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U.S. Drone Attack Strategy Against Al-Qaeda May Be Wrong 433

Posted by Soulskill
from the fighting-fire-with-gasoline dept.
An anonymous reader writes "A new study (abstract) in the journal Informational Security evaluates the U.S. military's strategy for killing off al-Qaeda's leadership using remote drone strikes. The study argues that the strategy is ineffective, calling into question both the military's rationale for doing so and the allocation of defense funds to run it. Essentially, there are two different types of terrorist organizations: those held together by a small number of charismatic leaders, and those who have developed their own bureaucracy, almost like a business. 'Companies don't fall apart when they lose their CEO or CFO; other people are being trained to do that job and there are institutional mechanisms preserving the knowledge the CEO brought to the table. Also, rules create clear lines of succession, so destabilizing struggles over who gets to take over the group's leadership become less likely.'

Intelligence on al-Qaeda indicates it's more of a bureaucratic group — unsurprising, since terrorist organizations that have been around for a while tend to evolve that way. Since the drone attacks started, there has been no significant correlation between successful strikes and a reduction in al-Qaeda attacks. 'The case for the drone program, at its heart, is that killing significant numbers of underlings AND a small number of high-level leaders is severely weakening the group's operating ability. Jordan's study suggests that al-Qaeda just isn't the kind of group that can be beaten that way.'"
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U.S. Drone Attack Strategy Against Al-Qaeda May Be Wrong

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  • by Anonymous Coward

    Sorry to anyone listening at Fort Meade.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by davester666 (731373)

      not trying to win. we are working hard trying to boost their ranks via drone strikes on homes and funerals with a bunch of collateral damage, so there are a lot more younger people with a big grudge against the US and nothing better to do than join an organization that can do something about it.

      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        It's called planning ahead.
        someone has to figure out how to keep the funding up and get the patriot act made permanent.
  • by SplatMan_DK (1035528) on Thursday May 22, 2014 @09:01AM (#47064933) Homepage Journal

    OK, so "there has been no significant correlation between successful strikes and a reduction in al-Qaeda attacks".

    Am I the only one thinking things might have been much worse if no terrorist leaders had been taken out at all?

    • by alphatel (1450715) *

      OK, so "there has been no significant correlation between successful strikes and a reduction in al-Qaeda attacks".

      Am I the only one thinking things might have been much worse if no terrorist leaders had been taken out at all?

      There's only one way to handle this. The US is a bunch of pansies with girlie underpants.

      Drone Strike every leader, and at the same time hit every second-in-command
      You will miss a few leaders so now you must drop heavy artillery all over their compounds
      You will have missed a few followers so now you must drop nuclear weapons all over their towns
      You will have missed a few sympathizers so now you invade the country and kill everyone using your might at land and sea.
      Anyone who lives should be put in pri

    • by Chrisq (894406)

      OK, so "there has been no significant correlation between successful strikes and a reduction in al-Qaeda attacks".

      Am I the only one thinking things might have been much worse if no terrorist leaders had been taken out at all?

      Absolutely. I don't believe that the removal of certain individuals will stop them but it will add to their "management overheads", someone else will have to take control, people trust them and so on. If we're really lucky it could lead to power struggles and in-fighting within the group

      • 'Companies don't fall apart when they lose their CEO or CFO;

        I find it hard to believe that if you keep killing the CEO and CFO of a company, the performance of that company will not suffer.

        • by Andy Dodd (701)

          Yeah. At some point, no one is going to want to be CEO/CFO.

          Massive CEO/CFO churn is a sign of a company in deep, serious trouble. Companies can handle occasional sudden losses of key personnel, but if it happens on a regular basis - that company is fucked.

          It's also going to be bad for morale if the CEO/CFO keep getting whacked. Now, in the short term the company might have enough succession/disaster recovery plans to keep continuity going, but if the CEO/CFO in a company keep dying (as do the CEOs/CFOs o

          • by Richy_T (111409)

            Except the CEO was that was killed was your dear buddy and they also got some collateral damage like your sister and nephew and the point of the company is to attack those who did the killing.

