conflicts. Maybe this will stop the "An American killed my father; you are an American prepare to die". Did the person being threatened do the killing? No, therefore that specific person does not deserve death. Perhaps that can change to "An American killed my father but you did not do it yourself therefore I will not kill you".

When we can get away from battles between factions and deconstruct it to what it really is, people killing people, maybe we can stop the cycle.

Some may call drone strikes terrorism but I do not. In my mind the difference is intent. The intent of a drone strike is to eliminate the training and control structure of a organization whose main goal is to inflict damage on the Western World. This is very different than the intent of al-Qaeda which is to change policy by terrorizing people. The fact that drones sometimes miss and usually kill possibly innocent people does not change the intent. How many terrorist commanders are deliberately staying in civilian areas to try to protect themselves. Should we allow enemy commanders to use human shields? It is well known that the US will take out and al-Qaeda leader they find. It is up to the al-Qaeda leader to decide whose lives are put at risk by being close by. How many of the "innocent civilians" are actually supplying and supporting terrorists or possibly terrorists themselves?

Re:But what about the kids of dead parents? (1)

techno-vampire (666512) | about 2 years ago | (#40726699)

It would stop if people got past the "eye for an eye, tooth for a tooth" teachings of the Old Testament

It would probably help almost as much if people understood what that line actually means. It's not saying that you must take an eye for an eye, but that you must not take more. That is, you can't blind a man because he damaged one of your eyes, or knock out all of his teeth because he knocked out one of yours.

Strange arguments (4, Insightful)

Pf0tzenpfritz (1402005) | about 2 years ago | (#40726237)

Can drone strikes rid the world of terror groups? [...] Others have argued that such attacks only fuel more anger towards the United States and the West while also trampling on nations like Pakistan's sovereign rights and territory.

Nice. It's just that these things don't have much to do with each other and not much more with the study's topics. A terrorist organization "disintegrating" does not mean there won't be another one.

I can't help the feeling that any study about actual politics -especially the more questionable part of it- that will be presented to the public will be in favor of the status quo.

Re:Strange arguments (1)

Black Parrot (19622) | about 2 years ago | (#40726331)

can't help the feeling that any study about actual politics -especially the more questionable part of it- that will be presented to the public will be in favor of the status quo.

Certainly, if the government requested the study or produced it internally. But for studies done at universities and independent think tanks, the govenment and other powerful interests have limited ability to control the message.

Re:Strange arguments (1)

mrvan (973822) | about 2 years ago | (#40726455)

In general, this may be true. However, TFA is based on "Two recent studies published [in Harvard journal] International Security". Reading further, these are:

n “Targeting Top Terrorists: How Leadership Decapitation Contributes to Counterterrorism,” Bryan Price, who will soon join the Combating Terrorism Center at the U.S. Military Academy, analyzed the effects of leadership attacks on 207 terrorist groups from sixty-five countries between 1970 and 2008.

And:

Patrick Johnston, a former fellow in the Belfer Center’s International Security Program who is now at the RAND Corporation, considers whether leadership decapitation reduces the effectiveness of terrorist and insurgent groups. In “Does Decapitation Work? Assessing the Effectiveness of Leadership Targeting in Counterinsurgency Campaigns,” Johnston ...

Given that the two cited authors are respectively joining the military and a think tank affiliated with the military, I an afraid that these studies has the objectivity of the former Iraqi Minister of Information... Also, a scientific journal will accept a theoretical model or simulation if it is methodologically sound, even if the actual bearing on reality is questionable (cf. all the rational choice / homo economicus type articles), so the peer review process here is no guarantee of sound political/military analysis.

It's about minds and money. (2)

Oxford_Comma_Lover (1679530) | about 2 years ago | (#40726239)

Killing people in an organization usually makes the organization weaker. So, too, does the expenditure of resources. These are the premises on which war is based. Whether it is done with swords, machine guns, bioweapons, nukes, or drones.

The choice of weapon may alter the truth of that premise by altering the willingness of people to fund, to assist, to kill for, or to die for those organizations. It will also alter the cost per kill.

As a tool, drones obviously help to kill people. The question is whether they are cost-effective and what the psychological consequences are.

Re:It's about minds and money. (1)

anubi (640541) | about 2 years ago | (#40726343)

When "the oppressed" have had enough of this, "the oppressed" will develop their own drones.

