Spare me your hand-wringing

T.A. Barnhart

Spare me your hand-wringing

Don't pretend this is any different than how we already kill.

There is only one way to conduct a war: an all-out, no-mercy attack on your enemies. Any other approach is foolish, costing more lives and resources on your side. Crush your enemy fast, with whatever force it takes. Rain down the fires of hell on them if that’s what it takes. The point of war is to kill your enemy into submission, so don’t settle for half-measures.

Keyser Söze had the right idea.

I’m a pacifist, and I think any war is stupid, wrong and a failure. Preparing for war rather than building a lasting peace is an abject dereliction of duty by any leader. But not everyone agrees with me on that point, and to them I would say: If you accept that war is a legitimate tool of the state, then conduct war with all the fearsome efficiency you can muster. Win fast and then get on with your business at hand.

Which is why I have trouble with objections to the drone war. For me, use of drones to kill declared enemies is no better or worse than any other form of warfare. People die, and that’s the core of my objection to war. But whether it’s troops fighting mere yards apart or some nameless console operator in Virginia, warfare kills the enemy — and it kills non-combatants. Drones, used right, should be less destructive than what we see with “conventional” warfare and it’s mortars, millions of flying bullets, and collateral damage. Object to war if you will, but if you accept that war should be waged, the means by which we kill should cause you concern in only one way: their ability to win the war as quickly as possible.

Al Qaida declared itself at war with the United States, and we accepted that challenge. That was a mistake. Treating terrorists as warriors gives them a status they do not merit yet enables them to continue to draw fighters, money and support. People don’t make heroes of criminals (with some rare exceptions); had we declared the perpetrators of the 9/11 attacks to be criminals and nothing more, and had we pursued them via international law and justice systems, we would not still be at war nearly 12 years later. We’d simply be conducting an international criminal operation against a dwindling number of thugs, cowards and fanatics.

Some object that drones are used to kill without having to face the enemy; well, so were trebuchets. So were longbows. So, too, mortars. Bombers. Ships sitting off-shore. Guided missiles. We’ve been waging war out-of-sight of our enemies for centuries. How is this any different? Because the dude guiding the drone is not within distance of the enemy so he can be killed? That’s a smart way to run a war. The guys in charge of the trebuchet were pretty safe, and their victims were pretty anonymous. The only difference I see in our modern version of the trebuchet is the presence of electronics.

The use of drones causes on-going antipathy towards the United States, but so does every other form of aggression used against our enemies. As long as we choose to conduct military operations in other nations, whether with troops, aircraft or drones, we will kill and injure noncombatants, and we will draw the anger of those people — and rightfully so. Drones are not the problem; believing our military force can fix a damn thing in this world is.

And as long as the world accepts that the way we resolve issues is through violence, which most of it does, then the smartest people are the ones who learn to use that violence efficiently and with as little harm inflicted on their side as possible. Violence is a sucker’s game, and it eventually takes down all those who utilize it; but if that is the worldview you accept, and if that’s the terms by which you resolve conflict, being timid about your own use of violence is tantamount to suicide and surrender. I stand with those who object to drones because they object to war, violence and force. Those who are wringing their hands over the drone wars but refuse to disavow violence: they are hypocrites and fools.

If war is your tool, then kill your enemies as fast and hard as you can. That’s the agreement you’ve made with the devil, and your only reward for violating that agreement is defeat and destruction.

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