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Harvard Study Suggests Drone Strikes Can Disrupt Terror Groups 429

Posted by timothy
from the water-is-really-really-wet dept.
An anonymous reader writes "Can drone strikes rid the world of terror groups? Many have argued that drones/UAVs seem to be a logical weapon of war: ground troops are not needed and strikes can be specifically targeted against terror-cell leaders (so-called 'decapitation strikes). Others have argued that such attacks only fuel more anger towards the United States and the West while also trampling on nations like Pakistan's sovereign rights and territory. Two recent studies published by Harvard University's Kennedy School of Government suggest 'On the basis of comprehensive analyses of data on multiple terrorist and insurgent organizations, these studies conclude that killing or capturing terrorist leaders can reduce the effectiveness of terrorist groups or even cause terrorist organizations to disintegrate.' It seems then drones and UAVs will be a weapon of war for a long time to come."
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Harvard Study Suggests Drone Strikes Can Disrupt Terror Groups

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  • by GodfatherofSoul (174979) on Saturday July 21, 2012 @06:51PM (#40726187)

    ...it's when we miss that we cause problems.

    • by cpu6502 (1960974) on Saturday July 21, 2012 @07:07PM (#40726259)

      Don't worry. We'll just do like President Clark in Babylon 5: "Redefine the problem so it no longer exists. There are not homeless on Earth. They are simply..... displaced..... persons."

      You see the U.S. drones did not miss the target..... everyone in the killzone is defined as an "enemy combatant" even if they weren't. Hence the president can claim zero civilian casualties in his speeches.

      • by Sir_Sri (199544) on Saturday July 21, 2012 @07:35PM (#40726399)

        That's how politics is sabotaging honest analysis and discussion of possible effectiveness, and a legitimate discussion of what needs to be improved for such technology to actually be useful.

        Flying two stealth helicopters into Pakistan and shooting up a house full of people wasn't about to make them any happier than a drone strike would. But at least the helicopters make it seem like the US side was taking some human risks to achieve its goals, but if the Pakistanis had shot down the helicopters, or if it was the wrong building, someone not particularly high value or the like it would have played out very differently.

        What the article is trying to analyse is whether or not targeted assassinations can actually be effective at tearing apart terror networks. It seems reasonably obvious that they can be, on the occasion that they're targeted on the right people, and then actually kill those people. Even if you kill innocent civilians at the same time, those angered to take arms against in retaliation don't have the practical experience or leadership role in an existing terrorist network to pick up where the dead guy left off. That's almost classic Clausewitz destroying their political and military organizational capabilities, and not being particularly concerned with the total mass of the enemy force, as long as it can't organize it's not a serious threat.

        It's also pretty obvious, as you somewhat cynically point out, that claiming 'zero casualties' and so on are lies. Tracking the repercussions of those, and and long term consequences of drone strikes is going to be much messier. You might be able to tear down the Al Qaeda networks of suicide bombers and so on, but the next guy might be happy to use drones against you (or for other, less directly murderous purposes, like drug running).

        Honestly, my biggest fear with drone strikes in the long run is more about what crazy people will do with the technology when it trickles down enough into the civilian world ( you can already get RC flying vehicles it's just cost prohibitive at the moment). Are you going to see the 'minutemen' or equivalent using drones to shoot people trying to (potentially illegally) cross into the US for example? How about Italians or Spaniards trying to sink immigrant ships off their southern coasts. That sort of thing could go badly real fast. Do you want rich people using drones to 'patrol' the area their estates and, because it's their right to defend their property, shooting anyone who might look like they're illegally trespassing? Sure, this might work for taking down Al Qaeda, but I'd be far more worried about whomever is next on the list (which could be a reborn version of Al Qaeda for all it matters).

        • by PopeRatzo (965947)

          What the article is trying to analyse is whether or not targeted assassinations can actually be effective at tearing apart terror networks.

          I'm pretty sure that targeted assassinations would actually be effective at tearing apart just about any organization.

          You needed a study to tell you that?

          • by Sir_Sri (199544)

            You needed a study to tell you that?

