Resistance is Futile…Our Culture Will Adapt to Service Us…

Nob Akimoto

Nob Akimoto is a policy analyst and part-time dungeon master. When not talking endlessly about matters of public policy, he is a dungeon master on the NWN World of Avlis

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71 Responses

  1. I think we should own our murders instead of outsourcing them to the T-1000. This applies to both war and the death penalty. When we kill a felon, we should have five or so elected representatives hold the felon down while another elected representative kills him with a knife. We can televise it if we’re feeling especially democratic.

    When we kill a terrorist, we should have our soldiers drink his blood as a great honor to the Gods and to receive his power. Likewise, when we want to kill innocent children and other noncombatants who have committed the unpardonable sin of living in an area we consider geographically useful, we should at least pull them from their beds at night and then murder them in the streets in plain sight instead of hiding behind robots.Report

  2. Dan Miller says:

    I’m sure robotics will advance, but enough to make Baywatch obselete? I suspect that impulse will be the last thing to go before the Singularity.Report

  3. Burt Likko says:

    The ideal military weapon is one which is cheap and easy to use, has a very high risk of death for the enemy, zero risk of death for the user, and which leaves the user in control of the territory after it has been used. A drone fulfills three of those five criteria, and while they’re expensive now, they’re only going to get cheaper over time. The only thing they can’t do is fulfill the role of infantry. And who knows? I think, we probably will develop something that looks in description (but probably not in physical appearance) like a Terminator — a weaponized device that functions on substantially autonomous AI.

    The question is what political decisions will be made regarding the use of these weapons. Against whom will we make war? The “Living Under Drones” report graphically illustrates what war looks like, and it’s apallingly ugly. I don’t intend to domesticate it, but war has always been apallingly ugly.

    The question is whether we have the wisdom to avoid going to war in the first place, or at least the wisdom to end wars which, through no fault of the soldiers waging them, have ceased to advance the political goals that impelled them to fight in the first place.

    It’s time to put our flying death robots back in their hangars and turn them off — not because the weapons we’re using are so terrifying, although they are certainly that. We should do it because it wouldn’t matter if we were fighting in Afghanistan with pointy sticks, or with bullets that could turn corners. The problem is Afghanistan, not the weapons. We’ve reached a point of maximum return for our military efforts and nothing we do from here on out is going to make things any better.

    Declare victory already, and bring the Army home.Report

  4. NewDealer says:

    I agree that drones are the genie in the bottle and are not going back in.

    Drones are massively unpopular. The problem is that the alternative to drones would also be massively unpopular.

    All in all, military issues are a great failure of Democracy. IIRC, there is large bipartisan support for massive reductions in military spending. Democrats, Republicans, and Independents support cutting the military budget by anywhere between 40-60 percent. Yet, the Republicans always seem willing to raise the defense budget and everyone else is too scared to make this a talking point. Maybe a few Democrats in very blue districts* would make it an issue but not much beyond that.

    This is another reason for needing severe campaign finance reform. It is clear that the lobbying money of the Defense Industry wins above all. One can also be cynical and argue that the military has also become an employeer of semi-last resort for many young people. It is probably better to enlist than have a life in fast food service be your only option. Though the military promises to give skills to many people and probably does not. This American Life did a story about life on an aircraft carrier many years ago. One of the people they interviewed had a job of just servicing the vending machines on the aircraft carriers. That is all he did for 12 hours, fill up vending machines with snacks and soft drinks. What skills is he developing? What is he going to do once his service is up?Report

    • Roger in reply to NewDealer says:


      Certainly I would argue for more than 60% cuts, but I don’t believe this gets to the nature of the problem at all. The problem is not that the military industrial complex is forcing drones on the military, it is that the military is satisfying its own restraints best via drones. If we cut the military budget, my guess is they would come to use them even more. And even if I am wrong, it doesn’t really matter, as it is just a matter of time until China or someone else creates drones of their own. Drones, like cannons and tanks and nuclear weapons are a really good idea for those specializing in warfare. They are obvious solutions which create massive externalities for the rest of us. That is the true nature of the beast.Report