            You have to look at the bigger picture. I'm no pacifist but this stuff is not helping.

            • by Jiro (131519)

              Middle Eastern cultures of the type that produce terrorists use family ties as a way of cementing political connections anyway. By Western standards terrorist organizations are at insane levels of nepotism. Even if you just kill terrorists and magically save all innocents, you'll still have killed someone's nephew, or cousin, or brother-in-law, or other family member for whom they'll feel a need to take vengeance.

          • Yeah. At some point, no one is going to want to be CEO/CFO.

            Massive CEO/CFO churn is a sign of a company in deep, serious trouble. Companies can handle occasional sudden losses of key personnel, but if it happens on a regular basis - that company is fucked.

            It's also going to be bad for morale if the CEO/CFO keep getting whacked. Now, in the short term the company might have enough succession/disaster recovery plans to keep continuity going, but if the CEO/CFO in a company keep dying (as do the CEOs/CFOs of all other companies in the same industry), the employees are eventually going to say, "Fuck this, time for a career change."

            On the other hand, the motivations for a terrorist organization are not the same as they are for a corporation, regardless of how similarly they operate. CEOs expect their 72 virgins now, not after they die.

            Religions and ideologies usually consider hardship to be a vindication of what they're doing, not something to slough off onto employees, investors, or future quarters.

            • by Jiro (131519)

              Suicide terrorists are not leaders; they're low level employees. Terrorist leaders expect a good portion of their 72 virgins now just like CEOs; Osama bin Laden had five wives, and he didn't have to wait to be blown up in order to get them. It's sort of like an actual CEO and low level employees; the CEO makes a lot more money and the employees suffer in ways the CEO might not.

              • by fuzznutz (789413)

                Osama bin Laden had five wives, and he didn't have to wait to be blown up in order to get them

                Jesus! Five wives? He was already doing hard time! We did him a favor killing him.

    • by Simon Brooke (45012) <stillyet@googlemail.com> on Thursday May 22, 2014 @09:40AM (#47065315) Homepage Journal

      You're not thinking at all, you're just emoting.

      If you were thinking you would realise that drone strikes on a civilian population - on women, on children, on funerals, on weddings - recruit a thousand terrorists for every one they kill. Of course the CIA and the military promote this policy. More terrorists means more money for the CIA and the military, terrorism and counter-terrorism are inherently symbiotic. But foreign policy should not be dictated by the needs of inter-agency pissing matches in Washington DC.

      • by kilfarsnar (561956) on Thursday May 22, 2014 @10:26AM (#47065819)

        You're not thinking at all, you're just emoting.

        If you were thinking you would realise that drone strikes on a civilian population - on women, on children, on funerals, on weddings - recruit a thousand terrorists for every one they kill. Of course the CIA and the military promote this policy. More terrorists means more money for the CIA and the military, terrorism and counter-terrorism are inherently symbiotic. But foreign policy should not be dictated by the needs of inter-agency pissing matches in Washington DC.

        Agreed, but it's not about pissing matches. It's about the ability to project power to get what you want, using those counter-terrorism and other agencies. It's also about using the blowback to demand ever more power. Hegelian Dialectic anyone?

        The US's core policy of manipulating governments and societies in the Middle East to secure energy sources and stave off competitors isn't going to change any time soon. So the coercive tactics used in that policy likewise will not change. We'll just go on pissing off local populations, creating more terrorists, and treating it as a problem to be managed, like industrial waste.

        I don't see the situation changing unless the US changes it's foreign policy, or the locals give up national pride and radical Islam.

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by rudy_wayne (414635)

      OK, so "there has been no significant correlation between successful strikes and a reduction in al-Qaeda attacks".

      Am I the only one thinking things might have been much worse if no terrorist leaders had been taken out at all?

      If there is no significant correlation between successful strikes and a reduction in al-Qaeda attacks, then, no, things wouldn't be worse. It would be the same.