Re:It's about minds and money. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40726449)

Cost effective? Very.

Psychological consequences? That's the enemies problem.

For the initiate (1)

gedankenhoren (2001086) | about 2 years ago | (#40726247)

Let's review the distinction between terrorist and enemy combatant (although some of us may have lost sight of it):

Terrorist: member of a small group of persons who wish to cause outsize havoc in the dim hope of changing larger groups of persons

Enemy combatant: member of a large group of persons who can and do cause havoc in a rather reasonable hope of changing similarly sized groups of persons

Now, if it's not obvious already, let's realize that large groups necessarily start off small.

Re:For the initiate (1)

Tastecicles (1153671) | about 2 years ago | (#40726299)

In the eyes of the US Government, there is *no difference* between terrorist and enemy combatant ("Terrorists As Enemy combatants", Reid, 2004, Part II, "Jus in Bello – Examining the Rules That Apply to Al Qaeda and Taliban Forces as Enemy Combatants". This is the warbook on the "war on terror". The same warbook that argues that even though al Qaeda are to be *referred* to as "enemy combatants", the fact that they operate under the flag of an organisation of loosely connected cells rather than under the flag of a State, means that the Geneva Convention does not apply. Have a read, it'll open your eyes).

Re:For the initiate (1)

Tastecicles (1153671) | about 2 years ago | (#40726321)

additional: killing al Qaeda members will not work. al Qaeda is a CIA construct. An idea. Not even an idea of the individuals concerned. That said, you cannot kill an idea. Once it's out, it's out. It's the thing that Pandora's Box can't contain, ever.

The only way to fight problematical ideas... (1)

Paul Fernhout (109597) | about 2 years ago | (#40726479)

...is with better ideas: http://www.pdfernhout.net/on-dealing-with-social-hurricanes.html [pdfernhout.net]
"This approximately 60 page document is a ramble about ways to ensure the CIA (as well as other big organizations) remains (or becomes) accountable to human needs and the needs of healthy, prosperous, joyful, secure, educated communities. The primarily suggestion is to encourage a paradigm shift away from scarcity thinking & competition thinking towards abundance thinking & cooperation thinking within the CIA and other organizations. I suggest that shift could be encouraged in part by providing publicly accessible free "intelligence" tools and other publicly accessible free information that all people (including in the CIA and elsewhere) can, if they want, use to better connect the dots about global issues and see those issues from multiple perspectives, to provide a better context for providing broad policy advice. It links that effort to bigger efforts to transform our global society into a place that works well for (almost) everyone that millions of people are engaged in. A central Haudenosaunee story-related theme is the transformation of Tadodaho through the efforts of the Peacemaker from someone who was evil and hurtful to someone who was good and helpful. ..."

Re:For the initiate (1)

Black Parrot (19622) | about 2 years ago | (#40726357)

the fact that they operate under the flag of an organisation of loosely connected cells rather than under the flag of a State, means that the Geneva Convention does not apply.

And naturally, governments will only pursue policies that abide by the Convention when they have to — never because they actually subscribe to the principles encoded into it.

Kind of like US politicians and law enforcement agencies vis à vis the Constitution.

International Terrorism: Image and Reality (3, Insightful)

Paul Fernhout (109597) | about 2 years ago | (#40726463)

http://www.chomsky.info/articles/199112--02.htm [chomsky.info]
"There are two ways to approach the study of terrorism. One may adopt a literal approach, taking the topic seriously, or a propagandistic approach, construing the concept of terrorism as a weapon to be exploited in the service of some system of power. In each case it is clear how to proceed. Pursuing the literal approach, we begin by determining what constitutes terrorism. We then seek instances of the phenomenon -- concentrating on the major examples, if we are serious -- and try to determine causes and remedies. The propagandistic approach dictates a different course. We begin with the thesis that terrorism is the responsibility of some officially designated enemy. We then designate terrorist acts as "terrorist" just in the cases where they can be attributed (whether plausibly or not) to the required source; otherwise they are to be ignored, suppressed, or termed "retaliation" or "self-defence."
    It comes as no surprise that the propagandistic approach is adopted by governments generally, and by their instruments in totalitarian states. More interesting is the fact that the same is largely true of the media and scholarship in the Western industrial democracies, as has been documented in extensive detail.1 "We must recognize," Michael Stohl observes, "that by convention -- and it must be emphasized only by convention -- great power use and the threat of the use of force is normally described as coercive diplomacy and not as a form of terrorism," though it commonly involves "the threat and often the use of violence for what would be described as terroristic purposes were it not great powers who were pursuing the very same tactic."2 Only one qualification must be added: the term "great powers" must be restricted to favored states; in the Western conventions under discussion, the Soviet Union is granted no such rhetorical license, and indeed can be charged and convicted on the flimsiest of evidence. ...
    The message is clear: no one has the right of self-defense against US terrorist attack. The US is a terrorist state by right. That is unchallengeable doctrine. ..."

