Drone-War Doublethink

Obama has added a new term to the doublespeak lexicon, "the disposition matrix."

"Political language," George Orwell wrote in 1946, "is designed to make lies sound truthful and murder respectable." When government action can only be defended by arguments "too brutal for most people to face," governments reliably brutalize the language, resorting to "euphemism, question-begging and sheer cloudy vagueness."

The Bush administration introduced any number of such fuzzwords to the political lexicon: "regime change," "enhanced interrogation," and "self-injurious behavior incidents" (Pentagon jargon for suicide attempts by Gitmo prisoners—sorry, "enemy combatants.")

And who can forget the Obama national security team's insistence last year that pounding Libya with Tomahawk missiles and Predator dronestrikes wasn't "war," but rather, "kinetic military action?" (As opposed to "static" action?)

The Obama team has lately added a new term to the doublespeak lexicon, "the disposition matrix." This soporific word-cloud replaces the admirably frank "kill or capture list."

Killing or capturing terrorists with the means and the intent to kill Americans is eminently defensible, but a Washington Post investigative report published last week raises questions about whether bureaucratic "mission creep" has cut the program loose from its original justification. "Obama has institutionalized the highly classified practice of targeted killing," the Post's Greg Miller writes, "transforming ad-hoc elements into a counterterrorism infrastructure capable of sustaining a seemingly permanent war." He reports "broad consensus" among Obama terror-warriors that "such operations are likely to be extended at least another decade."

"Living Under Drones," a recent report from researchers at Stanford and New York University law schools notes that, as the death toll from drone warfare over Pakistan approaches 3,000, "the number of 'high-level' targets killed as a percentage of total casualties is extremely low—estimated at just 2 percent."

That assessment has been echoed elsewhere by former top national security officials. Dennis Blair, Obama's director of national intelligence until he was fired in 2010, has commented that during his tenure, the emphasis on drone strikes "reminded me of body counts in Vietnam." Another former Obama counterterror official told Esquire: "It's not at all clear that we'd be sending our people into Yemen to capture the people we're targeting. But it's not at all clear that we'd be targeting them if the technology wasn't so advanced. What's happening is that we're using the technology to target people we never would have bothered to capture."

That Brave New War has taken on a surreal aspect, as the Los Angeles Times detailed in 2010 with a visit to Creech Air Force Base in Nevada, from which American pilots are conducting a remote war just a short drive from Las Vegas—and half a world away from their targets. From a command seat they've dubbed the "Naugahyde Barcalounger," American drone warriors guide Hellfire-armed Reaper UAVs to their targets. "Part of the job is to try to identify body parts," one officer explained.

Meanwhile, as the Stanford/NYU report notes, "collateral damage" estimates from drone warfare in Pakistan range as high as 881 civilians and 176 children, and "evidence suggests that U.S. strikes have facilitated recruitment" to terrorist groups. You have to wonder if this is a smart long-term policy in an unstable country with nuclear weapons.

Time magazine's Joe Klein provoked outrage recently when he defended our drone program by insisting that the "bottom line" is "whose 4-year-old gets killed? What we're doing is limiting the possibility that 4-year-olds here will get killed by indiscriminate acts of terror." That language is stark, but unlike terms such as "collateral damage" and "disposition matrix," it's clarifying. And there's good reason to doubt Klein's assessment.

In the debate last week, Mitt Romney insisted that we "can't kill our way out of this problem." He was right; unfortunately, both he and his opponent appear determined to keep trying.

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  • sarcasmic||

    Disposable dominatrix?

  • tarran||

    Meanwhile, as the Stanford/NYU report notes, "collateral damage" estimates from drone warfare in Pakistan range as high as 881 civilians and 176 children, and "evidence suggests that U.S. strikes have facilitated recruitment" to terrorist groups. You have to wonder if this is a smart long-term policy in an unstable country with nuclear weapons.