      The bigger issue that no one wants to admit is that we are dealing lunatics and engaging them, is a mistake. During World War II, both Germany and Japan eventually admitted defeat and gave up. But that's because you were dealing with people who were somewhat rational. The people we are dealing with today are literally insane. No amount of mil

      • by AthanasiusKircher (1333179) on Thursday May 22, 2014 @11:23AM (#47066569)

        The bigger issue that no one wants to admit is that we are dealing lunatics and engaging them, is a mistake. During World War II, both Germany and Japan eventually admitted defeat and gave up. But that's because you were dealing with people who were somewhat rational.

        Yep. 'Cause gathering up millions of people and mass murdering them is "somewhat rational" behavior. (Germany -- see "Concentration Camps") Or ordering thousands of soldiers to go on suicide missions, sometimes without any hint of success, and without any good evidence that it actually was a more successful strategy... very rational. (Japan -- see "Kamikaze") Or... well, isn't that enough for a start?

        The people we are dealing with today are literally insane.

        Yeah, I know. They are willing to blow themselves up in suicide attacks, and they don't even care about whether they take women or children with them. Oh wait... that sounds just like some of the things Germany and Japan did.

        No amount of military action will ever convince them to quit.

        No amount of military action convinced Hitler to quit -- when surrounded, he simply committed suicide, along with convincing a lot of others to do the same. As for Japan, well, the militarists who were basically running the show through much of the war would have never given in -- in fact, they staged a coup against the Emperor's wishes to surrender, taking over the Imperial Palace. Luckily, the surrender broadcast recording had been hidden, and once that was played on the radio, it was over.

        There was a "whole lotta crazy" going on during WWII as well -- and it was only through superior military forces and intervention at the highest level of leaders (the general staff in Germany after the suicide of Hitler, the emperor himself in Japan, who had previously been less assertive in reining in the militarists) that they were "convinced to quit."

        • by aaarrrgggh (9205) on Thursday May 22, 2014 @01:29PM (#47068159)

          The Allies won WWII because the US had substantial natural resources *and* industrial production capability that was not damaged in initial volleys. Guerrilla warfare is different, which is why using "shock and awe" or "invisible hand" get tricky.

          Ultimately to defeat "terrorism," you need to create cultural ties to societies that "hate our freedom." (Gag!) Education is a strategy, as are religion, charity, entertainment, and simple brainwashing. Immigration seems to have some effect, but not much.

          The goal should not be for everybody to be best buddies, but to at least tolerate each other with *mutual* respect. To that end, it seems like Americans are in much better need of education than whomever else.

    • by fredrated (639554) on Thursday May 22, 2014 @09:45AM (#47065369) Journal

      Probably not, but that doesn't make it correct. The drone murder of innocent people, which has been widespread and widely reported, is the best recruiting strategy for terrorists money can buy. I fear that much more than not replacing replacable leaders.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Charliemopps (1157495)

      OK, so "there has been no significant correlation between successful strikes and a reduction in al-Qaeda attacks".

      Am I the only one thinking things might have been much worse if no terrorist leaders had been taken out at all?

      How would things be worse? Keep in mind, our actions in the middle east over the past decade have killed hundreds of thousands of people directly... and probably many more indirectly. How many innocent foreigners are you willing to sacrifice to save 1 US citizen? 3000 people died in 9/11 and we've killed at least 100x that to prevent another attack. It seems just a tad over board to me.

    • by r1348 (2567295) on Thursday May 22, 2014 @09:50AM (#47065445)

      You're not the only one, but you're wrong. The "collateral damage" is effectively supplying terrorist organizations with unlimited manpower.
      Cut their fundings instead, this might also lead to some surprising discoveries...