And:
    http://www.chomsky.info/articles/200205--02.htm [chomsky.info]
"The condemnations of terrorism are sound, but leave some questions unanswered. The first is: What do we mean by "terrorism"? Second: What is the proper response to the crime? Whatever the answer, it must at least satisfy a moral truism: If we propose some principle that is to be applied to antagonists, then we must agree -- in fact, strenuously insist -- that the principle apply to us as well. Those who do not rise even to this minimal level of integrity plainly cannot be taken seriously when they speak of right and wrong, good and evil."

Just a Taste (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40726249)

Not only are they here to stay, they are in their infancy. Robotic warfare is coming in a major way. Boston Dynamics type research is going to bring us fully realized robot combat soldiers in multitutdes of forms. Bipedal. Quadrupeds. Quadrocopters. Fully expect all of these deployed in my lifetime. Likely the next 10 years.

Re:Just a Taste (1)

anubi (640541) | about 2 years ago | (#40726369)

Did they have any prototypes to share with TEPCO last year? The Japanese have a royal mess in Fukushima to deal with.

Quite handy actually (2)

MichaelSmith (789609) | about 2 years ago | (#40726257)

They are also very effective in normal building demolition.

Re:Quite handy actually (1)

ISoldat53 (977164) | about 2 years ago | (#40726291)

And ruin your weekend.

My worry... (1)

emagery (914122) | about 2 years ago | (#40726329)

Look, the way we took down bin Laden was the RIGHT way to do it and it was the way it should have been done from the very beginning... if you have an enemy, decapitate him. But instead we treated (and treat) entire populations as if they were the enemy, which really only serves to make US the enemy instead. So I'm torn... on the one hand, if drones can do this, then good... on the other, what happens when our relatively lack of accountability in using them takes a darker turn? What happens when a peacenik (as suggested by Goering at the nuremburg trials) is denounced at a traitor and subject to 'droning,' too? Who decides who is a terrorist?

Re:My worry... (1)

Tastecicles (1153671) | about 2 years ago | (#40726511)

Mod parent up for this one short sentence:

"Who decides who is a terrorist?"

O'Reilly wished a Drone would kill Julian Assange (1)

Paul Fernhout (109597) | about 2 years ago | (#40726631)

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fRMV7zi4h_k [youtube.com]

But maybe US vice-president Joe Biden would agree about the founder of Wikileaks?
http://www.guardian.co.uk/media/2010/dec/19/assange-high-tech-terrorist-biden [guardian.co.uk]
"Asked if he saw Assange as closer to a hi-tech terrorist than the whistleblower who released the Pentagon papers in the 1970s, which disclosed the lie on which US involvement in Vietnam was based, Biden replied: "I would argue it is closer to being a hi-tech terrorist than the Pentagon papers. But, look, this guy has done things that have damaged and put in jeopardy the lives and occupations of people in other parts of the world."

See my other posts citing Chomsky on the double-think and double-standard in defining a "terrorist", which basically comes down to a terorist being defined as anyone whom somebody influential in the USA government does not like. And that apparently includes US citizens:
http://www.wired.com/threatlevel/2012/07/drone-attacks-lawsuit/ [wired.com]
http://www.foxnews.com/politics/2012/07/18/families-us-citizens-killed-in-yemen-drone-strikes-file-lawsuit/ [foxnews.com]
"The wrongful death lawsuit, filed Wednesday, claims that the killings of U.S. citizens al-Awlaki, his 16-year-old son Abdulrahman al-Awlaki and operative Samir Khan were unconstitutional. Khan was the publisher of the terror magazine Inspire. ... The lawsuit says: "The U.S. practice of 'targeted killing' has resulted in the deaths of thousands of people, including many hundreds of civilian bystanders. While some targeted killings have been carried out in the context of the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, many have taken place outside the context of armed conflict, in countries including Yemen, Somalia, Pakistan, Sudan, and the Philippines." "These killings rely on vague legal standards, a closed executive process, and evidence never presented to the courts. ... The killings violated fundamental rights afforded to all U.S. citizens, including the right not to be deprived of life without due process of law," the lawsuit says."

