You can never have too much of a good thing, so NPR brought out Jackie Northam on Monday morning to talk about how the use of killer drones in Pakistan is being "reviewed" by the US. Odd thing is that - except for Andrew Bacevich's blunt assessment that drone attacks represent an expanded war in Pakistan - the rest of the interviewees are rather upbeat about them:
- Seth Jones of the RAND Corporation, using the same "clear, hold and build" propaganda of US counterinsurgency, says that drones may be helpful in the short term, but "over the long run, they need to be supplemented by much broader, longer-term activities to clear hold and build..."
- Stephen Cohen of that "liberal" Brookings Institute claims (with no evidence) that the majority of people killed by drones in Pakistan have been "militants." He also notes how humane they are: "What they do is allow any country that possesses them to pinpoint and target without much collateral damage. The drone in a sense, while it conjures up images of a mechanical monster, in fact is far more effective and more humane than dropping tons of bombs on an area."
- According to Tom, starting early last year "the CIA turned up the heat. Unmanned aircraft began targeting suspected al-Qaeda leaders and facilities in Pakistan on a routine basis. Now US intelligence officials are reporting the results of the ramped up campaign. The al-Qaeda leadership has been decimated says one official."
- "The enemy is really, really struggling says another official. These attacks he says have produced the broadest deepest and most rapid reduction in al-Qaeda leadership in several years."
- The featured "skeptic" of these claims is Bruce Hoffman (CIA award winner). Hoffman, according to Gjelten "says one effect of the strikes against al-Qaeda leaders in Pakistan could be a demoralization of Jihadi warriors in other parts of the world." This is followed by Hoffman's own voice, "Might they not conclude if the United States can reach out and target these highly protected and valued individuals, what happens to the ordinary soldiers?" That is some serious skepticism!
"The officials are careful to say the reported success of the Pakistan campaign does not necessarily mean the al-Qaeda threat has diminished. As many as a hundred fighters have already graduated from training camps in Pakistan and are said to be prepared for terrorist operations in the West."We then are treated to the puffery of Sec. of War Gates asserting that "we will go after al-Qaeda wherever al-Qaeda is." To which Gjetlen wonders, "And where might that be? Al-Qaeda has been defeated in one area before only to pop up somewhere else. It's operations in Pakistan may be weakened, but officials say the network is now gaining strength in east Africa."
Westward ho! to Africa. Sounds to me like we might need a few thousand more of these humane, freedom lovin' Reapers.