      • by cusco (717999)

        Cutting their funding would mean interfering with the money laundering operations of the mega-banks, their single most profitable line of business. It's not a coincidence that within two weeks of taking office Shrub withdrew the US from the international anti-money laundering pact that Clinton had spent seven years building. The family fortune was built on international banking much more than oil, his grandpappy even got a bank taken away from him in WWII for laundering money (of course they didn't call i

    • Am I the only one thinking things might have been much worse if no terrorist leaders had been taken out at all?

      Yes, you pretty much are...at least, I hope so, because you're wrong.

      Groups like A Queda need an external focus. Without an enemy, they aren't going to be able to motivate their rank-and-file every day, and the US is kind enough to provide that focus. Drone attacks are only part of it - the US is busy mucking about all over their back yard: Libya, Iraq, Iran, Afghanistan, Syria...

      Before anyone says

    • by Savage-Rabbit (308260) on Thursday May 22, 2014 @01:05PM (#47067823)

      OK, so "there has been no significant correlation between successful strikes and a reduction in al-Qaeda attacks".

      Am I the only one thinking things might have been much worse if no terrorist leaders had been taken out at all?

      The problem is that US has gone overboard with these 'decapitation strikes' (read: assassinations) and they are causing blowback. A further problem is that Al-Qaeda is highly resistant to this kind of strategy because it is just as much an idea as it is an organization and you cannot kill an idea with a drone strike or an M4 carbine. Because it is primarily an idea or a philosophy, Al-Quaeda operates more like a franchising company (or maybe like an MLM outfit) than a traditional guerrilla organization. In addition to a religious philosophy, Al-Quaeda provides information on bomb making, how to train, how to operate weapons and how to obtain them, how to communicate securely and how to evade security forces etc... People motivated by Al-Quaeda's message often form cells first and then contact the organization for support, not the other way around. Al-Quaeda will bankroll promising groups and operations but their control over these groups can be pretty limited. I've heard accounts of motivated 'Mujahideen' showing up in the Pakistani tribal country, seeking out al-Quaeda and 'pitching' operations to them like a Hollywood director would 'pitch' a movie script or a TV show to a studio. Decapitating al-Quaeda cells with drone strikes or special forces ops is like a never ending game of whack-a-mole because there is an endless supply of martyrs that are often recruited from the human 'collateral damage' of drone strikes. Even if the director of the CIA could snap with his fingers and every al-Quaeda fighter on earth would drop dead today the idea of al-Quaeda would live on and new cells would form and the 'war on terror' would continue tomorrow because, as I said before, you can't kill an idea.

  • by terevos (148651) on Thursday May 22, 2014 @09:02AM (#47064945)

    So let me get this straight.... Dropping bombs on people doesn't make them stop attacking you?

    Whenever I get into an argument, I just punch the other guy in the face. That usually stops the argument and everyone walks away with a happy smile.

    • Imagine if you got into an argument, whipped out an AK-47, and razed a half circle. You're in an open restaurant, the guy who pissed you off is dead, there's half a dozen others dead and dozens wounded, many dying, a few maimed for life.

    • So let me get this straight.... Dropping bombs on people doesn't make them stop attacking you?

      Well, it worked for Germany and Japan. Of course we dropped a lot more bombs on them....

    • by cusco (717999)

      Think about what you just said for two seconds and realize that "dropping bombs on people" is a large component of the problem. Imagine that your mom went to the market for groceries and a bomb went off and killed her. Car bomb, Hellfire missile, doesn't matter, she and a bunch of other innocent people are dead along with some guy you never met and never heard of. Is your first reaction to tuck your tail between your legs, roll over and show your belly? If you're a Pentagon general or basic knee-jerk co

  • Am I the only one (Score:5, Insightful)

    by kyldere (723002) on Thursday May 22, 2014 @09:03AM (#47064955)
    Am I the only one who finds this article comparing terrorist orginizations to (US) corporations darkly humorous? ... Maybe I just haven't had enough coffee this morning.
    • by aliquis (678370)

      Am I the only one who finds this article comparing terrorist orginizations to (US) corporations darkly humorous? ... Maybe I just haven't had enough coffee this morning.