And see also:
http://www.thebureauinvestigates.com/2012/05/29/analysis-how-obama-changed-definition-of-civilian-in-secret-drone-wars/ [thebureaui...igates.com]
"As the Bureau's own data on Pakistan makes clear, the very first covert drone strikes of the Obama presidency, just three days after he took office, resulted in civilian deaths in Pakistan. As many as 19 civilians â" including four children â" died in two error-filled attacks. Until now it had been thought that Obama was initially unaware of the civilian deaths. Bob Woodward has reported that the president was only told by CIA chief Michael Hayden that the strikes had missed their High Value Target but had killed 'five al Qaeda militants.' Now Newsweek correspondent Daniel Klaidman reveals that Obama knew about the civilian deaths within hours. He reports an anonymous participant at a subsequent meeting with the President: 'You could tell from his body language that he was not a happy man.' Obama is described aggressively questioning the tactics used. Until now it had been thought that President Obama was initially unaware of the civilian deaths. Yet despite the errors, the president ultimately chose to keep in place the CIA's controversial policy of using 'signature strikes' against unknown militants. That tactic has just been extended to Yemen. On another notorious occasion, the article reveals that US officials were aware at the earliest stage that civilians -- including 'dozens of women and children' -- had died in Obama's first ordered strike in Yemen in December 2009. The Bureau recently named all 44 civilians killed in that attack by cruise missiles. No US officials have ever spoken publicly about the strike, although secret diplomatic cables released by Wikileaks proved that the US was responsible."

To understand how cognitive dissonance and progressive desensitization leads to ever greater mistakes by people in authority, see:
"Mistakes Were Made (But Not by Me): Why We Justify Foolish Beliefs, Bad Decisions, and Hurtful Acts"
http://www.amazon.com/Mistakes-Were-Made-But-Not/dp/0151010986 [amazon.com]

We have due process of law for a reason... These kids of things can become a slippery slope The USA has already started that slide. And that encourages the rest of the world to follow:
http://www.npr.org/2011/07/11/137710942/popularity-of-drones-takes-off-for-many-countries [npr.org]
http://www.npr.org/blogs/thetwo-way/2011/07/05/137619427/global-race-under-way-to-develop-drones-washington-post-reports?ps=rs [npr.org]
""More than 50 countries have purchased surveillance drones, and many have started in-country development programs for armed versions because no nation is exporting weaponized drones beyond a handful of sales between the United States and its closest allies," The Washington Post reports this morning."

BTW, the best way to deal with an "enemy" it to turn that enemy into a friend. Osama bin Laden was not the disease, Osama bin Laden was the symptom. We need to move towards "A Newer Way Of Thinking" to transcend perpetuating and amplifying the cycle of violence, where violence just begets more violence:
http://anwot.org/ [anwot.org]

Re:My worry... (1)

dkleinsc (563838) | about 2 years ago | (#40726645)

On the other, what happens when our relatively lack of accountability in using them takes a darker turn? What happens when a peacenik (as suggested by Goering at the nuremburg trials) is denounced at a traitor and subject to 'droning,' too? Who decides who is a terrorist?

Here's a crazy idea of how we might do this:
1. US executive branch comes up with evidence that somebody is a terrorist.
2. US executive branch presents that evidence to some sort of judicial body, such as a grand jury or panel of judges.
3. If that evidence is enough to sustain an indictment, there's now an attempt to capture that person.
4. If that person resists capture, then force may be used to capture or kill the bad guy.
5. If that person is captured, take them to a court where evidence for and against their guilt is presented to a jury. If they are found guilty, the judge determines the appropriate punishment.