            To quote myself in, literally, the next sentence:

            It seems reasonably obvious that they can be

            As i replied somewhere else below, they actually might not be. It seems obvious that killing people in charge of hostile organizations can be useful. It's a matter of whether or not drone strikes can effectively kill people at a high enough rate to actually degrade organizational capabilities.

            The US has done about 310 drone strikes in pakistan total (bush and obama), which under Obama is at a tempo of about 1 a week. So then how quickly is Al Qaeda able t

            • by PopeRatzo (965947) on Saturday July 21, 2012 @09:05PM (#40726881) Homepage Journal

              The US has done about 310 drone strikes in pakistan total (bush and obama), which under Obama is at a tempo of about 1 a week.

              Yeah, you're right. And right to question the drone strikes will kill them fast enough to outstrip their ability to recruit and train replacements.

              It gets hard to judge in such a decentralized, "franchised" group.

              While you can't deny that there haven't been any 9/11 style attacks in the US, I'm still really ambivalent about the methods being used.

              • by DarkOx (621550)

                While you can't deny that there haven't been any 9/11 style attacks in the US, I'm still really ambivalent about the methods being used.

                Well as long as we are trying to be objective about things. What was the economic value of the World Trade Center and the lost productive capacity of the people who died their to our society? How does that compare to what has been spent on the "War on Terror"?

                Answering those two questions requires considering lots of issues I and I expect most others would feel icky even exploring but they exist none the less. How much more wealth generating capacity in terms of spill over to other citizens did the typic

          • by Sir_Sri (199544)

            Addendum to my previous reply:

            targeted assassinations

            can only be effective if you actually kill the right person. Which is something else you need to assess, and figure out if you are, on average, killing the *right people* at a high enough rate.

            • by sortius_nod (1080919) on Saturday July 21, 2012 @08:40PM (#40726757) Homepage

              Even killing the right person can do nothing to break up an organisation.

              Look at Hamas. So many of their leaders have been assassinated over the years that almost none of the top structure are original Hamas leaders. They are still strong, & still an effective guerrilla army.

              The only way to make an terrorists lay down their arms is either with dialogue or to commit war crimes on a grand scale. Even then peace is not guaranteed.

              • The only way to make an terrorists lay down their arms is either with dialogue or to commit war crimes on a grand scale. Even then peace is not guaranteed.

                Lets simplify it...either you stop doing whatever is pissing them off enough that they'll blow themselves up to prove a point, or you have to kill all of them and everyone they know, else the next recruiting party starts with the friends and family of the guys you've killed, and they don't even give a %$@# about what pissed off the dead guys, they just want revenge.

          • by rtb61 (674572) on Saturday July 21, 2012 @10:16PM (#40727167) Homepage

            Your response is farcical. Take for example the reality of the largest terrorist organisations around at the moment crime gangs http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gangs [wikipedia.org] or even one particular group MS-13 http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mara_Salvatrucha [wikipedia.org]. How come drone strikes are not used against that particular group, numbering 70,000 members and well known for terror attacks and retaliation against policing and those that cooperate with police. Not some faked up al-Qaeda with at most maybe 500 members. MS-13 is a real terror organisation, why is it ignored in comparison, is it because in some insane psychopathic capitalist world they are OK because they are motivated by profit and greed.

            So why isn't the US, Mexican and various South American governments firing missiles at each at each other. Basically at any sounds like, looks like grouping of people that in resemble a gang member meeting to plan terrorist attacks (apparently as long as they are motivated by profit they are non-terror).

            See the insanity, you have eco-terrorists trying to protect the environment, peace activist terrorists trying to prevent conflict, union terrorists trying to get better conditions for workers but where capitalistic greed for money is the root driver they are simply a 'gang'. A real problem and the administration is silent waffling on about brown people overseas instead and killing them a random, whilst losing parts of cities to gangs and those lost neighbourhoods growing in size all of the time.

            • by hairyfeet (841228) <bassbeast1968@NOspaM.gmail.com> on Sunday July 22, 2012 @02:54AM (#40728223) Journal

              Because we don't give a shit what happens in ghettos? Not trying to be crude about it or anything, just speak the truth. You know as well as I that if MS13 started doing drive bys in Beverly Hills that they'd be getting hit hard at this very moment, but as long as they stay in the ghettos by and large the PTB just ain't gonna give a shit.