    Yes it is: War is the health of the state. The 20th century is one long sad tale of the state becoming more and more power, consuming increasing number of resources as it 'solves' each crisis by planting the seeds of the next crisis.

    Permanent low-level war is what they seek.

  • BarryD||

    Low-level war actually offers more opportunities to expand state power.

    At the end of WW II, there was a return to normalcy, to a degree, at least until the Cold War ramped up. A big war ends, and people expect things to revert to peacetime conditions. A low-level war never ends, and crap like the TSA is "always" required to fight it.

  • Whiterun Guard||

    We have to stop them 100% of the time! They just have to get through once!

  • Tim||

    Now take off your shoes and belt.

  • Whiterun Guard||

    Jokes on you! They don't make belts that big!

  • ||

    'Emergencies' have always been the pretext on which the safeguards of individual liberty have been eroded.

    Emergencies like the low-level war against terrorism.

  • Whiterun Guard||

    Those who give up freedom for security are secure forever and ever.

  • amelia||

    Yes. And I have idiotic, formerly quasi-peacenik friends who are now certain the only way to stop it is to institute a permanent draft so that rich people's kids will get killed too. As if rich people won't still have the means to keep their kids out of harm's way to the greatest extent possible. The people directing drones from Nevada aren't at risk like soldiers on the ground in the Middle East. In truth, the inner authoritarian is out of the closet now that these (childless) acquaintances are too old to be drafted themselves.

  • Paul.||

    Point out to them that there's perennially unemployed group of draft-age kids who would be first to go: The Occupy movement.

    Oh wait, those would be the kids of rich white folks.

    So I guess your peacenik friends are right.

  • amelia||

    The good part is when others chime in and say things like "Well, I don't favor a draft as the only option. Any kind of national service would work. So few people serve."

    And then another..."I agree. I think that I already serve because I'm a school teacher."

    Basically, others don't make the kinds of choices we made, so they should be forced to give up at least two years of their lives for their selfishness.

  • gaijin||

    forced to give up at least two years of their lives

    Fixed it for ya.

  • ||

    Don't sell their bullet and IED dodging skills short now...

  • $park¥||

    "evidence suggests that U.S. strikes have facilitated recruitment" to terrorist groups

    I know that this is bullshit because John and Cytotoxic have repeatedly said so with such vigor.

  • sarcasmic||

    Leftists do not have the monopoly on accusing those who point out results of attacking their good intentions.

  • Whiterun Guard||

    If only the damn ReThuglicans would get out of the way and let Obama bomb all the right ones, they wouldn't get any more recruits.

  • $park¥||

    "All the right ones" being a euphemism for all the ones with brownish skin that currently live in a Middle Eastern country.

  • The Craig||

    That sounds like profiling. Is it only a problem when we're talking about illegal immigrants?

  • Mensan||

    "All the right ones" is a euphemism for all the ones who happen to be in the kill radius of the hellfire missile.

  • BarryD||

    He's bombed a few thousand. How many more right ones can there be?

    And in Benghazi, we had a pretty damned good idea who the right ones were, like, the ones attacking the US Consolate. So it would have been easy to identify them. Why didn't we send in an AC130, the one time it actually was clearly justified and could have saved American lives we owed protection to?

  • BarryD||

    It's certainly true.

    The only problem I have is that it's hard to make a simple, single rule for what to do, when. It could have been a good thing to take out Osama Bin Laden in the late 1990s, for example, even if the result was a bit more Al Qaeda recruitment for a while.

    We're stuck with evaluating each military action on a case-by-case basis, I am afraid.

    However, I am quite comfortable saying that what we've done lately is a mistake, even apart from the moral issues with killing people who aren't really threats, and killing all the people around them just 'cuz. One can definitely say that whatever benefit we get from the drone wars, is not worth the cost of increased terrorist recruitment.

    And clearly, a far less interventionist policy as the default would be a great start towards getting it right, more often.