That way, there's not just 1 person (currently Barack Obama) ultimately making the call, there's a lot of people involved, and a lot of checking that has to go on. Of course, that would be more-or-less following the Constitutional requirements, which I guess makes me some sort of wimp these days.

Incidentally, I don't entirely agree on the killing bin Laden thing: We might have done better to take him alive, sending the entire Al Qaida organization into panic about what bin Laden would tell us about their activities.

Re:My worry... (1)

emagery (914122) | about 2 years ago | (#40726681)

The system you mention would be just about the only thing that really should be able to have access to this kind of power; my concern is that that system is being pressured by the likes of monsanto and the NRA and walmart and you name whatever mutlinational corporation you like. Concentrated power attracts corruption even if it was originally created with the best on intentions. I'm all for constitutional requirements; I'm just not 100% convinced that they're holding sway anymore... and no, I'm not anti-obama. If drones are being abused, it's by the military-industrial complex we were warned about so many decades ago, and Obama can't stop that kind of thing alone... and support from the masses is not sufficient at this time to back him if there really were a contest of wills going on between corporations, the military, and civilian control of 'presure points' of power.

that's what we thought last time... (1)

Covalent (1001277) | about 2 years ago | (#40726339)

...then skynet became sentient, then we had to send a terminator back and then...ah hell, you know the rest.

Effective until they start using drones too.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40726351)

The more effective drones turn out to be, the bigger the chance that terrorist will start using them too.
Anyway seems you don't need expensive or fancy stuff, just a reasonable range remote aircraft with an IED attached to it?
In the end there will still be more people suffering and dying only fueling the fight..
Stupid people and their wars.

Why these academics are so blind (4, Interesting)

Paul Fernhout (109597) | about 2 years ago | (#40726407)

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Disciplined_Minds [wikipedia.org]
"Disciplined Minds is a book by physicist Jeff Schmidt published in 2000. The book describes how professionals are made; the methods of professional and graduate schools that turn eager entering students into disciplined managerial and intellectual workers that correctly perceive and apply the employer's doctrine and outlook. Schmidt uses the examples of law, medicine, and physics, and describes methods that students and professional workers can use to preserve their personalities and independent thought."

See also:
http://disciplinedminds.tripod.com/ [tripod.com]
http://www.chomsky.info/articles/199710--.htm [chomsky.info]
http://www.johntaylorgatto.com/chapters/16a.htm [johntaylorgatto.com]
http://www.historyisaweapon.com/defcon1/zinncomrev24.html [historyisaweapon.com]
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Best_and_the_Brightest [wikipedia.org]

Those links explain in part how can such "smart" people totally ignore the potential for "blowback" from the violent actions they endorse (actions which include the slaughter of endless innocents, the violation of national sovereignty and probably international law, the setting of an example of ironic misuse of advanced technology that could otherwise bring material abundance to the entire world, and so on)... These links help show why these academics are willfully blind to the idea that they are endorsing polices that may be creating 100 new terrorist for every one they think they might have killed.

Never forget what one of our greatest Marine Major Generals said:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/War_Is_a_Racket [wikipedia.org]
"War Is a Racket is the title of two works, a speech and a booklet, by retired United States Marine Corps Major General and two time Medal of Honor recipient Smedley D. Butler. In them, Butler frankly discusses from his experience as a career military officer how business interests commercially benefit from warfare."

Iraq, Afghanistan, and Pakistan were *supposed* to be expensive quagmires so somebody's buddies coudl get lucrative "defense" contracts. These conflicts were *supposed* to drive up oil prices so somebody's buddies would see the value of their domestic oil holdings increase. And so on...