      Now if you compared them to US defence corporations? ;D

  • by walterbyrd (182728) on Thursday May 22, 2014 @09:05AM (#47064971)

    No troops, no money, no sanctions, no weapons sales, nothing. Not to any mid-east country, including Israel.

    Just buy their oil, and that's it. What other business do we have there? Let the chips fall where they may.

    Why is the US putting itself in the middle of their ancient, perpetual, non-sensicle, squabbles?

    I hate to say it, but: let the crazies kill each other, if that's what they want to do. They have been doing it forever, and US presence only gives them somebody else to blame.

      All those lives, all of those trillions of dollars, for what? We are no safer from terrorism. In fact, we may be more at risk.

    Help one tribe, and you piss off another. Never fails. The "good guys" one day, are despotic leaders, and US haters the next. I think the US supported both Sadam, and Osama, at one point.

    As the computer said in "War Games" : "The only way to win is to not play."

    • No troops, no money, no sanctions, no weapons sales, nothing. Not to any mid-east country, including Israel.

      Just buy their oil, and that's it. What other business do we have there? Let the chips fall where they may.

      Why is the US putting itself in the middle of their ancient, perpetual, non-sensicle, squabbles?

      I hate to say it, but: let the crazies kill each other, if that's what they want to do. They have been doing it forever, and US presence only gives them somebody else to blame.

      All those lives, all of those trillions of dollars, for what? We are no safer from terrorism. In fact, we may be more at risk.

      Help one tribe, and you piss off another. Never fails. The "good guys" one day, are despotic leaders, and US haters the next. I think the US supported both Sadam, and Osama, at one point.

      As the computer said in "War Games" : "The only way to win is to not play."

      What makes you think that stopping terrorism is the primary goal? It isn't. In fact, from a certain point of view, terrorism is a feature. All those lives and trillions of dollars are spent to secure American hegemony. Have you seen the ads for the Navy recently? A global force for good? Who falls for this shit anymore?

      Why buy the oil when you can take over the field? When Americans buy gasoline, we want the profit going to Exxon/Mobil, not the Iraqi National Oil company. When you rely on someone to

  • by Lumpy (12016) on Thursday May 22, 2014 @09:07AM (#47064981) Homepage

    Burning it's assets and operating capitol. They know that the illegal drug trade is their only form of income, so you either try to burn all the poppy fields or you utterly flood the market with insanely cheap product to the point that they cant make any money.

    Burning the land and Boiling the sea did not work in Vietnam, so it will not work in afganastan.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday May 22, 2014 @09:08AM (#47064991)

    When you kill their friends and family via remote control and using a video game interface is it any wonder that there are more "terrorists" created every year?
    Keep in mind that one person's "terrorist" is another person's "patriot", we should reverse all the Presidents' "Foreign Policy" which is really a Foreign Entanglement Policy.

    It really is no wonder that the peoples of the Middle East refer to the USA as the Great Devil, I think I would too were I borne there.

  • Companies don't fall apart when they lose their CEO or CFO

    So what this boils down to is the notion that head of organizations, be they terrorist or corporate (insert joke here), we overspend on resources directed at the top.
    In targeting terrorists, we spend big bucks on weapons systems and focus intelligence attention at the top.
    In the case of corporations, we pay huge salaries -- believing the heads to be irreplaceable.
    In both cases, there are plenty of qualified, motivated individuals ready to do a

  • by alen (225700) on Thursday May 22, 2014 @09:12AM (#47065043)

    get the governments to support western investment into the business structure to put people to work. people who have a life tend to not become terrorists.

    look at the US. military recruitment falls with a good economy

    • Much of the mid-east in drenched in oil. But what good does it do the common people? There is enormous poverty in Saudi, while a few billionaires enjoy all the money that comes gushing out of ground, and most of the population is dirt poor.

      If the US sent money there, it would be grabbed by the leaders. That is what happened in Iraq.