              So I don't think its about what the terrorist are motivated by when it comes to gangs like MS13, it comes down to if they "know to stay in their place' or not. Hell one could probably argue that the reason we went from working with the mob in WWII to going after the mob with the Kennedys is that they quit "knowing their place" and started going out with celebs and trying to buy their way into "nice society" instead of staying in their neighborhoods.

              America has always had serious issues when it came to class and social standing and the fact that the gangs can get away with so much as long as they stay in their place just highlights that fact.

          • by jamstar7 (694492)

            What the article is trying to analyse is whether or not targeted assassinations can actually be effective at tearing apart terror networks.

            I'm pretty sure that targeted assassinations would actually be effective at tearing apart just about any organization.

            You needed a study to tell you that?

            The main problems would be, identifying the right people to target. Obviously, if you whack a nobody, it won't impair the organisation much at all. Case in point, Nicaragua's Sandinistas. The leadership was targette

        • by cpu6502 (1960974)

          >>> you can already get RC flying vehicles it's just cost prohibitive at the moment

          http://www3.towerhobbies.com/cgi-bin/wti0001p?&I=LXCXF4**&P=7 [towerhobbies.com]
          $330 RTF (ready-to-fly)
          I actually worked in the same company that initially developed drones in the late 90s. This is where they started.

          • by Sir_Sri (199544)

            Ya but that's not enough to mount weapons on or do much other than take pictures, and even then, with a 2.6 kilo craft you'd have to have a pretty light camera (which you can get of course, but again, more money), but I grant you, in the context of was saying that wasn't perfectly clear.

            • This aside, you can build pretty powerful quadrocopters that'll carry more than 2.6kg. Not that 2.6kg isn't enough to commit a war crime.

        • by khallow (566160) on Saturday July 21, 2012 @08:23PM (#40726671)

          Are you going to see the 'minutemen' or equivalent using drones to shoot people trying to (potentially illegally) cross into the US for example? How about Italians or Spaniards trying to sink immigrant ships off their southern coasts. That sort of thing could go badly real fast. Do you want rich people using drones to 'patrol' the area their estates and, because it's their right to defend their property, shooting anyone who might look like they're illegally trespassing?

          You have very ideologically peculiar concerns. It's far more likely that a lone nut uses one to shoot people on a highway or in a mall. "Minutemen" can just shoot people with guns, if that were their inclination. It doesn't seem to be. Nor do Spaniards and Italians seem xenophobic enough to shoot strangers on sight now, much less with military-grade drones. And rich people killing people who merely trespass? What planet do you come from? They risk jail by doing that. Far better to call the cops and throw the trespassers into jail for a while.

          We might as well worry about ecoterrorists blowing up construction equipment or car lots. Or Luddites blowing up factories.

        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          What the article is trying to analyse is whether or not targeted assassinations can actually be effective at tearing apart terror networks.

          Oh dear, let me help with this. Studies cost money. When someone pays for a study, they usually have a desired outcome in mind. If the outcome is achieved by the study, then we publish and take great leeway with the results. In this case someone wanted a study run that shows that drones are good. They got that.

          Effectiveness? Haven't we killed the #2 al queda guy about 47 times now? How has that been working out for us in terror organization reduction? Oh thats right, they go to some random country t

          • by Sir_Sri (199544) on Saturday July 21, 2012 @09:46PM (#40727059)

            Studies cost money. When someone pays for a study, they usually have a desired outcome in mind.

            I do studies for a living. This statement is pure bullshit and factually not true. The study might be wrong, I don't doubt that possibility, but academia starts to unravel pretty quickly if it becomes 'pay for result'. The Author is http://www.bryancprice.com/C.V.html. he's an active member of the US armed forces, so I'll grant you that there is a perception of saying what wants to be said, but if you can't read the research yourself and actually judge the quality of the work on its own then you have to leave it up to people who can, and not just claim it's a lie because it has a result you don't like.

            Haven't we killed the #2 al queda guy about 47 times now? How has that been working out for us in terror organization reduction?

