Beatings Drone Strikes Will Continue Until Morale Improves'>Brennan to Pakistan: The
Beatings Drone Strikes Will Continue Until Morale Improves
There was yet another US drone strike in Pakistan today. According to Bill Roggio at Long War Journal, today’s strike is the fourth strike in six days. After the first strike in this series, I posed the question of whether that strike was more politically based than strategically based, as the strike came just two days (Roggio has it as one day after the summit, but there are large time zone differences; the summit ended on Monday in Chicago and the first strike was early Wednesday local time in Pakistan) after US-Pakistan negotiations on reopening NATO supply routes through Pakistan broke down at the NATO summit in Chicago and on the very day that Dr. Shakeel Afridi was sentenced for treason because he helped the CIA to gather intelligence that aided the US raid to kill Osama bin Laden.
There is now ample evidence to believe that politics are indeed behind the recent strikes and, as Marcy and I have been noting on Twitter, they likely will continue on a virtually daily basis to make the political points that the US is stressing. Recall that after the first strike in the series, I quoted a Guardian article that also came to the conclusion the strike was politically motivated:
The attack came as Washington runs out of patience with Islamabad’s refusal to reopen supply routes for Nato troops in Afghanistan.
US drone strikes have complicated negotiations over the routes, which Pakistan closed six months ago in retaliation for US air strikes that killed 24 Pakistani soldiers along the Afghan border. Pakistan’s parliament demanded the strikes stop after the attack, but the US refused.
In today’s report, Roggio provides a quote with direct evidence that the strikes now are tied politically to the impasse over reopening the supply routes (although it seems likely that Dana Rohrabacher isn’t the only one advocating the use of a “stick” on Pakistan over the Afridi sentencing, too):
A US intelligence official involved in the drone program in the country told The Long War Journal that the strikes would continue now that Pakistan has refused to reopen NATO’s supply lines for the International Security Assistance Force in Afghanistan.
“There certainly hasn’t been a shortage of targets in Pakistan’s tribal areas,” the official said. “Unfortunately the politics of getting the GLOC into Afghanistan has trumped the targeting of bad guys in Pakistan’s tribal areas,” the official said, referring to the Ground Lines of Communication.
But hold on just a minute here. Note the misdirection in this quote. Despite the claim that the US is “targeting bad guys” with these strikes, Roggio reports elsewhere in this article that no high value target has been reported as killed in today’s attack. In fact, he reports that there have been 17 US drone strikes in Pakistan this year, but only two high value targets have been killed in them.
Where have we heard someone recently trying to make the false claim that “signature strikes” are targeted rather than based simply on patterns of activity? Why that would be in John Brennan’s April 30 drone speech, which Marcy has cleanly dissected as a failed attempt to direct attention away from the war crimes committed regularly in signature strikes.
Roggio’s anonymous source says basically that the strikes will continue until the political situation improves. Despite the source’s claim that the strikes target “bad guys” the evidence instead shows that these are signature strikes that at best target mid-level or even lower level militants who happen to be in areas “known to harbor insurgents”. Given how closely this misdirection about targeting mirrors Brennan’s speech (and the fact that Brennan himself now controls signature strikes) it seems likely that the strikes themselves are Brennan’s way of telling Pakistan that the beatings will continue until morale improves.
I don’t know why you oppose targeting bakeries. Naan can be very dangerous, you know.
@emptywheel: Yup. This avi pic for the twitter person known as @kissmyroti looks like pretty frightening bread product, too:
areas “known to harbor insurgents”
Can they add the militia movement and C Street to their list of insurgents?
And now there is a second strike today:
@Jim White: Ah, see? It’s obvious that we just haven’t figured out what counts as a “day,” but they really are on a drone-strike-a-day pace.
Is there any reason that the Pakistan military cannot shoot down the drones- assuming they have the capacity? Can’t they say they are defending the civilian population that is being killed in these attacks? “We told you to stop, you wouldn’t listen, so we did what we had to do.”
@justbetty: Well, it is their air space. But then there is the question of those billions of dollars they have gotten from us over the years and whether they want that to continue.
Obama administration celebrates Memorial Day with war crimes. You simply cannot put lipstick on that pig.
OT– Remember, this is from the Guardian … “Syrian army being aided by Iranian forces” (Guardian.Co.Uk, by Saeed Kamali Dehghan, May 28, 2012, 16.41 BST):
@John Iacovelli: Just shaking my head, F*&^%*$ cycle-0-paths running the country.
@mzchief:There is also Russian Advisers (aka sops) there helping the Assad govt. Then there’s more weapons on the way from Russia as they try a catch up to the Amerikan proxies suppling the so-call freedom fighters. This isn’t going to end well for anyone in Syria
@justbetty: Yes…and no.
Just my thoughts, but in order for Pakistan to shoot down the US drones flying over Pakistan’s Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA), they have limited choices:
1) Use Pakistan’s US-supplied F-16s to shoot down the US drones either with the F-16’s onboard cannon or with its air-to-air missiles. Neither can be considered an easy shot. Cannon fire is a tough shot against such a small target as a drone. Air-to-air missiles are either infrared-guided or radar-guided, and again, against a small signature like a drone, not an easy shot.
Pakistan is also probably loathe to redeploy its limited number of F-16s from their primary mission of air defense and air attack against Pakistan’s dreaded rival India.
2) Use anti-aircraft artillery (AAA). This would mean placing Pakistani military troops manning those AAA batteries within Pakistan’s FATA. Given that Pakistan’s FATA encompasses some 27,000 square miles of territory, there would have to be Pakistani military troops manning those AAA batteries all over the place.
