An in-depth, field-based investigation by the Bureau of Investigative Journalism (on behalf of the UK’s Sunday Times) found in February that “since Obama took office three years ago, between 282 and 535 civilians have been credibly reported as killed including more than 60 children.” The bureau notes that the drone attacks were started under the Bush administration in 2004 and have stepped up significantly under Obama. There had been 260 strikes by unmanned Predators or Reapers in Pakistan under Obama’s administration—averaging one every four days.
The report echoes the July 2009 estimates of Daniel L. Byman, senior fellow at the Saban Center for Middle East Policy: “Sourcing on civilian deaths is weak and the numbers are often exaggerated, but more than 600 civilians are likely to have died from the attacks. That number suggests that for every militant killed, 10 or so civilians also died.”
The bureau reported another aspect of the drone attacks that is perhaps just as alarming as the raw numbers of innocent people they slaughter: it found that U.S. unmanned aircraft had killed dozens of civilians who had rushed to help other victims. A three-month investigation including eyewitness reports indicates that at least 50 civilians were killed in follow-up strikes when they had gone to the aid of others.
Quote from Ximena Ortiz, writing in The American Conservative here.
It makes me think my friend Jon is more right on foreign policy than I give him credit for. Video can be found here. David Henderson discusses it here and in the comments.
I admittedly don’t know much about the foreign policy issues surrounding the Israel and Palestinian conflict aside from what I have heard/read from Chomsky and leftists in general. They make some good arguments, but I am suspicious of taking them at face value since these same people make economic arguments – a topic I do claim to have some knowledge about – that suffer from very elementary and erroneous perceptions and facts. So to fill the void, I search for discussions/debates on the topic between two knowledgeable people from each side.
In that aspect, I found this bloggingheads discussion between Peter Beinhart, representing the leftist view, and Eli Lake, representing the center-right view, informative.
“I’ve written numerous times over the last year about rapidly worsening perceptions of the U.S. in the Muslim world, including a Pew poll from April finding that Egyptians view the U.S. more unfavorably now than they did during the Bush presidency. A new poll released today of six Arab nations — Egypt, Lebanon, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Morocco — contains even worse news on this front” — Glenn Greenwald
This is the fundamental reason the Jewish lobby is so strong:
See more here.
CATO Unbound runs a monthly debate where a position is taken, and experts throughout are allowed to rebut and debate the point. This months topic is The Targeted Killing Of Civilians And The Rule Of Law.
Should be interesting.
“European governments know they can rely on US military might and taxpayer dollars to subsidize their security needs and prevent them from actually investing in a more robust security apparatus. And when European leaders like Sarkozy decide to talk tough they can count on America to provide the military muscle to back up their words – as has been the case with Libya. The bottom line is that as long as the United States continues to feel that it has an obligation to underwrite European security needs . . . it will continue to underwrite European security needs. And European countries will continue to free ride off of US security guarantees and not develop the “right equipment” and strategy to protect and further their own interests. In the world’s most most stable and prosperous region we have created a bizarre situation where US resources and arms are underpinning a security structure that could quite easily be taken over by the inhabitants of that region!” — Michael Cohen
“Nuremberg, lest we forget, was a military tribunal with civilian lawyers and it offered far fewer protections to the Nazis in the dock than the military commissions at Guantánamo will give to Khalid Shaikh Mohammed and his co-defendants in the 9/11 attacks. Military justice worked then and it can work again today.” —WILLIAM SHAWCROSS, son of the chief British prosecutor of the Nuremberg trials on military tribunals writing in the New York Times
“It has taken two years for the Obama administration to snap out of its never-never land approach to national security. But by announcing a reversal on their plans for civilian trials of terrorists including Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, they are implicitly confessing that their campaign attacks on the Bush administration were wrong and that decisions like opening Gitmo and military commission trials are the best balance of security needs and protections for liberty. Military courts will provide a fair trial and allow the United States to protect intelligence secrets, which are the most important weapon in this war. I still believe, however, that the administration has yet to prove that it can run terror trials successfully, and until thy do, the best choice is still to capture more al Qaeda leaders rather than kill them, and to detain them while exploiting the information that they have.” — John Yoo, regarding Obama’s decision to try KSM via military courts