            That's actually part of what is addressed in the paper. It is by whatever metrics he's decided to use, been working out pretty well. Although 'the egyptian' Ayman al-Zawahiri was the #2 for years until Bin Laden was killed, so it's probably the #2 in Iraq or the the #3 Al Qaeda that you're thinking of, I take your point.

            You have be careful with your reaching conclusion that

            studies and their derivative press releases and press pickups are intended to do.

            which simply doesn't connect with the research - he specifically talks about the type of organization that can be taken apart by drones. Whether the media fabricates that into a garbage narrative isn't his fault.

            • by omfgnosis (963606)

              Whether the media fabricates that into a garbage narrative isn't his fault.

              I take issue with that. There are always going to be consequences from our actions, and when those consequences are reasonably predictable we have a moral obligation to ensure they lead to acceptable outcomes. If you produce a study that will obviously be corrupted to ends you find harmful, it's your duty to soak that study with disclaimers and prevent your work from being misappropriated. By not doing so, you are at least passively accepting this abuse. And don't think this is a utopian expectation. I list

            • Studies cost money. When someone pays for a study, they usually have a desired outcome in mind.

              I do studies for a living. This statement is pure bullshit and factually not true.

              As head of strategic marketing for a fortune 50 company for many years, I paid a considerable sum of money for studies to be performed, and 97% of them produced exactly the results I wanted. If I were loose lipped I'd rattle off a bunch of very familiar sounding names. To be fair, I usually had three or four of them figuring out tiny little slices of what I wanted, then I'd use a relatively anonymous aggregator to put the pieces together and feed the end result to press and media folks who would run with

      • by Teresita (982888)
        When Little Boy turned little girl into a pile of ash, I suppose she was an enemy combatant too.
    • by toastar (573882)
      That's what these are for http://i.imgur.com/L68TB.jpg [imgur.com]
    • by jez9999 (618189)

      Or when you hit, and they turned out to be innocents. Or when you hit, and you know full fucking well innocents will die but you go ahead anyway. Like with double-taps.

    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward

      We never miss, now that Obama has redefined "militant" to mean every military-age male in the strike zone. [morallowground.com]

      Problem solved.

    • by Gorobei (127755) on Saturday July 21, 2012 @07:35PM (#40726401)

      ...it's when we miss that we cause problems.

      Yep. I read the original paper: it hardly talks about drone strikes at all: it is about the effectiveness of killing the leaders of relatively young, violent NGOs.

      I would really hope that no one in power reads the Slashdot "article" and believes that drone strikes are scientifically justified effective policy: the effects of mistargeting are not included; the operational changes in response to a drone strategy are not included (e.g. misinformation goes up as people call "terrorist" on their enemies.)

      This is a paper examining narrow, historical data. It shouldn't be read as claiming broad strategic policy proposals.

    • by aurizon (122550) <bill.jackson@gmail.AUDENcom minus poet> on Saturday July 21, 2012 @09:19PM (#40726941)

      A small drone, with camera and scrambled controller that can carry a 2 ounce explosive, with a range of 1000 yards can be bought for under $1000, (some for under $300 - with less range and load capability). With such a device, which can be delivered to your door by UPS, can any person be immune from assassination by any other motivated person?

      We are entering a period of vulnerability where terrorists can buy such drones and attack anyone. I wonder when the first such attack will occur?

  • by Genda (560240) <mariet@ g o t . n et> on Saturday July 21, 2012 @06:56PM (#40726209) Journal

    That a tactical nuke can disrupt a picnic... this is news?

  • by tomhath (637240) on Saturday July 21, 2012 @06:59PM (#40726221)

    FTA

    these studies conclude that killing or capturing terrorist leaders can reduce the effectiveness of terrorist groups or even cause terrorist organizations to disintegrate

    The studies conclude that killing the leaders of terrorist groups hurts the groups.

    UAVs are one tool available, as are Special Forces, and traditional military force. I suppose the conclusion of the headline is correct though, UAVs are an effective weapon. Who knew?

    • by Sir_Sri (199544)

      Who knew?

