What’s The Price For Getting It Wrong?


Will Saletan attempts to put civilian casualties caused by drones in context with other weapons used for similar missions:

Drones kill a lower ratio of civilians to combatants than we’ve seen in any recent war. Granted, many civilians in Iraq, Afghanistan, and other such wars were killed by our enemies rather than by us. But that’s part of the equation. One reason to prefer drones is that when you send troops, fighting breaks out, and the longer the fighting goes on, the more innocent people die. Drones are like laparoscopic surgery: They minimize the entry wound and the risk of infection.

Over the years, I’ve shared many worries about the rise of drones: the illusion of withdrawal, the militarization of the CIA, the corruption of law, the evasion of congressional restraint, the risk of mission creep, and the proliferation of signature strikes. But civilian casualties? That’s not an argument against drones. It’s the best thing about them.

Pointing to Saletan’s comments in the early stages of the invasion of Iraq, Freddie deBoer counters:

One thing people get frustrated about with our media is the way in which there is no accountability or consequences for past mistakes, particularly when it comes to foreign policy. But a lot of the self-same people who make that complaint continue to take seriously people who should have been renounced long ago. Saletan is one such person. He hasn’t just gotten war wrong. He has gotten the specific question of humane warfare, collateral damage, and the technological capacity of our military spectacularly, incredibly, unimaginably wrong. People forget. But I don’t.

Yes, but Will has copped to his errors of judgment, which is by far the most important thing. Freddie should focus more on those like Charles Krauthammer who was the intellectual architect of the worst foreign policy disaster since Vietnam and is still treated as a foreign policy and military expert in Washington.

Previous Dish on the defensibility of drones here, here, here and here.

(Photo: A Pakistani victim of US drone attack rests on a bed after she arrived with her brothers and sisters from the North Waziristan area of Ghundai Village for treatment in Peshawar on November 3, 2012, after US missile hit near their house on October 24. A US drone fired two missiles at a suspected militant compound in northwest Pakistan, killing three people, security officials said. By A Majeed/AFP/Getty Images)