“So my question is, does that decision not lay a moral obligation on the US to lend support to the effort of its allies? British, French, Canadian, Danish, and Norwegian fighter jets flying over Libya are coming under anti-aircraft fire from the minions of Col. Qaddafi. The United States had the most robust ability to take those anti-aircraft batteries out, which it largely did. Should the United States have said, well, too bad, we are not getting involved over there? Had Washington responded in that way, and had NATO allies lost jets to Qaddafi’s rockets, would not the allies have had a legitimate grounds for absolute fury?” — Juan Cole, a supporter of the Libyan intervention posing a question to Glenn Greenwald, who is generally opposed
“The point is that there’s something a bit head in the sand about proclaiming this a simple “humanitarian” undertaking. Showing up with bags of rice in a famine zone is a humanitarian undertaking. Sending in some Marines to help guard the trucks full of bags of rice is a plausible military element of a humanitarian undertaking. What we’re doing is providing tactical air support to one faction in a civil war in order to help them prevail against a rival faction that has much more heavy military equipment. This may or may not produce some net humanitarian benefits in the end, but it’s hard for me to know how you’d make an accurate forecast about that one way or another.” — Matthew Yglesias
“But here’s one failing, that neither Tyler nor Arnold mentions, of the vast majority of both left-wing and market-oriented economists: their apparently dogged determination not to analyze the role of war and an aggressive foreign policy in leading to the rise of the interventionist state. Robert Higgs has laid this out well in his 1987 book, Crisis and Leviathan, which I reviewed in Fortune. Jeff Hummel is currently completing a book showing, inter alia, how almost any domestic government intervention you can name had its origin in this or that war.” — David Henderson
“One of America’s sources of long-term strength is its ability to assimilate foreign talent, argues former Pentagon planning official Thomas Mahnken in the new issue of Saisphere, an obscure in-house publication of the international affairs school at the Johns Hopkins University. “Such immigration could prove to be an enduring source of U.S. strategic advantage,” he writes. “How effective the United States proves in assimilating these new immigrants into the life of the nation will play a major role in determining its strategic effectiveness. The United States’ historical ability to assimilate has given it a distinct advantage over most other nations, which display little willingness to incorporate immigrants into the mainstream of their societies.”” — Thomas E Ricks, blogging at Foreign Policy
“The document deluge has offered plenty of mortifyingly frank appraisals of foreign leaders (the Italian Prime Minister is “feckless, vain, and ineffective”), a smidgen of Gawkerish titillation (a British Labour minister was “a bit of a hound dog where women are concerned”), and some genuine news (China could accept a unified Korea under Seoul’s control). We have learned that our Foreign Service officers can be vivid writers, though their future prose is bound to be duller and their interlocutors more guarded, at least for a while. Above all, there are no grand revelations of epic lying, deceit, or criminality—nothing remotely on the scale of the Tonkin Gulf “incident” that justified the escalation of the Vietnam conflict, in 1964, the C.I.A.’s role in bringing Pinochet to power in Chile, in 1973, or, more recently, the Bush-Cheney embrace of torture. Perhaps the two biggest secrets that the WikiLeaks leaks leaked are that the private face of American foreign policy looks pretty much like its public face and that the officials who carry it out do a pretty good job. Both are true with respect to Iran and its nuclear ambitions, to judge from the cables, which add a great deal of textural detail to what was already known.” — The New Yorker, on WikiLeaks
“How do you go from being the targeted victim of an unprecedented information attack to being the victor? Simple: Be revealed to have been working hard behind the scenes to do the right thing. The United States is as imperfect as any nation and guilty of countless missteps as the past decade has shown with great clarity. But if there is one over-arching message to the Wiki-spill it is that for the most part, in most places U.S. diplomats and senior officials have been doing an admirable job. For more on this, see the estimable and wise Les Gelb’s piece yesterday for The Daily Beast.” —David Rothkopf, writing in Foreign Policy
Daniel Drezner writes:
There are no Big Lies. Indeed, Blake Hounshell’s original tweet holds: “the U.S. is remarkably consistent in what it says publicly and privately.” Assange — and his source for all of this, Bradley Manning — seem to think that these documents will expose American perfidy. Based on the initial round of reactions, they’re in for a world of disappointment. Oh, sure, there are small lies and lies of omission — Bob Gates probably didn’t mention to Dmitri Medvedev or Vladimir Putin that “Russian democracy has disappeared.” Still, I’m not entirely sure how either world politics or American interests would be improved if Gates had been that blunt in Moscow.
If this kind of official hypocrisy is really the good stuff, then there is no really good stuff. U.S. officials don’t always perfectly advocate for human rights? Not even the most naive human rights activist would believe otherwise. American diplomats are advancing U.S. commercial interests? American officials have been doing that since the beginning of the Republic. American diplomats help out their friends? Yeah, that’s called being human. I’m willing to be convinced otherwise, but it strikes me that these leaks show other governments engaged in far more hypocritical behavior.
The full post can be found here.