    Today, Hillary Clinton is in Algeria, trying to talk them into starting a war with Mali. Great stuff.

  • sarcasmic||

    One can definitely say that whatever benefit we get from the drone wars, is not worth the cost of increased terrorist recruitment.

    How can you have endless war without the enemy replenishing its ranks?

  • Whiterun Guard||

    By being creative and finding new and different enemies?

  • BarryD||

    The world is full of potential enemies.

    Dale Carnegie said that, I think. Maybe not.

  • Tim||

    Is she offering them beads and blankets?

  • ||

    Don't forget the overripe meat!

  • $park¥||

    Hillary: Hey Algeria, I was in Mali the other day and they were calling you a bunch of snot-nosed goat fuckers. No really, I heard them all saying that.

  • ||

    Fry: Uh, just so we'll know, who's the enemy?

    Captain Zapp Brannigan: A valid question! We know nothing about them, their language, their history or what they look like. But we can assume this. They stand for everything we don't stand for. Also they told me you guys look like dorks.

    Bender: They look like dorks!

  • BarryD||

    She found herself with a more difficult job than she'd expected, however, when they asked her to hand them some kleenex, so they didn't have to take their dicks out of their goats to blow their noses.

  • Ptah-Hotep||

    American drone warriors

    .

    That is an oxymoron if there ever was one.

  • Caleb Turberville||

    To quote another George,

    "I don't like euphemisms oreuphemistic language. And American english is loaded with euphemisms. BecauseAmericans have a lot of trouble dealing with reality. Americans have troublefacing the truth, so they invent a kind of a soft language to protect themselvesfrom it. And it gets worse with every generation. For some reason it just keepsgetting worse."

  • BarryD||

    "Disposition matrix" is not really a euphemism, though. It takes violence that sounds like war, and makes it sound creepy instead.

  • Caleb Turberville||

    From now on, it's not "taxation"; it's "citizenship dues".

  • $park¥||

    $park¥ and 0 others like this.

  • BarryD||

    Patriotism coupons.

  • MOFO.||

    Really? You cant work the word 'investment' in there some way?

  • ||

    From now on, it's not "taxation"; it's "citizenship dues".

    "Patriotic voluntary investment contributions"

  • LTC(ret) John||

    +1 penaltax

  • Eduard van Haalen||

    Results-oriented, forward-thinking, evidence-based, nuanced, threat identification and amelioration matrix.

  • R C Dean||

    You left out "accountability-diffusing".

  • BarryD||

    Right.

    See the Greek root "eu" in "euphemism" means "good". "Phem" is sound. Hence, it's a term that's intended to make something that's bad, sound like it's good.

    None of these sound good.

  • Pro Libertate||

    Communication breakdown, it's always the same.
    Havin' a nervous breakdown, a-drive me insane.

  • Whahappan?||

    Suck!

  • amelia||

    Well that is certainly true! But hey, at least we don't insist on creating and using diminutives for like, any and every word..."aggro" for "aggressive," (or is it for "aggravated?") "sandy" for "sandwich," "brekkie" for "breakfast"...not that I don't enjoy such use of language but it is strange to me. My mom is English but she never does that. I'd like to know when the practice originated.

  • Ptah-Hotep||

    Whatev. I think it comes from the text-based lifestyle. People do not talk as much on the phone or in person anymore, but rather text or email. The shortening of words helps with that.

  • sarcasmic||

    The shortening of words helps with that.

    Didn't that start with that infomercial guy in the 90s?

  • $park¥||

    Wn all u get is 140 chars u hv 2 mk it fit.

  • amelia||

    I think it pre-dates texting for the Brits, and Aussies. But sure, texting makes it more prevalent. And the British were all over texting from the beginning, because it was much cheaper for them than using the cell phones to make calls. I think for a long time, you couldn't get the kind of package deals with cheap calling over there that we were getting in the U.S.

