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Belmont Club

The Problem With Drones

March 15th, 2013 - 7:04 pm

The New York Times says that the administration has decided to build missile defense systems to defend against possible nuclear missile attacks from North Korea.

WASHINGTON — The Pentagon will spend $1 billion to deploy additional ballistic missile interceptors along the Pacific Coast to counter the growing reach of North Korea’s weapons, a decision accelerated by Pyongyang’s recent belligerence and indications that Kim Jong-un, the North Korean leader, is resisting China’s efforts to restrain him.

It’ll take two years to get the defense sites up, though. The administration was apparently relying on China to defend it; to ‘handle’ North Korea. Now that this has failed it is building a “bullet to hit a bullet”: missile defense.

“There’s been a quickening pace of provocations,” said one senior administration official, describing actions and words from North Korea and its new leader, Mr. Kim. “But the real accelerant was the fact that the North Koreans seemed more unmoored from their Chinese handlers than even we had feared.”

Too bad the North Korea’s handlers let Obama down. The more basic question is: why didn’t this strategy work?

Maybe they couldn’t pay the handler’s rate. Prices have gone up in China lately. Or maybe there was something else.  At any rate the missile defense sites won’t be built just yet.  The DOD says they are still conducting environmental impact studies before deciding when and where to proceed.

Hagel said DOD is also conducting environmental impact studies for a potential additional interceptor site in the United States. Officials are looking for two sites on the East Coast and one on the West. While the administration has not made a decision on whether to proceed, conducting environmental impact studies will shorten the timeline of construction should a decision be made, he explained. Hagel also announced plans to restructure the SM3-2B program, a land-based standard missile, with plans to deploy it as part of the European phase-adapted approach. “The purpose was to add protection of the U.S. homeland already provided by our current GBIs [ground based interceptors] against missile threats in the Middle East,” Hagel said.

The questions mount.

Considering the Middle East, Max Boot wonders why the administration is hunting al-Qaeda in Iraq.  Wasn’t the public told there was no al-Qaeda in the region? That only poor old deluded George Bush could think that? That they were really in Afghanistan, which is where the administration has put the ground forces? ‘To end 9/11 where it began?’  Boot writes that the administration is acting like al-Qaeda was back where it wasn’t.

The CIA has stepped up its assistance to the Iraqi Counterterrorism Service which includes Iraqi Special Operations units that were trained and mentored in the past by U.S. Special Operations forces? Iraqi forces are now working with American clandestine operatives to target al-Qaeda in Iraq and its Syrian offshoot, the al-Nusra Front.

On one level this is an implicit acknowledgement from President Obama that his decision to pull all U.S. troops out of Iraq at the end of 2011 was a mistake: Contrary to his overoptimistic claims, Iraq was not, and still is not, ready to take over its entire defense. There has been a corresponding degradation of Iraq’s capacity to fight groups such as al-Qaeda in Iraq, which helps to account for their resurgence in the past year and now their spread to Syria.

Obama claimed that the pullout was necessary because Iraqi political leaders, led by Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, would not countenance an American role with immunity from prosecution. Does that mean that these CIA operatives are now subject to Iraqi criminal prosecution? One doubts it. Rather, one suspects that the Iraqis have granted the CIA a secret immunity deal, although if one exists it goes unmentioned in the Journal article.

And not just there, but in Mali — and  in the subSahara — and in Syria, apart from Iraq.  A long way from Afghanistan. A lot plane tickets from ‘where 9/11 began’.  Speaking of which the UN is wondering why, if al-Qaeda is Afghanistan, the administration keeps striking  Pakistan. The Washington Post  says a UN official has concluded that the administration is conducting unilateral warfare  in Pakistan.

Ben Emmerson, the United Nations’ special rapporteur on human rights and counter-terrorism, met with Pakistani government officials for three days and came away supporting their long-stated view that they do not consent to the remote-fired missile campaign that is the centerpiece of U.S. strategy to eliminate a wide range of Islamic militants.

This contradicts Washington’s position that the Pakistani military and intelligence services have at least tacitly supported the strikes, which began in 2004 and have significantly escalated since President Obama took office. At one point earlier in the campaign, the two nations shared intelligence on militant targets, but Pakistani officials vehemently deny that they are still doing so.

Osama bin Laden was the object of one such strike. Bin Laden was killed by SEALs in a safe-house half a mile from the Pakistani military academy. Strange that he should be there.

Here’s a thought: al-Qaeda is in Pakistan, or in the Middle East, funded from the oil-rich Middle East. It is only in Afghanistan to the extent required to fool Obama into sending the army there. Crazy idea, eh?

Glad the administration knows better. But what if the administration’s foreign policy which does not explicitly recognize the existence of an “Axis of Evil” or an international arrangement between rogue states to wage low-intensity warfare against the United States were hypothetically wrong?

Suppose Pakistan, Iran, North Korea, and the Middle East were not separable problems, but working in concert,  diplomatically supported by China and Russia to wear down the United States? Then it would be a global problem requiring — gasp — a global strategy.