The Pakistani military would be loathe to do this because again it would mean redeploying their AAA air-defense assets away from their primary target of the Indian Air Force, and secondarily, and perhaps even more importantly, those Pakistani military troops manning all of those AAA batteries would themselves be targets smack dab in the middle of enemy territory.
There is a very good reason that the Pakistani military and government are reluctant to go into the FATA, and that is because they don’t rule there. The various tribes and gangs do.
And speaking of Blabbermouth Brennan’s US drone strikes, earlier today in Yemen via the AP:
Since I don’t believe the Yemen Navy has such a missile capability, who do you think does?
If you said the US Navy, who just happens to have a bunch of its missile-equipped ships always patrolling off the Yemen coastline, give yourself a gold star!
And related to Jim’s point about the “tit-for-tat” politics of the US/Pakistan relationship these days, this from the WaPo:
@MadDog: When the
CIA’sWaPo’s David Ignatius speaks, all must bow down and listen:
Totally OT – Via The Diplomat:
@MadDog: I have a couple problems with what Army Brig. Gen. Neil Tolley, commander of U.S. Special Operations Forces in South Korea said.
US Special Operations soldiers on the ground in North Korea are no better at seeing North Koreans digging holes in the ground than are our overhead reconnaissances systems.
If you are digging tunnels underground that extend for miles, evidence of that can clearly been seen from the air. There would be evidence of a lot of people at such sites, and a whole lot of dirt that has to be removed from the underground tunnels and taken away somewhere.
Neither US Special Operations soldiers on the ground nor our overhead reconnaissances systems can determine the direction of the underground tunnels by watching things above ground.
I rather doubt that US Special Operations soldiers or South Korean soldiers are going into these underground tunnels to determine the direction as these places are likely guarded 24×7 by the North Koreans.
So tell me what would be the cost/benefit analysis of risking the lives of US Special Operations soldiers by parachuting them into one of the most dangerous places on the planet?
Or in other words, is the US Special Operations command out of their fookin’ minds, and out of control?
Politically motivated drone strikes, the use of violence or the ongoing threat of violence to achieve political aims. That’s essentially the definition of terrorism, yes? So who are the terrorists?
You know, every time news of another drone strike gets reported and we’re told that suspected militants or suspected terrorists have been killed, I wonder exactly what militant or terrorist acts it is the newly dead are suspected of having committed, and given that these suspects are being killed in areas far removed from our own shores and even our foreign bases and armed forces, I wonder how those acts of which they are suspected can possibly be against the United States.
I believe that the labels “militant” and “terrorist” are used consciously by our government to shut down conscious, critical thought. They don’t want us to question. And sadly, it seems to work. All across the net I see it when someone dares question what is going on. The replies are always “But they were terrorists!” Ask “How do you know they were terrorists?” and the reply is always some version of “You can’t be serious. The government said so.” And for those that say those kinds of things, that makes it so. The same government they don’t trust to do much of anything is apparently infallible when it comes to deciding that someone on the other side of the world should die. No questions allowed.
I think we are a terrorist nation. The terrorists are us. Do what we want…or else. And we have the weapons to demonstrate the or else. Our government is projecting a policy of rule through fear. Terrorism.
When it comes to spreading the latest weapons of war, the US takes a back seat from no one. Via the WSJ:
@MadDog: The more I thought about this last night, the more I suspect that General Tolley’s comments about purportedly having US Special Operations soldiers parachuting into North Korea were disinformation.
His logic doesn’t compute.
If the US cannot find underground tunnels being dug in North Korea by our overhead reconnaissances systems, then how in the world would the US know where to send those parachuting US Special Operations soldiers?
Does the US just parachute these US Special Operations soldiers randomly anywhere along the 160 miles of the Korean Demilitarized Zone?
I now think General Tolley’s comments were meant to pull the North Koreans’ legs. Have them rushing around madly searching for non-existent parachuting US Special Operations soldiers.
And though I may be slow on the uptake, I can’t believe the North Koreans would find any more sense in General Tolley’s comments than I do.
And before I attend to my morning rituals, a wee NYT piece (9 pages) worth noting:
@MadDog: Or otherwise known to White House staffers in the White House canteen gulping their Double Expresso with half Soy milk with a dusting of whipped cream cappuccinos – hold the Vanilla bean:
Time to die Tuesday! or If it’s Tuesday, it must be time to die!
@MadDog: I’m sure many will be blown away by numerous aspects of this NYT piece (pun wasn’t intended, but pun nevertheless). From page 3, there’s this:
The U.S. and Israel to Assad…we don’t like competition in the “massacre” arena. When the U.S. and the U.K invade a sovereign nation based on a “pack of lies” and hundreds of thousands are killed, maimed and millions displaced they define it as “national interst” When Israel attacks Gaza and kills children, women, men it is defined as a “national interest” In both instances you never see pictures of dead children streamed across MSM outlets. But in the case of the crimes the Assad regime is committing talking heads to these killings as “massacres” and images of dead children are shown repeatedly. Can anyone explain how what took place in Iraq, the Gaza in Syria are not all defined as “massacres?”
U.S. killings in Iraq “massacres”
Israel’s killings in Gaza “massacres”
Obama’s killings with drones “massacres”
Assad’s killings in Syria “massacres”
Clearly all “massacres” are not created equal
Great post Jim.
“Until the political situation improves…”
This is why we should have never dismantled USIA. Brennan cannot understand cross-cultural mediation. The “political situation” would be the after-affects of the drone strikes and the use of drones overall. The drone threat just causes a nation to double down. And, the world is watching.