    • bookdragon01 in reply to NewDealer says:

      For every guy like the one you describe, I can name a dozen who came out of the military with training that gave them an advantage in finding a civilian job. In many cases, young people who wouldn’t otherwise have considered college (or would have spent 4 years partying) found direction and confidence that it was something they could do *because* of their experience in the military.Report

      • Roger in reply to bookdragon01 says:

        I agree, bd

        The guy tending the vending machines was put into a position to learn the essential lessons of punctuality, respect, courtesy, attention to detail and so forth. Not everybody is cut out to be a lawyer… Thank God.Report

    • bookdragon01 in reply to NewDealer says:

      Drones are massively unpopular with civilians sitting safely at home who do not have loved ones in a battle zone. Ask a soldier or a soldier’s mom and you might find that they are not nearly so unpopular as you think.Report

      • NewDealer in reply to bookdragon01 says:

        The real issue is that we should not really be having a lot of these “wars” in the first place.

        I am not an isolationist but we need a foreign policy that is based a lot less on military action and we need to end the perpetual war of the last 11 years.

        Does the US really need to go after every Jihadi?

        And how about the children killed by drones? Did those civilians do anything to deserve death? The answer is no. When you enlist for military service, there is a chance of being sent to combat and killed. This is just the nature of the beast. If you don’t want that risk, don’t sign up. We have a volunteer military.

        The Middle East Civilians did not sign up for anything especially the children.

        I don’t want soldiers to die but the lives of non-combatants are important. We can’t tell them tough luck.Report

        • bookdragon01 in reply to NewDealer says:

          I agree that we need a foreign policy based a lot less on war. however, I supported going in to Afghanistan and protested Iraq. There are wars you fight because someone attacked you and wars that are optional and unnecessary. Without a National Security Briefing, I’m not confident that I can say that what we’re doing in FATA is unnecessary.

          The civilians in the middle of a combat zone never sign up for it, but they are there anyway and, no matter how much we wish it were otherwise, being there means civilian deaths. That is true whether you use drones or helicopters or ground forces. One can even argue that fewer civilians are killed by drones than by the other methods.

          In an ideal world, all combatants would meet on an open field somewhere far from any civilian population. We don’t live in an ideal world.

          Lastly, ‘If you don’t want that risk, don’t sign up’ is one of those ridiculously callous things that I’d expect from chickenhawk, not a NewDealer. People who sign up are protecting *your* freedom. To write them off that way is contemptible.Report

          • Kimmi in reply to bookdragon01 says:

            follow the money. it’s good advice for national security, just like it is for investments.
            if youd ont’ follow the money, you will get burnt.Report

            • bookdragon01 in reply to Kimmi says:

              From what I understand, we did follow the money. It lead us to accounts we could freeze or empty and to potential targets.

              There’s a completely different question: if intel identifies someone who is not physically active or directly commanding in terrorist operations, but is bankrolling them, is it legit to put that person on a terrorist list and take him out if you can’t arrest him?Report

          • NewDealer in reply to bookdragon01 says:

            The statement was callous and I apologize. But this is a tricky issue and I don’t think we should have a risk free military.

            I will be very scared for the time when nations can conduct wars remotely via drones.

            It is horrible that hundreds and thousands of young men and women can be sent to harm’s way at the whims and fancies of their elders. Most of whom are chickenhawks but I think that this is one of the few things that keeps war from getting out of hand. Combat should be difficult and bloody and make us think twice about fighting. Drones do not do that. Drones remove the very real, human cost to war. They getting close to the precipice of Orwellian thoughts of “Perpetual War for Perpetual Peace” and “Two Minutes of Hate”

            Yes a ground invasion would lead to many more U.S. deaths and there will be many more Americans who lose loved ones. This is sad, there is no doubt about it but I think fewer civilians would be put in harm’s way. A properly trained soldier is still a human being. They might react under stress and make mistakes but they can also make judgment calls and differentiate between civilian and combatant.