      A similar problem, on the effectiveness of patriot missile systems was looked at for years. (e.g. from 1992 http://www.fas.org/spp/starwars/congress/1992_h/h920407h.htm)

      As it turned out, the US was *completely* wrong in it's early assessments of how effective their missile intercept technology was. That's why you do studies like this. It was quite possible UAV's were never, or almost never, successfully killing the person targeted, or that just killing a person (even a person with some leadership experi

      • by dbIII (701233) on Saturday July 21, 2012 @11:22PM (#40727441)
        Also after you've killed off the Colonels you're still left with a Major problem.

        The French in Algeria found that the faster they executed suspected rebels the larger the rebellion got, and more capable organisers previously in the mainstream joined up and made the rebellion far more capable.
        Extreme measures draw extreme responses and tend to cause problems at home as well (France again - attempted assassination of the President by ex-servicemen that carried out executions in Algeria).
    • Drones are responsible for a vast amount of the killings, though I'm sure that there are lots of these dudes being snatched up and put into a dark network of getting their genitals zapped until they talk. Decapitation strikes kill organizations not only by the obvious but also because it leads to uncertainty and distrust between its members. These strikes cannot happen without accurate and actionable intelligence. If you're a terrorist organization already using good operational security, then you have to b

  • They grow-up desiring to get revenge on the Americans for killing their parents (who were just innocent bystanders). The cycle of hate never stops.

    • by jklovanc (1603149) on Saturday July 21, 2012 @07:55PM (#40726515)

      It would stop if people got past the "eye for an eye, tooth for a tooth" teachings of the Old Testament (I am not sure what the quran says about this but I bet there is a similar quote). People need to look at the specific people they are considering killing, see them as individuals and ask "Has this specific person wronged me or the people I an sworn to protect in such a way as to deserve death?". I believe in most cases the answer will be no; especially in generational conflicts. Maybe this will stop the "An American killed my father; you are an American prepare to die". Did the person being threatened do the killing? No, therefore that specific person does not deserve death. Perhaps that can change to "An American killed my father but you did not do it yourself therefore I will not kill you".

      When we can get away from battles between factions and deconstruct it to what it really is, people killing people, maybe we can stop the cycle.

      Some may call drone strikes terrorism but I do not. In my mind the difference is intent. The intent of a drone strike is to eliminate the training and control structure of a organization whose main goal is to inflict damage on the Western World. This is very different than the intent of al-Qaeda which is to change policy by terrorizing people. The fact that drones sometimes miss and usually kill possibly innocent people does not change the intent. How many terrorist commanders are deliberately staying in civilian areas to try to protect themselves. Should we allow enemy commanders to use human shields? It is well known that the US will take out and al-Qaeda leader they find. It is up to the al-Qaeda leader to decide whose lives are put at risk by being close by. How many of the "innocent civilians" are actually supplying and supporting terrorists or possibly terrorists themselves?

      • It would stop if people got past the "eye for an eye, tooth for a tooth" teachings of the Old Testament

        It would probably help almost as much if people understood what that line actually means. It's not saying that you must take an eye for an eye, but that you must not take more. That is, you can't blind a man because he damaged one of your eyes, or knock out all of his teeth because he knocked out one of yours.
        • by jklovanc (1603149)

          There is an issue here in that many Muslims are being killed by Americans. A death for a death would fit into this philosophy. But does that mean that any Muslim can legitimately kill any American? I don't think so. There is also another issue in that a crime must have been committed. For example, if someone attacks someone else and in the fight loses an eye does the defender owe the attacker an eye? Absolutely not as the defender did not break the law in defending himself.

          I think it also means that punishm

  • Strange arguments (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Pf0tzenpfritz (1402005) on Saturday July 21, 2012 @07:02PM (#40726237) Journal

    Can drone strikes rid the world of terror groups? [...] Others have argued that such attacks only fuel more anger towards the United States and the West while also trampling on nations like Pakistan's sovereign rights and territory.

    Nice. It's just that these things don't have much to do with each other and not much more with the study's topics. A terrorist organization "disintegrating" does not mean there won't be another one.

    I can't help the feeling that any study about actual politics -especially the more questionable part of it- that will be presented to the public will be in favor of the status quo.

    • can't help the feeling that any study about actual politics -especially the more questionable part of it- that will be presented to the public will be in favor of the status quo.

      Certainly, if the government requested the study or produced it internally. But for studies done at universities and independent think tanks, the govenment and other powerful interests have limited ability to control the message.