      Besides, how about using those trucks of money to help fix poverty in the US? You know, the country that has 50 million people who cannot afford health care? The country that is

    • That strategy would likely work to stop the illegal immigration from Mexico as well. But you don't see us doing it down there either, do you? Greed and power-madness are strong behavioral motivators. Our leadership has a hard time seeing things differently.
  • Invading the countries that they have their bases (and supporting tribes and religious leaders) turned out to be too expensive (in both american lives and money)

    • by Simulant (528590) on Thursday May 22, 2014 @09:37AM (#47065277) Journal
      IMHO,

      Ultimately this is a culture war and will only be won over the long term. For starters we could push back against Saudi Arabia instead of coddling them. I don't see how anyone can expect to win a war against Islamic fundamentalist terror when the spiritual center of Islam is controlled by fundamentalists with unlimited funds from oil sales. We also need to promote a more equitable distribution of wealth, world wide. Poverty breeds violence, ignorance, and fundamentalists of many stripes.

      We could quit behaving like hypocrites, ignoring blatant and obscene human rights abuses by our Islamic dictatorship "allies" because it's profitable in the short term.

      We could quit pissing our pants at the thought of terrorism, accept that it may occasionally happen (as it always has), and carry on instead of over reacting. Islamic fundamentalist terrorism has never represented the existential threat to western society that some would have us believe. It may be a thorn in our side for quite some time but the pain and damage it inflicts is entirely absorbable.

      We should quit using this pathetic war on terror as an excuse to destroy ourselves.
  • Freedom.exe
    if (target == suspicious){
    drone.attack(target)
    check(target)
    while (check(target)=="civillian casualty"){
    spin(drone.attack);
    }
    }
    git clone ALQUAEDA
    leader==leader.name()
    if (leader.status != 1){
    leader.close();
    global leader=new leader(extreme=1,militant=1,relig=1)
    }
    new attack(leader.lead(), adv_notify=0, proclaim_relig=1,antiwest=1)
  • Star Trek.

    sadly enough, they could have learned that from listening to Major Kira on DS9. And lots of more lessons on how to run your group of resistance/freedom fighters/terrorists/guerilla/whatever underground organization.

  • by Zontar_Thing_From_Ve (949321) on Thursday May 22, 2014 @09:19AM (#47065113)
    The article in the 2nd link (1st link only says "abstract" in the link) is a joke. Well, the people who wrote it are serious, but it's a joke. They honestly cited The Onion as a source for one of their points without mentioning that The Onion is a satirical site. Do they even know that? They offer no alternative. They only say that the whole drone strike idea isn't working.

    I think this is another situation on Slashdot like talking about electric cars where some people don't understand what the real reason for them is. Slashdot talks about electric cars and then someone inevitably says "The manufacturing isn't carbon neutral. It spews tons of pollutants into the air. And the electricity that powers the cars isn't carbon neutral either. It doesn't reduce greenhouse gases to have electric cars." and so on. The point of electric cars is not at all to reduce greenhouse gases or that they are supposedly made in environment beneficial ways. The point is to reduce dependance on foreign oil, which just happens to mostly belong to countries that are US hostile and Western hostile.

    The US government may claim that the strikes are to cripple Al Queda, but that's not the real point. The real point is to kill bad guys. Anwar al-Awlaki was a constant thorn in the US government's side, managing to even recruit US born terrorists to his cause. He's dead now. He can't personally recruit any other Americans or work to destabilize Yemen any more. Dead terrorists may be replaced by less competent terrorists. That's a win for the US. Younger people may not know, but the US and Western Europe have both tried the "let's do nothing" approach in the 70s and 80s and all that accomplished was that terrorists got emboldened to do even deadlier things because they believed that they'd never be held accountable. Killing some of them may convince some people who haven't joined that joining them may be a really bad idea. There's value in that.
    • by fredrated (639554)

      The collateral damage to civilians makes drone strikes little more than murder. Drones really are the tools of cowards and they are the best recruitment for terrorists that money can buy.

