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Targeted Killing

There was an interesting article in the New Yorker this week by Jane Mayer. It was about our predator drones and their use in Targeted Killing. The article is actually pretty darn good. Here is a link to the except: http://www.newyorker.com/reporting/2009/10/26/091026fa_fact_mayer .

The general gist was Targeted Killing is bad, but targeted killing using Predator drones with our folks well out of Harms way is way way worse.

So my first thought is- Is targeted killing bad? What’s the alternative.  Non-Targeted killing? or Not killing at all? Which of the 3 will bring the least amount of harm to the US in the long run. We have never been very good at planning ahead militarily, take Afghanistan in the 80’s.

So lets take our 3 options and dissect them.

First lets set our scenario. Mr. Pink. Mr. Pink is a bad guy. He kills americans. Lots of americans. He is always surrounded by family or friends in an area that is hard to pin him down in, hard to find him. But he can be found if we work hard enough at it.

Now we go through our options-

Targeted killing- to me the question has to be do we use targeted killing or not, Not do we use the best tool available for the job. If you are a doctor and you have a scalpel you are not going use a damn butcher knife. You are going to use the best tool available.

What’s wrong with Targeted Killing? One of the main point of contention about the use of targeted killing as government policy is who is choosing the target and how it is chosen.   Two of the fears are, that it may get abused or the policy for choosing the target might keep expanding to include others that were not considered when Targeted Killing was initially started.

Why would we use it? We would and do use it to kill high level officers and masterminds behind what most of us hope is enemy activity, people that in one way or another would kill or help kill americans. And that we use tools to do it with the least collateral damage as possible while trying to keep our soldiers as safe as we can.

So lets take our Mr. Pink. He is driving in his car with his family and we decide we need to kill him. Boom predator fires, car blows up everyone dies. Say 5 people.

Non-Targeted(or conventional good ol blood and guts) killing: This is where it gets interesting. This is where the powers that be have to decide that MR. Pink is worth pursuing with ground troops, ground troops that can be killed. So we send in the 101st and they stay in the area for months and they finally kill Mr. Pink-a lot of times they will stay and not find Mr. pink. But this time they found him and killed him. Was it a clean kill? What was the overall collateral damage done with the occupation. How many of our troops were lost, how many innocent civvies died? I would venture to say more than 5.

And that brings us to our last option. To let him alone. To leave him be. So Mr. Pink organizes attacks or bombings and more people die.  And why do we leave him alone? Because we might kill people other than the target. Of course the fact that he went on to kill more folks because we didn’t act never goes noticed because its a damn hard metric to collect.

In looking at these scenarios, the targeted killing option starts looking pretty good.

Then you have to ask what if it took 15 cars to get to Mr. Pink. 15 cars filled with innocents that the drones were mistakenly used on, would it still be worth it. I think it is. No matter how hard we try you can not civilize war. If we cant fight the way we need to then we need to get out of there. Which may be my entire point. I don’t think the American public has the stomach for us to do what is needed to do to win(we sure didn’t in vietnam) so why half ass it and keep getting our folks killed with crazy rules and laws trying to humanize war. Lets just get out of there. We are screwed if we are killing bad guy and not having our guys getting killed and we still have folks bitchin. There is no nice way to win a war.

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