      • by mrvan (973822)

        In general, this may be true. However, TFA is based on "Two recent studies published [in Harvard journal] International Security". Reading further, these are:

        n “Targeting Top Terrorists: How Leadership Decapitation Contributes to Counterterrorism,” Bryan Price, who will soon join the Combating Terrorism Center at the U.S. Military Academy, analyzed the effects of leadership attacks on 207 terrorist groups from sixty-five countries between 1970 and 2008.

        And:

        Patrick Johnston, a former fellow in the Belfer Center’s International Security Program who is now at the RAND Corporation, considers whether leadership decapitation reduces the effectiveness of terrorist and insurgent groups. In “Does Decapitation Work? Assessing the Effectiveness of Leadership Targeting in Counterinsurgency Campaigns,” Johnston ...

        Given that the two cited authors are respectively joining the military and a think tank affiliated with the military, I an afraid that these studies has the objectivity of the former Iraqi Minister of Information... Also, a scientific journal will accept a theoretical model or simulation if it is methodologically sound, even if the actual bearing o

  • by Oxford_Comma_Lover (1679530) on Saturday July 21, 2012 @07:02PM (#40726239)

    Killing people in an organization usually makes the organization weaker. So, too, does the expenditure of resources. These are the premises on which war is based. Whether it is done with swords, machine guns, bioweapons, nukes, or drones.

    The choice of weapon may alter the truth of that premise by altering the willingness of people to fund, to assist, to kill for, or to die for those organizations. It will also alter the cost per kill.

    As a tool, drones obviously help to kill people. The question is whether they are cost-effective and what the psychological consequences are.

  • by MichaelSmith (789609) on Saturday July 21, 2012 @07:06PM (#40726257) Homepage Journal

    They are also very effective in normal building demolition.

  • Look, the way we took down bin Laden was the RIGHT way to do it and it was the way it should have been done from the very beginning... if you have an enemy, decapitate him. But instead we treated (and treat) entire populations as if they were the enemy, which really only serves to make US the enemy instead. So I'm torn... on the one hand, if drones can do this, then good... on the other, what happens when our relatively lack of accountability in using them takes a darker turn? What happens when a peaceni
    • Mod parent up for this one short sentence:

      "Who decides who is a terrorist?"

    • http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fRMV7zi4h_k [youtube.com]

      But maybe US vice-president Joe Biden would agree about the founder of Wikileaks?
      http://www.guardian.co.uk/media/2010/dec/19/assange-high-tech-terrorist-biden [guardian.co.uk]
      "Asked if he saw Assange as closer to a hi-tech terrorist than the whistleblower who released the Pentagon papers in the 1970s, which disclosed the lie on which US involvement in Vietnam was based, Biden replied: "I would argue it is closer to being a hi-tech terrorist than the Pentagon papers. But, look, this

    • by dkleinsc (563838)

      On the other, what happens when our relatively lack of accountability in using them takes a darker turn? What happens when a peacenik (as suggested by Goering at the nuremburg trials) is denounced at a traitor and subject to 'droning,' too? Who decides who is a terrorist?

      Here's a crazy idea of how we might do this:
      1. US executive branch comes up with evidence that somebody is a terrorist.
      2. US executive branch presents that evidence to some sort of judicial body, such as a grand jury or panel of judges.
      3. If that evidence is enough to sustain an indictment, there's now an attempt to capture that person.
      4. If that person resists capture, then force may be used to capture or kill the bad guy.
      5. If that person is captured, take them to a court where evidence for and against th

      • by emagery (914122)
        The system you mention would be just about the only thing that really should be able to have access to this kind of power; my concern is that that system is being pressured by the likes of monsanto and the NRA and walmart and you name whatever mutlinational corporation you like. Concentrated power attracts corruption even if it was originally created with the best on intentions. I'm all for constitutional requirements; I'm just not 100% convinced that they're holding sway anymore... and no, I'm not anti-o
  • ...then skynet became sentient, then we had to send a terminator back and then...ah hell, you know the rest.
  • by Paul Fernhout (109597) on Saturday July 21, 2012 @07:36PM (#40726407) Homepage

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Disciplined_Minds [wikipedia.org]
    "Disciplined Minds is a book by physicist Jeff Schmidt published in 2000. The book describes how professionals are made; the methods of professional and graduate schools that turn eager entering students into disciplined managerial and intellectual workers that correctly perceive and apply the employer's doctrine and outlook. Schmidt uses the examples of law, medicine, and physics, and describes methods that students and professional workers can use to preserve their personalities and independent thought."