Now America has had a global strategy before. In World War 2. During the Cold War. But there’s no need for that now. All we need is law enforcement and diplomacy. But …

Pakistan, Iran and North Korea might each be developing components of a nuclear weapons and delivery platform under the diplomatic protection of Russia and China. And suppose terrorism were not simply the product of mutant sects in Islam, but of a concerted effort by secret services, like the ISI, to send proxy enemies against the West?

Such a condition would imply the necessity of a crash program of energy independence to deny the Muslim oil producers their monetary leverage. That situation would call for active ideological warfare against radical Islam and it’s 5th Column: the radical maddrassas.

But the adminstration’s security policies evince no such world view; and in place of any discernible comprehensive strategy the administration offers a patchwork cocktail consisting of  ”leading from behind”, windmills, auto scrappage, electric cars powered from oil-fired power plants, encouragement for the ‘Arab Spring’, outreach to Islam, pinprick drone attacks on countries which are nuclear armed! without even the benefit of Congressional authorization. It has pursued an unremitting program of defense cuts and  it is now belatedly reviving a missile defense system to defend itself against one of the poorest nations on the face of earth.

However it never answers the question: who is behind the Nokor Nukes and what part does it play in a larger game? But that’s a tinfoil hat question. Everyone knows there is no larger context in which  the administration’s should exercise its genius. “Smart adhocracy” — the hearty laugh and round of dance with Ellen de Generes  or Oprah Winfrey — will be enough.

The drone program has been criticized by both conservatives and leftists as a human-rights abomination. But it may be worse than that.  It might be evidence of policy dementia; an example of prescribing painkillers in place of medicine; of applying Band Aid where surgery is indicated; it could be the triumph of shallow expedience in place of a cohesive plan. Perhaps nothing so clearly depicts the workings of the administration’s policy so much as its drawerful of odds and ends.

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Top Rated Comments   
The New York Times is only a little better. Note their latest: "U.S. Bolstering Missile Defense to Deter North Korea’s Threats"

That's like saying I will deter you from shooting me by putting on a bulletproof vest. "Deter" in this word has purely literary meaning. As in, "just you see what will happen to your bullet once it hits my vest! That ought to deter you."

Then almost idiotically the NYT adds:

"The missiles have a mixed record in testing, hitting dummy targets just 50 percent of the time, but officials said Friday’s announcement was intended not merely to present a credible deterrence to the North’s limited intercontinental ballistic missile arsenal. They said it is also meant to show South Korea and Japan that the United States is willing to commit resources to deterring the North and, at the same time, warn Beijing that it must restrain its ally or face an expanding American military focus on Asia."

Translation: my bulletproof vest only stops 50% of all projectiles and the fact that I'm wearing it ought to reassure the two other people in the room who aren't wearing vests (SOKOR and JP) because it shows I am taking Kim seriously. I might even spend more money in the future to confront China. You know, after the missile defense sites are finished in 2017.

This is the most chickenshit response imaginable. It has managed to be ludicrous while attempting to appear decisive. God have mercy on us.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment

It has been said that a country has no permanent friends and no permanent enemies, only permanent interests. This may apply to countries, but it doesn’t seem to apply to Obama, who apparently has no permanent interests beyond vacationing and getting his wife out of town, both these permanent interests so costly as to require him to conduct a low cost drone war.

A drone is but a buzzing sound
Annoying and no more
Infuriating all around
To even up the score
Obama likes them much because
They give him peace of mind
He gets to put the war on pause
While leading from behind
A hollow army, shrunken fleet
It never rains but pours
Economy in sharp retreat?
We’ll stop the White House tours

1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
All Comments   (48)
All Comments   (48)
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How Can I use my postings on this site as an alibi when the police ask me where I was when the bank heist was going down?

I ask you!
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Highly interesting. My post below appeared almost instantaneously after I clicked on the "Post Comment" field, with the time stamp "1 hour ago."

1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Pajamas Media have been taken over either by kindergarten ignoramus-types, or plain old saboteurs. It is CRAZY to have the comments/posts appear in the order of MOST RECENT FIRST. At least arranged oldest at the front you get a general sense of trends, responses, and even though dis-jointed, CONVERSATIONS.

To what rational authority to we appeal?

1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Under Xi, China seeks to cool island row with Japan
By David Lague | Reuters – Reuters/Reuters - China's newly-elected President Xi Jinping delivers a speech during the closing session of the National People's Congress (NPC) at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing March 17, 2013. REUTERS/Jason Lee less

By David Lague
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
" “There’s been a quickening pace of provocations,” said one senior administration official, describing actions and words from North Korea and its new leader, Mr. Kim. “But the real accelerant was the fact that the North Koreans seemed more unmoored from their Chinese handlers than even we had feared.”

Too bad the North Korea’s handlers let Obama down. The more basic question is: why didn’t this strategy work?"

Shirley, they can't be serious!

Do these pretenders actually believe that China sees "reining in" the looneys in the "DPRK" as being in China's interest?

