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Published on July 29th, 2011 | by Daniel Luban

10

Former Intelligence Chief Blair Calls for End to Drone War

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.

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Daniel Luban is a postdoctoral associate at Yale University. He holds a PhD in politics from the University of Chicago and was formerly a correspondent in the Washington bureau of Inter Press Service.



10 Responses to Former Intelligence Chief Blair Calls for End to Drone War

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  1. avatar Jon Harrison says:

    Don’t hold your breath waiting for “prominent political figures” to raise this issue. Assuming we can’t close down the War on Terror in the immediate future, the drone program should continue. It’s been highly effective. And don’t kid yourselves — civilian casualties will always occur in war. Drones have actually been pretty good in this respect. Aircraft kill far more innocent people per pound of ordnance, and commados sometimes “get out of hand.” Drones are the preferable alternative.

  2. avatar scott says:

    Jon, drones aren’t effective in the WOT, as they exacerbate the problem. Even Rummy had the temerity to ask this question in one of his “snowflakes.” Our use of drones creates so many problems with the populace, and the gov’t where we are using the UNILATERALLY, that we’re losing the hearts and minds, and losing any cooperation and coordination. Without those we are blind, begging to be betrayed and without legitimacy.

  3. avatar Landon says:

    a few days ago Reuters reporter Pedro daCosta appeared on C Span Wash Journal to discuss the poor jobs outlook in the US. His discourse was almost entirely negative — “thin market;” “poor outlook;” “five Americans apply for every job opening.” He DID mention that some few sectors were still healthy — weaponry, healthcare, and technology — “IF you have the skills, but the US has been slow to train computer scientists over the past 20 years.”

    The first question daCosta fielded was from a caller in Myrtle Beach, SC, who said his region was in pretty good shape: although construction & manufacturing were dead, the service sector was healthy. “But,” he said, “the jobs are all going to J-visa holders from Israel and Russia.”

    Par for the course, once the word Israel was sounded, the moderator twitched in his chair until the call could be terminated, which it was, within 9 seconds. (that’s another topic)

    daCosta sought to question the caller about the situation, but see the above paragraph — the call had been disconnected.

    But a few quick ‘net searches yielded these factoids:

    -Lindsey Graham & Jim deMint, both Israelists, represent the Myrtle Beach region.

    -South Carolina is becoming an aeronautical hub, with Boeing, Lockheed, etc. established in Charleston, and the Myrtle Beach International Technology and Aerospace Park in the works in Horry County, SC. http://www.mbredc.org/
    and http://www.mbredc.org/uploads/MBITAP%20LR.pdf

    -Presumably, the Israeli and Russian workers are employed in these aeronautical hubs.

    daCosta commended the fact that “foreign workers are being hired for their skills.” (Hey, this is Israel we’re talkin’ about; everybody loves Israel.) After all, the Reuter’s dude had just noted that “five Americans apply for every job,” but “the US lagged in training scientists.”

    HOWEVER — with NASA shutting down significant operations, one would think there would be more than enough American trained and experienced aeronautical engineers and scientists to staff up South Carolina’s new industry.

    Do you suppose they’ll be making drones in Myrtle Beach?
    Do you think Israelis should take jobs that Americans can do?

  4. avatar Landon says:

    a few days ago Reuters reporter Pedro daCosta appeared on C Span Wash Journal to discuss the poor jobs outlook in the US. His discourse was almost entirely negative — “thin market;” “poor outlook;” “five Americans apply for every job opening.” He DID mention that some few sectors were still healthy — weaponry, healthcare, and technology — “IF you have the skills, but the US has been slow to train computer scientists over the past 20 years.”

    The first question daCosta fielded was from a caller in Myrtle Beach, SC, who said his region was in pretty good shape: although construction & manufacturing were dead, the service sector was healthy. “But,” he said, “the jobs are all going to J-visa holders from Israel and Russia.”

    Par for the course, once the word Israel was sounded, the moderator twitched in his chair until the call could be terminated, which it was, within 9 seconds. (that’s another topic)

    daCosta sought to question the caller about the situation, but see the above paragraph — the call had been disconnected.

    But a few quick ‘net searches yielded these factoids:

    -Lindsey Graham & Jim deMint, both Israelists, represent the Myrtle Beach region.

    -South Carolina is becoming an aeronautical hub, with Boeing, Lockheed, etc. established in Charleston, and the Myrtle Beach International Technology and Aerospace Park in the works in Horry County, SC. http www dot mbredc dot org/
    and http www dot mbredc dot org/uploads/MBITAP%20LR.pdf

    -Presumably, the Israeli and Russian workers are employed in these aeronautical hubs.

    daCosta commended the fact that “foreign workers are being hired for their skills.” (Hey, this is Israel we’re talkin’ about; everybody loves Israel.) After all, the Reuter’s dude had just noted that “five Americans apply for every job,” but “the US lagged in training scientists.”

    HOWEVER — with NASA shutting down significant operations, one would think there would be more than enough American trained and experienced aeronautical engineers and scientists to staff up South Carolina’s new industry.

    Do you suppose they’ll be making drones in Myrtle Beach?
    Do you think Israelis should take jobs that Americans can do?

  5. avatar Jon Harrison says:

    Well . . . the fact is, the unemployment rate for Americans with a college degree is still under 5 per cent. And while we may have five applicants for every job opening, we also have several hundred thousand job openingss at least that cannot be filled because there are no American workers available who possess the requisite skills.

    I hate to sound like an AFL-CIO member, but the great mistake of the American ruling class was promoting free trade without fair trade. Low-wage economies that lack the environmental and labor regs in place in civilized countries will inevitably drain all the low-skill manufacturing jobs from the civilized countries’ economies. The idea that everybody in America can be a “knowledge worker,” that our workforce will progress as smoothly from factory to office as it did from farm to factory, was shown to be false some time ago.

    No amount of training can qualify all the schmucks out there for a high-tech job. The economic and political elites in this country have turned their backs on the working stiffs, who in the millions find themselves without a place in our economy. As government subsidies for the working and non-working poor dry up, these people will become desperate. The right will do nothing for them; the left has no answer beyong a reflexive Keynesianism, which cannot work given that the state is for all intents and purposes bankrupt. Therefore — a 1789 in our future?

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