See also:
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/marjorie-cohn/killer-drone-attacks-ille_b_1623065.html [huffingtonpost.com]
"Christof Heyns, the current UN Special Rapporteur on Extrajudicial, Summary, or Arbitrary Executions, expressed grave concern about the targeted killings, saying they may constitute war crimes. He called on the Obama administration to explain how its drone strikes comport with international law, specify the bases for decisions to kill rather than capture particular individuals, and whether the State in which the killing takes place has given consent. Heyns further asked for specification of the procedural safeguards in place, if any, to ensure in advance of drone killings that they comply with international law. He also wanted to know what measures the U.S. government takes after any such killing to ensure that its legal and factual analysis was accurate and, if not, the remedial measures it would take, including justice and reparations for victims and their families. Although Heyns' predecessor made similar requests, Heyns said the United States has not provided a satisfactory response.
    Heyns also called on the U.S. government to make public the number of civilians collaterally killed as a result of drone attacks, and the measures in place to prevent such casualties. Once again, Heyns said the United States has not satisfactorily responded to a prior query for such information.
    Likewise, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay recently declared that U.S. drone attacks in Pakistan violate the international law principles of proportionality and distinction. Proportionality means that an attack cannot be excessive in relation to the anticipated military advantage sought. Distinction requires that the attack be directed only at a legitimate military target.
    The United States has ratified the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. The ICCPR states: "Every human being has the inherent right to life. This right shall be protected by law. No one shall be arbitrarily deprived of his life." The Covenant also guarantees those accused of a crime the right to be presumed innocent and to a fair trial by an impartial tribunal. Targeted killings abrogate these rights."

And why drone strikes are ironic:
http://www.pdfernhout.net/recognizing-irony-is-a-key-to-transcending-militarism.html [pdfernhout.net]
"Military robots like drones are ironic because they are created essentially to force humans to work like robots in an industrialized social order. Why not just create industrial robots to do the work instead? ... There is a fundamental mismatch between 21st century reality and 20th century security thinking. Those "security" agencies are using those tools of abundance, cooperation, and sharing mainly from a mindset of scarcity, competition, and secrecy. Given the power of 21st century technology as an amplifier (including as weapons of mass destruction), a scarcity-based approach to using such technology ultimately is just making us all insecure. Such powerful technologies of abundance, designed, organized, and used from a mindset of scarcity could well ironically doom us all whether through military robots, nukes, plagues, propaganda, or whatever else... Or alternatively, as Bucky Fuller and others have suggested, we could use such technologies to build a world that is abundant and secure for all. "

Re:Why these academics are so blind (1)

tanstaaf1 (770797) | about 2 years ago | (#40726551)

One has to wonder if you gave an "academic" a really stupid question -- such as whether it would be good for a nation and a people, in the long run, to create a system of debt money with a secret cabal of banksters overseeing it and profiting from it -- what the answer might be? On the other hand, maybe maybe one doesn't have to wonder too much ... unless one is too "academic" or otherwise in thrall to the status quo.

Foolish, foolish (5, Insightful)

Black Parrot (19622) | about 2 years ago | (#40726423)

Imagine what would happen if the US government or law enforcement agencies started making drone kills within our own borders, saying "we only target terrorists and drug lords; so sorry if we occasionally hit a church gathering or a country club".

After pausing to consider how that would make you feel, imagine how we're making people in other countries feel.

The problem with the Western Powers is that they're always wrapping themselves in the banner of moral "rights". If we exploit the natives and some of them react violently, we have a "right" to respond with overwhelming force. After all, "they started it".

But this focus on presumed (and self-declared) rights is utterly incompatible with actually addressing the cause of the problem.

If we want peace with the Muslim world, we need to go home and quit treating them like subjects who are illegally camped on "our" oil supply.

Drones are tools for state-sanctioned murder. (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40726427)

Killing people with drones is just a convenient means of keeping the US body count low
so the various adventures the US is involved in around the world are not met with
too much resistance on the part of Americans.

Only a naive fool believes the US could possibly prevail in Iraq, Afghanistan, or any of the other
countries the US invades in order to protect the interest of corporations who control the US government.

I thought I had seen the worst I'd ever see during the Viet Nam era, but I was wrong. Now the US is chock
full of spineless idiots who swallow the US government's lies like they were a delicious meal.

Take a moment and consider what is really happening. The country is being destroyed by the decisions of
a small number of people who are acting in the interest of a small number of very wealthy people. Virtually
everyone who is outside those two very small groups loses. But why worry about that, there is football to
watch, McDonald's to eat, and American Idol is on the TV later tonight.

network science and game theory in action (1)

giorgist (1208992) | about 2 years ago | (#40726477)

This more to do with network theory. There is next to no value in killing minions. They are easily replaceable and can be promoted as martyrs. Leaders on the other hand take time to train and create a network of trust. The minions in fact are what lead to the leaders. So the minions are invaluable source of information against these terrorist groups. They are not quite as bright and they are the means the leaders interface with the real world. The more they obfuscate this link, the harder it is to do their job. Anti terrorists agencies are getting better at decifering these obfuscations and terrorist groups are becoming less effective. All they have is suicide bombing. I use the term terrorism liberally but you can insert freedom fighter.