            • Kimmi in reply to NewDealer says:

              *golf clap* wow, someone around here who knows how to apologize!
              That puts you head and heels over me and half the other people around here!
              +1 for maturityReport

            • bookdragon01 in reply to NewDealer says:

              Thank you. I probably over reacted, and apologize too.

              This topic is difficult. but I’m one of the people with loved ones in harm’s way. Arguments that go to ‘Sure a lot of soldiers would die, but ultimately that be turn out to be a good thing because…’ tend to put my hackles up.

              If you want to end unnecessary wars by the US I have a very simple suggestion: reinstate the draft. If every served, or knew someone who did, going to war would be a much more costly decision for any politician.Report

    • ktward in reply to NewDealer says:

      Though the military promises to give skills to many people and probably does not. This American Life did a story about life on an aircraft carrier many years ago.

      I’m kind of stunned that you’re (apparently) convinced that your first statement passes any snuff test. Myself, I have immediate family members who’ve served in the military at various points over the past 50ish years. Every one of them were enlisted or NCO, and to a man they’d explain to you at length how wrong you are.

      But nevermind my personal anecdotes.
      Rachel Maddow, pretty much an anti-war leftie, will tell you from her own extensive experience with vets and soldiers that our military folks possess many exceptionally well-disciplined and highly-honed organizational and inter-personal skills that would benefit any civilian employer.

      But you’ve got some random TAL episode from “many years ago” upon which you base your position. ? Btw, I’ve been a regular listener of TAL for years, but I don’t recall that episode. (Which is an indictment of my memory, not your reference.) I tried a search at their website, to no avail. Might I trouble you for a link?

      All that said, I agree with you in the main: the MIC is bloated and out of control, on many levels, and we simply must get any and all lobby/self-interest money out of campaigns and out of politics. Lobbying, in and of itself, is fine and good– but only if pols aren’t required to fundraise.Report

      • Kimmi in reply to ktward says:

        The sheer amounts of head trauma given to active duty personnel may serve as a decent counterbalance to the “skills” that they learn in the military.
        Not defending what he’s trying to assert, but saying that I have a lotta sympathy for the folks who can’t fit in after their tour.Report

        • ktward in reply to Kimmi says:

          No question, head trauma and PTSD are very real and and very under-treated for our Iraq/Afghan vets. It’s altogether shameful how our elected officials have weaseled us into such horrid neglect for our soldiers and for 9/11 First Responders. But that’s probably another thread.Report

  5. NewDealer says:

    And by very blue I mean places in the Bay Area like San Francisco and the People’s Republic of Berkeley. Possibly the People’s Republic of Cambridge. Not New York City districts.Report

    • ktward in reply to NewDealer says:

      Whoa whoa whoa. You’re actually referring to highly Democratic areas as “People’s Republic of …”?

      Whatever one might say of Bob Cheeks, at least he didn’t couch his comments. You may as well call it like you mean it, we’ve all heard it before: Commie Dems.Report

      • Kimmi in reply to ktward says:

        People refer to Austin as “The Socialist Republic of Austin” (or other such nonsense).
        I guess it’s funny because it’s Texas.
        And even the dems’re bigger there.Report

      • NewDealer in reply to ktward says:

        I mean it as an endearing joke as proud resident of San Francisco and the Bay Area* and a fan of the city of Cambridge. I know many residents who use those terms with equal endearment. And I am a rather liberal person.

        *Though I will always be a New Yorker in my heart.Report

      • NewDealer in reply to ktward says:

        I also was not here during the time of Cheeks. I gathered from Erik’s thread that he was a super-right wing troll.

        I can guarantee that I am no troll and no right-winger.

