Noah Shachtman has the story about Adm. Dennis Blair, the former Director of National Intelligence, who just called for a sweeping reconsideration of U.S. strategy in what used to be called the “global war on terror”. In particular, Blair questioned the effectiveness of U.S. drone strikes, noting that whatever damage they might do to terrorist networks is likely cancelled out by the destructive effects the drone war is having on relations with both the governments and populations of countries like Pakistan and Yemen.
While Blair suggested that drone strikes might still be permissible if executed in consultation with local governments, he called for an end to all unilateral drone strikes. Coming as the Obama administration continues to step up the use of Predator and Reaper drones across the world, this makes Blair the most prominent former national security official to question the conduct of the drone war as such. And as discussed here previously, this is precisely the sort of conversation that needs to be had in Washington: the seemingly “clean” and “low-cost” nature of drone strikes means that Obama will likely only reconsider his use of them if prominent political figures raise the profile of the issue and force him to pay a political price at home for relying on Predators and Reapers as primary instruments of foreign policy.