A Joystick Too Far?

Barack Obama inherited a mess in Afghanistan. George Bush left him a nation in which thousands of members of the Taliban and al-Qaeda were creating chaos in a land deserted by its leaders who are more focused on making money than making the country a safe place in which to dwell. Obama has decided to best way to reduce US casualties is utilizing drone planes which hover in the sky and then when someone in American twists his joy stick in a particular direction the drone sends bombs hurtling down on a compound where alleged “Taliban leaders” are dwelling. Of course, in many cases the location and names of these alleged “al Qaeda or Taliban leaders” were supplied by some tribal chieftain. David Kilcullen, an expert on the Middle East, points out: “Sometimes you are dealing with tribal chiefs and often they say an enemy of theirs is al-Qaeda because they get rid of somebody” or they want to prove to American military officials they are worthy people and could use a few bucks thrown their way. Kilcullen argues less than 5% of the alleged “insurgents killed” are actually insurgents or members of the Taliban or al-Qaeda. Professor Juan Coles, another academic expert, is more blunt by noting when you kill family members if “pisses them off” and they wind up joining militants.

During the Vietnam War Americans were daily treated by the “body count” of Viet Cong killed by US forces. Of course, a body that was killed could just as easily been an innocent farmer, but what the heck, the issue was the body count, not who was in the body count. How the hell does a drone know if the result of their bombs have killed, a “Taliban leader?” The only way would be that someone claimed the person killed was a “Taliban leader.” In other words, the entire drone bombing program is based on what people in Afghanistan claim are Taliban insurgents!

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