        I like the parts of Berkeley and Cambridge that earn it that nickname very much and would not trade them for all the stars in the universe.Report

        • Brandon Berg in reply to NewDealer says:

          I thought he was a left-wing troll parodying a right-winger.Report

          • NewDealer in reply to Brandon Berg says:

            I wasn’t here then. He could have been. I have no idea.Report

          • greginak in reply to Brandon Berg says:

            Cheeks was right wing troll. People, myself included, often took him at first as a Colbertesqe parody. But he wasn’t He only seemed like a parody because he was so over the top and prone to hyperbole. He was an unapologetic paleocon/religious conservative. He liked to quote Voeglelin as if quoting a famous person proved he was correct. On some issues, typically religious thought, people found him eloquent and thoughtful.Report

          • Liberty60 in reply to Brandon Berg says:

            “I thought he was a left-wing troll parodying a right-winger.”

            I think there are still a few of those around here.Report

        • Jaybird in reply to NewDealer says:

          He was also capable of insight when he wanted to be, and capable of communicating that he was trying to be kind when he wanted to be. He was also, shall we say, “of a certain age”.

          It’s somewhat easier for me to have sympathy for someone of a certain age who says things that didn’t used to be out of the mainstream. “Oh, Grandpa… the things you say”, if you will.

          Sadly, he was capable of communicating nostalgia for a cultural moment that had passed… and kept bringing it up.Report

          • Glyph in reply to Jaybird says:

            of a certain age

            I didn’t mind Cheeks for that reason. He really did seem like some dotty old guy, so it was hard for me to get too mad at the ridiculous things he’d say.

            M_C, on the other hand, always blathering on about ‘substrates’, really drove me nuts. Relentless.Report

            • ktward in reply to Glyph says:

              He really did seem like some dotty old guy, so it was hard for me to get too mad at the ridiculous things he’d say.

              Agreed. And I’m not remotely hesitant to add that he was never anything but gentlemanly (in his way) toward me. But the often offensive subtext that infused his comments necessarily informed my take of him. Evidently moreso than my “old dotty dude” take.

              I wasn’t around much when he left.
              But from what I’ve since gleaned, it seems to me he brought it upon himself. And seriously, you gotta do some crazy shit for a considerable period of time to warrant League censoring. (As I understand it, he was never actually banned, simply put into moderation. So he, uh, self-deported.)Report

              • Liberty60 in reply to ktward says:

                Legend says Mr. Cheeks is still out there somewhere in cyberspace, locked for all eternity in a ferocious argument with an empty chair.Report

              • Glyph in reply to Liberty60 says:

                Heh. It’s like Norse mythology or something.Report

              • wardsmith in reply to Glyph says:

                Cheeks’ best work wasn’t here at the League. Of course defending the indefensible probably caused him no end of cognitive dissonance but he gave it the Yeoman’s try. He could be quite eloquent when he had a mind to.Report

              • Tom Van Dyke in reply to wardsmith says:

                Bob Cheeks’ Voegelin is solid, his defense of the Confederacy only in the abstract. No, he doesn’t want blacks back in chains. It’s more a Barry Goldwater thing, principle over good sense.

                [Yes, Bob Cheeks is a man of a certain age.]

                In fact, if you asked Bob Cheeks, I bet he’d answer he’d rather have died for the Union cause, for the end of slavery. For the continuation of it, not fought or died atall.

                Thought of Bob today

                WHAT DO WE WANT?

                —THE ESCHATON!

                HOW DO WE WANT IT?


                Hilarious if you know your Eric Voegelin, and your Bob Cheeks.

                Cheers, dude, wherever you are. No man is going to take down your good name as long as I’m around.

