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May 06 2013

How about if we all end the killing?

deathtoatheists
One point! One demand! Atheists must be hanged!

Half a million Islamists marched in Bangladesh, chanting their desire to murder people who don’t believe in their demented, angry god. I take that personally — they want to kill people like me, for the crime of not thinking as they do. If I’d been there, that mob would have torn me to pieces.

And it’s not just atheists they hate. Women must live in service to the men, they are to have their rights diminished. Education is to be crippled, reduced to rote memorization of their holy books. This is awful, poisonous stuff, and I condemn it without reservation.

But let me remind you, the United States has been carrying out routine drone attacks against Muslims…attacks that kill children.

drone-attacks

So angry mobs threaten and howl and promise to roll their culture back to the Middle Ages. Americans calmly sit in air-conditioned rooms and push buttons and joysticks and send robots through the skies to pour death on civilians. Obama calmly rationalizes the murders and cracks jokes about predator drones.

obama
The rules outside of the United States are going to be different than the rules inside of the United States.

One side wants to kill people like me, is furious and destructive, and rages passionately about killing the Other; the other side wants to kill people outside our borders, is calm and dispassionate, and marshals machines to execute the Other without risk to ourselves.

I cannot condemn one without condemning the other. Especially since our tactics seem to be so much more effective at butchering people.

357 comments

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  1. 1
    A Hermit

    A big atheist ‘Amen” to that…

  2. 2
    Dee Phlat

    آمين‎

  3. 3
    Matt Schultz

    What a bunch of fucking lunatics.

  4. 4
    myeck waters

    What a bunch of fucking lunatics.

    Yep, and to think that they were lesser of two evils in the last two elections…

  5. 5
    anuran

    Every civilian we kill is a recruiting poster for the Islamists. And every new Islamist makes us double down on the drone strikes.

  6. 6
    StevoR : Free West Papua, free Tibet, let the Chagossians return!

    One side wants to kill people like me, is furious and destructive, and rages passionately about killing the Other; the other side wants to kill people outside our borders, is calm and dispassionate, and marshals machines to execute the Other without risk to ourselves.

    More significant difference comparison here :

    One side wants to kill innocent people for merely thinking differently and being atheists or non-Muslims or even non-extremist enough not-Jihadist variety Muslims.

    The other side wants to kill ticking bomb Jihadist terrorists who are actively seeking to murder and harm other people and intimidate the rest of the world into submitting to their intolerant, misogynist brutal ideology.

    Sorry PZ but I call false equivalence on this. These are two very different things.

  7. 7
    coragyps

    No foolin’, Myeck. I may go puke.

  8. 8
    Matt Schultz

    @ #4

    I see what you did there.

  9. 9
    Sastra

    This is scary on so many levels. If the Islamists start to de-emphasize their hatred of “infidels” and just concentrate on going after “atheists,” I wonder how many people in the fair and reasonable Moderate Middle will consider this a workable compromise?

  10. 10
    StevoR : Free West Papua, free Tibet, let the Chagossians return!

    Intent may not be magic – dead is dead – but it does matter legally and ethically. Justificable homicide and legal executions are not classified as murder. Euthanasia and abortion aren’t the same as manslaughter let alone first degree murder.

    Killing someone who is seeking to kill other people in defence of others is very different to wanting to kill to impose Sharia law, a Salafist Caliphate and committing homicide-suicide bombings against peopel who’ve done no harm and posed no threat to their murderers

  11. 11
    caral

    Mr. Myers – you stated that you cannot condemn one without condemning the other? That’s unfortunate Sir. It is obvious that you have never cowered in your classroom as revolutionaries gathered outside chanting for your death as punishment for the crime of speaking in favor of science. I would never wish this to happen to you, but I do expect you to empathise with your colleagues who currently teach under these conditions, ever-fearful for their lives.

    Fighting back is not an equally condemnable offense.

  12. 12
    Amphiox

    re StevoR,

    *facepalm*

    Have you learned nothing?

    And why do you think it appropriate to even mention abortion in the list of things to analogize? Everything else in the list involves the killing of an actual human person. Abortion does not.

  13. 13
    StevoR : Free West Papua, free Tibet, let the Chagossians return!

    @2. Dee Phlat : What does that mean in English please?

  14. 14
    erikjensen

    I don’t see the connection, PZ. The picture regarding the drone strikes looks like it’s from Pakistan. The platform of the rioting group in Bangladesh doesn’t mention drone strikes at all. People in Bangladesh shouldn’t riot over the right to murder atheists. The USA shouldn’t use drone strikes against children. These are separate issues.

  15. 15
  16. 16
    Mobius

    Yep, and to think that they were lesser of two evils in the last two elections…

    Next time, I am voting for Cthulhu.

  17. 17
    StevoR : Free West Papua, free Tibet, let the Chagossians return!

    @12. Amphiox : I am always learning.

    Abortion~wise. Meh, okay. I’ll grant you that one.

    You think this argument isn’t a case of false equivalence why exactly?

    Going offline to sleep now.

  18. 18
    mudpuddles

    PZ,

    Obama calmly rationalizes the murders and cracks jokes about predator drones.

    This links to an article on a wackaloon conspiracy theorist website, by an author who rails against chemtrails and touts the coming revolution against globalist mafia and Agenda 21. You might want to pick a more reliable reference next time ;)

  19. 19
    WharGarbl

    @mudpuddles
    #18
    The linked to article may be crap, but Obama did calmly rationalize the use of drones and did joke about using said drone (on the Jonas Brothers, btw).

  20. 20
    PZ Myers

    Yeah, the site author is an idiot, but those points were backed up by videos of Obama saying them.

  21. 21
    Amphiox

    You think this argument isn’t a case of false equivalence why exactly?

    The only thing more I will say to you, StevoR, is that you’d better go back and reread all those other posts wherein this very point was extensively discussed with you, and from which you apparently have learned absolutely nothing.

  22. 22
    Matt Schultz

    These both may be morally repugnant actions, but I can’t help but think that one is a little worse than the other. Am I wrong?

  23. 23
    David Marjanović

    Fighting back is not an equally condemnable offense.

    Indiscriminately raining death on civilians is not “fighting back”.

    You know this full well. Stop being dishonest.

  24. 24
    Nick Gotts

    Amphiox : I am always learninglying. – StevoR

    FIFY: you just repeat the same poisonous, eliminationist garbage again and again and again.

  25. 25
    Amphiox

    It is obvious that you have never cowered in your classroom as revolutionaries gathered outside chanting for your death as punishment for the crime of speaking in favor of science. I would never wish this to happen to you, but I do expect you to empathise with your colleagues who currently teach under these conditions, ever-fearful for their lives.

    Fighting back is not an equally condemnable offense.

    It would be one thing if you could actually demonstrate that drone strike killings were actually effective at stopping this sort of thing, or even deterring it a little bit.

    Then we could have a discussion about the ethics of ends versus means.

    But without that evidence? Your post is an irrelevancy.

  26. 26
    StevoR : Free West Papua, free Tibet, let the Chagossians return!

    @15. PZ Myers : Through the media, various sources thereof – print, TV and online – so from what I hear and read on the topic.

    Can I be 100% sure? No.

    But do I think the US military deliberately sets out to kill innocent people for no good reason or that we are being lied to here about who is being taken out and why – again no.

    Unless there is strong evidence to suggest that the US military is lying then why not follow Occam’s razor and presume (at least until good reason is given to think otherwise), that they are telling the truth?

    (Now I really am heading off to sleep.)

  27. 27
    A. R

    The Drone attacks are so cold, so detached as to seem like something from science fiction. Imagine being someone mistaken for a terrorist walking home from work. Suddenly you see a streak of white smoke in the sky above you, and a dot that grows larger by the second until it morphs into a Hellfire missile. Then darkness.

  28. 28
    Amphiox

    @15. PZ Myers : Through the media, various sources thereof – print, TV and online – so from what I hear and read on the topic.

    Can I be 100% sure? No.

    *double facepalm*

    Still approaching the ethical equation in the backwards direction….

  29. 29
    Amphiox

    These both may be morally repugnant actions, but I can’t help but think that one is a little worse than the other. Am I wrong?

    Does that mean that only the worse one should be condemned and the less bad one allowed to pass without comment?

  30. 30
    timgueguen

    There have been reports of drone strikes being directed at emergency services personnel coming to the aid of those attacked in previous drone strikes. This rather undercuts the US moral high ground if true.

    The continued use of drone attacks on Muslim radicals by Obama should undercut the nonsensical “Obama is a secret Muslim!” idea. Not because Muslims don’t kill each other for political and religious reasons, but because the cranks who believe in the “secret Muslim” concept see Muslims as a single blob, so why would Obama kill his fellow believers willy-nilly?

    caral, people in the US have been threatened with violence for promoting secular ideas. If I’m not mistaken there have been cases where things have gone beyond threats and escalated to arson and other attacks of vandalism.

  31. 31
    Kevin, 友好火猫 (Friendly Fire Cat)

    @StevoR:

    Seriously?!

    The drone program has killed civilians, women, children. It has not only killed jihadists.

    The drone program has likely created MORE jihadists than it’s stopped. Why do you think they want to kill America? Cause we’re murdering their wives, their children, their families!

  32. 32
    WharGarbl

    @erikjensen #14
    @PZ #15
    I don’t think the drone strikes were targeted children. Like many death of innocent civilians, they’re in the wrong place at the wrong time (basically, anytime they’re somewhere NEAR suspected terrorists).

    Of course, not that it mattered for the civilians killed, dead is dead.

    I’m a bit torn on the idea of drones. If you really need someone else dead, drone supposedly offers the following advantage compared to sending someone in.
    1. No threat posed to the drone user, which leads to…
    2. … drone user have all the time in the world to wait for a safe time where they can fire without causing collateral damage. Or have all the time in the world to confirm the fact that the target they’re shooting at is actually an enemy.

    I have little hope that we can stop all the killings. But my hope is that technology can help make the killing targeted enough that each kill is 100% intentional (or at least close to 0% collateral).

    For example, the ARSS under development.

    It’s basically an airborne, computer controller sniper. If you kill someone with it, it’s a bit harder to claim they’re “collateral damage”.

    Of course, there’s always mis-identification of target. But in the end, one death from mistake is still better than a whole crowd dead from mistake. And maybe, just maybe, we can get better accountability.

  33. 33
    SallyStrange

    PZ Myers : Through the media, various sources thereof – print, TV and online – so from what I hear and read on the topic.

    Can I be 100% sure? No.

    But do I think the US military deliberately sets out to kill innocent people for no good reason or that we are being lied to here about who is being taken out and why – again no.

    Proper assessment of previous experiences with military and media SHOULD tell you that they lie, not infrequently. So, in addition to approaching the ethical question backwards, as Amphiox pointed out, I find your assessment of the likelihood of us hearing truth about the effectiveness of drone strikes or the percentage of actual terrorists killed by drones as opposed to civilians pathetically naive.

  34. 34
    Beatrice, an amateur cynic looking for a happy thought

    I don’t think the drone strikes were targeted children. Like many death of innocent civilians, they’re in the wrong place at the wrong time (basically, anytime they’re somewhere NEAR suspected terrorists).

    Yeah, like in the same country as suspected terrorists. Idiots, right?

  35. 35
    Gregory Greenwood

    The ranting Islamists are certainly worrisome, and it must be terrifying to realise that they wield any kind of political power in your country such that their repugnant murder fantasies could become a reality, but it is perhaps indicative of my White Western privilege that I am much more worried about NATO’s blithe use of drones to engage in detached, push-button state-sponsored murder.

    That Obama, an alleged progressive, could joke about the use of what may very credibly be argued is today’s premier weapon of terror* is enough to chill one to the bone. We are engaging in a quiet campaign of largely indiscriminate murder, and because the victims are for the large part poor, come from countries considered uninfluential in global affairs, and above all have been lumped together under the general heading of ‘scary brown forerigners’, the world doesn’t realy seem to care. Such a callous disregard for life is a gross ethical affront in its own right. and does not bode well for the future – a future in which remote drone warfare is likely to become ever more common given its relatively low monetary and political cost. We could easily be seeing only the very beginning of a new formulation of a form of ‘total war’ ideology that rationalises the ‘collateral damage’ murder of civilians in pursuit of a notional ‘greater good’, all without us even needing to get our hands dirty. It seems inevitable that there will be a dangerously desensitising effect to the horrors of warfare upon soldiers when all they need to do is highlight a flashing targhet cursor on a screen and push a button.

    No blood, no screams, no begging for mercy – nothing to jolt the conscience out of its slumber.

    War by computer game.

    If that doesn’t scare you, you aren’t paying attention.

    ——————————————————————————————————————–

    * Drones probably blight more lives that suicide bombers, and do so with very little in the way of international condemnation. Anyone who doubts that they are terror weapons should watch civilians flee in panic when they hear the engine note of one.

  36. 36
    glodson

    These both may be morally repugnant actions, but I can’t help but think that one is a little worse than the other. Am I wrong?

    Let’s look at the original post, the issue driving this.

    Half a million Islamists marched in Bangladesh, chanting their desire to murder people who don’t believe in their demented, angry god. I take that personally — they want to kill people like me, for the crime of not thinking as they do. If I’d been there, that mob would have torn me to pieces.

    And it’s not just atheists they hate. Women must live in service to the men, they are to have their rights diminished. Education is to be crippled, reduced to rote memorization of their holy books. This is awful, poisonous stuff, and I condemn it without reservation.

    But let me remind you, the United States has been carrying out routine drone attacks against Muslims…attacks that kill children.

    Having the desire to kill is bad and repugnant. Having the desire to kill, the means to kill, and the ability to do so safely as people are killed seemingly indiscriminately is also repugnant. And one is actually worse.

    Try to work out which one that is.

  37. 37
    SallyStrange

    Drones are just another tool; the real question is whether the USA should be assassinating people without trial in countries with which we are not at war. Drones have an extra added layer of controversy because they are more likely to confuse civilians with soldiers than, say, a special forces raiding squad. If we accept that the USA should be killing people in Pakistan because intelligence services says that they are terrorists, then using drones to do it adds little to the equation except for an increased risk of killing the wrong people by accident.

  38. 38
    WharGarbl

    @Beatrice
    #34
    Probably should’ve quoted the “near” instead of capitalizing it. I don’t know why, but I always thought of capitalizing a single/few words in a sentence is similar to “air-quoting”.

    Yes, basically they’re in the same country. Even if our intention wasn’t to kill them, we’ll still be killing a lot of them by the simple problem of them either being in proximity to terrorist or mistaken for one.

    @Gregory
    #35

    * Drones probably blight more lives that suicide bombers, and do so with very little in the way of international condemnation. Anyone who doubts that they are terror weapons should watch civilians flee in panic when they hear the engine note of one.

    It’s not just drone. In times of war, anything military (especially bomber and artilleries) would elicit the same response.

    My grandfather said that in World War 2, he could recognize Japanese bombers by the sound and would flee for bomb shelter the moment he heard one.

    What I’m saying is, ANY military weapon/system all essentially have terror as an inescapable part of their operation.

  39. 39
    Rey Fox

    Fighting back is not an equally condemnable offense.

    Right, the United States was just minding its own business, and then BOOM! Terrorists!

  40. 40
    paulburnett

    We are pissing people off faster than we can kill them. We have evolved from using weapons of mass destruction (killing whole cities full of combatants and non-combatant men, women and children) to using weapons of near-pinpoint destruction (killing a few intended combatants with some collateral damage to non-combatant men, women and children). Next evolutionary step: Snipers and poison?

  41. 41
    A. R

    Gregory Greenwood:

    Anyone who doubts that they are terror weapons should watch civilians flee in panic when they hear the engine note of one.

    Not that I don’t believe you (I do), but do you have a source for that claim?

  42. 42
    md

    Because the targets here are morally equivalent.

    One side wants to kill non-believers.

    The other side wants to kill those who have killed non-believers and improper believers and will kill again, and yes, regrettably, kill some bystanders in the process.

    Here’s the Pharyngula defense strategy. Completely defund the DoD. When people kill our people, we will do nothing in response, knowing wisely that those killers grew up in poverty, had bad childhoods, and can’t be held responsible for their actions. We will turn the other cheek. That will bring about world peace. We all can get along.

    We are not targeting innocent civilians. You want to argue drone attacks don’t help us? That maybe we’d be better off without them? Fine. Perhaps you are right. Perhaps I might agree to give your strategy a try for a while. Don’t construe equivalent intent, however underhandedly. ‘Sitting in the AC raining doom on civilians’ — You forgot to add the sinister Mr. Burns laughtrack on top of that.

    Drone strikes are superior to carpet bombing and trench warfare. They lose less people, we lose less people. War is ugly and best avoided, but drones are a step in the right direction away from mass casualties. Something tells me the first time another country flies a drone over the U.S., Pharyngulites will be happy. Chickens coming home to roost or something.

    PZ, in the same post you observe the howling irrationality of a mob calling for the blood of atheists, and then try and posit some rational basis for dealing with them. As if it were all about the drone strikes to begin with. Before the drones it was because we had American troops near their holy ground. Its always our fault, right?

  43. 43
    PZ Myers

    #11: Perhaps English is not your primary language. The meaning of that phrase is unambiguous: I am not excusing one side. I’m saying both are wrong. Terribly, horribly, inexcusably wrong.

    I’m in awe of this ignorance and one-sidedness, though.

    The other side wants to kill ticking bomb Jihadist terrorists who are actively seeking to murder and harm other people and intimidate the rest of the world into submitting to their intolerant, misogynist brutal ideology.

    Yeah, and they justify killing atheists because they are amoral monsters who want to send their children to hell and destroy the entire fabric of society.

    We know they’re wrong about that. That makes it easy for us to condemn their actions as based on ignorance.

    The problem here is that some people on our side are so lacking in empathy that they can’t see that characterizing whole nations of people as murderous terrorists is equally invalid.

  44. 44
    caral

    ReyFox. So, people in the United States, Spain, The Philippines, France and the UK “deserve” a dose of terrorism? Or maybe these countries basically have no right to be surprised and upset at having been targeted?

    Wow. That’s low.

  45. 45
    WharGarbl

    @SallyStrange
    #37

    Drones have an extra added layer of controversy because they are more likely to confuse civilians with soldiers than, say, a special forces raiding squad.

    On the other hand, drones have the advantage that, since no one on the drone side is in danger, the operators should theoretically have all the time they need to wait for the moment to strike (and the time needed to get enough information to confirm).

    Of course, it might be expensive flying drones around all the time just waiting for that perfect time. But if we’re already spending a shit-ton of money in military, why not ask them to use some of that money to stop killing innocent people by accident?

  46. 46
    Jafafa Hots

    Fighting back is not an equally condemnable offense.

    Both sides are “fighting back.”

  47. 47
    Amphiox

    Drone strikes are superior to carpet bombing and trench warfare.

    A nice little false equivalency there.

  48. 48
    truthspeaker

    StevoR : Free West Papua, free Tibet, let the Chagossians return!

    6 May 2013 at 9:53 am (UTC -5)
    The other side wants to kill ticking bomb Jihadist terrorists who are actively seeking to murder and harm other people and intimidate the rest of the world into submitting to their intolerant, misogynist brutal ideology.

    Evidence, please.

  49. 49
    Rey Fox

    Here’s the Pharyngula defense strategy. Completely defund the DoD.

    Troll.

  50. 50
    WharGarbl

    @paulburnett
    #40

    We are pissing people off faster than we can kill them. We have evolved from using weapons of mass destruction (killing whole cities full of combatants and non-combatant men, women and children) to using weapons of near-pinpoint destruction (killing a few intended combatants with some collateral damage to non-combatant men, women and children). Next evolutionary step: Snipers and poison?

    Well…
    ARSS
    Yes, sniper drone. We already have poison, but it’s a WMD (chemical weapons), so I don’t think we want that.

  51. 51
    truthspeaker

    StevoR : Free West Papua, free Tibet, let the Chagossians return!

    6 May 2013 at 10:15 am (UTC -5)

    Unless there is strong evidence to suggest that the US military is lying then why not follow Occam’s razor and presume (at least until good reason is given to think otherwise), that they are telling the truth?

    That’s not how Occam’s Razor works.

    The US military lying and the US military telling the truth are both equally parsimonious explanations.

  52. 52
    Matt Schultz

    This seems to be almost a reverse reciprocation thing going on here in this post. “Here’s something horrible this group of people is doing, but I feel compelled to then also show something horrible we are doing”. I understand how both are horrible, I just am slightly confused as to why they are being related to each other. We all know, they aren’t protesting against atheism because the US is an atheist country…

  53. 53
    raven

    Bangladesh isn’t a role model for anybody.

    A bunch of raggedy people living on a flood plain that ends up underwater in typhoons and will be partially submerged as the sea level rises. A typhoon in 1970 killed ca. 500,000 people.

    Per capita income up to $ 848 – Financial Express
    www. thefinancialexpress-bd. com/more.php?date=2012-06-08…id…‎

    Jun 8, 2012 – Per capita income up to $ 848. FE Report Bangladesh’s per head income has swelled to US$ 848 in the outgoing fiscal year (FY 2011-12), …

    Still things were looking up for them. Per capita income is rising steadily and they’ve managed to defend themselves against being killed by those typhoons.

    The fundie Islamics would be a huge step backwards. IIRC, a mob has already killed on atheist blogger.

  54. 54
    Rey Fox

    Both sides are “fighting back.”

  55. 55
    Matt Schultz

    I mean, unless it’s just to show people how awful we are. But if anyone didn’t know that we’re monsters, you haven’t really been paying attention the last 50 years.

  56. 56
    caral

    Excuse me Mr. Myers,
    Is Obama characterizing whole nations of people as murderous terrorists?

  57. 57
    Gregory Greenwood

    StevoR @ 26;

    @15. PZ Myers : Through the media, various sources thereof – print, TV and online – so from what I hear and read on the topic.

    Can I be 100% sure? No.

    But do I think the US military deliberately sets out to kill innocent people for no good reason or that we are being lied to here about who is being taken out and why – again no.

    Consider the history of US military interventions that were… shall we say less than transparent. Look at the US invasion of Panama, entitled ‘Operation Just Cause’ of all things. The justifications given – to prevent drug trafficking, protect human rights, and safeguard the lives of American citizens – did not match the strategies employed, and it now seems likely that the real reasons for the invasion had much more to do with Bush Senior’s domestic political standing than any of the official reasons made public at the time.

    Another example is the infamous Iran Contra Affair, where Reagan’s administration secretly sold arms to Iran in order to covertly amass money that it then funneled to the hideously brutal and fanatical Contras who were fighting to topple the democratically elected goverment of Nicaragua.

    This is all long before we get to more contemporary examples such as ‘sexed up’ dossiers and amazing disappearing weapons of mass destruction – Houdini himself would have been proud of that one.