No, really? (1)

wonkey_monkey (2592601) | about 2 years ago | (#40726491)

killing or capturing terrorist leaders can reduce the effectiveness of terrorist groups or even cause terrorist organizations to disintegrate

And all this time the US military were just doing it for the lols. How serendipitous.

Many have argued that drones/UAVs seem to be a logical weapon of war: ground troops are not needed and strikes can be specifically targeted against terror-cell leaders (so-called 'decapitation strikes). Others have argued that such attacks only fuel more anger towards the United States and the West

Hopefully some other "others" realise that it's not a binary choice and that drone strikes can in fact do both at the same time.

FAA authorized 106 "govt entities" to fly drones (1)

Freddybear (1805256) | about 2 years ago | (#40726513)

http://cnsnews.com/news/article/faa-has-authorized-106-government-entities-fly-domestic-drones [cnsnews.com]

"Since Jan. 1 of this year, according to congressional testimony presented Thursday by the Government Accountability Office, the Federal Aviation Administration has authorized 106 federal, state and local government “entities” to fly “unmanned aircraft systems,” also known as drones, within U.S. airspace."

No kidding (1)

PopeRatzo (965947) | about 2 years ago | (#40726517)

So, if I've got this right, the study suggests that if you blow people up, they are less inclined to join terror organizations.

Simple question (1)

Scareduck (177470) | about 2 years ago | (#40726525)

Who paid for this "study"?

Drone strikes disrupt (2)

pepsikid (2226416) | about 2 years ago | (#40726533)

I just want to ask one very stupid question: name one human activity which drone strikes do not disrupt?

Comprehensive response (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40726577)

Drones are a comprehensive response to the scenario.
What else would one do if the state sponsored elements (called non-state actors by the Pakistan government) attack NATO interests and find sanctuary in the NWFP?
Each time intelligence about the presence of terrorists or their sympathizers was shared with the ISI, the target disappeared. Most likely to the ISI safe houses or even the houses of serving defense officers.
The abbottabad operation was a success basically as not a word was shared with the Pakistan side. In fact, deception was used very well to make them not look at the flight as going in that direction. Radars were incapacitated too.
The fountainhead of terrorist attacks all over the world is not the place where soldiers can be put on the ground. Technology is available and is being used effectively.
As far as Pakistan's sovereign rights and territory is concerned, bases used for launching attacks are given to the US forces under agreements signed. In fact, Pakistan plays on both sides as per situation.

It takes leadership (1)

jklovanc (1603149) | about 2 years ago | (#40726591)

For an organized movement to be effective it takes leadership. There need to be people who are willing to plan, organize and command actions. These leaders need charisma to convince others to join them and follow orders. It takes intelligence to plan the actions. It take courage to carry them out. Very few people have these attributes in enough abundance to convince other to follow them when the possibility of death is very high. Drone strikes work in three ways. First it they eliminate the current leaders so that the organization must look to less qualified people to lead. As the quality of leadership goes down the organization is easier to infiltrate and dismantle. Secondly, it may dawn on the people around the leaders that being near them and supporting them may not be the safest option. They may tell the leaders to go away from their homes and decrease support. Third, intelligent people who may become terrorist leader may look at their life expectancy as a terrorist leader and think of alternate means of getting their message across. Perhaps there is another solution that does not involve putting their own head in the noose.

Re:It takes leadership (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40726669)

Your arguments only work when applied to a conventional military hierarchy.

And in case you didn't notice, the fighters in Afghanistan are not part of a conventional military
hierarchy.

So your entire argument in support of the use of drones doesn't apply in this case.

Whoever is paying you to post your bullshit here is paying you too much.

Fun and Games (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40726643)

It's all fun and games until the U.S.(or any other country) starts turning these on their own citizens.

I can see it now:

Wanna protest? Kaboom! Protestors? What protestors? They were militants and a danger to society.

I fear the day when drones become a replacement for due process. It will happen..

harvard.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40726667)

people were also seen demonstrating how a paint can above your door also disrupts terror networks especially when the paint is bright pink....

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