                Now I think I know what you tried to say to me
                And how you suffered for your sanity
                And how you tried to set them free
                They would not listen, they’re not listening still
                Perhaps they never will

                Heh heh, you crazy fuck.Report

            • greginak in reply to Glyph says:

              To a great degree that strikes me as the soft bigotry of low expectations. He’s an old guy so the nasty bile he spews is just quaint or whatever. I do understand how some people “of a certain age” are and that they views are carved in a substance harder then granite. However nobody has to be Grandpa Simpson, old folks have choices.

              ditto on MC.Report

        • ktward in reply to NewDealer says:

          Phew! [Wiping sweat from brow]

          I’ve genuinely come to appreciate your insights, but your comment prompted a knee-jerk flashback, I guess. I totally missed the the nuance– my bad.

          Lord knows I myself have been misunderstood aplenty because the subtle nuances of face-to-face, verbal dialog are largely lost in this medium. I think emoticons were supposed to take up some of that slack, but I use them sparingly. They kinda bug me.Report

    • Jeff No-Last-Name in reply to NewDealer says:

      “People Republic of Berkeley” is an old nickame, just slightly younger than Bizerkly. I grew up in the Bay Area, and PRoB was a name worn proudly. That said, most Bizerkly folks were on the Joan Baez side of the Jane Fonda foolishness.Report

  6. Roger says:

    “The dialogue we need now is how we will balance the introduction of new technologies as adaptations of our way of life, rather than simply intrusions that should be rejected. This feels like we’re giving away far too much from the start, but unless we engage with these arguments, in the end the ones who make use of automation extensively will define the rules. The question is whether or not we are ready to have that dialogue yet.”

    The question leads us directly into the various dilemmas of progress. If I define progress as collective, accumulated problem solving — and for these purposes I shall — then the nature of the paradox of progress becomes clear. Drones and automation and Pamela Anderson bots solve problems for those choosing to use them. However, they also create externalities or perhaps more broadly “wakes” beyond their intended results. They change the nature and cost/benefit of warfare, they change the supply and demand and productivity of labor, and they change the meaning of our lives.

    Some of these wakes are good, some are bad, but my point is that in a world with hundreds of nations, thousands of corporations and billions of people, the decision makers are totally decentralized. If a minority of humans have the values, needs and contextual situations that lead them to see automation as a solution to whatever problem they prioritize, then it is rational for them to pursue it. However, due to the wakes of their actions, the rest of us are affected by their actions. Once discovered or proven, the technology cannot be placed back in the bottle.

    In brief, solving problems for some can cause wakes which leads to problems for others or even problems for all. This is the dilemma of progress.

    We do need to have this dialogue. However, the nature of the problem reveals the inadequacy of dialogue to address it. Those billions of people in various organized units have countless views and opinions, and in many cases, even if the technology was something we could agree was bad in total for the human race over the long haul ( good luck with that), the critical decision maker is not humanity, but the individuals who see themselves (potentially mistakenly) as benefiting from automation. Someone, somewhere will probably be in a situation to solve their problems via automation, and the rest of us will need to deal with it.

    The next dilemma then becomes which course shall we take to try to control this type of problem solving? Do we allow it to happen and recognize there is little that could be done to stop it anyways? Or do we construct a centralized enforcement mechanism with authoritarian powers to compel its values on all of us? The latter of course brings in its own set of problems, including limits on freedom and the always real possibility that the enforcers use technology themselves as a solution to enslave or coerce the rest of us.

    We are approaching a point in history where technology, economics, philosophy, religion and politics merge together into one and become a domain previously owned by writers of science fiction.Report

  7. Jeff No-Last-Name says:

    ” Liberals are often throwing around drones as the least worst alternative”

    I would not call such people “liberals”. Fred Clark (whom I often reference) has cited his objections to drones (and other programs under the rubric YNATKC — You’re Not Allowed To Kill Civilians) for years. If we had a sane GOP, we might be able to address this question. As it is, were anyone to propose cutting back on drones, the GOP response would be Moar Moar MOAR!!!!!!!