    • by OneAhead (1495535)

      The article in the 2nd link (1st link only says "abstract" in the link) is a joke. Well, the people who wrote it are serious, but it's a joke. They honestly cited The Onion as a source for one of their points without mentioning that The Onion is a satirical site. Do they even know that? They offer no alternative. They only say that the whole drone strike idea isn't working.

      Ert, ert, shill alert! You just redlined my shillmeter there. What you're doing is a common misdirection tactic that is almost exclusive used by shills: if a source illustrates an otherwise well-founded argument with a light-hearted aside, an opposing shill will never fail to rip the light-hearted aside out of context, claim it's the only source of data the argument is built on, and thereby dismiss the whole article, including all of [jhu.edu] its other [theatlantic.com] sources [cloudfront.net]. Shame until the 7th generation upon the moderators who

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday May 22, 2014 @09:21AM (#47065125)

    This study assumes they know who they are killing. Considering the number of wedding parties they have struck and also admissions that they sometimes do not even know the names of who they are killing there is an alternative conclusion. You do realize that it is common knowledge that they record all the phone calls, text messages etc. so it is very unlikely unless you have a very stupid terrorist that they are going to pick up the phone and talk about some terrorist plot. The NSA cannot listen to a phone call that never took place. The alternative conclusion is that they are often killing the wrong people. Killing people bases on evidence that would not be considered strong enough to uphold a parking ticket.

  • We've been told that Al Queda isn't real and that there aren't really any terrorist organizations. It's all a neocon plot.

    So basically, how can drone strikes or any other strategy be effective or ineffective against something that doesn't exist?

  • by Kelbear (870538) on Thursday May 22, 2014 @09:41AM (#47065327)

    The problem with the VAST majority of criticisms against drone warfare is this: /They don't cite alternatives./

    If an author has a problem with intervention policy. THAT is what the author should be targeting! Drones are incidental to the intervention policy and are off-point. If the goal is to persuade the audience against intervention, then the subject of intervention needs to be directly addressed.

    If an author has a problem with drone warfare itself, then present the alternatives. If "boots on the ground" is a more effective way to ensure surgical precision and minimal collateral damage, advocate for that and present the supporting arguments, and preemptively address the counter-argument of the potential for taking casualties along the way as a necessary cost of preserving civilian life and reducing the amount of backlash that creates new terrorists. If the author believes that counterintelligence and local partnerships is more effective, then THAT should also be presented, citing past successes in reducing insurgency and improvements to civilian quality of life.

    But if the author has a beef with drone warfare, and presents no alternatives, then they leave the massive hole in their argument of "If not drones, then what?". If the perception of drones is that they kill enemies and prevent us from losing soldiers in the process, and the author wants to do away with drones, then the audience is left to wonder: "Is this author really suggesting that we should lose our soldiers for no good reason, when we could have used drones instead?" Address that question head on!

    • by Nidi62 (1525137)

      The problem with the VAST majority of criticisms against drone warfare is this: /They don't cite alternatives./

      Invest in the targeted country. Build up roads, improve healthcare and the education system, provide security locally. People turn to terrorist groups because they have problems, problems they feel the central government can't fix. Sure, they might spout something about global Islam, the Great Satan, or Pan-Arabism, but these are just outlets for their frustrations. The simple fact is you have to engage with local populations, speak with them, improve their community. This requires money and boots on t

    • by david_thornley (598059) on Thursday May 22, 2014 @01:56PM (#47068549)

      Look, the argument is that drone strikes aren't effective against terrorism, and the critics give reasons why. If correct, that means that drone strikes aren't working, and that we should look for other ideas. Suppose we were using voodoo dolls to attack terrorists, and somebody pointed out it didn't work. Would you then insist on using voodoo dolls until the guy came up with other ideas? Isn't it useful to know just that something isn't working? Is it sane and intelligent to do something that you know doesn't work because you don't get an alternative wrapped up like a present?

  • If they are run like a company, treat 'em like a company. Take them over, plant a new CEO (I hear Carly Fiorina is available), and let that CEO run them into the ground for a multi-million dollar golden parachute.

