3 posts tagged war
By now the fix is in for Syria. President Obama has laid out his 2 options: Either Bashar al-Assad becomes a Middle Eastern flower child and hands over his chemical weapons to the international community peacefully or The U.S. will use Tomahawks to transform select Syrian targets into glass factories. But then there’s the third, less bandied about option: Supply Syrian rebels with lethal munitions to combat Assad’s forces. It’s a plan that has been in the works since June, but if put in a historical context, it may not be the most beneficial route to travel.
In my last post I had written about the U.S. intervention that ultimately lead Afghanistan’s Mujahideen rebels to upend the the invading Soviet forces. A key deciding factor to the Kremlin bashing in Kabul was the weapon that The United States supplied to the Afghan rebels - The FIM-92 Stinger. The MANPADS (Man-Portable Air Defense System) missile weighed in at 35 lbs of commie crushing power, traveled at a pace of 1,500 mph, and would haunt the Russians until wars-end.
Prior to the introduction of the Stinger, the Mujahideen forces arsenal of AK-47’s and weaponized Kajagoogoo records paled in comparison to the Soviet’s arial onslaught. But in 1986, the new projectile would turn the tables. The once hapless rebels could now make mincemeat of the arial death machines from up to 5 miles away with the missiles heat-seeking sensors. Couple the Mujahideen’s newly found land-to-air dominance with the fact that Soviet tanks had been rendered worthless due to Afghanistan’s mountainous terrain, the rebels were able to follow their U.S. supplied itchy trigger finger to victory road.
Nothing beats a happy ending. So, what bookends this touching tale of cooperation? The Mujahadeen handed over the unused Stinger rockets to the outstretched arms of The U.S., who then tucked the inanimate war heroes into bed to retire to a hero’s glory.
Well, not quite. What actually happened was the United States government had to don the hat akin to a disgruntled librarian and go on a witch hunt to recover it’s absent property. Operation Missing in Action Stingers (I did not make that up) was launched in 1990 with a budget of $65 million, and it tasked the CIA with hunting down every last Stinger missile. Alas, like any hunt for 80’s memorabilia, the item sought proved illusive and terribly overpriced. The missiles were selling for up to a whopping $100,000 a piece, and by the mid-90’s an estimated 600 Stingers were still unaccounted for, with the search still ongoing into the most recent war in Afghanistan.
Now we sit and nurse the idea of opening and arms bazaar once again, potentially learning nothing from history. In trying to nudge the president down this path, Senator Carl Levin opined that the weapons would go to “vetted” groups amongst the Syrian rebels, supplying them with an arsenal that couldn’t be turned on us. But doesn’t this lack a sense of foresight? The history of the Stinger shows that there is more damage that can be done from your weapons than just having them turned on you. Lost missiles turned up in the hands of militant groups, were purchased by aggressor governments such as North Korea, and have been dissected by the Chinese to learn their inner workings. Not to mention the large search-and-recover costs. All of this played against the United State’s best interests, even though it wasn’t through direct physical violence.
And that was all in the 1980’s-90’s. The world has become an even more globalized and borderless place since, letting any possible errant weaponry supplied to the Syrian rebels travel with much more ease. So now the question stands: Are lethal instruments slipping through the cracks worth it to combat a potential national security threat? Or is it replacing one national security threat with another? In both the 80’s and today we seemingly answered yes to the first , and now we watch to see if history does indeed repeat itself.
Well, when I started this drawing it was relevant. I thought I’d still post it since I haven’t been on here as regularly as I used to be. As stated in my last post, things have been extremely hectic. I’m finally getting settled into my new home in Baltimore and it’s opening up more time for me to start posting here again. As much as I would’ve loved to post regularly for the past few months, sometimes life just doesn’t allow it. I make little-to-no money for the things that you see on this blog, so sometimes it has to take a backseat because my bills won’t wait for me to draw a picture of John Boehner in a diaper (by the way, I would never draw that. Don’t worry). So with that said, I apologize for the long gap and I will be back to posting art and commentary. Thanks for your patience!
With the Obama Administration’s nomination of John Brennan as CIA Director and Chuck Hagel as Secretary of Defense, drone warfare is being treated with the same caution as a kite-flying contest at a Cub Scout summer jamboree. While drone warfare may be hailed as a new, cost-effective way to wage war, it has many implications that often go unreported. One being the effect drones have on driving up militant group enlistment, another being the heavy psychological toll that they inflict on the inhabitants of drone patrolled regions.
But perhaps the most heated topic when it comes to drones is the civilian casualties that it produces. When politicians and media outlets claim that the drone program has low to no civilian casualties, it should be taken with a grain of salt. As a report conducted by Stanford and NYU states, the CIA declares all adult males killed by drone strikes as militants. The report also goes on to state that out of roughly 3,325 people killed in Pakistan by drones, between 474 - 881 were civilians.
The Stanford/NYU report titled “Living Under Drones” can be found at http://livingunderdrones.org/
I wanted to touch on the drone warfare issue one more time while it’s back in the spotlight, thanks to Rand Paul’s filibuster. If you are unaware, Paul filibustered the nomination of John Brennan as CIA Director to obtain an answer from the Obama Administration about whether they had the right to use drone strikes against U.S. Citizens.
Siding with Rand Paul on any issue can open up a long and dark conspiracy cavern on infowars.com if you aren’t careful, but he was not totally off his meds by asking this question. No matter how unlikely or inconceivable it may seem, historical occurrence’s such as the Kent State massacre can act as an example that even the U.S. Government can muster enough gumption to kill some citizens.
With that said, Rand Paul’s question is not my biggest concern when it comes to drone warfare. Even foreign civilian casualties, which I’ve touched on before (see above) is not my biggest issue. My true fear when it comes to drone’s is that it marks another step forward in the United State’s population being completely disassociated with it’s countries operations.
Our news media is noticeably absent went it comes to covering our war efforts, with Mother Jones’ fixture "We’re Still at War" being the only day-to-day coverage that I can think of. In fact, up until 2009, there was an 18 year ban on news coverage of dead soldiers returning from war zones.
Even more to that point, if the average American is aware of our war efforts, they probably only know of our recent adventures in the Middle East, being left unaware of our ever expanding war efforts into Africa. And yes, the African front has proved to be prime real estate for drone strikes.
Advocates for drone warfare often sight that it will make war cheaper and safer, but is that actually a positive? War inherently is not safe, cheap, or even good. When a nation goes to war, it should be an all in effort and experience, where even those who are not serving at least have some knowledge of what is happening. Drone warfare marks a change of sweeping war under the rug, not requiring the citizenry to be kept aware as the operations of the Government become ever more exclusive.