    Mr Johnson does not, and is unlikely to have, much of a voice in the matter. I wonder, too, whether drones are as much concern for him as other parts of his agenda….Report

  8. bookdragon01 says:

    Technology occurs whether we dialogue or not. Technology => change

    Managing change is one of the most difficult things for both societies and individuals, especially when that change occurs rapidly. Usually doing more than simply adapting is beyond our capabilities. Assuming that we have a lot of control over how/when/where a new idea or invention will be used is probably a mistake. I mean, even with all the power of the Roman Catholic church in the 16th century, including the Inquisition, the Pope still couldn’t completely suppress the ideas of Gallileo. In our much more free society, how does anyone imagine that it could be done?

    Now, as an engineer, I sit in a strange place in the political spectrum on this. People in my profession are by nature conservative (Note: what *we* mean by conservative – *not* what the GOP means by conservative), but when it comes to new technology we are generally pretty liberal (change==good. yeah! new toys!). So, cautious, ‘consider all failure modes and build in safety margins’ runs smack up against ‘Cool!! Imagine what we could do with that…’

    Now, personally, I’m all for automation as long as it’s designed well. If it weren’t for washers and dryers and vacuums and electric stoves and microwaves, I’d either have to make enough $ to afford a housekeeper or stay home. Without modern conveniences, the human labor to run a household easily consumes at least one human being in full-time work. In fact, I’m a little miffed that Jetson-style robotic maids aren’t standard middle-class household items. Of course, the technology to make something like that would imply the technology to make robotic infantry…Report

    • Jaybird in reply to bookdragon01 says:

      In our much more free society, how does anyone imagine that it could be done?

      Maybe accuse people who blaspheme of microaggressions if not being downright bigoted?Report

    • NewDealer in reply to bookdragon01 says:

      Interestingly, as an arts and humanities person, I am largely a conservative/skeptic when it comes to technology.

      Not in the anti-Vaccine kind of way but I don’t think we are properly analyzing how technological change and automation are hurting people. We can’t make jobs redundant and then moralize when people don’t have money to pay the bills.

      I am also a bit cynical on kickstarter. Largely because of the tyranny of popularity and how it might damage truly challenging art. Kickstarter is not going to crowdsource Two or Three Things I Know About HerReport

      • bookdragon in reply to NewDealer says:

        Which is why I’m a liberal on social issues. Every new tech revolution leaves people behind whose jobs have disappeared or changed beyond recognition because of the new developments. No decent, rational person would blame those people for being caught by an unforeseen change in technology. The sane response is to help them find a new field or give those close enough to retirement a decent buy out – just like companies do for managers (why is it only executives, who theoretically could go manage something else, who get that?)

        I’m not a skeptic, but neither am I usually an early-adopter of new tech (my cell phone is *ancient* according to my daughter). Otoh, when we visited the ‘time machine’ ride at Epcot, I had to explain to my kids what a telephone operator was – advances in communications tech have made that obsolete. Even if we sympathize with the people who lost those jobs, I doubt any of us would want to go back to dial up and operators.

        As for kickstarter, it’s not what I think of as technology. It’s just a business app of tech that’s been out there for awhile. I doubt it will have any real impact on art, and certainly not challenging art, which has never had an easy road to funding under any circumstances.Report

  9. BlaiseP says:

    All this weeping and moaning about drones is tap dancing on my last little patient nerve. So let’s get this straight, you want Dudley Do-Right to saddle up and ride across the landscape like some Inspector Clouseau and arrest the guy who’s emplacing an IED because you have ethical reservations about drones? Is this what you’re seriously proposing, a Shoot Me Please parade?Report

    • Jaybird in reply to BlaiseP says:

      For my part, I’d just like a mock trial with mock evidence and a mock jury finding the guy guilty before we kill him.

      You know. Keep up appearances.Report

      • BlaiseP in reply to Jaybird says:

        Yeah. Like the bastards who blast the arms and legs off our troops with the aforementioned IEDs give a shit about the niceties of justice. Let’s go back to the Field of the Cloth of Gold or a bunch and ride off to war in antique suits of armour and wear the tokens of our ladies fair.