Conflict and chaos, preferably nuclear heated, is in the interest of China: they get to pick up all the good bits left over, whilst tut-tutting and expressing sorrow at the situation.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
I'm going off the track here to address an important issue concerning Drones.
Drone strikes were ok until the first American was killed (Not in Combat) by a Drone. The President Violated the Constitution when he ordered that or allowed it to happen. The Constitution is not always easy to follow nor does it always make you happy! I personally am happy that the guy is dead! But it was against the law! So was killing his son and then saying "He should have picked a better father."
This is the biggest threat to our Country since King George the 3rd.!!!!!! Again the Constitution lays out how Treason must be handled. Quote:"
Article III.
Section. 3.
Treason against the United States, shall consist only in levying War against them, or in adhering to their Enemies, giving them Aid and Comfort. No Person shall be convicted of Treason unless on the Testimony of two Witnesses to the same overt Act, or on Confession in open Court.

The Congress shall have Power to declare the Punishment of Treason, but no Attainder of Treason shall work Corruption of Blood, or Forfeiture except during the Life of the Person attainted."

I don't think that you can find the President mentioned anywhere in the above Quote! It is vital to get this stopped now! You Ignore this and we end up in a Police State, We will be in a Civil War. I am not screaming that the sky is falling! I am saying that if members of Congress ignore this. OUR country is LOST!
I hope that all will see that this is a serious situation. Today it is some American Terrorist in another country, tomorrow it could be you or me simply because someone doesn't like our "point of view". Contact your congressmen today and let them know
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Since, Anchorage is the forward edge of US power projection in the Pacific and probably within range of Axis of Evil missles now, I'm back to living as one likely to be among the first at the scene of the nuclear war. During the tense days of the '80s when a flight of F-4s or later F-15s went screaming out of Elmendorf AFB on burners, you never knew if it was for some colonel to get some flight time or the end of the World. There are still the remains of '50s - '60s Nike interceptor sites around Anchorage and Fairbanks. Since at least some of those interceptor missles were nuclear armed, it is graphically clear that the US was willing to sacrifice a lot of Alaskan lives to protect the Lower 48 from Soviet bombers.

The anti-missle interceptors today are at Ft. Greely out at Delta Junction where the Richardson Hwy. from Valdez intersects with the Alcan Hwy. Ft. Greely started life as the last airfield and refueling opportunity along the Alcan route to Fairbanks where Lend-Lease aircraft were transferred to Soviet crews at Ladd Army Airfield. Best I recall, it is about 100 miles east of Fairbanks in one of the wilder and colder parts of the State. The alltime North American low temperature record of -81F was set at Snag, YT, site of another of the Alcan route airfields from WWII a couple of hundred miles to the east. The State-owned Alaska Railroad is being extended out to Ft. Greely with State and federal funds but like everything in Alaska it is proceeding slowly due to greenie opposition and funding issues.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
I assume that this new reversal will also be accompanied by a condemnation of all of the efforts by the Left and various self-promoting members of the so-called scientific community to sabotage SDI over the years.

The extent of their sabotage efforts is breathtaking. Just the ones I know of personally, from my time working in the Pentagon, are astonishing. They range from diverting funds to enrich their personal kingdoms to refusing to allow the head of SDI to be promoted.

Had they not done their work so enthusiastically and so well we probably would have a far more effective system today. Or rather, more effective systems; a belt and suspenders approach is the only thing that makes sense.

But now the lamppost shortage looms large in the minds of the Denizens of DC, and they have begun to scramble to avoid being among that number who have to wait for a lamppost to be vacated so they can be hoisted aloft.

No problem, If the Norks hit the west coast we can use those lampposts, too.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Sarah Palin is in full SNARK mode at CPAC. The writers at SNL must be wishing they were one tenth as funny.

"He got the gun, I got the rack".

1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
She's ten pounds of sugar in a five pound sack
A long straight away on a quarter mile track
She got a kiss that'll hit you like a heart attack
I got the rifle she's got the rack and

She cranks, she cranks, she cranks my tractor
She cranks, she cranks, she cranks my tractor

1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
interesting op/ed on drones in the WSJ: (don't know if a password is required, apologies if so)

They discuss how over the next 3 decades, technical capabilites of drones are going to increase vastly.

fta: The problem is that robotic weapons eventually will make kill decisions on the battlefield with no more than a veneer of human control. Full lethal autonomy is no mere next step in military strategy: It will be the crossing of a moral Rubicon. Ceding godlike powers to robots reduces human beings to things with no more intrinsic value than any object.

When robots rule warfare, utterly without empathy or compassion, humans retain less intrinsic worth than a toaster—which at least can be used for spare parts. In civilized societies, even our enemies possess inherent worth and are considered persons, a recognition that forms the basis of the Geneva Conventions and rules of military engagement."

Hello, Skynet.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
40-45 years ago I've read the SF story about an artificial bird that was designed to prevent violent thoughts to proceed to violent deeds. Do not remember either the title or the author.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
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