    You say that;

    Unless there is strong evidence to suggest that the US military is lying then why not follow Occam’s razor and presume (at least until good reason is given to think otherwise), that they are telling the truth?

    I ask you why you feel that the base assumption should be one of honesty and good faith on the part of the US military and administration, given the track record of America with regards to foreign affairs?

    I think you are misusing Occam’s Razor here – this is not a case of adding unwarrented assumptions in absence of evidence when there is a perfectly adequate explanation without them. The principle of parsimony does not mandate that one ignore the prior behaviour and course of dealings of the participants in a given situation in order to bolster one’s own preconceptions.

  58. 58
    consciousness razor

    Of course, it might be expensive flying drones around all the time just waiting for that perfect time. But if we’re already spending a shit-ton of money in military, why not ask them to use some of that money to stop killing innocent people by accident?

    Pbfff, as if it ever worked to simply ask the military, however politely, to stop killing. You try that and see what happens. Why not?

  59. 59
    WharGarbl

    @Amphiox
    #47
    Not sure where the “false equivalency” came from. Granted, trench warfare is very different from carpet bombing and drone strike (trench warfare is symmetrical, carpet bombing and drone strike, not really).

    Although back to @md, it IS a lot harder to justify carpet bombing a city than killing someone in city with drone strike. So in the end, the final innocent death count caused by both may be similar.

    Basic summary:
    1. Drone Strike – Less collateral damage, a lot easier to justify. So you cause a small amount of collateral damage many, MANY times.
    2. Carpet Bombing – Massive collateral damage, very difficult to justify. So you cause a massive amount of collateral damage, but you rarely cause it.

  60. 60
    WharGarbl

    @consciousness razor
    #58

    Pbfff, as if it ever worked to simply ask the military, however politely, to stop killing. You try that and see what happens. Why not?

    How did people get the military to adopt the “rule of engagement”?
    The above is not perfect, but at least its something. It’s the same idea applied to drones.

  61. 61
    PZ Myers

    I just am slightly confused as to why they are being related to each other.

    Because you are aware of no possible link between a long history of Western colonialism and exploitation, unjustified pre-emptive wars against Islamic countries (ever hear of Iraq?), military intervention, disruption of economic infrastructure, embargoes, AND people in those countries becoming radicalized and hostile to non-traditional ideas?

    Huh. I think you’re worse than slightly confused.

  62. 62
    Antiochus Epiphanes

    [meta]After reading the first sentence of the OP I wondered when SteveOR would show up claiming false equivalency. I wasn’t left hanging. [/meta]

  63. 63
    plutoanimus

    Everyone knows that the violent death of a child is always tragic.

    Everyone also knows that where there is war, children and other innocents will die.

    When Liberals protested past wars over civilian death, injury, trauma, and destruction of property and infrastructure, it was because of indiscriminate use of military force (e.g., bombings in Vietnam).

    But the use of these drones is the opposite of indiscriminate. Their weapons are as precise at their lethal intent as high-speed missiles can possibly get.

    If the government demands high-quality intelligence on these targets, then the U.S. has actually achieved something admirable: a type of defensive war that minimizes civilian casualties.

  64. 64
    Amphiox

    But the use of these drones is the opposite of indiscriminate. Their weapons are as precise at their lethal intent as high-speed missiles can possibly get.

    The failure in discrimination lies not in the technology of the weapon, but in the person who uses it.

  65. 65
    Jadehawk

    It is obvious that you have never cowered in your classroom as revolutionaries gathered outside chanting for your death as punishment for the crime of speaking in favor of science.

    and it is obvious that you have never had to hunker down while an unseen enemy is raining death on you from the skies, for nothing more than the crime of being vaguely in the same area as the people your enemy is actually pissed off at.

    Fighting back is not an equally condemnable offense.

    I wasn’t aware children and civilians in Pakistan and similar locales were attacking the US.
    OTOH, I suspect the terrorists are using exactly the same rationale for what they’re doing. From their perspective, they’re merely fighting back against US aggression.

    But do I think the US military deliberately sets out to kill innocent people for no good reason or that we are being lied to here about who is being taken out and why – again no.

    why not? the US has been killing innocent people in foreign countries for no reason other than promotion of its own bigoted politics since approximately forever. Ask Latin America how it feels about the US poking around in their business; ask Haiti.

    ReyFox. So, people in the United States, Spain, The Philippines, France and the UK “deserve” a dose of terrorism? Or maybe these countries basically have no right to be surprised and upset at having been targeted?

    hey, you’re the one who said fighting back is “not an equally condemnable offense”. Are you going to backtrack on that claim now?

  66. 66
    Antiochus Epiphanes

    *gah* spelling: StevoR

  67. 67
    consciousness razor

    I understand how both are horrible, I just am slightly confused as to why they are being related to each other.

    PZ can speak for himself, but perhaps part of it’s just to remind people here (though maybe not wherever caral is) that the purpose isn’t demonize their culture, talk about its problems as if they were our own to solve, talk about how our enemies should be rooted out from every hole in the ground no matter where on the planet or beyond and no matter what they are in fact capable of doing, how exactly we should “fight back” against them since not fighting is of course out completely of the question by the time we’ve got this kind of mass hysteria, a time which passed who knows how long ago.

    It’s obvious to me that when I can find “enemies” right here in my neighborhood, as clear and as present as could be as far as I’m concerned, I’m not inclined to push for their total annihilation without giving a second thought to what that would entail.

  68. 68
    Jadehawk

    If the government demands high-quality intelligence on these targets, then the U.S. has actually achieved something admirable: a type of defensive war that minimizes civilian casualties.

    1)how exactly is any of the shit the US is currently pulling “defensive”?
    2)what makes you think civilian casualties are being minimized? designating everyone who died by drone strike as a valid target does not actually reduce civilian casualties; it only does so on paper, where it’s no use to the dead non-jihadists.

  69. 69
    Amphiox

    Basic summary:
    1. Drone Strike – Less collateral damage, a lot easier to justify. So you cause a small amount of collateral damage many, MANY times.
    2. Carpet Bombing – Massive collateral damage, very difficult to justify. So you cause a massive amount of collateral damage, but you rarely cause it.

    That is exactly why it is a false equivalency. Because the two, as military tactics, have never been used for the same thing strategic purpose. One is not a “superior” replacement of the other. Drone strikes are indeed targeted operations, but carpet bombing never was.

    And in the age of carpet bombing, there were targeted operations that could have been used for comparison.

    The proper equivalence to a drone strike would be a commando operation, or a sniper strike, or a targeted assassination.

    Just because drones and carpet bombing both involve flying things in the air does not make it valid to compare to the two of them. Because the purpose of their use has never been the same.

  70. 70
    md

    PZ is getting gunshy, I believe, from the browbeatings he takes here on this subject. There was a time not so long ago when he felt he might be able to call out terrible behavior committed by a Muslim without the concomitant call-out of a Christian/Western instance of bad behavior. That day appears to have passed.

    Please feel free to keep on posting criticisms of Christians without including Muslims though. Won’t bother me a bit.

  71. 71
    Gregory Greenwood

    WharGarbl @ 38;

    It’s not just drone. In times of war, anything military (especially bomber and artilleries) would elicit the same response.

    My grandfather said that in World War 2, he could recognize Japanese bombers by the sound and would flee for bomb shelter the moment he heard one.

    What I’m saying is, ANY military weapon/system all essentially have terror as an inescapable part of their operation.

    I see your point, but given the alleged use of drones to target public gatherings – like funerals – in the hope of eliminating extremists but also in the certain knowledge that innocent people will be caught in the blast, and the even more worrying claims that follow up strikes have been ordered against first responders, then it is not just the nature of the weapon, but the specific techniques of its use that give it the appearance of a device that is being used to terrorise the populace as much as to eliminate specific known radicals.

    ———————————————————————————————————————-

    A. R @ 41;

    Not that I don’t believe you (I do), but do you have a source for that claim?

    I thought I did – a BBC documentary I saw a few months ago that discussed people instantly scattering to cover when they hear the drones and that included footage, but now that I look for it, I can’t find it. I don’t know if it is my weak google-foo or something else.

    Sorry about that – please disregard the remark until I can find something to back it up.

  72. 72
    WharGarbl

    @Amphiox
    #64
    True that.
    Kind of like how the Wright brothers thought that their airplane would make war a thing a the past, since it would make warfare so terrible that people won’t want to start one (we all know how well that turned out).
    Or how Alfred Nobel, one learning armies using his explosive to blow each other up, thought that since his tool made warfare so terrifying, no one would want to start a war (ditto above).
    Or this “The atomic bomb made the prospect of future war unendurable. It has led us up those last few steps to the mountain pass; and beyond there is a different country.” – J. Robert Oppenheimer

    One the other hand, it did give them (the military) the option to be more discriminate. And if the political will is willing, easier to hold military (or whoever authorize their use) accountable.
    For one, you can’t claim self-defense when you kill innocents with drones.

  73. 73
    David Wilford

    The U.S. wants to establish a stable government in Afghanistan and prevent the Taliban from regaining power, and the use of drones to kill Taliban guerrillas is a tactic being employed as a part of that strategy. My own opinion is that there’s not much reason to hope that Afghanistan won’t again collapse into a state of perpetual civil war given it’s own internal divisions and unstable neighborhood in general, especially along the Pakistan-Afghan border. All the U.S. can really do is buy some time, but by the end of Obama’s second term there won’t be any enthusiasm by the next President to remain committed to buying more time given the political downside. I doubt anyone here will be thrilled at the prospect of the Taliban regaining power, but it’s hard to see what the alternative is, other than a civil war.

  74. 74
    Jafafa Hots

    Being the most powerful nation on earth sucks. It makes us so weak and defenseless.

  75. 75
    barfy

    “without risk to ourselves.”

    Boston says a big “fuck you.”

    And if one more fucking idiot uses the word, “indiscriminate” or “dispassionate”, think Straw Person or, more appropriately, liar.

    I think drone use is a creeping moral discussion fraught with lots of danger. And, no, Obama shouldn’t be making light of it. So, of course it’s appropriate to argue and even condemn their use.
    What isn’t appropriate is to place yourself, PZ, as the moral high ground when using the word, Other, when that is EXACTLY what you’re doing by claiming a calmness in the President’s actions and deliberations – as if he is some mindless automaton beholding to the warmongers. It would be more honest to call it a rational assessment, and one that you don’t agree with. “Calmness” – fuck you.

    And, as a side note:
    It’s not that our tactics are so much more effective at butchering people. The Boston bombings were maximally effective at butchering people. What we can do is butcher more people effectively. Also, I’m not convinced that the USA is interested in butchering anybody. I know the Islamic extremists celebrate that goal.

  76. 76
    consciousness razor

    For one, you can’t claim self-defense when you kill innocents with drones.

    On the other hand, you don’t need to make any claim if there are no witnesses who could reliably account for exactly what happened.

  77. 77
    paulburnett

    Jadehawk (#68) asked “how exactly is any of the shit the US is currently pulling “defensive”?”

    We are defending our oil which happens to be underground in their countries. (/snark)

  78. 78
    consciousness razor

    What we can do is butcher more people effectively.

    No thanks. Fucker.

  79. 79
    SallyStrange

    PZ is getting gunshy, I believe, from the browbeatings he takes here on this subject. There was a time not so long ago when he felt he might be able to call out terrible behavior committed by a Muslim without the concomitant call-out of a Christian/Western instance of bad behavior. That day appears to have passed.

    Please feel free to keep on posting criticisms of Christians without including Muslims though. Won’t bother me a bit.

    I had a sudden, amusing vision of md, sitting in a room full of computer screens, monitoring feeds from various sources, examining every pronouncement from PZ and other public atheists, checking off a scorecard every time one of them criticizes one religion but not another.

    Amusing… and depressing. What a pathetic thing to obsess about. What’s the point? To prove that one is worse than the other? To prove someone’s a hypocrite because he criticizes Religion X five times for every one time he criticizes Religion Y? Please, get over yourself. They’re all bad and terrible, remember? Parsing degrees of horribleness is not something decent folks should be willing to do–which is kind of the point of the OP.

  80. 80
    Kevin, 友好火猫 (Friendly Fire Cat)

    @Barfy:

    Tsarnaev said that the Boston bombings were because the US is involved in the Middle East and killing civilians while trying to take out terrorists.

  81. 81
    Jackie, all dressed in black

    ^this

  82. 82
    WharGarbl

    @Amphiox
    #69

    That is exactly why it is a false equivalency. Because the two, as military tactics, have never been used for the same thing strategic purpose. One is not a “superior” replacement of the other. Drone strikes are indeed targeted operations, but carpet bombing never was.

    And in the age of carpet bombing, there were targeted operations that could have been used for comparison.

    I see your point. Come to think about it, it would probably be easier to point out that carpet bombing and drone strike differs on 1 major theme.
    1. Drone strike is generally used to kill people.
    2. Carpet bombing generally used to destroy building/infrastructure.

    @Gregory
    #71

    I see your point, but given the alleged use of drones to target public gatherings – like funerals – in the hope of eliminating extremists but also in the certain knowledge that innocent people will be caught in the blast, and the even more worrying claims that follow up strikes have been ordered against first responders, then it is not just the nature of the weapon, but the specific techniques of its use that give it the appearance of a device that is being used to terrorise the populace as much as to eliminate specific known radicals.

    Very true.
    One more note. For terror causing capability, I would argue that a sniper is more terrifying than a drone. For one, you can hear a drone coming, so at least you get some warning. Snipers? Not really.
    On the other hand, you have to worry a lot less about being killed just because you’re next to a terrorist if it was a sniper (drone, you get blown up with terrorist. Sniper, you get terrorist blood all over you).

  83. 83
    Jafafa Hots

    Boston says a big “fuck you.”… …It’s not that our tactics are so much more effective at butchering people… …What we can do is butcher more people effectively.

    Yeah!
    And if it weren’t for Boston, we would never have had to (preemptively).

    You should maybe try a little “dispassionate” yourself.

  84. 84
    clevehicks

    Brilliantly said PZ, as always! Today’s article by Glenn Greenwald is directly relevant: http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2013/may/06/syria-israel-bombing-moral-relativism

  85. 85
    Jack Krebs

    Yes to all PZ said.

  86. 86
    WharGarbl

    @Jafafa Hots
    #74

    Being the most powerful nation on earth sucks. It makes us so weak and defenseless.

    With great power comes great responsibility?
    Being the most powerful nation with the capability to kill anything and anyone with the push of a button, I expect that WE should be more mindful on how we use that weapon.

    @consciousness razor
    #76

    On the other hand, you don’t need to make any claim if there are no witnesses who could reliably account for exactly what happened.

    Killing with drones involves video feed, which can easily be recorded (split the video signal into a recorder).
    Have a law requiring that the video feed of all kills be recorded. That’s one step toward accountability.

  87. 87
    md

    I had a sudden, amusing vision of md….

    The truth is even better. I’ve been thinking of inventing a drinking game based on an inverse relationship to the number of comments gone by on a post generally critical of a Muslim, before someone, usually Ing, would comment “yes yes, this is terrible, but the real danger here is not pipe bombs or FGM or honor killing by beheading or stoning an adulterer to death but Othering”

  88. 88
    Rey Fox

    PZ is getting gunshy, I believe, from the browbeatings he takes here on this subject.

    Or perhaps he’s just gained a more global perspective.

  89. 89
    myeck waters

    Given that md’s #87 response to Sally Strange could only be made by deliberately ignoring the content of SS’s post, I submit that they are not actually engaging, only trolling.

  90. 90
    Gregory Greenwood

    caral @ 11;

    Mr. Myers – you stated that you cannot condemn one without condemning the other? That’s unfortunate Sir. It is obvious that you have never cowered in your classroom as revolutionaries gathered outside chanting for your death as punishment for the crime of speaking in favor of science. I would never wish this to happen to you, but I do expect you to empathise with your colleagues who currently teach under these conditions, ever-fearful for their lives.

    People have faced death threats for critiquing christianity in the US, particularly with regard to the regressive and bigoted attitude of most christian sects towards gay people, but also dealing with the rights and bodily autonomy of women and with the teaching of evolution among other topics. These disputes have at times descended into violence – the largely xian mandated campaign of murder of abortion doctors being a particularly well known example.

    Not every violent religious group is Islamic, and the notional ‘free world’ is not immune to religious violence either, though it is admitedly rarely as widespread or extreme.

    Fighting back is not an equally condemnable offense.

    As has been pointed out by other commenters, the islamist groups themsleves could just as easily claim that they are ‘only fighting back’. Many of the newer groups only came into existence after the Western interventions in Afghanistan and Iraq began, and many older groups have grievances dating back to earlier instances of military intervention and unethical foreign policy decisions on the part of the Western powers.

    Every drone strike creates more radicals who don’t care about our justifications – all they see is a faceless aggressor raining explosives down on their communities, their families, their people. From the perspective of the islamic street, the recent series of Middle Eastern wars and interventions have the character and appearance of a concerted campaign by the majority White and majority Christian Western powers to topple the government of a string of majority Muslim countries and enact ‘regime change’ – which will be interpreted as placing the majority Muslim populations of those countries under the heel of puppet regimes, a form of neo-colonialism.

    To those people, this is the Crusades all over again, and some of them think that a new Saladin will rise from the militant groups to protect their religion, culture, and way of life from what they see as aggression from an expansionist, militarily superior enemy. They see their jihad as very much a defensive war forced upon them by an enemy that seeks the destruction of their way of life, much as many Westerners believe that the recent Middle Eastern wars to be an existential struggle for the continued existence of freedom in the face of a fanatical foe who seeks to destroy democracy and liberty everywhere. Neither side is entirely right, but both hold their beliefs sincerely, and the facts on the ground seem to show that the objective threat to the West is minimal, while the same cannot be said for countries like Afghansitan , Iraq or even Pakistan. And now Syria and Iran may both be in the cross hairs as well, further fueling the idea in the muslim world that the so called ‘War on Terror’ (an unpopular term these days, but apposite given the erroneous attitudes that underpin the ongoing violence) is actually simply an excuse for a war on islam and on muslims as a people.

    @ 44;

    ReyFox. So, people in the United States, Spain, The Philippines, France and the UK “deserve” a dose of terrorism? Or maybe these countries basically have no right to be surprised and upset at having been targeted?

    That seems a very harsh characterisation of Rey Fox’s remarks – the point being made is that the policies of Western powers, including the US, the UK and France, are not unrelated to the acts of terrorist violence against them. The islamist groups aren’t simply attacking us because they are ‘evil’ or ‘hate freedom’ – in their eyes they have good reasons for what they are doing. They believe that they are retaliating against what they see as an attack on their own societies. Are there individuals among them who are motivated by some irrational desire to destroy anyone on the planet who is not their stripe of muslim? I would say that this is almost certainly the case, but it seems unlikely that they make up the majority of the membership of these movements, given that patterns of radicalisation seem to correlate rather strongly with ill advised Western foreign policy. As an example, Al Qaeda was not a major force in Iraq before the Western intervention there. Our policies spread its influence by giving them a ready made recruituing sergeant in the grievances of the local populace.

    Ray Fox is not saying that the civilian victims of islamist terrorism deserve to die – rather, that the policies and activities of the West are hardly unrelated to the current scourge of islamically motivated terrorist violence.

    It may be cathartic to demonise terrorists as subhuman monsters fit only for extermination, but such attitudes are not only at variance with the factors behind why these attacks happen, but such a road can lead very easily to extremely dangerous eliminationist rhetoric of the kind that has become all too common on the political right in recent years.

  91. 91
    SallyStrange

    md’s a libertarian, right? Nothing else really needs to be said.

  92. 92
    consciousness razor

    Killing with drones involves video feed, which can easily be recorded (split the video signal into a recorder).
    Have a law requiring that the video feed of all kills be recorded. That’s one step toward accountability.

    Not killing. There’s yet another step.

  93. 93
    Gregory Greenwood

    WharGarbl @ 82;

    One more note. For terror causing capability, I would argue that a sniper is more terrifying than a drone. For one, you can hear a drone coming, so at least you get some warning. Snipers? Not really.
    On the other hand, you have to worry a lot less about being killed just because you’re next to a terrorist if it was a sniper (drone, you get blown up with terrorist. Sniper, you get terrorist blood all over you).

    A sniper is certainly more accurate in normal circumstances, and does not tend to use an explosive weapon like the hellfire missiles employed on some forms of drones, and so ‘collateral damage’ should be less of an issue. So a ‘less bad’ option all round, or so it would seem.

    Unfortunately, this all relies on the assumption that military target acquisition is top notch. If the person ordering the killshot is a bit trigger happy though, and decides to blow away by proxy people who simply look like a known terrorist or are even considered to be ‘associates’ (a nice broad term that covers friends, family, causal acqaintances, work collegues and bascially anyone who ever speaks to a person) ‘just to be sure’, then you have a whole new set of problems.

    As you point out, it is not just the specific weapon used that is at issue here, but the entire military culture that informs the decisions on when and how to use them.

  94. 94
    WharGarbl

    @consciousness razor
    #92

    Not killing. There’s yet another step.

    You have too much faith in humanity to believe that final step is possible.

  95. 95
    David Wilford

    I don’t think PZ should get away with simply saying killing is bad without having to grasp the nettle of what a return of the Taliban would be like. Otherwise, it’s just so much a washing of hands on his part. Unless you really think the Taliban would come around, in which case I’d like to see a case made for that happening.

  96. 96
    consciousness razor

    And no, I’m not even going to bother to consider what the resolution actually is of drone video feeds, whether the law would also require that they’d be declassified, judged in civilian courts, or anything else. You want to talk about ethical accountability? Stop killing people.

  97. 97
    consciousness razor

    You have too much faith in humanity to believe that final step is possible.

    It’s not faith. If you want to close off that option from the very beginning, any time the question is raised whether or not we should kill someone — not whether anyone will ever be killed ever again — then you’re not even thinking about the problem.

  98. 98
    caral

    Misdirected tie-ins regarding U.S. drone strikes are not what the families of your murdered freethinking colleagues were hoping for. Shame on you PZ Myers.

  99. 99
    burgundy

    I haven’t yet figured out how to copy urls on my new phone, so I can’t link to this, but if you go to NPR’s website and look for “The Hidden Cost of the Drone Program,” you’ll get an interview with Obama’s former counter-terrorism advisor and a former drone pilot. It seems that the use of drones is not instead of snipers or large-scale ground assaults; it’s instead of capturing people. Because Guantanamo is a legal morass, and it’s cleaner just to kill them. Now ask yourself: how many of the Guantanamo detainees were determined to not actually be terrorists? What reason do we have to think our intelligence is so much better now? But when you’ve killed someone (and the people around them) it’s too late to find out you were wrong.

    The former pilot has PTSD now. I strongly recommend reading his description of some of the strikes he made.