    See also:
    http://disciplinedminds.tripod.com/ [tripod.com]
    http://www.chomsky.info/articles/199710--.htm [chomsky.info]
    http://www.johntaylorgatto.com/chapters/16a.htm [johntaylorgatto.com]
    http://www.historyisaweapon.com/defcon1/zinncomrev24.html [historyisaweapon.com]
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Best_and_the_Brightest [wikipedia.org]

    Those links explain in part how can such "smart" people totally ignore the potential for "blowback" from the violent actions they endorse (actions which include the slaughter of endless innocents, the violation of national sovereignty and probably international law, the setting of an example of ironic misuse of advanced technology that could otherwise bring material abundance to the entire world, and so on)... These links help show why these academics are willfully blind to the idea that they are endorsing polices that may be creating 100 new terrorist for every one they think they might have killed.

    Never forget what one of our greatest Marine Major Generals said:
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/War_Is_a_Racket [wikipedia.org]
    "War Is a Racket is the title of two works, a speech and a booklet, by retired United States Marine Corps Major General and two time Medal of Honor recipient Smedley D. Butler. In them, Butler frankly discusses from his experience as a career military officer how business interests commercially benefit from warfare."

    Iraq, Afghanistan, and Pakistan were *supposed* to be expensive quagmires so somebody's buddies coudl get lucrative "defense" contracts. These conflicts were *supposed* to drive up oil prices so somebody's buddies would see the value of their domestic oil holdings increase. And so on...

    See also:
    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/marjorie-cohn/killer-drone-attacks-ille_b_1623065.html [huffingtonpost.com]
    "Christof Heyns, the current UN Special Rapporteur on Extrajudicial, Summary, or Arbitrary Executions, expressed grave concern about the targeted killings, saying they may constitute war crimes. He called on the Obama administration to explain how its drone strikes comport with international law, specify the bases for decisions to kill rather than capture particular individuals, and whether the State in which the killing takes place has given consent. Heyns further asked for specification of the procedural safeguards in place, if any, to ensure in advance of drone killings that they comply with international law. He also wanted to know what measures the U.S. government takes after any such killing to ensure that its legal and factual analysis was accurate and, if not, the remedial measures it would take, including justice and reparations for victims and their families. Although Heyns' predecessor made similar requests, Heyns said the United States has not provided a satisfactory response.
    Heyns also called on the U.S. government to make public the number of civilians collaterally killed as a result of drone attacks, and the measures in place to prevent such casualties. Once again, Heyns said the United States has not satisfactor

  • Foolish, foolish (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Black Parrot (19622) on Saturday July 21, 2012 @07:39PM (#40726423)

    Imagine what would happen if the US government or law enforcement agencies started making drone kills within our own borders, saying "we only target terrorists and drug lords; so sorry if we occasionally hit a church gathering or a country club".

    After pausing to consider how that would make you feel, imagine how we're making people in other countries feel.

    The problem with the Western Powers is that they're always wrapping themselves in the banner of moral "rights". If we exploit the natives and some of them react violently, we have a "right" to respond with overwhelming force. After all, "they started it".

    But this focus on presumed (and self-declared) rights is utterly incompatible with actually addressing the cause of the problem.

    If we want peace with the Muslim world, we need to go home and quit treating them like subjects who are illegally camped on "our" oil supply.

  • This more to do with network theory. There is next to no value in killing minions. They are easily replaceable and can be promoted as martyrs. Leaders on the other hand take time to train and create a network of trust. The minions in fact are what lead to the leaders. So the minions are invaluable source of information against these terrorist groups. They are not quite as bright and they are the means the leaders interface with the real world. The more they obfuscate this link, the harder it is to do their
  • killing or capturing terrorist leaders can reduce the effectiveness of terrorist groups or even cause terrorist organizations to disintegrate

    And all this time the US military were just doing it for the lols. How serendipitous.

