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Thursday, February 7, 2013

David Brooks, "Florence and the Drones": Do You Suffer from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder?

Do you suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder ("PTSD")? Do you even believe in its existence? Personally, I'm not big on labels. Yes, I've witnessed the aftermath of suicide bombings from up close, I've got a hairline trigger temper, it's hard for me to forgive and forget, and I have few expectations involving human charity and compassion. But then I suppose that we all have unresolved issues from the past, and I'm not complaining about the hand that I was dealt. After all, I chose to sit down at the blackjack table.

David Brooks latest New York Times op-ed, "Florence and the Drones" (http://www.nytimes.com/2013/02/08/opinion/brooks-florence-and-the-drones.html), is a must read. Brooks's opinion piece brings into focus Obama's policy of using drones to deter terror, which has finally captured the attention of the public owing to questioning on Thursday by the Senate Intelligence Committee of John Brennan, the president's nominee for director the CIA (see: http://www.washingtonpost.com/world/national-security/brennan-defends-drone-strike-policies/2013/02/07/f7384950-7145-11e2-ac36-3d8d9dcaa2e2_story.html?hpid=z2).

Brooks writes:

"There are still terrorists out there, hiding in the shadows and plotting to kill Americans. So even today’s leaders face the Machiavellian choice: Do I have to be brutal to protect the people I serve? Do I have to use drones, which sometimes kill innocent children, in order to thwart terror and save the lives of my own?

When Barack Obama was a senator, he wasn’t compelled to confront the brutal logic of leadership. Now in office, he’s thrown into the Machiavellian world. He’s decided, correctly, that we are in a long war against Al Qaeda; that drone strikes do effectively kill terrorists; that, in fact, they inflict fewer civilian deaths than bombing campaigns, boots on the ground or any practical alternative; that, in fact, civilian death rates are dropping sharply as the C.I.A. gets better at this. Acting brutally abroad saves lives at home."

However, Brooks also believes that Obama's use of drones demands oversight:

"Drone strikes are so easy, hidden and abstract. There should be some independent judicial panel to review the kill lists. There should be an independent panel of former military and intelligence officers issuing reports on the program’s efficacy."

Indeed, al-Qaeda has not been neutered, as the Obama administration wanted us believe prior to the tragedy in Benghazi. Moreover, as recently acknowledged by The New York Times (http://www.nytimes.com/2012/12/09/world/middleeast/syrian-rebels-tied-to-al-qaeda-play-key-role-in-war.html?pagewanted=all), "The lone Syrian rebel group with an explicit stamp of approval from Al Qaeda has become one of the uprising’s most effective fighting forces, posing a stark challenge to the United States and other countries that want to support the rebels but not Islamic extremists."

My dark vision of the world, which may or may not be affected by PTSD? I wouldn't make too much of an issue of drone strikes. Ultimately, al-Qaeda and its counterparts will adapt their tactics to the drone threat, rendering it entirely ineffective - akin to bacteria growing resistant to antibiotics. New medicines will need to be sought in this protracted war against terrorism, which shows no sign of abating.

If you ask me, not nearly enough has been done to obstruct terrorist financing. Without funds, al-Qaeda and Hezbollah cannot perpetrate their abhorrent outrages. But in order to choke off the financing, Europe and the world's banks need to cooperate. Then, too, the US requires a secretary of defense with a no-nonsense, uncompromising attitude toward terror and not the contradictory, self-serving views of Chuck Hagel.

But then who is asking?


3 comments:

  1. Breitbart News is reporting that an organization called "Friends of Hamas" is one of Hagel's sources of foreign funding.
    No wonder why Hagel doesn't want to disclose his foreign donor list and Associate Communications Director at the White House, Eric Schultz isn't taking calls.
    http://www.breitbart.com/Big-Peace/2013/02/07/Hagel-Friends-of-Hamas-WH

    Who knew?

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  2. I have chronic PTSD, and it IS real, and not related to combat or physical violence. Those susceptible often linked to disrupted thyroid function.

    Have no idea why you opened with that.

    K2K

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  3. Thanks, K2K. There are those who would say that I am "hypervigilant," and I try to examine my responses to perceived threats and to determine whether I am over overreacting.

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