  100. 100
    Crip Dyke, Right Reverend Feminist FuckToy of Death & Her Handmaiden

    barfy

    Also, I’m not convinced that the USA is interested in butchering anybody. I know the Islamic extremists celebrate that goal.

    There are large portions of the US electorate that clearly embrace butchering people. While neither the president nor the military overtly celebrate butchery, individuals deeply involved in the executive have happily made proposals to engage in butchery. Senators have sounded quite bloodthirsty on numerous occasions. Coulter’s suggestion of nuking muslims was defended by far too many. Wolfowitz – jeez, I don’t even know what to say about Wolfowitz. How about Friedman, who infamously said that a war killing tens of thousands of civilians was more than justified as an excuse to say, “Suck. On. This.” to muslims: Target country irrelevant?

    Given that the people arguing for drone strikes engage in delight of butchery, it’s more than reasonable to judge the executive branch on their actions when the question is mere “interest in butchery”.

  101. 101
    Jafafa Hots

    David Milford, do you know how the Taliban came into being in the first place?

  102. 102
    caral

    to #90 Gregory Greenwood who writes “To those people, this is the Crusades all over again.”

    Listen Greg, there are plenty of “those people” tho do not consider surgical air strikes against oppressive warlords akin to the Crusades. I weep for every Afghan girl who cannot go to school. As long as people like you who could do something to help, choose instead to pander to the forces keeping millions hostage – nothing will ever change.

  103. 103
    sleepingwytch(inactive)

    I’m going to listen and learn in this conversation because I feel if I typed something out about the Muslims chanting for the death of atheists, I’m going to say something very cruel and evil towards the bigoted lunatic Muslims, that I will later sorely regret.

  104. 104
    mythbri

    The term that drone pilots use for people who try to outrun the drone strikes is “squirters.”

    It’s probably easier to push the button if you don’t think of them as people. And it’s easier to claim a low civilian casualty count when you’re using a fluid definition for the term “enemy combatant.”

  105. 105
    Dalillama, Schmott Guy

    StevoR

    Unless there is strong evidence to suggest that the US military is lying then why not follow Occam’s razor and presume (at least until good reason is given to think otherwise), that they are telling the truth?

    You mean strong evidence like the fact that the U.S. Armed Forces are known to have deliberately massacred civilians and lied about it, you pathetic trash?

    WharGarbl

    I have little hope that we can stop all the killings. But my hope is that technology can help make the killing targeted enough that each kill is 100% intentional (or at least close to 0% collateral).

    So you support very precise long distance murder? Still not seeing the upside here.

    What I’m saying is, ANY military weapon/system all essentially have terror as an inescapable part of their operation.

    Yes, exaclty. This is why I fail to see the moral distinction between blowing people up with a car bomb vs one dropped by airplane from 20000 feet.
    md
    I know you’re an even bigger waste of time than SteveoR, but your asinine rant at #42 makes a very large and completely unevidenced assumption, which is that the U.S. military is in any sense a deterrent to terrorism. Also, you demonstrate a laughable ignorance of military strategy in general if you beleive that there exists anywhere on Earth a military that could successfully prosecute an invasion of the U.S. even if it were defended by nothing but the National Guard.

    Gregory Greenwood

    The ranting Islamists are certainly worrisome, and it must be terrifying to realise that they wield any kind of political power in your country such that their repugnant murder fantasies could become a reality, but it is perhaps indicative of my White Western privilege that I am much more worried about NATO’s blithe use of drones to engage in detached, push-button state-sponsored murder.

    I’m not really sure that’s privilege per se. The Islamists in Bangladesh, while they are undoubtedly murderous fuckheads who ought not have any political power anywhere, have very limited ability to fuck with anybody not in Bangladesh, whereas the muderous fuckheads running NATO have the capacity to murder people worldwide, and a sickening enthusiasm for using it.
    Plutoanimus
    As with md, you first have to demonstrate that the actions of terrorists constitute ‘war’ in the military sense and can be defeated by military means. Neither of these is correct.

  106. 106
    Kevin, 友好火猫 (Friendly Fire Cat)

    @David Wilford:

    The Taliban are coming back stronger and with more people backing them up cause we basically demolished the infrastructure of Afghanistan, and because we also began killing terrorists (and collaterally civilians) in Pakistan, they’ve now begun to get a foothold there.

    But the more important thing to remember – do you know who made the Taliban?

  107. 107
    mythbri

    Just like it’s easier to kill people when you call them “infidels” or “atheists.”

  108. 108
    Jadehawk

    I don’t think PZ should get away with simply saying killing is bad without having to grasp the nettle of what a return of the Taliban would be like

    this sentence can only approach coherence if the assumption is made that continuing to bomb people all over the extended Middle East will eventually lead to a situation in which the Taliban (or their equivalent) will not be returning to power.

    What exactly is this scenario? Bombing the Afghanistan-Pakistan Border until you run out of people to bomb?

    I weep for every Afghan girl who cannot go to school. As long as people like you who could do something to help, choose instead to pander to the forces keeping millions hostage – nothing will ever change.

    what a simple mind you have, that you think that the choices are a)continue bombing civilians, then Afghan girls will get to go to school; b)do nothing. It’s a false dilemma wrapped in an argument from ignorance wrapped in the absurd belief that dronestrikes will lead to something like the Taliban not returning to Afghanistan after this war ends. It’s a turducken of fail.

  109. 109
    David Wilford

    “… do you know how the Taliban came into being in the first place?”

    Mostly. I don’t buy the line that it’s primarily the fault of the U.S. that the Taliban came to be though, if that’s what you’re getting at.

  110. 110
    Jadehawk

    Mostly. I don’t buy the line that it’s primarily the fault of the U.S. that the Taliban came to be though, if that’s what you’re getting at.

    oh look. a skeptic.

  111. 111
    Beatrice, an amateur cynic looking for a happy thought

    I weep for every Afghan girl who cannot go to school.

    I’m sure you do. Right up until the moment she gets killed by a US soldier. Then she’s just collateral damage or “Oh well, she shouldn’t have lived in the same country as a terrorist. Shit happens.”

  112. 112
    Antiochus Epiphanes

    David Milford, do you know how the Taliban came into being in the first place?

    They were elves, once…

    *ducks*

    Sorry. Couldn’t help it.

  113. 113
    David Wilford

    “The Taliban are coming back stronger and with more people backing them up cause we basically demolished the infrastructure of Afghanistan, and because we also began killing terrorists (and collaterally civilians) in Pakistan, they’ve now begun to get a foothold there.”

    Afghanistan has never had much in the way of infrastructure, except in Kabul. What the U.S. did was help the resistance to the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan that started in 1979, but there was plenty of money and guns from other parties coming in, including from Osama bin Laden himself. Pakistan has long had a deep involvement in the affairs of Afghanistan thanks largely to how it became a nation that incorporarted areas that were under control of the British at Pakistan’s independence that never really wanted to be part of Pakistan, such as the Tribal Areas along the Afghan border and Waziristan which is basically that part of Pakistan that borders Iran. Simply reducing this history to one where the U.S. Did It isn’t accurate in the least.

  114. 114
    Dalillama, Schmott Guy

    David Wilford
    So you don’t think that a superpower arming them, training them, handing them enormous sums of money, and generally backing them to the hilt was the primary cause of their ascendancy? To what do you attribute their rise, then? Why do you suppose they are different from the dozens of other cases where a superpower installed a totalitarian regime in a foreign land for their own purposes?

  115. 115
    David Wilford

    Jadehawk, it’s not as if we don’t have ample evidence of what rule by the Taliban was like, so it’s a legitimate consideration. If PZ thinks that a demonstration of pacifism on our part would work, that’s fine. I’m not so sure.

  116. 116
    Jadehawk

    What the U.S. did was help the resistance to the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan that started in 1979

    I don’t buy the line that it’s primarily the fault of the U.S. that the Taliban came to be though,

    ok then. this makes perfect sense. yupyup.

  117. 117
    Dalillama, Schmott Guy

    Oh, sorry, I didn’t refresh before posting. So now you’re claiming that a wealthy individual has the same financial and military resources as the U.S. Government? You think that Pakistan had the capacity to send aid in anywhere near the quantities we did? Are you serious?

  118. 118
    Jadehawk

    Jadehawk, it’s not as if we don’t have ample evidence of what rule by the Taliban was like, so it’s a legitimate consideration.

    this has absolutely nothing to do with what I said.

  119. 119
    David Wilford

    Dalillama, you need to read some history about the region. The U.S. gave support to the mujahadeen of the 1980s, not the Taliban of the 1990s. The internal conditions in Afghanistan were what gave rise to the Taliban. We all but ignored Afghanistan during the 1990s, although we did deplore what the Taliban started doing there once they took control.

  120. 120
    David Wilford

    Dalillama, Osama bin Laden did provide money, arms and even fighters to the Taliban and they helped them fight the remaining resistance in NW Afghanistan. Pakistani being a neighbor where Taliban element could take refuge and get weaponry was also a factor. So what if the U.S. is bigger if the U.S. involvement in the region was nil?

  121. 121
    Crip Dyke, Right Reverend Feminist FuckToy of Death & Her Handmaiden

    @David Wilford:

    The Taliban came to power by getting the populace to react against an outside force dropping bombs on their people.

    The current situation is totally different, because WE are dropping the bombs, not the USSR, & therefore the population will know that these are GOOD bombs killing their family and friends and will not react in nationalism or tribalism like they did when EVIL bombs were killing their family and friends.

  122. 122
    David Wilford

    Jadehawk, the reason why Obama decided to increase U.S. forces in Afghanistan after 2008 was that the Taliban were attacking pro-government forces there and gaining strength in the 2003-2008 period while Bush was focused on Iraq. If the U.S. has simply departed Afghanistan, it’s pretty certain the Taliban would have regained power, with consequences I’m pretty sure you are aware of.

  123. 123
    David Wilford

    “The Taliban came to power by getting the populace to react against an outside force dropping bombs on their people. ”

    It’s more like a reaction involving a dedicated group of fanatics from the largest ethnic group being able to put together a large enough fighting force in a terribly weakened country to seize power while a disinterested world shrugged its collective shoulders and looked the other way.

  124. 124
    markbrown

    Dalillama, you need to read some history about the region. The U.S. gave support to the mujahadeen of the 1980s, not the Taliban of the 1990s. The internal conditions in Afghanistan were what gave rise to the Taliban. We all but ignored Afghanistan during the 1990s, although we did deplore what the Taliban started doing there once they took control.

    Indeed. After arming them, and aiding them when it served the US. to do so, you then abandoned them once the Russians had left and the Afghan people needed your help the most. With their infrastructure destroyed and a lack of real governance in place, Afghanistan could have used some major help from the US. and the US. could have done some real good in helping to rebuild the country and promote real progressive government. Instead, the US. decided that would too expensive, and left Afghanistan in the deplorable state that allowed the ascendancy of the Taliban.

    Maybe those Afghan girls you like to weep over would have been better off if the US. had sorted this mess in the 80′s and 90′s?

  125. 125
    caral

    #108 Jadehawk
    Cruel, ignorant words. The United States is not bombing civilians. That’s what the Taliban are doing.

  126. 126
    SallyStrange

    The United States is not bombing civilians.

    What makes you so sure? You take the military at its word? You’re certain the media would never help the government or the military cover up mistakes?

  127. 127
    Kevin, 友好火猫 (Friendly Fire Cat)

    @caral:

    But we are bombing civilians.

  128. 128
    consciousness razor

    They were elves, once…

    LOL

    (I try to reserve that only for when it actually happens. And today, I really needed it.)

  129. 129
    David Wilford

    “Maybe those Afghan girls you like to weep over would have been better off if the US. had sorted this mess in the 80′s and 90′s?”

    Maybe, but you might well have been facing a similar situation then as we do now. The U.S. is powerful, but obviously not all-powerful, and the problem has always been the lack of any sort of stable government in Kabul that’s able to effectively rule Afghanistan. That has always been a problem, long before we got there.

  130. 130
    WharGarbl

    @caral
    #125
    We may not be intentionally bombing civilians, but the fact of the matter is that we do kill a lot of civilians in bombings.

  131. 131
    David Wilford

    PZ: “How about if we all end the killing?”

    Taliban: “What you mean, ‘we’, infidel?”

    still waiting…

  132. 132
    atheist

    @StevoR : Free West Papua, free Tibet, let the Chagossians return! – 6 May 2013 at 9:53 am (UTC -5)

    One side wants to kill people like me, is furious and destructive, and rages passionately about killing the Other; the other side wants to kill people outside our borders, is calm and dispassionate, and marshals machines to execute the Other without risk to ourselves.

    More significant difference comparison here :

    One side wants to kill innocent people for merely thinking differently and being atheists or non-Muslims or even non-extremist enough not-Jihadist variety Muslims.

    The other side wants to kill ticking bomb Jihadist terrorists who are actively seeking to murder and harm other people and intimidate the rest of the world into submitting to their intolerant, misogynist brutal ideology.

    Your assessment of who the US is killing with drones is inaccurate. Read this Rolling Stone article on the recent testimony before Congress of Farea al-Muslim, a pro-USA Yemeni who saw our CIA drone war in his nation turn his fellow Yemenis sharply against the US, after our drone srikes killed innocent villagers. Excerpt:

    Prior to the strike, al-Muslimi said, the central perception the villagers had of the U.S. was from conversations he had with them about the year he spent here during high school, which he described as “one of the best years of my life.” Later in his statement, he said, “now, however, when they think of America, they think of the terror they feel from the drones that hover over their heads, ready to fire missiles at any time.”

  133. 133
    mythbri

    @caral

    “Enemy combatants” can mean all kinds of convenient things when you’re trying to emphasize a low civilian casualty count.

  134. 134
    mythbri

    @David Wilford #131

    “What you mean, ‘we’, infidel?”

    What do you mean ‘we’, squirter?

    What do you mean ‘we’, raghead?

    What do you mean ‘we’, sand-nigger?

  135. 135
    Chris Clarke

    mythbri:

    “Enemy combatants” can mean all kinds of convenient things when you’re trying to emphasize a low civilian casualty count.

    Those toddlers were sleeping in a terrorist building. Next to the terrorist wedding.

  136. 136
    Kevin, 友好火猫 (Friendly Fire Cat)

    The Taliban (by extension, fundamentalist Muslims) do not represent the entirety of Muslims.

  137. 137
    md

    but your asinine rant at #42 makes a very large and completely unevidenced assumption, which is that the U.S. military is in any sense a deterrent to terrorism

    Tough one to prove either way, the way I see it. By keeping our military and plenty of civilian support ‘over there’ for the last decade or so that gives the jihadis lots of targets. Perhaps the lack of attacks on the homeland is related. The jihadis dont’ have to leave their countries to kill an American.

    OTOH, maybe the military, in the strict sense of the word, has had no deterrent and we’re just better at stopping attacks via FBI and DHS before they get started.

    My point, as stated in #42, is that drone strikes on killers that sometimes kill bystanders and pipe bombs at marathon finish lines are not morally equivalent and that it underhanded to suggest it. Do you believe they are?

  138. 138
    PZ Myers

    Those toddlers were sleeping in a terrorist building. Next to the terrorist wedding.

    Therefore, they were terrorist toddlers. Case closed!

  139. 139
    atheist

    @caral – 6 May 2013 at 1:21 pm (UTC -5)

    #108 Jadehawk
    Cruel, ignorant words. The United States is not bombing civilians. That’s what the Taliban are doing.

    You’re demonstrably wrong. According to the London Bureau of Investigative Reporting, from all US drone strikes in Pakistan, 2,541 to 3,533 were killed, 411 to 884 of which were civilians, and 168 to 197 of which were children.

  140. 140
    carlie

    I was going to mention the photos from several years ago that have never left my mind – of children screaming, covered in their parents’ blood, after the parents were shot dead in front of them by US soldiers at an Iraqi checkpoint when they were coming home from having a child treated at a hospital. Here is part of the original photo essay. All I could think at the time was that these actions, the ways we were treating them, would create more fighters who would hate the US and do anything to destroy it than any “nation-building” activity could staunch. I then found this update. The girl still can’t bring herself to go outside enough to attend school. One brother was killed in an attack a couple of years later. None of the children seem on a path to be functional in society. This is what we did, and this is what we are still doing.

  141. 141
    atheist

    @David Wilford – 6 May 2013 at 1:30 pm (UTC -5)

    PZ: “How about if we all end the killing?”

    Taliban: “What you mean, ‘we’, infidel?”

    still waiting…

    So, according to you we should act exactly like the Taliban do. I think this idea sucks.

  142. 142
    markbrown

    The general rule in global politics is that your failings in the past will always come back to bite you in the arse (No Mr Spellcheck, the word is arse, not ass! gah!)

    If the US. had been more proactive once the Russians left Afghanistan, maybe the world would be a massively different place. This time there does at least seem to be some political will to try to clear up the mess before a full withdrawal, but the drone strikes are going to be a major hindrance to this. Start as you mean them to go on when you do eventually leave; promote law and order instead of assassination.

    I’m probably sounding over-critical of US. policies, but the fact is that I’m from the UK. and we have a great deal of experience of fucking up countries when we leave. I just wish our respective governments would learn from their historical mistakes.

  143. 143
    truthspeaker

    David Wilford

    6 May 2013 at 12:58 pm (UTC -5) Link to this comment

    Dalillama, you need to read some history about the region. The U.S. gave support to the mujahadeen of the 1980s, not the Taliban of the 1990s. The internal conditions in Afghanistan were what gave rise to the Taliban.

    And the internal conditions in Afghanistan were caused by the mujahadeen who was supplied and trained.

    I’m sure there were propagandists in the Soviet Union issuing dire warnings of what would happen to women and girls in Afghanistan if the Soviet-backed government were to fall.

  144. 144
    Rev. BigDumbChimp

    I’ll admit, I know some toddlers that I’m pretty damn sure are terrorists.

  145. 145
    David Wilford

    “So, according to you we should act exactly like the Taliban do. I think this idea sucks.”

    I’m actually wondering if PZ thinks that U.S. pacifism would induce the Taliban to behave likewise.

  146. 146
    truthspeaker

    David Wilford

    6 May 2013 at 1:09 pm (UTC -5) Link to this comment

    Jadehawk, the reason why Obama decided to increase U.S. forces in Afghanistan after 2008 was that the Taliban were attacking pro-government forces there and gaining strength in the 2003-2008 period while Bush was focused on Iraq. If the U.S. has simply departed Afghanistan, it’s pretty certain the Taliban would have regained power, with consequences I’m pretty sure you are aware of.

    I’m missing the part where this is our problem to solve, and that a military solution would even be possible even if it were our problem.

  147. 147
    anteprepro

    Meta: The fact that md is still posting here, after gob knows how many months and how many threads, with such piss-poor obvious trolling throughout, should be a testament to the fact that PZ isn’t nearly as tyrannical and ban-happy as people believe him to be.

    Cruel, ignorant words. The United States is not bombing civilians. That’s what the Taliban are doing.

    You are a fucking ignoramus. Do you live in fucking Candy Land or do you really believe this utter tripe?

  148. 148
    David Wilford

    truthspeaker, I’m pointing out that while the U.S. gave weapons to the mujahadeen it’s much to simplistic to claim that we were primarily responsible for the rise of the Taliban.

  149. 149
    truthspeaker

    markbrown

    6 May 2013 at 1:45 pm (UTC -5)

    If the US. had been more proactive once the Russians left Afghanistan, maybe the world would be a massively different place.

    That’s the party line among American pro-imperialist, excuse me, liberal interventionists, but it’s not entirely accurate.

  150. 150
    mythbri

    @David Wilford #144

    I’m actually wondering if PZ thinks that U.S. pacifism would induce the Taliban to behave likewise.

    So….our choices are U.S. pacifism OR drone attacks that kill innocent civilians?

  151. 151
    truthspeaker

    WharGarbl

    6 May 2013 at 1:27 pm (UTC -5) Link to this comment

    @caral
    #125
    We may not be intentionally bombing civilians, but the fact of the matter is that we do kill a lot of civilians in bombings.

    When you intentionally bomb a funeral, you’re intentionally bombing civilians.

  152. 152
    David Wilford

    “I’m missing the part where this is our problem to solve, and that a military solution would even be possible even if it were our problem.”

    I agree that it really isn’t our problem to solve. We’re involved in Afghanistan now because of 9/11, when we asked the Taliban to hand over Osama bin Laden and they refused, so we attacked Afghanistan and deposed the Taliban. The U.S. was in control after that, but since then we’ve been trying to establish a stable enough government so we can leave without the prospect of the Taliban again coming to power. Obviously, that’s not easy but Obama made that commitment when running for President in 2008 and he’s clearly intent on trying to get such a government up and running before withdrawing U.S. forces before his second term in office is up.

  153. 153
    truthspeaker

    David Wilford

    6 May 2013 at 1:47 pm (UTC -5)

    “So, according to you we should act exactly like the Taliban do. I think this idea sucks.”

    I’m actually wondering if PZ thinks that U.S. pacifism would induce the Taliban to behave likewise.

    When have the Taliban ever attacked the United States?

    We didn’t go into Afghanistan to topple the Taliban, or to eliminate them once we had toppled them. We went in to get Osama bin Laden and what was at that time the senior Al Qaeda leadership. We accomplished that mission. The Taliban were only our enemy in that they had given bin Laden safe haven and worked with him. They are not our problem anymore.

  154. 154
    truthspeaker

    David Wilford

    6 May 2013 at 1:55 pm (UTC -5) Link to this comment

    “I’m missing the part where this is our problem to solve, and that a military solution would even be possible even if it were our problem.”

    I agree that it really isn’t our problem to solve. We’re involved in Afghanistan now because of 9/11, when we asked the Taliban to hand over Osama bin Laden and they refused, so we attacked Afghanistan and deposed the Taliban. The U.S. was in control after that, but since then we’ve been trying to establish a stable enough government so we can leave without the prospect of the Taliban again coming to power. Obviously, that’s not easy but Obama made that commitment when running for President in 2008 and he’s clearly intent on trying to get such a government up and running before withdrawing U.S. forces before his second term in office is up.

    Which is obviously not an attainable goal.

  155. 155
    anteprepro

    I’m actually wondering if PZ thinks that U.S. pacifism would induce the Taliban to behave likewise.

    How about we compromise and just agree to no longer dismiss civilian casualties as collateral damage and no longer torture people? Would that work for you or is that too hippy-dippy peacenik for you, and so much more difficult than simply declaring that we have the moral high ground while behaving exactly like the supposedly evil menace who we oppose due to their totally obvious evilness?

  156. 156
    David Wilford

    “So….our choices are U.S. pacifism OR drone attacks that kill innocent civilians?”

    That’s how I’m interpreting PZ’s post title when he says “we all end the killing”. YMMV.

  157. 157
    Nick Gotts

    This is why I fail to see the moral distinction between blowing people up with a car bomb vs one dropped by airplane from 20000 feet. – Dalillama

    terrorist [n]: Person with a bomb, but without a plane to drop it from.