    Many have argued that drones/UAVs seem to be a logical weapon of war: ground troops are not needed and strikes can be specifically targeted against terror-cell leaders (so-called 'decapitation strikes). Others have argued that such attacks only fuel more anger towards the United States and the West

    Hopefully some other "others" realise that it's not a binary choice and that drone strikes can in fact do both at the same time.

  • http://cnsnews.com/news/article/faa-has-authorized-106-government-entities-fly-domestic-drones [cnsnews.com]

    "Since Jan. 1 of this year, according to congressional testimony presented Thursday by the Government Accountability Office, the Federal Aviation Administration has authorized 106 federal, state and local government “entities” to fly “unmanned aircraft systems,” also known as drones, within U.S. airspace."

  • So, if I've got this right, the study suggests that if you blow people up, they are less inclined to join terror organizations.

  • Who paid for this "study"?

  • I just want to ask one very stupid question: name one human activity which drone strikes do not disrupt?
  • For an organized movement to be effective it takes leadership. There need to be people who are willing to plan, organize and command actions. These leaders need charisma to convince others to join them and follow orders. It takes intelligence to plan the actions. It take courage to carry them out. Very few people have these attributes in enough abundance to convince other to follow them when the possibility of death is very high. Drone strikes work in three ways. First it they eliminate the current leaders

    • It takes leadership, yes... but when that fails, there's always religion.

      When you absolutely, positively, have to get people to do what you tell them, even at great cost to themselves, just wave a Bible or a Koran. 100% of the time, it works every time.

  • American diplomats have been courting the Arabs since early 1800s. One of them inserted a clause:

    As the Government of the United States of America is not, in any sense, founded on the Christian religion,—as it has in itself no character of enmity against the laws, religion, or tranquility, of Mussulmen [Muslims],—and as the said States never entered into any war or act of hostility against any Mahometan [Muslim] nation, it is declared by the parties that no pretext arising from religious opinions shall ever produce an interruption of the harmony existing between the two countries.

    in the Treaty of Tripoly > [wikipedia.org] and aggressively promoted secular America as an alternative to Christian Europe. When the world energy shifted from coal to oil, America was well positioned to get preferential treatment from the Arabs. American oil companies getting better deals than Dutch and Brit companies owes much to this ground laid by foresighted American diplomats

    After World War II, Europe did not reall

  • In some of the intelligence pulled from his hideout, were a number of letters to his cronies about how to avoid drone strikes. Just the fact that he felt he needed to warn them seems to indicate that the strikes were effective.

  • The Algeria lesson (Score:4, Interesting)

    by dbIII (701233) on Saturday July 21, 2012 @09:36PM (#40727023)
    In Algeria the French started killing rebels, then anyone they pulled off the street that looked like they might be a rebel. They racked up a huge body count much larger than their initial, probably accurate, estimate of members of the rebellion. Instead of reducing the rebellion they were inflaming it.
    In the end the entire operation backfired to the extent that military personal involved in the executions and torture decided that the French President had betrayed them, and they were good at assassinations, so why not try to kill him off too? The attempt failed and the attempted assassins were arrested, but how's that for an example of "what could possibly go wrong" when you have state sanctioned death squads in a modern democratic state?
  • by kmahan (80459) on Saturday July 21, 2012 @11:56PM (#40727587)

    "Kill Decision" by Daniel Suarez is about the possibility that drones will be developed as more of an autonomous vehicle. And humans won't be required to authorize the strike.

  • I wonder if.... (Score:4, Insightful)

    by ukemike (956477) on Sunday July 22, 2012 @12:41AM (#40727749) Homepage
    I wonder if the study took into account that dropping bombs onto wedding parties radicalizes a whole generation to despise us as the cowardly evil power that hides half a planet away and drops bombs from remote control airplanes on their families.
  • by ukemike (956477) on Sunday July 22, 2012 @12:52AM (#40727785) Homepage
    The Blitz disrupted England pretty heavily, but it didn't win the war for Germany did it? In fact it just taught the Brits just how important it was that they defeat the Nazis.

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