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ISIS, Obama, And Why Everbody Loves The Drone War

Submitted by Pater Tenebrarum via Acting-Man blog,

Everybody Loves the Drone War … Including Al Qaeda

President Obama has long ago decided it is best to make war in video-game fashion (from high up, and preferably using remote-controlled devices), and it seems this is meeting with the public’s approval – some 65% of Americans are A-OK with the “drone war” according to surveys.

Admittedly, replies to such polls depend very much on how the questions are framed. Our guess would be that these questions contain no hints about the vast uncertainties involved and the many civilians killed in the process. Presumably not too many people know that in some of the targeted countries, entire communities are living in fear these days. Many people have lost relatives, who have become “regrettable collateral damage”.


Predator drone

(Image via, author unknown)



In the US some of the most interesting news sources these days appear to be comedy shows. British import John Oliver has decided to take a look at the drone war issue in his show, and it is quite an informative overview. The drone program is not only shrouded in secrecy, it seems obvious that the government itself very often doesn’t really know whom it is killing by remote control.

No doubt many ‘militants’ are terminated (which could be anyone in the Hindukush running around with a gun, which in that region means practically every male inhabitant), but when 13-year old children tell you that they “prefer a gray sky to a blue one because then there are no drones overhead” one thing is perfectly clear: future blow-back is created in great abundance.

By now pretty much everybody in the Pashtun-inhabited areas of Pakistan and in the Sunni-dominated parts of Yemen probably hates the US with a passion. In fact, it is well known that Al Quaeda recruitment in Yemen has been greatly helped by the drone war. For every militant killed, a bunch of new ones shows up to join the “war against the infidels”.

The entire process of killing people in secret without even a hint of due process is highly dubious, to say the least – even if armed fundamentalist radicals are the main target. Rosa Brooks, a Georgetown professor and former Pentagon official under President Obama, explained the US policy on drone strikes during a congressional hearing last year as follows:


“Right now we have the executive branch making a claim that it has the right to kill anyone, anywhere on Earth, at any time, for secret reasons based on secret evidence, in a secret process undertaken by unidentified officials. That frightens me.”


Here is the video of John Oliver discussing the topic on his show:


ISIS Unfazed by Air Strikes

Surprise, surprise. As Mish reports, ISIS seems pretty much unfazed by air airstrikes and continues its campaign against Kurds living between the northern boundary of its “caliphate” and Turkey.

Let’s see – when the president first ordered “limited airstrikes for humanitarian reasons”, it was all over the news how “reluctant” he was. By now these limited humanitarian interventions have become a “war that could last years”. Mark our words, ground troops are on the menu next. As we have pointed out several times in the past, it seems highly unlikely that ISIS will be defeated by air strikes alone. If that were possible, Assad would have done it already.

Anyway, we’re not even sure that this is really the goal. Ultimately, the entire situation in the Middle East may simply be the desired outcome of a “divide et impera” strategy. This to say, permanent chaos may in fact be what was intended from the outset, and these occasional interventions merely have the aim of not letting any single faction become too powerful.

We are just idly speculating of course and cannot prove anything of the sort, but on the other hand, we can also not imagine that the people behind the constant meddling in the region were/are not aware of the likely results. After all, it’s not like it never happened before. Similarly, the inevitable blow-back from the drone wars may well be fully expected and be part of the calculus. The US government is even inventing non-existent terror groups it can attack (no-one in Syria has ever heard of a group by the name of “Khorasan”, which almost certainly is an US invention. But they will attack us any second now!)

After all, “war is the health of the State” as Randolph Bourne remarked, and constantly creating new enemies certainly has the side effect of keeping the State in fine fettle.