  158. 158
    David Wilford

    “Which is obviously not an attainable goal.”

    I think it is, but frankly it’s one that that U.S. can’t make happen by force alone. The problem is that force can topple the Afghan government.

  159. 159
    atheist

    @David Wilford – 6 May 2013 at 1:47 pm (UTC -5)

    “So, according to you we should act exactly like the Taliban do. I think this idea sucks.”

    I’m actually wondering if PZ thinks that U.S. pacifism would induce the Taliban to behave likewise.

    No, the point is that we don’t have to follow the lead of the murderous Taliban. Your logic is backwards.

  160. 160
    markbrown

    We didn’t go into Afghanistan to topple the Taliban, or to eliminate them once we had toppled them. We went in to get Osama bin Laden and what was at that time the senior Al Qaeda leadership. We accomplished that mission. The Taliban were only our enemy in that they had given bin Laden safe haven and worked with him. They are not our problem anymore.

    Too true! Once we’ve waltzed into their country and blown the crap out of everything we want, why bother to hang around and foster some good will and fix up all that shit we broke. The Afghan people won’t bear a grudge for that!

  161. 161
    truthspeaker

    anteprepro

    6 May 2013 at 1:57 pm (UTC -5) Link to this comment

    I’m actually wondering if PZ thinks that U.S. pacifism would induce the Taliban to behave likewise.

    How about we compromise and just agree to no longer dismiss civilian casualties as collateral damage and no longer torture people?

    And prosecute those who have tortured in the past, so that there is a credible deterrent.

  162. 162
    David Wilford

    “How about we compromise and just agree to no longer dismiss civilian casualties as collateral damage and no longer torture people? Would that work for you or is that too hippy-dippy peacenik for you, and so much more difficult than simply declaring that we have the moral high ground while behaving exactly like the supposedly evil menace who we oppose due to their totally obvious evilness?”

    O.K., so let’s stop drone attacks and withdraw our forces. That’s the only sure way, after all. That still leaves the matter of what to do, if anything, about the Taliban and whether the prospect of them regaining power is a concern.

  163. 163
    unclefrogy

    I would agree that we are more effective in the killing part but neither is vary effective of winning new people to the cause by their actions. Our aim is better but we still have “collateral damage” .
    what a wonderful term for the innocent bystanders who died from the “hellfire” missile which may be better than the cruise missile but is still not an assassin’s single bullet.
    We have supported the forces of order for a very long time often before justice or democracy all in the name of Peace and “Realpolitik”
    If the real problems of people are not addressed to their satisfaction the people will try to take control themselves with varying degrees of success.
    No one is going to do anything differently the killing will go on sometimes the daily rate will increase sometimes it will decrease that is about all.
    There will very little change in thinking or reactions to actions. The ideals and believes will remain intact if not strengthened on all sides. Our aim may get better and the terrorists more effective in stimulating fear and repression but the day to day problems of ignorance, poverty and powerlessness will remain unaddressed.
    Are we heading toward a dystopian where war and terrorists violence is just mundane everyday news of the day like car crashes on the freeways?

    uncle frogy

  164. 164
    truthspeaker

    markbrown

    6 May 2013 at 2:02 pm (UTC -5) Link to this comment

    We didn’t go into Afghanistan to topple the Taliban, or to eliminate them once we had toppled them. We went in to get Osama bin Laden and what was at that time the senior Al Qaeda leadership. We accomplished that mission. The Taliban were only our enemy in that they had given bin Laden safe haven and worked with him. They are not our problem anymore.

    Too true! Once we’ve waltzed into their country and blown the crap out of everything we want, why bother to hang around and foster some good will and fix up all that shit we broke.

    Because hanging around doesn’t foster good will, it fosters resentment.

    Ask the Russians. Or the British.

  165. 165
    markbrown

    Sorry, html ate my “sarcasm” tag after my last post… /faceplam

  166. 166
    anteprepro

    The best definition for this I’ve seen was in song lyrics:

    “War is the rich man’s terrorism
    Terrorism is the poor man’s war”

  167. 167
    truthspeaker

    David Wilford

    6 May 2013 at 2:03 pm (UTC -5) Link to this comment

    “How about we compromise and just agree to no longer dismiss civilian casualties as collateral damage and no longer torture people? Would that work for you or is that too hippy-dippy peacenik for you, and so much more difficult than simply declaring that we have the moral high ground while behaving exactly like the supposedly evil menace who we oppose due to their totally obvious evilness?”

    O.K., so let’s stop drone attacks and withdraw our forces. That’s the only sure way, after all. That still leaves the matter of what to do, if anything, about the Taliban and whether the prospect of them regaining power is a concern.

    1. Nothing.

    2. Not to us.

  168. 168
    David Wilford

    “No, the point is that we don’t have to follow the lead of the murderous Taliban. Your logic is backwards.”

    We don’t have to follow their lead, but obviously you think they’re a murderous bunch. That would seem to present an ethical dilemma for you, but maybe not.

  169. 169
    truthspeaker

    David Wilford

    6 May 2013 at 2:05 pm (UTC -5)

    “No, the point is that we don’t have to follow the lead of the murderous Taliban. Your logic is backwards.”

    We don’t have to follow their lead, but obviously you think they’re a murderous bunch. That would seem to present an ethical dilemma for you, but maybe not.

    Only if I’m a prosecutor or police officer with jurisdiction over the areas where the Taliban operate.

  170. 170
    Nick Gotts

    The fundamental problem with drones, however accurate, is that they reduce the immediate political cost of low-intensity war for the possessor: no military funerals, no grieving relatives, few if any pictures of the damage or the victims – at least, not from “reputable” news sources. Hence Obama’s willingness to kill people in Pakistan, in Yemen, in Somalia – and on doubt that’s just the start. Drone attacks are now being mounted from the UK as well – ever the USA’s lapdog.

  171. 171
    unclefrogy

    That is “dystopian future ”
    all kind of depressing before finishing my first coffee of the day.

    uncle frogy

  172. 172
    David Wilford

    truthspeaker, even though I’m an atheist, that’s what I call washing your hands of the problem. It doesn’t make it go away.

  173. 173
    atheist

    @markbrown – 6 May 2013 at 2:02 pm (UTC -5)

    Too true! Once we’ve waltzed into their country and blown the crap out of everything we want, why bother to hang around and foster some good will and fix up all that shit we broke. The Afghan people won’t bear a grudge for that!

    We’ve hung around for 11 years now. We’re not fixing up the shit we broke, and we’re not fostering good will either. In fact, armies that invade nations and then occupy them for years almost never do any fixing up or good will fostering. They’re usually too busy killing locals, breaking shit, and fighting with insurgents.

  174. 174
    markbrown

    Because hanging around doesn’t foster good will, it fosters resentment.

    Ask the Russians. Or the British.

    That’s not a given, especially if you avoid killing their civilians while genuinely trying to help them. We’ve done as much damage in the past leaving too early as we have leaving too late.

  175. 175
    Nick Gotts

    The problem is that force can topple the Afghan government. – David Wilford

    You mean the staggeringly corrupt gang of warlords, drug barons and misogynists currently in charge of most of it?

  176. 176
    David Wilford

    “Only if I’m a prosecutor or police officer with jurisdiction over the areas where the Taliban operate.”

    I’d be happy if there was an Afghan government able to operate over said areas and the Taliban wasn’t in power themselves.

  177. 177
    Nick Gotts

    We’ve done as much damage in the past leaving too early as we have leaving too late. – markbrown

    How do you think you know that?

  178. 178
    truthspeaker

    David Wilford

    6 May 2013 at 2:08 pm (UTC -5) Link to this comment

    truthspeaker, even though I’m an atheist, that’s what I call washing your hands of the problem. It doesn’t make it go away.

    I call it minding our own business. It’s not the job of the US or any other country to solve all the world’s problems.

  179. 179
    anteprepro

    O.K., so let’s stop drone attacks and withdraw our forces. That’s the only sure way, after all. That still leaves the matter of what to do, if anything, about the Taliban and whether the prospect of them regaining power is a concern.

    Where did you get “withdraw forces” from? I was making fun of your All Or Nothing attitude on war and you double down on the “Drones or Pacifism” dichotomy? While still skirting the key issue: Civilian casualties? If you aren’t a troll on purpose, you are going to get torn to pieces here with that kind of addle-brained war apologetics. Very thin gruel.

  180. 180
    David Wilford

    “You mean the staggeringly corrupt gang of warlords, drug barons and misogynists currently in charge of most of it?”

    It’s a mixed lot, but it’s them or the Taliban. I suppose it’s easier to wash your hands of the problem if you assume everyone’s bad and there’s no reason to care.

  181. 181
    truthspeaker

    markbrown

    6 May 2013 at 2:09 pm (UTC -5) Link to this comment

    We’ve done as much damage in the past leaving too early as we have leaving too late.

    Got any examples? Because I can’t think of any.

  182. 182
    truthspeaker

    David Wilford

    6 May 2013 at 2:09 pm (UTC -5) Link to this comment

    “Only if I’m a prosecutor or police officer with jurisdiction over the areas where the Taliban operate.”

    I’d be happy if there was an Afghan government able to operate over said areas and the Taliban wasn’t in power themselves.

    I would be, too. But the fact that there isn’t is not my government’s problem to solve.

  183. 183
    David Wilford

    markbrown, I blame the Durand Line. Although how to draw any sort of national boundary along the jigsaw puzzle of ethnic groups and tribes in the area is left as an exercise in futility.

  184. 184
    atheist

    @David Wilford – 6 May 2013 at 2:11 pm (UTC -5)

    It’s a mixed lot, but it’s them or the Taliban. I suppose it’s easier to wash your hands of the problem if you assume everyone’s bad and there’s no reason to care.

    It would be better for everyone involved if you didn’t care. As it is, your concern for Afghan civilians is actually dangerous to them. Your desire to help their nation through military occupation will only damage them further.

  185. 185
    truthspeaker

    All the more reason to let the people who live there do it themselves.

  186. 186
    Dalillama, Schmott Guy

    md

    Tough one to prove either way, the way I see it. By keeping our military and plenty of civilian support ‘over there’ for the last decade or so that gives the jihadis lots of targets. Perhaps the lack of attacks on the homeland is related. The jihadis dont’ have to leave their countries to kill an American.

    Then the way you see it is wrong. Also deeply stupid, since if the goal is fewer Americans killed by terrorists (a goal I certainly favor and which I assume you do as well), then saying “Hey let’s send Americans overseas to get killed by terrorists” is a deeply backwards way to solve the problem. As far as military force being a solution or deterrent rather than a form and cause of terrorism, I challenge you to name a single terrorist operation which was demonstrably stopped by the military. Compare that to the number of plots intercepted by law enforcement (who have lots of tools for dealing with organized crime, of which group terrorism is by definition a subcategory, being organzations formed for the purpose of criminal activity, and far , far better tools for locating lone terrorist (lower success rate, but the military has nothing at all going on that front).

    My point, as stated in #42, is that drone strikes on killers that sometimes kill bystanders and pipe bombs at marathon finish lines are not morally equivalent and that it underhanded to suggest it. Do you believe they are?

    Murdering people because they happen to reside on a patch of land that you disapprove of is equally wrong no matter who does it, yes.

  187. 187
    David Wilford

    “I would be, too. But the fact that there isn’t is not my government’s problem to solve.”

    It was after 9/11, as I distinctly recall. Some people were against war of course, but I wasn’t one of them. The Taliban really was a gang of fanatics who were protecting bin Laden and obviously bin Laden was a threat to the U.S.

  188. 188
    Gregory Greenwood

    caral @ 102;

    to #90 Gregory Greenwood who writes “To those people, this is the Crusades all over again.”

    Listen Greg, there are plenty of “those people” tho do not consider surgical air strikes against oppressive warlords akin to the Crusades.

    When I wrote this, the ‘those people’ I was referring to are the individuals within the Muslim community who conceptualise the current string of Middle Eastern conflicts as an existential war for the continued survival of their way of life. From such a standpoint, parallels with the Crusades may be drawn – it can be read as another case of Western cultures seeking to seize land occupied by majority Muslim cultures in pursuit of resources (oil rather than gold this time) and justified in part by an appeal to christian religious values. The weapons and methodology are obviously different, but the idea of an aggressive and territorially expansionist Western world encroaching upon the lands of Muslim peoples resonates very strongly all the same.

    I weep for every Afghan girl who cannot go to school.

    And do you weep as freely when that same girl is blown to peices because she happens to attend a funeral where suspected militants are also believed to be in attendance? Or because she lives in an area believed to be frequented by extemists? Or she was in any fashion simply ‘in the wrong place at the wrong time’? How is it that her denial of education is a tragedy, but her death as a result of Western drone strikes is just a case of not being able to make an omlette without breaking a few eggs?

    Last I checked, being scattered over the countryside in small charred peices also makes it rather difficult to get a good education…

    As long as people like you who could do something to help, choose instead to pander to the forces keeping millions hostage – nothing will ever change.

    And what should I be doing to ‘help’? Should I be a cheerleader for a series of illegal wars that have cost hundreds of thousands of lives and served to do little other than increase the level of radicalisation across the Middle East? That has already laid the groundwork for the recruitment of future generations of radicals that will ensure that the tit-for-tat bloodshed will continue for decades to come?

    Should I be an uncritical promoter of the NATO forces? Turning a blind eye to the abominable ‘shock and awe’ tactics that lay waste to cities, to Abu Ghraib and Guantanomo and all the other hidden hell holes where people are kept without trial or access to due process? Should I ignore the lies that lead us to these war, and the corruption that placed valuable reconstruction contracts in the hands of corporations with links to the Bush administration?

    You seem to be saying that the only way to stop the harm caused by islamist extremism is to embrace, excuse and cover up the crimes of our own governments as the ‘lesser of two evils’. Unfortunately, there is scant evidenced that the actions of our own governments constitute a ‘lesser evil’ (those acts have certainly harmed a great many people worldwide), and there is a great preponderance of evidence to suggest that it is the very actions of those government that is leading to radicalisation and thus perpetuating the terrorist threat.

    So long as people like you trade in a simplistic concept that these complex conflicts can be rendered down into a ‘clash of civilisations’ between the shining Western good guys in the white hats and the evil, subhuman muslim terrorists in the black turbans – a level of jingoistic propagandism unworthy of the plot of a Saturday morning cartoon – then things will never change. Governments like the Bush administration will still know that there are legions of people like you that they can sell their ‘legitimate war for truth, justice and the American Way’ tripe to, and so be able to do whatever they like, seize resources from whomever they like, with impunity, and that will lead to ever greater resentment and radicalisation in the countries targeted, which will spawn more militant groups and create more terrorist bogeymen that the governments over here can use to keep the people scared and thus compliant.

    So much better than bread and circuses…

  189. 189
    truthspeaker

    David Wilford

    6 May 2013 at 2:16 pm (UTC -5) Link to this comment

    “I would be, too. But the fact that there isn’t is not my government’s problem to solve.”

    It was after 9/11, as I distinctly recall. Some people were against war of course, but I wasn’t one of them. The Taliban really was a gang of fanatics who were protecting bin Laden and obviously bin Laden was a threat to the U.S.

    You just introduced mission creep into a single paragraph.

    After 9/11, going after bin Laden made sense. Going after the Taliban to get at bin Laden made some sense. Trying to create a stable government in Afghanistan is not part of either one of those objectives.

  190. 190
    omnicrom

    David Wilford I’m going to follow up mythbri at 149, what exactly should we do?

    Yes, the Taliban are bad people, but what exactly can we do? Keep bombing them, killing innocent civilians in the process and turning the locals against us in the process? That seems to be what you’re suggesting and it hasn’t worked. We know it hasn’t worked because the Taliban is still running around. The fact that you dismiss anyone who says that indiscriminate drone strikes are bad as “Soft on terror” demonstrates a certain amount of unreality.

    Also Caral I’d like to ask how the weather is in your sunny little world. You are correct that some or even many people in Afghanistan and Iraq welcomed us, but there are many of them who say now that after a friend or family member was callously and indiscriminately killed by a drone strike that they rather don’t like us anymore.

  191. 191
    markbrown

    I’d still prefer to be pissed off with access to public amenities than pissed off without. Also, at least their children won’t be getting told the reason they’re all dirt poor and dying of dysentery is because the western nations fucked up their country then promptly left. Okay, things are probably much better than that now, but you get my point I hope?

    Getting back to the OP though, the point wasn’t being argued whether we should even be there or not, it was as to whether drone strikes were a valid tool while we’re still there. To which I’d answer with an emphatic “No.”

  192. 192
    David Wilford

    “It would be better for everyone involved if you didn’t care. As it is, your concern for Afghan civilians is actually dangerous to them. Your desire to help their nation through military occupation will only damage them further.”

    It’s equally true that not caring can be dangerous to them, if the Taliban regain power. That’s something that can’t be ignored, whether you care to acknowledge it or not yourself.

  193. 193
    atheist

    @David Wilford – 6 May 2013 at 2:05 pm (UTC -5)

    “No, the point is that we don’t have to follow the lead of the murderous Taliban. Your logic is backwards.”

    We don’t have to follow their lead, but obviously you think they’re a murderous bunch. That would seem to present an ethical dilemma for you, but maybe not.

    You were calling on Westerners to follow their lead earlier, because apparently you feel we must be their equal in savagery or they win. I say it is much better to admit that we lost in Afghanistan and to vacate the premises. That is what we are going to do sooner or later anyhow, so why not now?

  194. 194
    David Wilford

    “After 9/11, going after bin Laden made sense. Going after the Taliban to get at bin Laden made some sense. Trying to create a stable government in Afghanistan is not part of either one of those objectives.”

    Allowing the Taliban to regain power after ousting them is what doesn’t make sense, hence the goal of trying to get a stable, non-Taliban government in Afghanistan up and running before withdrawing our forces.

  195. 195
    atheist

    @David Wilford – 6 May 2013 at 2:23 pm (UTC -5)

    “It would be better for everyone involved if you didn’t care. As it is, your concern for Afghan civilians is actually dangerous to them. Your desire to help their nation through military occupation will only damage them further.”

    It’s equally true that not caring can be dangerous to them, if the Taliban regain power. That’s something that can’t be ignored, whether you care to acknowledge it or not yourself.

    You are deluded if you think the West protects Afghan civilians from Taliban.They have carried out attacks that show they can strike anywhere in Afghanistan, even in Kabul or in ISAF bases. Meanwhile, the Afghan army that we are supposedly training is fragging ISAF soldiers with regularity. You should abandon your delusion of Western control.

  196. 196
    truthspeaker

    David Wilford

    6 May 2013 at 2:26 pm (UTC -5) Link to this comment

    “After 9/11, going after bin Laden made sense. Going after the Taliban to get at bin Laden made some sense. Trying to create a stable government in Afghanistan is not part of either one of those objectives.”

    Allowing the Taliban to regain power after ousting them is what doesn’t make sense

    Why not?

    hence the goal of trying to get a stable, non-Taliban government in Afghanistan up and running before withdrawing our forces.

    How could we possibly ever achieve such a goal?

  197. 197
    David Marjanović

    But do I think the US military deliberately sets out to kill innocent people for no good reason or that we are being lied to here about who is being taken out and why – again no.

    They’re knowingly taking the risk of killing innocent people.

    Well, if that’s not evil, tell me what is. I’m jiggling on the edge of my chair here.

    If you really need someone else dead

    …Do you?

    Probably should’ve quoted the “near” instead of capitalizing it. I don’t know why, but I always thought of capitalizing a single/few words in a sentence is similar to “air-quoting”.

    ~:-|

    …no.

    Here’s the Pharyngula defense strategy. Completely defund the DoD.

    o_O

    You’re stupid beyond words. I think you’re literally scared out of your mind.

    jihadists

    Mujahideen.

    The word is mujahideen, the same word that was used with positive connotations by Western politicians and media in the 1980s when people with that designation fought the Evil Empire.

    PZ is getting gunshy, I believe, from the browbeatings he takes here on this subject. There was a time not so long ago when he felt he might be able to call out terrible behavior committed by a Muslim without the concomitant call-out of a Christian/Western instance of bad behavior. That day appears to have passed.

    Is the concept of a monumental war of evil against evil really beyond you?

    There isn’t a good side in every conflict. There’s hardly a good side in any conflict.

    2. Carpet bombing generally used to destroy building/infrastructure.

    :-D :-D :-D :-D :-D :-D :-D

    LOL, no. Carpet bombing was used to demoralize* the populace into no longer supporting the war. That didn’t even work.

    * Terrorize.

    I don’t think PZ should get away with simply saying killing is bad without having to grasp the nettle of what a return of the Taliban would be like. Otherwise, it’s just so much a washing of hands on his part.

    Once again: what, if anything, makes you think the drones are keeping the Taliban from power???

    what a simple mind you have, that you think that the choices are a)continue bombing civilians, then Afghan girls will get to go to school; b)do nothing. It’s a false dilemma wrapped in an argument from ignorance wrapped in the absurd belief that dronestrikes will lead to something like the Taliban not returning to Afghanistan after this war ends. It’s a turducken of fail.

    O hai! I maded u this Internets from lavender cookies, and I did not eated it. kthxbai

    oh look. a skeptic.

    + 1

    Dalillama, you need to read some history about the region. The U.S. gave support to the mujahadeen of the 1980s, not the Taliban of the 1990s. The internal conditions in Afghanistan were what gave rise to the Taliban. We all but ignored Afghanistan during the 1990s, although we did deplore what the Taliban started doing there once they took control.

    You make it sound like the mujahideen of the 80s vanished into thin air the minute the USSR was gone, and the Taliban were created out of nothing a few years later.

    The United States is not bombing civilians.

    There’ve been several cases where drones hit a wedding party, killing dozens.

  198. 198
    truthspeaker

    David Wilford

    6 May 2013 at 2:23 pm (UTC -5) Link to this comment

    “It would be better for everyone involved if you didn’t care. As it is, your concern for Afghan civilians is actually dangerous to them. Your desire to help their nation through military occupation will only damage them further.”

    It’s equally true that not caring can be dangerous to them, if the Taliban regain power.

    But in that case the danger is from us and isn’t being paid for by my tax dollars.

  199. 199
    truthspeaker

    ^isn’t

  200. 200
    Amphiox

    I would not necessarily be against using drone strikes if those strikes were truly targeted, and used strictly in circumstances of imminent threat, and there was robust, reliable civilian oversight to make sure of all those things.

    And while I’m dreaming in technicolor, I also want a unicorn pony, with sparkles.

    If we have the wherewithal and capability to track them down to a funeral, and take pictures of them while at that funeral from the sky, we have the power and capability to deal with them without fragging them in the midst of funeral attending civilians with a bomb, if only we made just that little bit more of an effort to do so.