    Or, turn them into a reality TV show. Anyone remember the movie "NETWORK" (I'm mad as hell and I'm not going to take it anymore). Well, in that film, they made a TV show about a terrorist group, and the terrorists were so busy negotiating their contracts, they forgot all about blowing up shit.

    Netwo

  • by Nidi62 (1525137) on Thursday May 22, 2014 @09:53AM (#47065477)

    They are just now realizing this? I read a book [wikipedia.org] written all the way back in 2004 that described al-Qaeda as not a terrorist group, but more like a venture capitalist firm. All of these groups-Lashkar-e-Tayyiba, al-Shabaab, Boko Haram, all the local al-Qaeda groups- aren't all actually part of al-Qaeda. Instead, they come to al-Qeada with a plan and essentially ask them for money. If al-Qaeda agrees, they give them the money and let them claim affiliation. Cut off the head of al-Qaeda, the successor still has access to all the funds. Cut off the head of one of the other groups, and that group might fall apart (or just get a new leader), but all of the other groups remain unaffected. To take down terrorists groups you can't go for the head, you have to go for the base (see what I did there?). Go after the funding sources, whether that be blood diamonds, sheiks dripping in oil money, drug production, etc. Go after the recruitment base (predominately young, educated, ideologically motivated but politically or economically disaffected men) and the structure will collapse from the ground up. Drone strikes do nothing for the former, and do the opposite for the latter.

    Remember what bin Laden did in the war against the Russians: he wasn't a fighter, he ran a support structure in Pakistan that funneled fighters, weapons, and money to the Mujaheddin. Why would you think he would have started an organization that did anything different?

  • Of course (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Richy_T (111409) on Thursday May 22, 2014 @09:59AM (#47065529) Homepage

    Of course it's a bureaucracy, it was created by the CIA.

    Am I joking? I don't even know.

  • by ikhider (2837593) on Thursday May 22, 2014 @10:18AM (#47065725)
    As long as the drone targets are persons of color and poor ones at that, it does not matter about so-called "collateral damage". The US of A is militarily superior and therefore in their legal rights to do as they wish, without concern of consequences. We are on a mission to bring freedom and democracy to these people, and if it takes a lot of drones and a lot of collateral damage, than so be it. Here is an important link on the topic: http://drones.pitchinteractive... [pitchinteractive.com]? These people in Pakistan/Afghanistan need to be educated about freedom, the hard way. http://www.clowncrack.com/wp-c... [clowncrack.com] America is doing all it can to correct these people and those who contest her policies are a bunch of unpatriotic cowards.
  • ... pisses them off?

    It's like the Palestinians who constantly launch explosive devices into Israel, you're not going to win that way, all you're going to do is create new enemies.

  • by ltbarcly (398259) on Thursday May 22, 2014 @11:43AM (#47066807)

    So the Nazi's were a large, bureaucratic organization, and despite that it seems like our 'winning strategy' was to kill large numbers of lower level people, and smaller numbers of higher ranking people, and yet it seems to have worked in the end? The claims made by this paper seem very silly.

  • by Ghostworks (991012) on Thursday May 22, 2014 @12:17PM (#47067179)

    Saying that drone warfare is not particularly good at decapitating an institutional terrorist organization like Al Qaeda is missing the point. Or at least a key point. Drone warfare has made large scale terrorist training largely impossible. The boot camps and months long, practical courses in guerrilla warfare that used to be an Al Qaeda staple are now just very visible, attractive targets for drones. Drone warfare occasionally knocks out a head, but it really undermines the base.

    In all force, there is some deterrence power. For some technologies, the deterrence is the whole point. For example, land mines aren't meant to be a good way to blow up people, they're meant to be a good way to prevent groups of people from traversing an area once you advertise that it's full of mines. Here, drones are useful for rapid, cheap attacks of opportunity... but the fact that they are almost always ready means long-term, open-air training camps are suicide.

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