        There’s keeping up appearances.Report

        • Jaybird in reply to BlaiseP says:

          It might be nice to declare war first.

          Keep up appearances.Report

          • BlaiseP in reply to Jaybird says:

            There you go again. All this courtliness and stiff upper lip crap was swept into the dustbin of history at Verdun. Get over it, folks. We haven’t declared war since Franklin Roosevelt. Nor will we. Nor should we.

            War is what happens when politicians quit doing their jobs. They stop when those politicians start doing them again. Anyone who seriously thinks we should declare war against an un-state like the Taliban needs to start living in the 21st century. The 20th century proved all such folderol was a hideous travesty.Report

          • Tom Van Dyke in reply to Jaybird says:

            What if they’ve already declared war on you?

            The bi-partisan 2001 Authorization for Use of Military Force” clears the legal hurdles in my view—at least in conforming with US law.

            Section 1 – Short Title
            This joint resolution may be cited as the ‘Authorization for Use of Military Force’.
            [edit]Section 2 – Authorization For Use of United States Armed Forces
            (a) IN GENERAL- That the President is authorized to use all necessary and appropriate force against those nations, organizations, or persons he determines planned, authorized, committed, or aided the terrorist attacks that occurred on September 11, 2001, or harbored such organizations or persons, in order to prevent any future acts of international terrorism against the United States by such nations, organizations or persons.

            That about covers it.

            As for “international law,” as prev discussed on these pages, to me there are only 3 parties here: US, the Taliban, and Pakistan, which refuses to take sovereign responsibility for dealing with the terrorists within their borders.

            If you won’t, fine. We will, and are fully justified to do so by the right of self-defense.

            And since the Taliban or al-Qaeda have no sovereign borders, I’m not sure a formal declaration of war would make any difference anyway. Not only are they stateless, they’re not even incorporated. I say if you can’t sue ’em, bomb ’em.Report

            • BlaiseP in reply to Tom Van Dyke says:

              We don’t even need to justify attacking the Taliban with some self-defence fig leaf. At some point, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights just might become more than a bad joke and the rule of law might govern this wretched planet.

              But not while the goddamned hand-wringers stand around, pitifully moaning and weeping upon each other’s shoulders in an mawkish display of shameless self-loathing. Want the rule of law? Read your histories of the Treaty of Westphalia and how international law got down the runway and into the air. Allowing these goddamn lacunae of lawlessness to exist in a world where seven billion people have to share the surface of this spheroid is beyond disgusting. God sees the world through the eyes of the refugee.Report

              • Tom Van Dyke in reply to BlaiseP says:

                I think we need “self-defense” to justify violating Pakistani or Yemeni sovereignty. “Sovereign responsibility” I think is a good way to put it. If my borders are to be inviolate, then I have responsibility for everything that happens inside them.

                If I can’t—or won’t!—stop al-Qaeda or the Taliban, I either let the US in to deal with them happily or unhappily, as firemen or police, but either way they’re coming in.

                [As you know, Brother Blaise, “international law,” originates in the writings of the late medievals Suarez and Grotius as a manifestation of natural law. The right of self-defense is one of the elemental “goods” of natural law. More one of the lowest than the highest, but a good nonetheless.]Report

              • BlaiseP in reply to Tom Van Dyke says:

                I have a sovereign test for all such situations. I may have mentioned it before: it’s BlaiseP’s Rule of Refugees, though I got it from my father. Look at the footprints in the dust. The refugees run away from the Bad Guys and toward the Good Guys.

                When the USA invaded Afghanistan, (colonialist wickedness, wouldn’t you agree, Brother Tom?) all those refugees left the squalid camps in Pakistan (where once I served diligently for 19 months) en masse and returned to their own lands in Afghanistan.