  201. 201
    md

    As far as military force being a solution or deterrent rather than a form and cause of terrorism, I challenge you to name a single terrorist operation which was demonstrably stopped by the military.

    Terrorists have been killed by drone attacks and our military in their home countries. Its not a stretch to think they would kill again had they not been stopped. Impossible to prove. And of course, if the U.S. military does pull out of Iraq, Afghanistan and all the rest, something I largely approve of, and we suffer another attack on U.S. soil, you would not be able to prove the military could not have prevented it. You could just argue it was going to happen either way. So, judgement and informed speculation is about the best people can do.

    “Hey let’s send Americans overseas to get killed by terrorists”

    Not a good summary of the strategy. “Lets send the American Military overseas because thats where the terrorists are and we’d rather have them fight our professional military than bomb our civilians” gets a little closer to the truth. Again, not that I agree with it, but lets call things by their right names.

    Murdering people because they happen to reside on a patch of land that you disapprove of is equally wrong no matter who does it, yes.

    You must not believe state violence is ever justified in any way. Perhaps its time we considered finding a reasonable way to have separate governments to represent our differing views on state violence. Send me a postcard from the moral highground when you get there, id love to see a picture. Im sticking around the U.S. for awhile longer.

  202. 202
    Margaret

    I’ll admit, I know some toddlers that I’m pretty damn sure are terrorists.

    There’s a reason it’s called the terrible twos.

  203. 203
    David Wilford

    “You were calling on Westerners to follow their lead earlier, because apparently you feel we must be their equal in savagery or they win. I say it is much better to admit that we lost in Afghanistan and to vacate the premises. That is what we are going to do sooner or later anyhow, so why not now?”

    Because there’s still a window of opportunity to do better by doing what we can to get a better government than the Taliban up and running before the political will to do so dissipates. Yes, it does mean striking against the Taliban and sometimes killing civilians, using drones or other weapons. Compared to the hypothetical return of the Taliban, that’s a hard sell.

  204. 204
    atheist

    @David Wilford – 6 May 2013 at 2:14 pm (UTC -5)

    markbrown, I blame the Durand Line. Although how to draw any sort of national boundary along the jigsaw puzzle of ethnic groups and tribes in the area is left as an exercise in futility.

    If you can’t work with the conditions on the ground, then you shouldn’t have your army there.

  205. 205
    David Wilford

    “Once again: what, if anything, makes you think the drones are keeping the Taliban from power???”

    I’m not claiming it’s the drones alone, or that even U.S. forces are all that stand between Kabul and the Taliban. Drones are one weapon among many, and they have some unique capabilities that allow them to strike when and where other weapons cannot. PZ isn’t just concerned with drones though, and the U.S. isn’t in Afghanistan just for the hell of it either. We’re there because the situation is still unstable and our leaving could allow the Taliban to regain power.

  206. 206
    atheist

    @David Wilford – 6 May 2013 at 2:44 pm (UTC -5)

    Because there’s still a window of opportunity to do better by doing what we can to get a better government than the Taliban up and running before the political will to do so dissipates. Yes, it does mean striking against the Taliban and sometimes killing civilians, using drones or other weapons. Compared to the hypothetical return of the Taliban, that’s a hard sell

    Once you’ve lost the Afghan army, you’ve lost control. You can tell yourself that you still retain control, or you can just admit it and get out. I suggest getting out because it’s better in the long run. The USSR failed to do this and paid a price. It is also amazing to me that the same arguments used to explain what we needed to stay in Vietnam are being used all over again with respect to Afghanistan. Is the USA really that incapable of learning?

  207. 207
    Gregory Greenwood

    Dalillama, Schmott Guy @ 105;

    I’m not really sure that’s privilege per se. The Islamists in Bangladesh, while they are undoubtedly murderous fuckheads who ought not have any political power anywhere, have very limited ability to fuck with anybody not in Bangladesh, whereas the muderous fuckheads running NATO have the capacity to murder people worldwide, and a sickening enthusiasm for using it.

    Very true. Up to a point it is still an issue of privilege, because I can afford to be more worried about the behaviour of NATO because I am not under immiment threat from Islamist extrtemist as people in other parts of the world are, but as you say the fact remains that NATO is objectively a far more powerful force that represents a threat on a far greater scale, and does have altogether too much of a tendency toward bloodlust in the name of maintaining ‘security’.

    ———————————————————————————————————————-

    Jadehawk @ 108;

    what a simple mind you have, that you think that the choices are a)continue bombing civilians, then Afghan girls will get to go to school; b)do nothing. It’s a false dilemma wrapped in an argument from ignorance wrapped in the absurd belief that dronestrikes will lead to something like the Taliban not returning to Afghanistan after this war ends. It’s a turducken of fail.

    Quoted for both truth and awesomeness.

    ————————————————————————————————————————

    Antiochus Epiphanes @ 112;

    They were elves, once…

    I laughed so hard I almost fell out of my chair, and now I feel bad because this is not a subject I should be laughing about.

  208. 208
    Chris Clarke

    Because there’s still a window of opportunity to do better by doing what we can to get a better government than the Taliban up and running before the political will to do so dissipates. Yes, it does mean striking against the Taliban and sometimes killing civilians, using drones or other weapons. Compared to the hypothetical return of the Taliban, that’s a hard sell.

    Fucking disgusting. Does Henry Kissinger know you took his schtick?

  209. 209
    davebot

    To everyone arguing that the US isn’t indiscriminately killing civilians, I’d like to ask you: do you know what a “signature strike” is?

  210. 210
    md

    You’re stupid beyond words. I think you’re literally scared out of your mind.

    Stupid, perhaps. Scared, thats a new one. Would you believe I had dinner with a Muslim 2 out of the last 3 nights? We even talked politics. Would you believe I spent 2 weeks in a country with a large Islamic population and a history of bombings of U.S. targets last month and will do so again before the end of the year?

    Would you believe I support cutting the DoD budget and overseas military involvement, perhaps not to Pharyngulite approved levels, but drastic by WaPo/NyTimes standards? All 100% truth.

    Tell me what you think im scared of. Im genuinely curious.

  211. 211
    David Marjanović

    My point, as stated in #42, is that drone strikes on killers that sometimes kill bystanders and pipe bombs at marathon finish lines are not morally equivalent and that it underhanded to suggest it. Do you believe they are?

    Wrong question.

    They’re both horribly evil. They both involve killing people.

    I’m sure there were propagandists in the Soviet Union issuing dire warnings of what would happen to women and girls in Afghanistan if the Soviet-backed government were to fall.

    Funny thing is, they’d have been right.

    I’m actually wondering if PZ thinks that U.S. pacifism would induce the Taliban to behave likewise.

    …How stupid.

    No, that’s why the “we all” part is there.

    Why isn’t that obvious?

    That’s the party line among American pro-imperialist, excuse me, liberal interventionists, but it’s not entirely accurate.

    That’s a good article. Has that movie really been so influential?

    Allowing the Taliban to regain power after ousting them is what doesn’t make sense, hence the goal of trying to get a stable, non-Taliban government in Afghanistan up and running before withdrawing our forces.

    In that case, supporting the incredibly corrupt Karzai is not a good idea…

  212. 212
    truthspeaker

    David Wilford

    6 May 2013 at 2:44 pm (UTC -5) Link to this comment

    Because there’s still a window of opportunity to do better by doing what we can to get a better government than the Taliban up and running before the political will to do so dissipates.

    Evidence, please.

  213. 213
    mythbri

    @David Wilford

    Learn to blockquote. It will make your posts easier to read when you’re quoting people.

    And since you admit that stability in Afghanistan and toppling the Taliban cannot be accomplished by force alone, what the hell is your objection to dialing back the “force” part that might actually be directly countering any other efforts we could possibly make?

  214. 214
    unclefrogy

    truth speaker “I call it minding our own business. It’s not the job of the US or any other country to solve all the world’s problems.”
    that would be OK if we have not had a part in generating or fostering the problems in the first place.
    We have been involved in the rest of the world and its politics since we fraught the “Barbary Pirates” and have been involved through U.S. nationals trading world wide as long. There are no places where our policies have not contributed to the way things are. To pretend that we are just uninvolved is to not look at the actual way the world has been working for the last 500 years at least.
    While you or anyone else as an individual may not be directly involved in international relations we all are involved through governmental policies and commercial interests which are seen as supported by the government if not actually supported by our government.
    If you think that these “problems ” will not find their way here or do not have roots here you are being deliberately ignorant.

    uncle frogy

  215. 215
    David Wilford

    atheist, I don’t think we’ve lost the Afghan Army as long as it can function as a force. As U.S. forces are withdrawn, we’ll see just how effective it is.

  216. 216
    atheist

    @David Marjanović – 6 May 2013 at 2:59 pm (UTC -5)

    Allowing the Taliban to regain power after ousting them is what doesn’t make sense, hence the goal of trying to get a stable, non-Taliban government in Afghanistan up and running before withdrawing our forces.

    In that case, supporting the incredibly corrupt Karzai is not a good idea…

    Again with the idea we could fix things, or could have fixed things. We support a corrupt local leader because that’s what you do when you’re an empire and you take over a country, you get some local Satrap to run it. It is strange to me that folks can’t even see the age-old blueprint we’re following.

  217. 217
    David Marjanović

    And of course, if the U.S. military does pull out of Iraq, Afghanistan and all the rest, something I largely approve of, and we suffer another attack on U.S. soil

    What, if anything, makes you think “the terrorists” (as if that were a single unified group) can’t be in two places at the same time?

    In the real world most of us live in, the US military is still in Afghanistan, and Boston happened anyway!

    You must not believe state violence is ever justified in any way. Perhaps its time we considered finding a reasonable way to have separate governments to represent our differing views on state violence.

    Please explain.

    Tell me what you think im scared of. Im genuinely curious.

    The terrorists. That if “we” do or don’t do X, the terrorists not just win, but mount an army and invade the US.

  218. 218
    David Marjanović

    We support a corrupt local leader because that’s what you do when you’re an empire and you take over a country, you get some local Satrap to run it.

    Exactly. Karzai is “our son of a bitch”.

  219. 219
    truthspeaker

    atheist

    6 May 2013 at 3:05 pm (UTC -5)

    Again with the idea we could fix things, or could have fixed things. We support a corrupt local leader because that’s what you do when you’re an empire and you take over a country, you get some local Satrap to run it. It is strange to me that folks can’t even see the age-old blueprint we’re following.

    But this time it’s totally different, because we’re America!

    I’m being sarcastic, but I suspect there are people who really think that.

  220. 220
    atheist

    @David Wilford – 6 May 2013 at 3:04 pm (UTC -5)

    atheist, I don’t think we’ve lost the Afghan Army as long as it can function as a force. As U.S. forces are withdrawn, we’ll see just how effective it is.

    I bet it will be about as effective as the ARVN was once the US withdrew from South Vietnam. But of course only time will tell.

  221. 221
    Jafafa Hots

    They’re knowingly taking the risk of killing innocent people.

    Risk? Seems more like it’s virtually a certainty.

    Has there EVER been a drone strike that killed only “enemy combatants?”
    (I don’t mean in the way the US counts them, which is to say that anyone killed in a strike is automatically, as a matter of policy, termed an enemy combatant. As if that fact isn’t enough in itself to show that we are NOT “the good guys.”)

  222. 222
    David Wilford

    “Fucking disgusting. Does Henry Kissinger know you took his schtick?”

    So what your take on leaving Afghanistan to the tender mercies of the Taliban?

  223. 223
    truthspeaker

    David Wilford, what do you think of the Soviet Union’s decision to leave Afghanistan to the tender mercies of the mujaheddin?

  224. 224
    atheist

    To get a pretty good idea of who US done strikes are killing, check out the London Bureau of Investigative Journalism’s ongoing project: http://www.thebureauinvestigates.com/category/projects/drone-data/

  225. 225
    Jafafa Hots

    Is that one of those “who do you think they would rather by killed by?” questions?

  226. 226
    David Wilford

    “I bet it will be about as effective as the ARVN was once the US withdrew from South Vietnam. But of course only time will tell.”

    The biggest problem the ARVN faced was that it was on the defensive against an enemy who had the initiative, thanks to the peace accords allowing North Vietnam control of some parts of South Vietnam. That’s a similar situation faces the Afghan Army is a real worry, although the Taliban doesn’t have anything even close to the resources the North Vietnamese had, so I wouldn’t directly compare the two.

  227. 227
    atheist

    These are pretty good too:
    Pakistan drone statistics visualized.
    Yemen strikes visualized.

    And a note on methodology.

  228. 228
    David Wilford

    “David Wilford, what do you think of the Soviet Union’s decision to leave Afghanistan to the tender mercies of the mujaheddin?”

    That they left the place worse than they found it. Actually, the Soviets did leave a nominal government behind but it was weak and couldn’t effectively rule, which allowed warlords and then the Taliban to operate freely.

  229. 229
    consciousness razor

    It’s a mixed lot, but it’s them or the Taliban.

    My oh my, you’ve just washed your hands of the problem. They are positively sparkling now. You must feel so good and carefree.

  230. 230
    truthspeaker

    So would Afghanistan have been better off if the Soviets had never left?

  231. 231
    David Wilford

    “My oh my, you’ve just washed your hands of the problem. They are positively sparkling now. You must feel so good and carefree.”

    If you think there’s no difference between the Karzai government and the Taliban, then you truly are not blessed with the ravages of intelligence.

  232. 232
    David Marjanović

    Actually, the Soviets did leave a nominal government behind but it was weak and couldn’t effectively rule, which allowed warlords and then the Taliban to operate freely.

    And what do you think the Karzai government is?

  233. 233
    David Wilford

    “So would Afghanistan have been better off if the Soviets had never left?”

    Let’s just go back all the way and say that Afghanistan would be better off if Alexander the Great had never left, and end all this pointless regression.

  234. 234
    consciousness razor

    I mean, except for all the extra dead people. We wouldn’t be carefree about that, of course. It just keeps getting worse as you keep digging deeper for some kind of way to rationalize it, doesn’t it?

    *looks at thread*

    Yes, it does.

  235. 235
    David Marjanović

    So would Afghanistan have been better off if the Soviets had never left?

    Well, they left just before the Soviet Union collapsed anyway, so it may not have made much difference. That said, the trauma of having lost the war accelerated the collapse.

  236. 236
    truthspeaker

    See, I think they would have been better off if Alexander the Great had never invaded, and they were left to govern their own affairs without outside interference.

  237. 237
    Dalillama, Schmott Guy

    David Wilford

    So what your take on leaving Afghanistan to the tender mercies of the Taliban?

    Please define how the Taliban is worse than the patchwork of warlords, drug lords, and religious fanatics who run things there now.

    That they left the place worse than they found it. Actually, the Soviets did leave a nominal government behind but it was weak and couldn’t effectively rule, which allowed warlords and then the Taliban to operate freely.

    Hmm, now why does that sound so familiar? It’s right on the tip of my tongue…

  238. 238
    David Wilford

    “And what do you think the Karzai government is?”

    Weak, but not yet fatally so. Afghanistan has never been a very unified nation and has always existed as a loose coalition of various ethnic groups. About the only way it has functioned is when a ethnic Pashtun (which Karzai is) is the leader and the other ethnic groups have some share of power and resources. Whether this is accomplished via an open democratic process or by deal-making behind the scenes or by a mix of the two isn’t really all that important.

  239. 239
    David Wilford

    “See, I think they would have been better off if Alexander the Great had never invaded, and they were left to govern their own affairs without outside interference.”

    Great. Go write an alternative history then. The Man Who Would Be King was a fun movie.

  240. 240
    David Wilford

    “Please define how the Taliban is worse than the patchwork of warlords, drug lords, and religious fanatics who run things there now. ”

    Here you go:

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/media/greenslade/2010/jul/30/time-magazine-news-photography

  241. 241
    truthspeaker

    It’s also possible to learn from history. In this case, we can learn not to try to govern Afghanistan or hold it as a vassal state.

    Afghanistan has never been a very unified nation and has always existed as a loose coalition of various ethnic groups

    One more reason why trying to impose a national government by force is futile.

  242. 242
    Chris Clarke

    Wilford:

    So what your take on leaving Afghanistan to the tender mercies of the Taliban?

    I don’t converse with apologists for imperialist murderers. Find another patsy.

  243. 243
    md

    You must not believe state violence is ever justified in any way. Perhaps its time we considered finding a reasonable way to have separate governments to represent our differing views on state violence.

    Please explain.

    Okay, will try. My comment above was in response to Dalillama at #185:

    Murdering people because they happen to reside on a patch of land that you disapprove of is equally wrong no matter who does it, yes.

    I don’t find that to be a realistic standard to set because War means sometimes innocents will be killed by my side. Id probably march with many of you against many the start of many wars, but once we’ve been attacked, and even sometimes before an attack, I believe we reserve the right to respond with violence. State violence is often if not always imperfect, but sometimes justified. Its imperfection is not an argument against its use, IMO, and I wouldn’t want to live under a government that thought so. Dalillama seems to want this.

  244. 244
    David Wilford

    “I don’t converse with apologists for imperialist murderers. Find another patsy.”

    For all our faults as a nation, one thing we’re not doing in Afghanistan is engaging in imperialism. So your really very mistaken and it’s kind of pathetic to hear this sort of line from you because it shows your not thinking as much as going on an emo tear. Oh well.

  245. 245
    truthspeaker

    David Wilford

    6 May 2013 at 3:51 pm (UTC -5)

    “I don’t converse with apologists for imperialist murderers. Find another patsy.”

    For all our faults as a nation, one thing we’re not doing in Afghanistan is engaging in imperialism.

    You can’t be serious.

    I was taking you seriously up to this point, engaging with you as if you had put some thought into your opinions, but then you come up with that?!?!?!

  246. 246
    David Wilford

    “One more reason why trying to impose a national government by force is futile.”

    Agreed as to the imposition part. What I think we’re trying to do is help some Afghans themselves get a government going. It may not be possible and what we’ll end up with is a nighmarish patchwork of both warlords and Islamists. I don’t think anyone would like that outcome.

  247. 247
    caral

    @ #146 anteprepro

    I used to live in under a repressive regime – that was before I emigrated. I’d tell you about it, but I already know you would go out of your way to discount my experience.

  248. 248
    David Wilford

    truthspeaker, Afghanistan really has no economic or strategic value to the U.S. worth trying to make it a neo-colony at the cost we’re currently paying. Iraq on the other hand does, but things there didn’t exactly turned out as planned to say the least. If all we were concerned about was our security we could leave and if we felt like it was needed send in the occasional air strike. But we’re trying to do more, misguided as that may be.

  249. 249
    consciousness razor

    It may not be possible and what we’ll end up with is a nighmarish patchwork of both warlords and Islamists.

    That’s if we do or don’t “help” the Afghans by “successfully” getting the government of our choice there?

    Anyway, I’m still not clear why it should be my choice, when even in the best circumstance that it’s a form of democracy, it’s most emphatically not my democracy so that I ought to have some kind of vote in it. Might want to run that by me again, because I’m not getting it.

  250. 250
    David Wilford

    ‘That’s if we do or don’t “help” the Afghans by “successfully” getting the government of our choice there? ”

    If you’re looking for certainty, don’t look for it in Afghanistan. I think the odds for a better outcome improve if the U.S. helps, but that’s far from a sure thing.

  251. 251
    consciousness razor

    Afghanistan really has no economic or strategic value to the U.S. worth trying to make it a neo-colony at the cost we’re currently paying.

    For one thing, you’re not taking into account that going to war is its own economic “reward” for the people whose careers and industries depend on it. So, if this is just a quibble about where some particular resources happen to be located and exactly which kinds of maneuvering occur when the money changes hands, then I don’t think you can justifiably claim it’s not still imperialism in all the ways that actually matter.

    But this seems to be more about colonialism anyway, which is shifting goal-post (yet again) somewhat.

  252. 252
    David Wilford

    consciousness razor, the definition of imperialism is what it is. If you want to speculate about other motivations on the part of the military-industrial complex that’s another matter. The political aspects of Afghanistan are a factor too, and it’s not unreasonable to think that a primary reason why Obama remains committed to the U.S. mission there is because the political fallout from a fall of the Karzai government would be disastrous for him and the Democrats. There are few if any saints among the leaders here to be sure.

  253. 253
    Jadehawk

    Jadehawk, the reason why Obama decided to increase U.S. forces in Afghanistan after 2008 was that the Taliban were attacking pro-government forces there and gaining strength in the 2003-2008 period while Bush was focused on Iraq. If the U.S. has simply departed Afghanistan, it’s pretty certain the Taliban would have regained power, with consequences I’m pretty sure you are aware of.

    this still has nothing to do with what I said. It’s certainly neither a refutation nor a contradiction, and given that you’re condesplaining as if I didn’t know these things, it seems that you think you’re refuting or explaining something.

    #108 Jadehawk
    Cruel, ignorant words. The United States is not bombing civilians. That’s what the Taliban are doing.

    the Taliban doesn’t have drones. Sorry to burst your fucking bubble, but the U.S. has been killing civilians on a rather regular basis.

    I’m actually wondering if PZ thinks that U.S. pacifism would induce the Taliban to behave likewise.

    what I want to know is why you think U.S. militarism will, when it has never accomplished such a thing before.

    I think it is, but frankly it’s one that that U.S. can’t make happen by force alone. The problem is that force can topple the Afghan government.

    and how is this to be accomplished? by dropping more bombs on more funerals?

    That still leaves the matter of what to do, if anything, about the Taliban and whether the prospect of them regaining power is a concern.

    you still haven’t explained how staying longer and killing more people will prevent this from happening; or how bombing more people is the only way to make this happen.

    It’s a mixed lot, but it’s them or the Taliban.

    and now, explain how they’re an improvement on the Taliban, or how us bombing more people is going to put them in power instead of the Taliban or their equivalent.

    obviously bin Laden was a threat to the U.S.

    to individual Americans maybe, since he did kill a bunch of them and might have done so again. To “the U.S.”? Hells no.

    My point, as stated in #42, is that drone strikes on killers that sometimes kill bystanders and pipe bombs at marathon finish lines are not morally equivalent and that it underhanded to suggest it. Do you believe they are?

    true enough; fewer innocents die from the latter than from the former. [/cynic]

    I don’t think we’ve lost the Afghan Army

    their members are killing your guys, but you don’t think you’ve lost them. Fascinating.

    What I think we’re trying to do is help some Afghans themselves get a government going.

    O.o no, that’s not what we’re doing. hell, you’ve already admitted that’s not what’s going on when you said you thought it didn’t matter how karzai manages to stay in power

  254. 254
    Jadehawk

    Here you go:

    aaah, yes, the “what happens if we leave” article, illustrated with a picture of what is happening already despite not leaving.
    Of course, you’re right: the Taliban cut off noses, the other guys “only” throw acid at them, or claim that spousal abuse is legal and right. That’s a very major difference, indeed.

    Seriously though, reading through Rawa’s newsfeed should make it pretty obvious that being a woman in Afghanistan sucks regardless of whether the currently U.S.-approved dude is in power, or not.

  255. 255
    glodson

    You all don’t understand! We have to save them from the terrorists and jihadists by terrorizing the shit out of, and blowing the shit out of, them. At least all those innocent people we’ve killed won’t be killed by the Taliban!

  256. 256
    David Wilford

    Jadehawk, I basically see it as a matter of the U.S. wanting a non-Taliban government able to stand on its own without U.S. military forces remaining in Afghanistan. I see drones as being something that can help fight the Taliban given the difficult terrain of Afghanistan and the nature of guerrilla warfare. That innocent people die from drone strikes and other military actions is terrible, but I can’t look at that alone when judging whether or not they should be used or not.

  257. 257
    David Marjanović

    I see drones as being something that can help fight the Taliban given the difficult terrain of Afghanistan and the nature of guerrilla warfare.

    And? Is it working yet?

  258. 258
    Amphiox

    Let’s just go back all the way and say that Afghanistan would be better off if Alexander the Great had never left, and end all this pointless regression.

    Why stop the regression there?

    Afghanistan would have been best off if Alexander the Great had never come.

  259. 259
    David Wilford

    Jadehawk, the false equivalency of your judgement is duly noted. The Taliban have a long and notorious history with regard to the rights and lives of women and for all its other faults the Karzai government is a much better alternative.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Taliban_treatment_of_women

  260. 260
    consciousness razor

    consciousness razor, the definition of imperialism is what it is.

    Not very satisfying, but okay. It’s your argument.

    If you want to speculate about other motivations on the part of the military-industrial complex that’s another matter.

    If you’re paying attention to the conversation, does it seem like I was speculating about motivations? Were you claiming there is no economic value for any war-time industry? The fact of that matter is that it actually has fuck-all to do with motivations or speculation about them. I just thought it might be nice if you took a breather, got your head out of your war-mongering ass, and came up with a straightforward answer to at least one question.

  261. 261
    David Wilford

    “And? Is it working yet?”

    Drones alone won’t do the job, but they’re a weapon that can strike when and where no other one can. The popular obsession with them is far greater than their actual impact though, and I can see the politics of their use being a reason to severely restrict their use.

  262. 262
    David Marjanović

    Imperialism: what about that pipeline…?

    Whether this is accomplished via an open democratic process or by deal-making behind the scenes or by a mix of the two isn’t really all that important.

    Interesting.

    Don’t you think lots of people will be violently pissed off when the process isn’t democratic or open enough?

    It may not be possible and what we’ll end up with is a nighmarish patchwork of both warlords and Islamists.

    That’s the present state of affairs! It’s not some dystopian future!

  263. 263
    Kevin, 友好火猫 (Friendly Fire Cat)

    @David Wilford:

    Yes, we ALL get that the Taliban are a horridly misogynistic, brutal regime. Our leaving Afghanistan will most definitely allow them to come back to power.

    But what are our options? Remain ever in the country? Fight a war we don’t want to fight anymore? Use our drones as an act of terror against the Afghan, Pakistani, and Yemeni populations (the latter two we aren’t even officially at war with?)

    Afghanistan is a failed war and every day we stay there and every day we bomb some poor civilian at a wedding, we’re making it worse for ourselves. The Taliban will get stronger every day, and terrorists will be born every day as they look our way and see how many civilians we murder.

    Maybe if we leave sooner than later, the Taliban will get destroyed by their own hubris. Maybe not. But it’s certainly a better alternative than creating more violence, more terrorists, and more deaths by our hands.

  264. 264
    David Marjanović

    Afghanistan would have been best off if Alexander the Great had never come.

    What about the Persian empire before him? :-)

    I can see the politics of their use being a reason to severely restrict their use

    Dead wedding parties and funeral assemblies is what you call “politics”?

    I guess even less than a million is a statistic.

  265. 265
    timanthony

    Half a MILLION??? How am I, as a resident of Canada, supposed to feel safe from mobs of that level of insanity and sheer size? What can one say about a civilization that:
    a) believes apostates and even atheists should be murdered, and yet
    b) has not devised any reliable test for determining who is or is not an apostate or atheist (or muslim for that matter)?

    I’m tired of trying to remember, always remember, it isn’t all muslims, just a few of the under-educated and over-radicalized ones from poor regions with a bit too much sun who’ve fallen under the influence of a cleric with a chip on his shoulder. Coz it’s so hard to remember – it looks so darn much like it is “all of them”, sometimes.

    When the body guard who assassinated his own client, a Pakistani Governor who was trying to prevent more murders from taking place under Pakistani blasphemy laws, was led into court for the murder, he was cheered and applauded by hordes of Pakistani lawyers. That is how deranged those folks are. Quite deranged.

  266. 266
    David Wilford

    consciousness razor, we’re not in Afghanistan to keep the checks flowing to industry, we’re there because of 9/11. So there’s your answer, feel free to disagree.

  267. 267
    Jadehawk

    I basically see it as a matter of the U.S. wanting a non-Taliban government able to stand on its own without U.S. military forces remaining in Afghanistan.

    they can want this all they like. I asked you to show how bombing civilians is going to achieve that, and how that is the only way to achieve that.

    Jadehawk, the false equivalency of your judgement is duly noted.

    it’s not my judgment. it’s the judgment of women’s rights activists in Afghanistan:
    http://www.rawa.org/wom-view.htm

  268. 268
    David Wilford

    “That’s the present state of affairs! It’s not some dystopian future!”

    I think you haven’t contemplated what a failed state of Afghanistan would be like once the U.S. leaves.

  269. 269
    Jadehawk

    consciousness razor, we’re not in Afghanistan to keep the checks flowing to industry, we’re there because of 9/11.

    i have no idea why you think only one of those answers can be true.

  270. 270
    Jadehawk

    I think you haven’t contemplated what a failed state of Afghanistan would be like once the U.S. leaves.

    as opposed to the mostly-failed corrupt state plus occupying army?

  271. 271
    David Wilford

    “Dead wedding parties and funeral assemblies is what you call “politics”?”

    No, I call politics what we’re engaging in here, and presumably elsewhere. Drones are getting a lot of attention and the debate about them is getting louder.

  272. 272
    David Wilford

    “i have no idea why you think only one of those answers can be true.”

    Because I’m not into conspiracy theorizing, that’s why.

  273. 273
    Kevin, 友好火猫 (Friendly Fire Cat)

    @David Wilford:

    GOOD! I want the debate to come right to the fucking President. We can’t keep doing what we’re doing. As much as I despised Bush, Obama’s just about as worse. Just trade torture for murder where and when we feel like it and damned be the consequences.

  274. 274
    David Wilford

    Jadehawk, I think RAWA’s complaints about the Karzai government are legitimate, but in no way are they comparable to the crimes of the Taliban. The former is definitely preferable to the latter.

  275. 275
    Kevin, 友好火猫 (Friendly Fire Cat)

    @David Wilford:

    Right. One’s a brutally oppressive, misogynistic, backwards government and the other is a brutally oppressive, misogynistic, backwards government which has our blessing.

  276. 276
    consciousness razor

    I think you haven’t contemplated what a failed state of Afghanistan would be like once the U.S. leaves.

    It certainly wouldn’t be like I have representation in its government.

    That’s bad.

    Very, very bad.

    Because what I really want right now is yet another corrupt, murdering government to represent my interests.

  277. 277
    Jadehawk

    Because I’m not into conspiracy theorizing, that’s why.

    oh yeah. the Military-Industrial complex, a conspiracy right up there with the faked moon landing. [/near-fatal eyeroll]

    Jadehawk, I think RAWA’s complaints about the Karzai government are legitimate, but in no way are they comparable to the crimes of the Taliban. The former is definitely preferable to the latter.

    I’m gonna take the assessment of the women on the ground over yours, armchair quarterback.

    And going back to this:

    I think you haven’t contemplated what a failed state of Afghanistan would be like once the U.S. leaves.

    how is killing more people going to result in a non-failed state once the U.S. leaves? Or is the U.S. supposed to stick around indefinitely?

  278. 278
    Kevin, 友好火猫 (Friendly Fire Cat)

    @Jadehawk:

    But the Taliban!

  279. 279
    consciousness razor

    “i have no idea why you think only one of those answers can be true.”

    Because I’m not into conspiracy theorizing, that’s why.

    You seem not to have understood what I was saying.

    Here we go:

    Afghanistan really has no economic or strategic value to the U.S. worth trying to make it a neo-colony at the cost we’re currently paying.

    I gave an example (a rather obvious one) of how there really is economic value, to public and private institutions, in doing just that. The “cost” you refer to is getting paid to someone, is it not? Or does it just fucking disappear into the ether?

    This is a fact, in the same sense any such value or cost would be, not a motivation or a conspiracy. Maybe you actually want to say it’s not worth the cost, and that would be hilarious. But if you don’t, it’s still kind of amusing seeing you dance around it like there’s any point in denying in it the first place. So please, just continue. Stay the course.

  280. 280
    scourge99

    Whats the alternative to drones? Boots on the ground where high school jarheads have to discern plainclothes militants from innocent men? Or bombs or missiles launched from remote locations which cause more collateral damage? Or perhaps we should pull all our troops and military from the world, hide in America, and build a giant wall hoping that those in the world like Al Qaeda and Nazi Germany won’t inevitably rise again to do us harm?

    Its easy to poke holes and nay say. Its much more difficult to offer some viable alternative.

  281. 281
    SallyStrange

    Or perhaps we should pull all our troops and military from the world, hide in America, and build a giant wall hoping that those in the world like Al Qaeda Boogeyman X and Nazi Germany Boogeyman Y won’t inevitably rise again to do us harm?

    From your juxtaposition of Nazis and Al Qaeda, it’s clear that you have no functional understanding of who these groups are, nor how and why they operate. Those words are just ciphers to you–they obviously mean nothing to you aside from “OTHER” and “EVIL” and “OKAY TO KILL EN MASSE.” So really, why bother naming specific enemies? It’s just going to get you bogged down in historical details (as smarter people try to explain why the one is very little like the other). Just say “Teh Bad Guize” next time, it’ll get your point across more accurately.

  282. 282
    SallyStrange

    Afghanistan really has no economic or strategic value to the U.S

    Aside from being the potential site of a massive pipeline that would break the stranglehold Russia and Iran currently have on access to the oil in Central Asia, you mean? And aside from its mineral resources and natural gas? Right, aside from all of that, Afghanistan has no economic or strategic value to the USA.

    And of course its geographical proximity to the Middle East and Iran, one of the most persistent enemies of the USA, has nothing to do with it.

    The more I type, the more I giggle.

  283. 283
    unclefrogy

    I wish the world was different too.
    I wish there were no big problems to worry about but there are and the state of the humans on this planet is the way it is. This warring we seem to not stop doing for long has not fixed much, neither have arguments about the particular details of the current war ever done much either.
    How are the problems of ignorance, poverty and powerlessness going to be addressed?
    more accurate killing wont fix anything neither will be withdrawing from the world to some imagined safety of fortress USA.
    these arguments often just end in minutia
    it just makes me more depressed
    uncle frogy

  284. 284
    nathanaelnerode

    Mark Brown: honestly, looking at the history of decolonization and getting out of wars, the UK has left the smallest messes of any colonial power I can think of. Portugal left spectacular messes which still haven’t been cleaned up; Spain left messes which were only being cleaned up 100 years later; the Netherlands are best known for their complete disregard for anything but wealth extraction; and of Belgium, the less said the better. The US does *not* come off well by comparsion to the UK. Perhaps the UK learned something from the atrocious mess it created in Ireland.

  285. 285
    nathanaelnerode

    Messed up the block quote on the last comment.
    (Mark Brown:)

    I’m probably sounding over-critical of US. policies, but the fact is that I’m from the UK. and we have a great deal of experience of fucking up countries when we leave.

    Apparently the UK learned *something* from it. The US seems to have learned the lesson “Let’s try killing some more people. But on no account bother to actually learn their language.”

  286. 286
    Lofty

    Sally Strange

    all of that,

    Specifically rare earth minerals of which much of the world’s supply is currently controlled by China. Very important to cutting edge electronics.

  287. 287
    nathanaelnerode

    truthspeaker

    6 May 2013 at 2:22 pm (UTC -5) Link to this comment

    hence the goal of trying to get a stable, non-Taliban government in Afghanistan up and running before withdrawing our forces.

    How could we possibly ever achieve such a goal?

    Indeed. At this point we can’t.

    The sad thing is, I know exactly how we *could have* achieved such a goal, had we had the right sort of government in the US.

    Train several million US recruits in Afghan history and culture and Afghan languages, for several years. Move in local experts to run the armies (such as the British did in the original conquest of the region), make alliances with the less-bad local warlords, and systematically move through to take feudal control, following which you impose some restrictions on the local warlords — incrementally. Like the British Raj did.

    Oh — and to start with, you have to legalize opium production. Perhaps guarantee Afghanistan a regular market in the US for the raw pharmeceuticals.

    Now, I find it hard to imagine an American government which would have even considered doing this. Even if one had, I find it hard to imagine that the American public would have supported such a massive operation — but it might have happened.

    We’ll never know because we’ve had idiot governments instead, ones which attempted to “win hearts and minds” by ignoring people, failing to learn their languages, being gratuitously rude to them, and finally murdering them with aerial bombs.

  288. 288
    omnicrom

    Scourge99 you obviously haven’t read the thread or you have carefully compartmentalized what the Pharyngulites of the thread have actually said.

    You offered a false Dichotomy saying that American can either STAY THE COURSE or BUNKER DOWN AND HIDE FROM THE EVIL MEN! I reject both. America does no good for itself with its drone campaign.We kill civilians and polarize the population against ourselves. America is fighting a war it can’t win, the “end goal” presumably is to set up a stable independent government, but the best we’ll get is what we have: a bunch of thugs, warlords, and drug kingpins. America wounds itself every day it stays and every bomb it drops. America is NOT all powerful, it can enforce its will in many ways but America cannot build a country from scratch and it definitely can’t after over a decade of screwing it up.

    As callous as it may seem, we need to leave. We cannot do anything in Afghanistan to make it the shiny happy country we’d like it to be. The government we’ve propped up is cruel and deplorable, and we can’t fix that in any way short of flat out annexing the country. For all the power America has it cannot snap its fingers and create a European-style Democratic Afghanistan. The best thing we can do is to get out while we’re lightyears behind.

  289. 289
    Amphiox

    re @284;

    Remember, however that the UK took a very very long time to learn that lesson. Longer, arguably, than the US has existed as a nation-state.

  290. 290
    scourge99

    “American can either STAY THE COURSE or BUNKER DOWN AND HIDE FROM THE EVIL MEN! I reject both.

    As callous as it may seem, we need to leave.”

    Wow. Good job contradicting yourself.

  291. 291
    Ze Madmax

    scourge99:

    “Leaving Afghanistan” and “Bunker down and hide from the evil men” are not equal. There is no contradiction there, unless you assume that the mere act of withdrawing from one theater of operations equals the complete capitulation of the U.S. to whoever happens to be on the other side.

    Which is the same stupid rhetoric that kept the U.S. mired in Vietnam for as long as it did: ZOMG IF WE LEAVE DOMINO EFFECT TEH COMMIES TAKE OVER EVERYTHING.

    And last I checked, Communism didn’t win the Cold War.

  292. 292
    David Wilford

    Sally Strange, here’s what I said:

    “Afghanistan really has no economic or strategic value to the U.S. worth trying to make it a neo-colony at the cost we’re currently paying.

    The rare earths are also a lot cheaper to just buy directly.

  293. 293
    Marcus Ranum

    The US military lying and the US military telling the truth are both equally parsimonious explanations.

    And both are equally likely. :)

  294. 294
    Marcus Ranum

    I think you haven’t contemplated what a failed state of Afghanistan would be like once the U.S. leaves.

    It’ll look a lot like the failed state that was there before the US arrived.

  295. 295
    CaitieCat, in no way a robot nosireebot

    So say we all, PZ. So say we all.

  296. 296
    SallyStrange

    “Afghanistan really has no economic or strategic value to the U.S. worth trying to make it a neo-colony at the cost we’re currently paying.”

    The rare earths are also a lot cheaper to just buy directly.

    Sorry for the misunderstanding. So you reckon it’s just a happy coincidence, then? That the country that has some strategic and economic value to the US, but not so much that it’d make it worth colonizing the country, somehow got colonized? “Whoops! Are we occupying Afghanistan? Oh well, so long as we’re here fighting terror, might as well stick around to build a few pipelines. Doop dee doo…”

  297. 297
    Marcus Ranum

    For all our faults as a nation, one thing we’re not doing in Afghanistan is engaging in imperialism

    Divide et impera. No fucking waaaaay!

  298. 298
    scourge99

    “Leaving Afghanistan” and “Bunker down and hide from the evil men” are not equal. There is no contradiction there, unless you assume that the mere act of withdrawing from one theater of operations equals the complete capitulation of the U.S. to whoever happens to be on the other side.

    Perhaps you are unaware of the context of this discussion but its in regards to the use of drones. People such as omnicrom, whom I quoted, jump back and forth between being irate about drones used in combat and his conspiracy theory that this is some secret plot by America to colonize, or build pipelines, or some other nonsense. So, yes, his desire to leave goes hand-in-hand with his utopian foreign policy ideal of isolationism.

    So there are two paths to rebut his type of argument:

    1) Explain how targeted killings using drones actually cause less collateral damage than other weapons and strategies.
    2) Highlight how his real motive is that he is against the war in general. Drone strikes are just an excuse to whine and cry about a war he disagrees with regardless of the facts on the matter.

  299. 299
    consciousness razor

    People such as omnicrom, whom I quoted, jump back and forth between being irate about drones used in combat and his conspiracy theory that this is some secret plot by America to colonize, or build pipelines, or some other nonsense. So, yes, his desire to leave goes hand-in-hand with his utopian foreign policy ideal of isolationism.

    I, for one, want the US to intervene in international affairs as often as necessary, to do what we can to make the rest of the world a better place, when other nations on an equal footing are able to welcome our intervention and even offer the same in return. However, that does imply engaging in wars however and whenever we see fit, at the very least because I don’t particularly want other nations (or political/religious factions) to do the same in return to the US. If the latter were the only alternative to “isolationism,” you could count me out. But it isn’t. It’s just absurd.

    So there are two paths to rebut his type of argument:

    1) Explain how targeted killings using drones actually cause less collateral damage than other weapons and strategies.

    Assuming you even have the facts on your side to explain that, make sure to take into account that they cause more than strategies involving no killing whatsoever, with no weapons at all.

    2) Highlight how his real motive is that he is against the war in general. Drone strikes are just an excuse to whine and cry about a war he disagrees with regardless of the facts on the matter.

    Highlight that all you like, when it comes to me. I am in fact against wars in general, not just one in particular. If you think this is a “rebuttal” of some kind, you are utterly delusional and completely incapable of moral reasoning, at the very least when it comes to this subject.

  300. 300
    SallyStrange

    conspiracy theory that this is some secret plot by America to colonize, or build pipelines, or some other nonsense

    Well, I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but the USA is occupying Afghanistan. The only missing ingredient for bona fide colonization is dumping a lot of American citizens there to displace indigenous folks along with their social and political infrastructure, but that sort of thing is pretty old-fashioned. It’s inefficient! Much easier to just buy a government or install one yourself.

    If a pipeline does get built, does that mean a conspiracy to build it existed? Probably not. Conspiracies are rarely necessary when systemic incentives combine with opportunity to create emergent properties. Thought experiment: subtract mineral riches & possible access to Caspian Sea oil from the equation, re-run the 9/11 attacks in your head, and tell me whether the US government still decides that military invasion of Afghanistan, rather than police action and special forces raids (such as the one that actually ended up killing Osama bin Laden), is the best strategy.

    Highlight how his real motive is that he is against the war in general. Drone strikes are just an excuse to whine and cry about a war he disagrees with regardless of the facts on the matter.

    Wait, are there people who are, like, for war, in general? That’s sociopathic. Are you one of those people? Creepy!

    It’s a fair point, though, which I tried to make in a less douchebaggy sort of way earlier on: drone strikes are a tool. The relevant question is whether you agree with the goals that these drone strikes are supposed to accomplish. Your sneering disdain for those strange people who aren’t big fans of mass murder, even when it’s committed by their own government, is not really doing much to help people perceive the underlying truth of this statement, though.

  301. 301
    Nick Gotts
    You mean the staggeringly corrupt gang of warlords, drug barons and misogynists currently in charge of most of it? – me

    It’s a mixed lot, but it’s them or the Taliban. I suppose it’s easier to wash your hands of the problem if you assume everyone’s bad and there’s no reason to care. – David Wilford

    The claim that I’m “washing my hands” and don’t care is entirely unevidenced and unjustified, although I’m sure it makes you feel morally superior, even as the gang of scumbags you support go on extorting, robbing and killing. It is only the Afghan people themselves, and the country’s neighbours, that have any chance of bringing peace, but the USA has completely alienated Pakistani public opinion, and refuses to admit that Iran has any legitimate interests in the region. Meanwhile, the presence of “infidel” forces is the Taliban’s best recruiting agent.

  302. 302
    scourge99

    I, for one, want the US to intervene in international affairs as often as necessary, to do what we can to make the rest of the world a better place, when other nations on an equal footing are able to welcome our intervention and even offer the same in return. However, that does imply engaging in wars however and whenever we see fit,

    Congratulations, my criticsm doesn’t seem to apply to you. Which is *probably* because my response you quoted wasn’t addressed to you. Go figure.

    make sure to take into account that they cause more than strategies involving no killing whatsoever, with no weapons at all.

    Please, inform us all about this super secret strategy you have been hiding from the world that will magically bring peace to Afghanistan.

    Does it involve a guitar and a campfire?

    I am in fact against wars in general, not just one in particular.

    And what exactly is your response when terrorists fly planes into buildings? To write a sternly worded letter pouring out your feelings about how disappointed you are?

  303. 303
    Nick Gotts

    @nathanealnerode,

    Train several million US recruits in Afghan history and culture and Afghan languages, for several years. Move in local experts to run the armies (such as the British did in the original conquest of the region), make alliances with the less-bad local warlords, and systematically move through to take feudal control, following which you impose some restrictions on the local warlords — incrementally. Like the British Raj did.

    The British never succeeded in conquering Afghanistan, although they did gain control of its foreign policy for a few decades, and annexed some Pashtun areas now in Pakistan – one of the deeper causes of the region’s current problems.

    Oh — and to start with, you have to legalize opium production. Perhaps guarantee Afghanistan a regular market in the US for the raw pharmeceuticals.

    This. The attempt to stop Afghan farmers growing a crop which offers them several times the return anything else could do, and for which there is a real need quite apart from the demand from addicts* (medical opiates are in short supply), is perhaps the most egregious piece of stupidity in the whole affair.