                We may conclude these wretched folks were all deluded and those horrible Imperialist Americans who fought and bled and died for their right to vote… were nothing more than the Avatars of Automated Imperialism. And all those folks who crew the drones are naught but Dealers of Death from Above. Never mind that for the first time in a generation, Afghan children are born in places other than refugee camps in Pakistan.

                I have built robots since the Lattice C compiler first supported the Intel chipset. Robots have freed humanity from degrading, repetitive, mindless and dangerous work and I am immensely proud of what I’ve seen and done with them. But there’s one thing I won’t develop, a bit of superstitious aversion: I won’t develop a homing algorithm for a weapons system. Nor will I write a phone tapper or an intruder.

                So call me a hypocrite. I defend the use of drones but I wouldn’t develop the weapons they fire. I guess I did my little bit for this country and I won’t do any more along those lines. But in a choice between dead American infantry trying to preserve a fragile peace and putting a Hellfire missile down on the bastards who intend to kill those Americans, I’ll go with the Hellfire missile, every single time.Report

              • Tom Van Dyke in reply to BlaiseP says:

                I hear you, Blaise. I thought Ward Churchill had a point about Little Eichmanns.Report

              • wardsmith in reply to BlaiseP says:

                ” BlaiseP’s Rule of Refugees, though I got it from my father. Look at the footprints in the dust. The refugees run away from the Bad Guys and toward the Good Guys.”

                Truer words were never spoken, although sometimes refugees just run…Report

              • bookdragon in reply to BlaiseP says:


                I agree whole-heartedly. With one exception: I’d have no problem developing the weapons they fire. Without those and accurate means of targeting, there wouldn’t be much point (for just surveillance vastly smaller and virtually undetectable drones could be used). But everyone has their own lines and reasons for them.Report

    • Nob Akimoto in reply to BlaiseP says:

      You realize this post basically said: “Drones are part of the world. We need to accept that and come up with good rules for using them” right?

      Not to mention in general, I’ve supported things like blasting Anwar Al-Awlaki and Odyssey Dawn, with an emphasis on making sure the Right To Protect becomes something more than pablum.Report

      • Glyph in reply to Nob Akimoto says:

        I think Blaise is responding more to some comments than your post with his comment. FWIW, I am with you on the question of drones. They exist, they are not going away, and like any other tool/weapon it’s the wielders, not the tool/weapon, that is the primary question to be dealt with.Report

      • Glyph in reply to Nob Akimoto says:

        Hey, you edited your comment, no fair!

        So now I need to clarify mine – as I stated in the other thread, I have deep, deep reservations about the Al-Awlaki thing; but those reservations are about due process, not the actual weapon used to whack the guy.Report

      • BlaiseP in reply to Nob Akimoto says:

        Yes you have, and good on you for saying so. Ganbatte. You’re studying Lawfare. I really should sit down and write a proper response to your excellent essay

        This I’ll say now: Lawfare in the 21st century, once it leaves the realm of theory, puts out landing gear and touches down in the real world — will be a long, painful unravelling of the old Colonialist borders in practice. The UN is a fine idea in principle but isn’t representative enough. The procrusteam borders of these post-colonial regimes are a tremendous impediment to meaningful democracy. Political theorists of many stripes used to deride the principle of Balkanisation, until the 1990s, when the veneer peeled up on the Balkans. The so-called Advanced Nations of Europe stood by, having learned nothing from ethnic cleansing in the 1930s and 40s under the Nazis. Nor had they learned anything from the tragedy of ethnic cleansing in the Sudetenland after WW2. Chechnya, Rwanda, the 20th century ended as it began, demonstrating the fecklessness and self-delusion of the West.

        While the idiotic borders of the 19th century continue to guide the 21st, while pathetic and corrupt leadership cannot or will not enforce their own writ in countries like Pakistan, you’ll have plenty of grist for your Lawfare PoliSci mill.Report