    @SallyStrange,
    I’m not convinced that the occupation of Afghanistan has the kind of direct economic motivation you suggest. A pipeline would be nice (negotiations on this were underway between Unocal and the Taliban before 9/11) but hardly worth decades of effort, and rare earths are actually quite widely distributed – Japan has recently found large deposits. Nor would Afghanistan be a particularly good launching point for an invasion of Iran – the invading troops would be at the end of a long, insecure supply line. Rather, I think the main motivation at least throughout Obama’s administration has been prestige: the conviction that the USA cannot be seen to be defeated.

    *Most of whom could live productive lives if they had a secure supply of known strength – opiates are not intrinsically anything like as harmful as tobacco and alcohol. Moreover, opiates may well have a role in the treatment of psychotic conditions although the “war on drugs” has largely prevented research in this area.

  304. 304
    Jadehawk

    And what exactly is your response when terrorists fly planes into buildings? To write a sternly worded letter pouring out your feelings about how disappointed you are?

    that probably would have worked better than starting two wars of aggression and bomb a shitload of other countries. Fewer people would have died, for starters.

  305. 305
    Nick Gotts

    And what exactly is your response when terrorists fly planes into buildings? To write a sternly worded letter pouring out your feelings about how disappointed you are? – scourge99

    Stone me, but you’re stupid. Are you really incapable of imagining any course of action between a sternly worded letter and a decade-long occupation involving an attempt to remake an entire, extremely fissiparous country that has a long history of successfully resisting invaders? If negotiations with the Taliban to hand over bin Laden and close the Al Qaeda camps failed (by no means certain if this option had been energetically pursued), then a limited-scale operation focused exclusively on destroying the camps and if possible capturing or killing Al Qaeda leaders was the obvious option. If it was really thought essential to topple the Taliban regime, then do that and get out.

  306. 306
    Nick Gotts

    Further to #304, it should be noted that the Taliban regime was trying to achieve international “respectability” at the time. The negotiations with Unocal are one indication of this; their efforts to reduce opium production (foolish though the pressure on them to do this was) is another. While repugnant, the Taliban leadership were not stupid: they could see as well as anyone that they faced the likelihood of a devastating American response to 9/11.

  307. 307
    StevoR : Free West Papua, free Tibet, let the Chagossians return!

    @ 21. Amphiox – 6 May 2013 at 10:11 am (UTC -5) http://freethoughtblogs.com/pharyngula/2013/05/06/how-about-if-we-all-end-the-killing/comment-page-1/#comment-614363

    “You think this argument isn’t a case of false equivalence why exactly?” – StevoR
    The only thing more I will say to you, StevoR, is that you’d better go back and reread all those other posts wherein this very point was extensively discussed with you, and from which you apparently have learned absolutely nothing.

    That’s not an argument or case and you have failed to even provide a link to one.

    All what other posts when specifically? I’m not sure what discussions you are referring to there.

  308. 308
    vaiyt

    @StevoR: I’m a racist scumbag appropriating good causes as a cudgel to beat up brown people,

    The other side wants to kill ticking bomb Jihadist terrorists who are actively seeking to murder and harm other people and intimidate the rest of the world into submitting to their intolerant, misogynist brutal ideology.

    Tell me, are first responders to drone attacks and rescue crews ticking bomb Jihadist terrorists? Are all the people in the funerals of drone attack victims ticking bomb Jihadist terrorists? Are you capable of not sounding like a racist asshole every time you type something? Fuck you.

  309. 309
    StevoR : Free West Papua, free Tibet, let the Chagossians return!

    @23. David Marjanović
    6 May 2013 at 10:14 am (UTC -5) Link to this comment
    Indiscriminately raining death on civilians is not “fighting back”.

    “Indiscriminately raining death on civilians” is also NOT what we’re talking about here.

    Those targeted by drone strikes are terrorists not civilians, enemy combatants just out of uniform and attempting to commit particularly nasty atrocities against civilians as well as warfare against our troops who’ve been fighting to free and protect the actual local legitimate civilians.

    The strikes are discriminate specifically targeted and from what I gather with extreme care and caution taken to avoid innocent casualties wherever possible – unlike our enemy that does the reverse trying to maximise innocent victims. That’s the key difference.

    Baffled as to why so many supposedly intelligent people seem to keep missing that simple point.

    Terrorists NOT civilians, well targeted to remove specific guilty threats NOT seeking to murder innocent victims.

    @ 28. Amphiox :

    Still approaching the ethical equation in the backwards direction….

    Huh? Nothing to do with the ethics question but epistemology instead.

    What I was doing there was answering the question PZ asked over where I get my information and understanding from and its a wide range of sources too numerous to list. My source is the news and the million and one media and related articles over a very long period of time just like I expect the rest of you here.

    I doubt anyone here is better informed than the military personal involved on the ground and those higher up who decide to take action and have specific terrorists terminated by drone strike.

    So maybe we should listen to the actual experts in this field just as I trust we usually listen in various other experts in their relevant fields of expertise, eg. medical doctors, b, electricians, et cetera?

    @24. Nick Gotts (formerly KG) : You accuse me of lying? Constantly at that? Really?

    Very well point to one example of a statement I’ve said on this thread that is factually inaccurate. Not a matter of opinion, not something you disagree with subjectively but one single factual error. i say you can’t do that – which makes the liar here -you!

    (Still reading through this thread obviously – replies to later posts later.)

  310. 310
    vaiyt

    StevoR, the fact you pretend to not remember all that was said to you about the same subject before IS the problem. Every time you repeat the same fucking song and dance, walking in a thread, vomiting the same racist bile all over us, getting the same responses and then sauntering off to a new thread pretending nothing happened. Does the phrase “Muslims are not Orcs” ring a bell? You’re acting exactly the same as in the first thread I met you, and all I said to you back then still stands.

  311. 311
    Thumper: Who Presents Boxes Which Are Not Opened

    Shorter SteveoR: “We try not to kill civilians, so when we do kill some despite our best efforts it’s totes OK.”

    Seems legit.

  312. 312
    vaiyt

    StevoR:

    Those targeted by drone strikes are terrorists not civilians, enemy combatants just out of uniform and attempting to commit particularly nasty atrocities against civilians as well as warfare against our troops who’ve been fighting to free and protect the actual local legitimate civilians.

    Those evil first responders and families/friends of drone victims! Terrorists, the lot of them!

  313. 313
    John Morales

    StevoR:

    Those targeted by drone strikes are terrorists not civilians, enemy combatants just out of uniform and attempting to commit particularly nasty atrocities against civilians as well as warfare against our troops who’ve been fighting to free and protect the actual local legitimate civilians.

    The strikes are discriminate specifically targeted and from what I gather with extreme care and caution taken to avoid innocent casualties wherever possible – unlike our enemy that does the reverse trying to maximise innocent victims. That’s the key difference.

    Your key difference is that “we” mean well, unlike “our” enemy?

    Answer me this: Is it or is it not US policy to consider all military-age males in a strike zone as militants unless exonerating evidence proves otherwise?

  314. 314
    Antiochus Epiphanes

    Terrorists NOT civilians, well targeted to remove specific guilty threats NOT seeking to murder innocent victims.

    And fortunately, the “terrorists” make this easy, by wearing brightly colored targets on their clothes and staying clear of civilians.

    No, you say? Military intelligence?

    Oh.

  315. 315
    Giliell, professional cynic -Ilk-

    So, StevOR is still being a genociadal racist.
    Or as I call it, Tuesday

    Listen, if Drone strikes just target evil terrorists and only accidentially hit innocent civillians (one way to reduce that number is to simply label every male over a certain age a legitimate target. If he hadn’t been a terrorist he wouldn’t have been killed, qed) then the US aim about as well as god when he hits Japan with an earthquake for the gays in New Orleans.

  316. 316
    Ingdigo Jump

    Every time I hear STevoR with his naziesq tantrums or any of the other ethical coward twofaced deluded hypocrits defending our policy for “liberal” or “progressive” or “secular humanitarian” reasons I am reminded of this scene from Trek

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=i5fIqJZsQlU&feature=youtube_gdata_player

    And its so often what the conversation boils down to “those ignorant savages are so ingreatful, refusing to see all the good we do and how we want to help, how dare those terrorist, evil, barbarians now acknowledge our benevolence. they all deserve to die”

  317. 317
    Ingdigo Jump

    Not*

  318. 318
    Gregory Greenwood

    Ing:Intellectual Terrorist “Starting Tonight, People will Whine” @ 315;

    And its so often what the conversation boils down to “those ignorant savages are so ingreatful, refusing to see all the good we do and how we want to help, how dare those terrorist, evil, barbarians now acknowledge our benevolence. they all deserve to die”

    It is interesting how quickly the mask of certain types of pseudo ‘progressive’ slips to reveal someone who is quite happy to solve problems with a little light genocide. While I know we aren’t supposed to reference prior threads, it is hard to forget that StevoR has pontificated on the possible justifications for employing nuclear weapons against the entirety of the Muslim world in the past, and I get the impression that he might have a lot of sympathy for Gul Dukat – misunderstood hero of the Startrek DS9 series…

  319. 319
    Amphiox

    re StevoR

    *double facepalm, twice*

    *gene splices sonic hedgehog into shoulder blades*
    *grows extra arms*

    *triple facepalm*
    *quadruple facepalm*

    “The real unforgivable acts are committed by calm men in beautiful green silk rooms, who deal death wholesale, by the shipload, without lust, without anger, or desire, or any redeeming emotion to excuse them but cold fear of some pretended future.

    But the crimes they hope to prevent in that future are imaginary. The ones they commit in the present – they are real.”

    ― Lois McMaster Bujold, Shards of Honour

    http://www.goodreads.com/quotes/331768-the-real-unforgivable-acts-are-committed-by-calm-men-in

  320. 320
    StevoR : Free West Papua, free Tibet, let the Chagossians return!

    How about if we all end the killing?

    If only we could do.

    If only we had that power.

    But we don’t.

    Its outside our control.

  321. 321
    Antiochus Epiphanes

    If only we could do.

    If only we had that power.

    But since others are in charge, let’s cheer them on as they continue to kill, because they are managing to do so more discriminately.

    If only the people of Iraq and Afghanistan (and the world) could see how kind we are being.

  322. 322
    David Marjanović

    *double facepalm, twice*

    *gene splices sonic hedgehog into shoulder blades*
    *grows extra arms*

    *triple facepalm*
    *quadruple facepalm*

    *steal*

    Its outside our control.

    TAKE OFF EVERY ‘ZIG’!!
    YOU KNOW WHAT YOU DOING.
    MOVE ‘ZIG’.
    FOR GREAT JUSTICE.

  323. 323
    Thumper: Who Presents Boxes Which Are Not Opened

    @#319

    Defeatism FTW!

  324. 324
    David Wilford

    Nick Gotts:

    “The claim that I’m “washing my hands” and don’t care is entirely unevidenced and unjustified, although I’m sure it makes you feel morally superior, even as the gang of scumbags you support go on extorting, robbing and killing. It is only the Afghan people themselves, and the country’s neighbours, that have any chance of bringing peace, but the USA has completely alienated Pakistani public opinion, and refuses to admit that Iran has any legitimate interests in the region. Meanwhile, the presence of “infidel” forces is the Taliban’s best recruiting agent.”

    The hand-washing metaphor is perhaps an unfair characterization on my part, but you seem to be advocating leaving Afghanistan’s problems to the Afghans themselves, and to their neighbors. In theory that may be ideal, but in reality that means leaving Afghanistan to flounder in further chaos. The Taliban has never has had any problem identifying infidels whether they’re U.S. soldiers or not, as we can see by the recent wave of violence that took place in the Swat region of Pakistan. If you truly think there is no difference between the Karzai government and the former reign of the Taliban, I don’t think you’re making a fair judgement.

  325. 325
    Nick Gotts

    StevoR,

    You lied when you said:

    The strikes are discriminate specifically targeted and from what I gather with extreme care and caution taken to avoid innocent casualties wherever possible

    It’s not a fucking secret that the US military regards every male of military age in the strike zone as a combatant unless proved otherwise.

    And, as I pointed out, you lie when you claim to be “always learning”. I have never encountered a YEC or climate-change denialist more resistant to learning than you.

  326. 326
    Nick Gotts

    David Wilford,

    The hand-washing metaphor is perhaps an unfair characterization on my part, but you seem to be advocating leaving Afghanistan’s problems to the Afghans themselves, and to their neighbors. In theory that may be ideal, but in reality that means leaving Afghanistan to flounder in further chaos.

    “Theory” has fuck-all to do with it. Afghanistan has continued to flounder in chaos, violence, corruption and warloardism throughout the occupation. A key question is whether US and allied forces can actually bring peace to Afghanistan. The answer, after 12 years of failure to do so, is quite clearly “No”. In addition, the occupation and drone attacks have turned Pakistani public opinion decisively against the USA and its allies, and enormously strengthened the extreme Islamist forces there.

  327. 327
    Steve LaBonne

    This is a good place to start if any of the drone denialists actually want to become better informed.

  328. 328
    glodson

    This is a good place to start if any of the drone denialists actually want to become better informed.

    So, none of them will follow the link?

  329. 329
    David Marjanović

    Portugal left spectacular messes which still haven’t been cleaned up

    They’re being cleaned up now. Angola (after 30 years of civil war) and Moçambique are being rebuilt – unemployed Portuguese emigrate there in large numbers to find jobs!

    The rare earths are also a lot cheaper to just buy directly.

    Yeah, exactly as long as the Communist Party of China doesn’t decide otherwise.

    I am in fact against wars in general, not just one in particular.

    And what exactly is your response when terrorists fly planes into buildings? To write a sternly worded letter pouring out your feelings about how disappointed you are?

    How stupid can you be!?!

    Well, as stupid as a lot of people in the last 12 years, so let me be more specific:

    What, if anything, makes you think that it’s a good idea to wage war on a gang of terrorists?

    Captain Unelected should have sent the CIA in to kidnap bin Laden and deliver him to the ICC – whoops, the US isn’t a party to the ICC, because Captain Unelected wanted the US military to be able to commit war crimes with impunity. My bad, didn’t think this through.

    Point is, terrorism is a crime; the way to deal with it is police (up to and including secret services) and courts. Sending an army or dropping bombs is just absurd. If the Central Ignorance Agency wasn’t capable of the job, the US should have paid the Mossad to do it, they at least have a reputation to lose.

    and rare earths are actually quite widely distributed – Japan has recently found large deposits.

    Heh. Did you read the second half of the article?

    “The new find could alter that balance – if Japan can find a cost-effective way to get the minerals out. Not only are they very deep beneath the sea (5,600m), the materials are only found in a concentration of about 0.1%, or 1kg per tonne.

    New research will be needed in order to safely and cheaply extract the material.

    Finding a commercial way to do so could take as long as 20 years, industry insiders told the Journal.

    In the meantime the team from Tokyo University intends to return to study the find, and make a detailed survey of the area – which should take about two years.”

    Five thousand six hundred meters under the sea surface! I’m LMFAO!

    Rather, I think the main motivation at least throughout Obama’s administration has been prestige: the conviction that the USA cannot be seen to be defeated.

    More specifically, the Democratic Party cannot be seen to be defeated, because that’s what the Reptilians had been prophesying all along.

    that probably would have worked better than starting two wars of aggression and bomb a shitload of other countries. Fewer people would have died, for starters.

    Sadly, that’s true.

    “Indiscriminately raining death on civilians” is also NOT what we’re talking about here.

    Those targeted by drone strikes are terrorists

    I’m talking about those killed by drone strikes, not those that are targeted.

    What kind of wall do you have in your head!?!

    If those killed by drone strikes were all terrorists, we’d still need to talk about executing a death sentence when there hasn’t even been any trial, but at least it’d make some sense. However, it’s not what happens.

    @24. Nick Gotts (formerly KG) : You accuse me of lying? Constantly at that? Really?

    He does that because he can’t imagine how badly informed you are – and how abysmal you are at thinking things through.

    In addition, the occupation and drone attacks have turned Pakistani public opinion decisively against the USA and its allies, and enormously strengthened the extreme Islamist forces there.

    Which is bad, because Pakistan – friendly reminder – has nukes. Just saying.

  330. 330
    Steve LaBonne

    People who think we’re only targeting “terrorists” need to Google “signature strikes”.

  331. 331
    Nick Gotts

    Did you read the second half of the article? – David Marjanović

    No; mea culpa. However, see this more recent article – admittedly in The Daily Telegraph.

  332. 332
    David Wilford

    Nick Gotts:

    “A key question is whether US and allied forces can actually bring peace to Afghanistan. The answer, after 12 years of failure to do so, is quite clearly “No”.”

    Don’t forget that Afghanistan wasn’t a priority for the Bush administration. Anyway, it’s not so much a matter of bringing peace as I have already said the U.S. can’t unilaterally end what amounts to a civil war. But the U.S. can give support and training to the Afghan army so the government can prevail against the Taliban, and that’s a better alternative than the Taliban’s return.

  333. 333
    Nick Gotts

    David Wilford,

    The Taliban have significant – probably majority – support in many Pashtun areas, and bases over the border in Pakistan. The Karzai regime is corrupt, divided and incompetent. Its armed forces are deeply infiltrated as proved by repeated attacks on foreign troops by its members. You are living in Cloud Cuckoo Land.

    Obama is in fact withdrawing American combat forces by the end of next year, allied troops will all leave by then, and Karzai is trying to negotiate with the Taliban – because both Obama and Karzai know that they cannot win.

  334. 334
    Jadehawk

    so the government can prevail against the Taliban, and that’s a better alternative than the Taliban’s return.

    vs.

    The war in Afghanistan has removed the Taliban, which so far does appear to be an improvement for women in certain limited parts of the country. In other areas, the incidence of rape and forced marriage is on the rise again, and most women continue to wear the burqa out of fear for their safety. The level of everyday violence in Afghanistan is something we would find it hard to imagine. “War on terrorism” has removed the Taliban, but it has not removed religious fundamentalism which is the main cause of all our miseries. It will require a very different approach indeed for those evils to be eliminated, which is RAWA’s point. And in fact, by reinstalling the warlords in power in Afghanistan, the US is ultimately replacing one fundamentalist regime with another.

    I know whose assessment of the situation I’m more likely to trust, and it’s not that of an armchair general.

  335. 335
    Jadehawk

    plus, what Nick said: the U.S. has been negotiating with the Taliban precisely because they know they can’t actually get rid of them. 12 years of trying have gotten us back to where we started, just with even more bombed infrastructure, even more anti-American sentiment, and more dead people.

  336. 336
    Jadehawk

    cue another Dolchstosslegende: “it’s the doubters’ fault! if there hadn’t been doubters in the success of the mission, Obama wouldn’t be negotiating with the Taliban now! self-fulfilling prophecy!”

    :-p

  337. 337
    Amphiox

    If only we had that power.

    But we don’t.

    Its outside our control.

    We have absolute power and control over ending the unjustifiable killing that we ourselves do.

  338. 338
    David Wilford

    Nick Gotts,

    The Taliban don’t have anything close to majority support in the Afghan countryside – it’s more like 10%, which is enough to sustain them for now however, and the Taliban does have support coming from within Pakistan, although the Taliban even there does not have a great deal of support and they are busy waging a campaign of terror against more moderate Pakistani political parties. This is a better situation than the former Najibullah government faced after the Soviet forces left in 1989, and they managed to hold on for three years until after the dissolution of the Soviet Union and the complete end of any Soviet support. So even though U.S. & NATO forces are going to be drawn down in Afghanistan, it’s certain that the U.S. can and will provide military and economic assistance to Karzai. So I don’t share your pessimism about Karzai’s prospects.

  339. 339
    Amphiox

    You have an individual in your drone’s sights. The possibilities concerning that individual are:

    A. This individual is actively engaged in a hostile act threatening lethal damage to yourself or those you are charged to protect, such that if you don’t do something within the next 5 minutes, someone you are charged to protect will die.

    This is the only scenario wherein it is justifiable to kill with a drone.

    B. This individual is known to have engaged in a hostile act or acts, which have killed people, but he is not, at the moment, engaged in any action that is immediately threatening death or destruction such that it is absolutely necessary to frag this individual NOW.

    Here your target is basically an accused/suspected murderer/terrorist/enemy. Since when is it morally acceptable to EXTRAJUDICIALLY KILL accused criminals without trial?

    C. This individual has not been known to have ever engaged in hostile acts, but is in the process of planning a hostile act. However, whatever he is planning, that plan is not going into motion RIGHT NOW, such that it is NECESSARY to off him from the skies, RIGHT NOW.

    Here your target is essentially accused of conspiracy to commit murder/terrorism/etc. Since when is it morally acceptable to EXTRAJUDICIALLY KILL accused criminals without a trial?

    And if whatever he is planning is NOT an immediate threat within the next 30 minutes, what is stopping you from thwarting his plan in another way?

    But the crimes they hope to prevent in that future are imaginary. The ones they commit in the present – they are real.

    ― Lois McMaster Bujold, Shards of Honour

    D. This individual has threatened or spoken about committing violent/hostile actions, but in actuality is not actively planning or engaging in any such act.

    All this individual has ever done is exercise his freedom of speech. Even if he has crossed the line with respects to threatening speech, since when is it morally acceptable to EXTRAJUDICIALLY KILL someone for making a threat without any actual evidence that they really intend to carry out that threat?

    E. This individual has not in fact threatened anything hostile, is not planning anything hostile, and is not currently engaged in anything hostile. You just think he is, but you’re wrong, or he just happens to be nearby someone in categories A-D.

    And here you are about to obliterate an innocent man with fire from the sky like an angry old testament god.

    IF YOU HAVE THE ABILITY TO FIND SOMEONE, TRACK SOMEONE, TAKE A PICTURE OF SOMEONE IN REAL TIME with a drone in the sky, you have the capacity to do a LOT of things to him. You can stop/thwart what he may or may not be planning in MANY WAYS. So, unless he is in category A, wherein he is ACTIVELY ENGAGING in hostile activity that if not stopped will result in death/harm in the IMMEDIATE FUTURE/PRESENT, why, why, why, out of all the options you actually have the power to use, would it be morally justifiable to drop a missile on him?

  340. 340
    Amphiox

    The Taliban don’t have anything close to majority support in the Afghan countryside – it’s more like 10%, which is enough to sustain them for now however, and the Taliban does have support coming from within Pakistan, although the Taliban even there does not have a great deal of support and they are busy waging a campaign of terror against more moderate Pakistani political parties.

    If the Taliban has only that little support, they are not going to win in the long run, and are not now or ever will be a threat to win in the long run.

    If the existing Afghan government cannot stand up to and defeat a threat that has only 10% support in their own country, then that government is doomed, and NOTHING the US can do will help them.

  341. 341
    David Marjanović

    this more recent article

    That does sound better.

    cue another Dolchstosslegende:

    Maybe it’s just the font, but your smiley looks so happy. It shouldn’t.

  342. 342
    David Wilford

    Amphiox, the Taliban weren’t that popular back in the 1990s either, but they seized Kabul in 1996 because they had amassed enough firepower to do it, and subsequently took over much of Afghanistan, except for the mountainous northwest where non-Pashtun forces held out. Believe it or not, an armed and dedicated minority can take and hold on to power, so it isn’t just a numbers game. The U.S. is going to give Karzai more ongoing support than Najibullah ever got from the Russians (that is, none), including air support and presumably drones, even after troops are withdrawn. We’re going to do so because we don’t want to see a return of the Taliban, and that goes for the next U.S. President as well. The Karzai government is neither doomed or predestined to rule, but it does have a better than even chance to last.

  343. 343
    Drolfe

    Scourge99,

    I don’t usually do this, and other people will have responded to this I’m sure, but you are real fucking stupid.

    And what exactly is your response when terrorists fly planes into buildings? [Followed by a strawman painting your critics as hippies or some dumb shit.]

    Are you saying invading and occupying Afghanistan for a decade was a legitimate response?

    What could have possibly informed your opinion that war is the solution to terrorism? Can you explain any of the moral calculus or epistemic basis for that belief? Can you point to any historical example where war was the appropriate and successful solution? (Probably not, we still have terrorism, huh?)

    Jesus fucking christ.

    We could have be running uncontested special forces and police operations inside of Afghanistan for ages at a smaller cost in lives and treasure. The optics would be shittier, I guess, what with America demonstrating is can just do whatever it wants wherever it wants, forever; oh well that’s the truth. And that’s the real tragedy — we have the resources to do whatever the fuck we wanted with their country, and this is what we chose. The CIA could have made every leader of the Taliban a millionaire and assassinated the ones that didn’t play ball, and with the security state we’ve got we wouldn’t even know. Of course, this supposes the mission was to kill or capture bin Laden. We didn’t want to infiltrate, and bribe and snipe our way to bin Laden (when we could have, what with our giant paper stacks) instead the neocons got their imperialism on, and we “threw them up against the wall because we can“. Fuck all ya’ll.

  344. 344
    Amphiox

    Amphiox, the Taliban weren’t that popular back in the 1990s either, but they seized Kabul in 1996 because they had amassed enough firepower to do it,

    No. They succeeded because their opposition was incompetent and even worse than they were.

    Believe it or not, an armed and dedicated minority can take and hold on to power, so it isn’t just a numbers game.

    Never in the long run, with that little support.

  345. 345
    Drolfe

    Catching up on the thread, I’m glad I was right about how others would respond to how teeth-grindingly stupid that assertion was. Saddened Scourge didn’t come back to answer any of those rebuttals in the meantime either. I was just so dumbstruck I had to respond.

    Also, great link to Gul Dukat there, Ing. DS9, ahead of its time? Nope, we’re just repeating history.

    /re-lurk

  346. 346
    consciousness razor

    Congratulations, my criticsm doesn’t seem to apply to you.

    Nor does it apply to anyone else, because as I pointed out, it’s a false dilemma. That goes for your other “criticisms” as well. Congratulations on having said nothing useful.

    Please, inform us all about this super secret strategy you have been hiding from the world that will magically bring peace to Afghanistan.

    Did I claim anything will magically bring peace? Do any of the violent strategies you would support have “magical” effects?

  347. 347
    StevoR : Free West Papua, free Tibet, let the Chagossians return!

    @43. PZ Myers :

    “The other side wants to kill ticking bomb Jihadist terrorists who are actively seeking to murder and harm other people and intimidate the rest of the world into submitting to their intolerant, misogynist brutal ideology.” [StevoR ed.]
    Yeah, and they justify killing atheists because they are amoral monsters who want to send their children to hell and destroy the entire fabric of society.
    We know they’re wrong about that. That makes it easy for us to condemn their actions as based on ignorance.
    The problem here is that some people on our side are so lacking in empathy that they can’t see that characterizing whole nations of people as murderous terrorists is equally invalid.

    I understand and I try hard now NOT to do that. I’m not saying that all Afghans or Yemenis or Pakistanis are terrorists here. It can be easy to overgeneralise and I’ll fess up to having done that in the past but I do now make the effort not to and to specify Jihadist terrorists not Muslims in general and make that distinction.

    @ @ 325. Nick Gotts (formerly KG)
    7 May 2013 at 11:25 am (UTC -5) Link to this comment

    StevoR, You lied when you said:
    “The strikes are discriminate specifically targeted and from what I gather with extreme care and caution taken to avoid innocent casualties wherever possible.”

    No, KG that’s NOT a lie. That’s my opinion based on everything I’ve read and heard and seen on this issue.

    It’s not a fucking secret that the US military regards every male of military age in the strike zone as a combatant unless proved otherwise.”

    Well I wasn’t aware of that. If they do in some cases surley they have goodreason for doing so. When atttacking a terrorist camp or Jihadist stronghold it is surely not an unreasonable assumption?

    And, as I pointed out, you lie when you claim to be “always learning”. I have never encountered a YEC or climate-change denialist more resistant to learning than you.

    Well that too is your erroneous opinion, you are entitled to it but you do not know me and it is not true. (To quote Nerd of redhead’s standard line – floosh!!) I try to learn one new thing each day and usually succeed.

    @51. & #48 truthspeaker – 6 May 2013 at 10:50 am (UTC -5)

    StevoR : Free West Papua, free Tibet, let the Chagossians return!
    “Unless there is strong evidence to suggest that the US military is lying then why not follow Occam’s razor and presume (at least until good reason is given to think otherwise), that they are telling the truth?”
    That’s not how Occam’s Razor works.
    The US military lying and the US military telling the truth are both equally parsimonious explanations.

    Really? Citation needed. I’m pretty sure that Occam’s razor will always favour that X is being truthful unless there is good reason to think otherwise. Lying is a more complicated explanation than truthfulness. This applies to the US military same as everyone else. The truth is more parsimonious simpler explanation than a lie surely?

    StevoR : Free West Papua, free Tibet, let the Chagossians return! :
    “The other side wants to kill ticking bomb Jihadist terrorists who are actively seeking to murder and harm other people and intimidate the rest of the world into submitting to their intolerant, misogynist brutal ideology.” Evidence, please.

    Where have you been lately on Pluto or something? Have you not watched or heard any international news since WWII? Oh well here :

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Islamic_terrorism

    Islam been the latest challenge to the West since we saw off Communism and fascism and kind of a major thing all our lives.

  348. 348
    StevoR : Free West Papua, free Tibet, let the Chagossians return!

    @327. Steve LaBonne

    This [’Drone attacks in Pakistan are counterproductive, says report by US academics’ Guardian – ed.]
    is a good place to start if any of the drone denialists actually want to become better informed.

    & 328. glodson :

    “So, none of them will follow the link?

    Well I did click on that link and read the Guardian online article.
    Key excepts from there :

    The study by Stanford and New York universities’ law schools, based on interviews with victims, witnesses and experts [which “experts” from where? – ed], blames the US president, Barack Obama, for the escalation of “signature strikes” in which groups are selected merely through remote “pattern of life” analysis. .. (snip) … The authors admit it is difficult to obtain accurate data on casualties … (snip) … The report was commissioned by and written with the help of the London-based Reprieve organisation, which is supporting action in the British courts by Noor Khan, a Pakistani whose father was killed by a US drone strike in March 2011.

    So I see a big issue here with bias and noticed that this is a one sided study by academics commissioned and written by a presumably leftwing &/or Islamic organisation for use in trying to argue a court case against drone strikes. Also note that the academics – not responsible for fighting the war and making the tough decisions themselves’ – claim they don’t accurate data and seem not to have been given access and co-operation form those with the most expertise who are running the actual program. Its objectivity and credibility is thus seriously in doubt.

    @105. Dalillama, Schmott Guy :

    StevoR – Unless there is strong evidence to suggest that the US military is lying then why not follow Occam’s razor and presume (at least until good reason is given to think otherwise), that they are telling the truth?
    You mean strong evidence like the fact that the U.S. Armed Forces are known to have deliberately massacred civilians and lied about it, [wiki-link to Winter Soldier Investigation from the Vietnam War era- ed.] you pathetic trash?

    That’s ancient history – from 1960-70. That’s not relevant or evidence applying to the current US military.

    Because I’m pretty sure things have changed since Vietnam War just as they have since WWII. For one thing we don’t have conscription now and they didn’t have drones back then.

    ***

    @ 132. atheist

    http://freethoughtblogs.com/pharyngula/2013/05/06/how-about-if-we-all-end-the-killing/comment-page-1/#comment-614551

    Your assessment of who the US is killing with drones is inaccurate. Read this Rolling Stone article on the recent testimony before Congress of Farea al-Muslim, a pro-USA Yemeni who saw our CIA drone war in his nation turn his fellow Yemenis sharply against the US, after our drone srikes killed innocent villagers. Excerpt:

    Okay – I looked at that magazine online source :

    http://www.rollingstone.com/politics/news/yemeni-whose-village-was-bombed-testifies-at-first-senate-drone-hearing-20130424#ixzz2Sl1e7QWn
    Follow us: @rollingstone on Twitter | RollingStone on Facebook

    I’ve read a few pieces in the media on drones and this issue. This one was pretty one-sided and coming from an anti-drone perspective. I’;ll note here :

    McClatchy reported earlier this month that “the Obama administration has targeted and killed hundreds of suspected lower-level Afghan, Pakistani and unidentified ‘other’ militants in scores of strikes in Pakistan’s rugged tribal area.”

    Observation here – lower level terrorists are still terrorists.

    That people are frightened of drones is understandable. But it isn’t like they’re being used for no reason or part of modern warfare and all forms of warfare, modern and ancient are pretty horrible and traumatising. Drones and targeted strikes at terrorists are at leats usually taking out more bad guiys and less civilians.

  349. 349
    StevoR : Free West Papua, free Tibet, let the Chagossians return!

    @ 307. Vaiyt :

    StevoR : I’m a racist scumbag appropriating good causes as a cudgel to beat up brown people,

    Are you indeed Vaiyt? That’s an interesting admission of yours there!

    Or were you instead falsely and badly attempting to slander me and doing what you’d call out straight away when its done by slymepitters and trying to insult and lie about me by mutilating my nym? I’m just a person on the net who you really don’t know and don’t understand but seem to hate because I dare to disagree with you strongly on a few issues.

    I don’t believe such a thing as “races” even exist and I think racism is utterly stupid.

    I’m aware that most brown skinned people are not Muslims but are instead Hindus or Catholics considering that India has the world’s second largest population and South America also contains plenty more brown skinned humans who are, on average Catholic. Okay, many Muslims are brown skinned but then, equally, many have darker or white skins – and that means absolutely sweet fuck all.

    Skin colour is totally irrelevant to me and my arguments and opinions here.

    Ideology – including religious beliefs and political beliefs and a culture of terrorism is, OTOH, quite relevant.

    Even more relevant is whether people are trying to impose their ideological wills on others incl. us all by terrorist force.

    And yes I am sincere in my supporting the causes of Tibet, West Papua and the Chagossians return to their home. These often overlooked causes deserve more attention and coverage and those peoples deserve better treatment and respect. A reminder of their causes is a good thing.

    “Tell me, are first responders to drone attacks and rescue crews ticking bomb Jihadist terrorists?”

    I don’t have any information to determine that one way or the other. I leave the determination of legitimate targets here to those who are best qualified to make those decisions. I’m not claiming to be an expert on doing that. I also don’t have the information to establish whether any such thing ever happened or was just propaganda or urban legend or something like a real incident that was garbled out of context. Citation and specific evidence needed.

    However, note general principles from the school of the obvious :

    1) It does stand to reason that nearby terrorists seeing their fellow terrorists being attacked are more likely to come to the rescue of these terrorists than non-terrorists. Non-terrorists seeing terrorists attacked, logically, are going to try and flee the scene. Also in some (perhaps most) terrorist camps and strongholds it will be pretty safe to assume that everyone present is going to be a terrorist or terrorist in training.

    2) Civilians are always well advised to steer clear of terrorists and when they have the chance generally do. Unless they are consciously aiding and supporting the terrorists which them blurs the line as to how “civilian” they really are at all.

    3) The military people involved have strict rules of engagement in order to avoid hitting civilians and inflicting “collateral damage.” Yes these are sometimes imperfect and mistakes get made and war is messy and horrible and wrong. War sucks. But at least our side is genuinely trying to reduce innocent casualties -and doing what we can to help genuine innocent civilians. The energy deliberately takes the exact opposite course.

    Are all the people in the funerals of drone attack victims ticking bomb Jihadist terrorists?

    Again, I leave that determination up to the people who have the actual knowledge and expertise to determine that. Again, logic suggests that people mourning terrorists are often likely to be terrorists themselves and that families of terrorists who have supported them in their terrorism are not entirely innocent civilians but occupy more of a gray area.

    Are you capable of not sounding like a racist asshole every time you type something? Fuck you.

    The myth that I’m a racist is all in your own mind Vaiyt – it isn’t the reality and you are clearly ignorant of who I really am and what I really think.

    For the record : I believe we are all human individuals and equally entitled to human rights and ethical treatment regardless of skin colour and other superficial genetic differences. I think racism is a stupid, ugly and utterly mistaken idea – as is terrorism.

    ***

    @31.
    Katherine Lorraine, Tortue du Désert avec un Coupe-Boulon
    6 May 2013 at 10:24 am (UTC -5) Link to this comment

    @StevoR :Seriously?! The drone program has killed civilians, women, children. It has not only killed jihadists.

    I accept you are right there and eachinnocentlif elost is a tragedy – but I think the number of truly innocent drone strike victims is a lot, *lot* lower than you probably imagine. I acknowledge that occasional mistakes will get made but I would stress that these mistakes are very rare and that the Western (& Israeli) militaries take great pains to try and minimise and avoid them.

    The drone program has likely created MORE jihadists than it’s stopped.

    Citation needed there. I disagree with that opinion.

    Why do you think they want to kill America? Cause we’re murdering their wives, their children, their families!

    Maybe in some cases although by definition war isn’t murder which is illegal homicide. But Or /and Islamic extremist ideology and the hate preachings of the mad mullahs ideology. The latter of which came first by light years because there was no war in Afghanistan or Iraq until after 9-11. (At least no war that we were involved in at all. The Afghans had their civil war and war against the Soviet empire before that.)

    IOW. They hated us already long before we had troops there or were fighting with them. The West actually (& in retrospect mistakenly) once aided the Afghan mujahideen (even bin Laden!) against the Communists. (Which should warn us against intervening in Syria now.)

    @80. Katherine Lorraine, Tortue du Désert avec un Coupe-Boulon :

    @Barfy: Tsarnaev said that the Boston bombings were because the US is involved in the Middle East and killing civilians while trying to take out terrorists.

    You believe him and think that was his sole motivation as opposed to being just the sort of thing a Jihadist terrorist would say as a brain-washed slogan?

    @ 106. Katherine Lorraine, Tortue du Désert avec un Coupe-Boulon :

    But the more important thing to remember – do you know who made the Taliban?

    Mullah Omar, a Jihadist terrorist leader with the help of some Pakistani secret (& oppressive & murky) service (ISI?) people.

  350. 350
    Amphiox

    Oi…

    StevoR….

    *quadruple facepalm*
    *quintuple facepalm*

    *runs out of sonic hedgehog*
    *duplicates Pax6*
    *Grows secondary face*

    *double quadruple facepalm*

  351. 351
    ChasCPeterson

    OOPS!

    Stev-O thread!!

    I’ll just…excuse me…

    carry on, won’t you?
    I’ll…see you later.

  352. 352
    a_ray_in_dilbert_space

    You know, we have a long history of the use of terror in warfare–probably dating from at least the first use of Greek fire. Where we have better information–e.g. form the US Civil War onward–such tactics have always hardened the hearts and increased the resolve of the victim population.

    From the use of mines, “torpedoes”, the first bunker-buster bombs in the civil war through the use of poison gas in WW I, the blitz and firebombing in WW II through carpet bombing in Viet Nam, not one of these techniques weakened the resolve of the victim populations. Even the use of the Atomic Bombs–the Japanese had already asked for terms of surrender.

    What all of these schemes had in common was a desire to make war “cleaner”, to protect our soldiers, even at the cost of the lives of noncombatants. As William Tecumseh Sherman said, “War is Hell. You cannot refine it.” Maybe someday, we’ll learn that, and hopefully it will make us more reluctant to rely on force of arms. Clausewitz was wrong–war is not simply politics pursued by other means.

  353. 353
    StevoR : Free West Papua, free Tibet, let the Chagossians return!

    @350. Amphiox : Why?

    I take it you think I’m wrong about something there but I’ve no idea what you think I’m wrong about specifically or why you think so or what counter-arguments you actually have. You’ve offered none of that.

    @351. ChasCPeterson : No its not my thread, and you are welcome to comment or not in response to me or the Opening Post or whatever here as you please. I’m just another commenter expressing my opinion and my take on PZ Myers’ OP just like everyone else. But then you already know that I’m sure. (Shrug) Catch ya round I guess.

    +++++

    @316. Ing:Intellectual Terrorist “Starting Tonight, People will Whine” :

    Good scene from DS9, cheers. Don’t see what relevance it has here however.

    Ditto for the relevance of #319 Amphiox’s quote. Note the Taliban are not theoretical criminals but Jihadist terrorists so you are referring to something very different.

    Also, wow, I’m being accused of throwing “tantrums” and thus being too emotional by one person and of being too cold and starkly logical by another. See the inconsistency here folks – maybe we need to split the difference and say I’ve got the balance right?

    +++++

    @318. Gregory Greenwood :

    It is interesting how quickly the mask of certain types of pseudo ‘progressive’ slips to reveal someone who is quite happy to solve problems with a little light genocide.

    Oh for fucks sake, taking out terrorists determined to commit genocide against us – and others such as the Afghan Hazara minority is NOT fucking genocide or remotely comparable to it.

    Genocide is what the Ottoman Turks did to the Armenians, what the Chinese have been doing against the Tibetans and what tehArab side seeks to do to Israel. This is just warfare in the modern age

    While I know we aren’t supposed to reference prior threads, it is hard to forget that StevoR has pontificated on the possible justifications for employing nuclear weapons against the entirety of the Muslim world in the past, ..

    No I don’t want the Muslim world in its entirety or, for that matter anyone getting nuked and I have since retracted and repeatedly apologised for those earlier comments made when tried,drunkand emotional.

    I am quite happy for peaceful moderate Muslims to exist peacefully in peace. You are totally mischaracterising my views here.

    .. I get the impression that he might have a lot of sympathy for Gul Dukat – misunderstood hero of the Startrek DS9 series…

    Meh, nope.

    +++++

    @@ David Marjanović
    6 May 2013 at 2:30 pm (UTC -5) Link to this comment

    ”But do I think the US military deliberately sets out to kill innocent people for no good reason or that we are being lied to here about who is being taken out and why – again no.” [StevoR –ed.]
    They’re knowingly taking the risk of killing innocent people.
    Well, if that’s not evil, tell me what is. I’m jiggling on the edge of my chair here.

    Doing the best they can in very difficult circumstances where there may be no easy kumbayah answers. A necessary risk to spare other innocent lives. A painful necessity. Life, to some degree. We risk killing innocent people every time we drive for instance.

    +++

    PS. Sorry for my blockquote fails and typographical errors in comments # 347, 348 & 349. Was in a rush and didn’t have sufficent

  354. 354
    John Morales

    StevoR:

    Oh for fucks sake, taking out terrorists determined to commit genocide against us – and others such as the Afghan Hazara minority is NOT fucking genocide or remotely comparable to it.

    Well, duh — if they weren’t taken out, they would commit genocide against us, what with their dedication and all, so the humane way to avoid their commission of genocide against us is to be dedicated to taking them out.

    Just self-defence, of the prudently pre-emptive kind, against genocidal terrorists who have a paranoid belief that it’s either them or us.

    (Truly, “The best defense is a good offense”, right?)

  355. 355
    John Morales

    StevoR:

    A necessary risk to spare other innocent lives. A painful necessity. Life, to some degree. We risk killing innocent people every time we drive for instance.

    What, the risk killing innocent people every time we drive is a necessary risk to spare other innocent lives?

    (What, you’re an ambulance driver and imagine everyone else is also?)

    More seriously, you really have no idea of how you come across when you imagine employing remote-controlled murder machines is remotely comparable to driving in terms of moral justifiability.

  356. 356
    Amphiox

    StevoR, I have explained in PAINSTAKING detail over MULTIPLE prior threads on MULTIPLE occasions EXACTLY what you are wrong about.

    NONE of those explanations have changed or need anything more added to them here, as you have clearly learned NOTHING and are repeating the EXACT SAME odiously inexcusable crap, with NO INDICATION that you even bothered to read all those earlier replies.

    So why should I bother explaining the EXACT SAME things to you yet again? Why do you think yourself entitled to my continued efforts or goodwill in this regard.

    *octuple facepalm*

  357. 357
    StevoR : Free West Papua, free Tibet, let the Chagossians return!

    @ ^ Amphiox : Well, if that’s true you should have no trouble providing, say, a link to your actual arguments then, right?

    No, sorry, I don’t know what arguments you are referring to here. Too many comments over too long a period of time for me to pinpoint your precise ones over what you think I’ve got wrong in this particular thread. Just one link, the one you feel best sums up your argument against my points here okay, please?

    (Up to you of course.)

    @ 355 & #354. John Morales :

    What, the risk killing innocent people every time we drive is a necessary risk to spare other innocent lives?

    In some cases sure, in most no – but my point was we do risk innocent lives every time we drive.

    (What, you’re an ambulance driver and imagine everyone else is also?)

    No. I don’t even drive a car myself.

    More seriously, you really have no idea of how you come across when you imagine employing remote-controlled murder machines is remotely comparable to driving in terms of moral justifiability.

    I’m not saying they are equally morally comparable. I am saying they both potentially put innocent lives at some level of risk. That is a fair statement of reality is it not?

    Well, duh — if they weren’t taken out, they would commit genocide against us, what with their dedication and all, so the humane way to avoid their commission of genocide against us is to be dedicated to taking them out. Just self-defence, of the prudently pre-emptive kind, against genocidal terrorists who have a paranoid belief that it’s either them or us.
    (Truly, “The best defense is a good offense”, right?)

    Yes. For that last point especially, just, yes.

    Do you really think it is better that we let a terrorist murder potentially thousands of innocent people before we stop them? Where terrorism is concerned I do prefer prevention to impossible “cure”. You cannot bring back to life those who died on 9-11 or in the Bali bombings or in the Boston marathon bombing can you? Stopping terrorist attacks seems axiomatically superior to letting them go ahead to me.

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