  • ||

    I think you can blame Cockney slang and West Enders for that type of vernacular.

  • Paul.||

    I think you can blame Cockney slang and West Enders for that type of vernacular

    This is largely true. If I recall correctly, I believe me mum was an East End girl. But it was WWII so she ended up marrying an American because he offered her a can of peaches, something you simply could not get in perennially rationed England.

  • amelia||

    Hey, mine too. But she married my dad because he was smarter and more handsome than her English suitors :-)

  • Paul.||

    Hey, mine too. But she married my dad because he was smarter and more handsome than her English suitors :-)

    Over sexed, overpaid, and over here.

  • Heroic Mulatto||

    The infantilization of British English (Teley, Footy...really?) is a symptom of the British Nanny State. When you are treated as helpless children, you start to talk like them.

  • ||

    So that explains chavs...

  • Xenocles||

    Chav is really more of an acronym, I think.

  • SugarFree||

    The term has its origins in the Romani word chavi, meaning "child"[3] (or "chavo", meaning "boy",[4] or "chavvy", meaning "youth"[5][6]). The derivative chavette has been used to refer to females.[7] The adjectives "chavish" and "chavtastic" have been used in relation to items designed for or suitable for use by chavs.[8]

    pwn'd

  • Xenocles||

    One former Police Officer who worked at the City of London Police as a Special Constable in 2004 and later another Force as a paid full-time officer in the United Kingdom[13] published a book in 2010 entitled Stab-Proof Scarecrows that stated chav was an abbreviation for "Council Housed and Violent";[14] however, this is a backronym.[6]

    This was what I was getting at.

  • SugarFree||

    Ah, the backronym, kinkiest of the nyms.

  • Xenocles||

    I suppose I could research then post next time.

  • SugarFree||

    Just being mean. I didn't know either.

    Although, "chav" is not much of an insult as a word, what with the soft c and trailing off v. It mostly sounds like "have" with crackers in the mouth.

  • Xenocles||

    No need to apologize. I had heard the acronym explanation before, so I posted it and then went to Wiki where I read exactly what you posted.

  • ||

    Can't you both be wrong?

  • SugarFree||

    Nothing substantive to add, I see.

  • ||

    I'm the glibbest monster since glib came to Glibtown!

  • amelia||

    Yes, "telly" is an old one. But it makes more sense to me to use a diminutive for an item so familiar and used so intimately as the television than for some of the others I have heard.

  • Paul.||

    Hand me the blower and give us a cup of tea.

    Come on! Give us a kiss!

    Alright, then!

  • amelia||

    What's a "blower?"

  • Paul.||

    Phone.

  • ||

    Old timey British for telephone.

  • Paul.||

    Ok, then. Give us a tinkle on the blower!

  • amelia||

    Hell, my mom's family was probably too poor for telephones when that word was in heavy use.

  • Paul.||

    Trust me, no one in England ever spoke english.

    Again, as Avi said: Your country spawned the fucking language, but nobody seems to speak it.

  • Pro Libertate||

    They just bought the naming rights. You know, like how companies get to name stadiums for a fee.

  • Paul.||

    I always chalked it up to the fact that since they invented it, they could fuck with it however they wanted. Kind of a, 'we planted the flag first' kind of thing.

  • Pro Libertate||

    No. English was invented by the Germans, who sold sublicensing rights to the Frisians. The English, disappointed in losing out to the Frisians, bought the naming rights.

    Nowadays, the Americans own the rights to the language, as demonstrated by virtually everyone learning English with an American accent.

  • Heroic Mulatto||

    as demonstrated by virtually everyone learning English with an American accent.

    ???

    I disagree with that statement. In Japan and Korea, American English is the rule. The Chinese tend toward the British, as does most of S.E. Asia. Mongolia, I have no clue. Likewise British English rules in South Asia and Africa for historical reasons. Latin America and Europe tend to be a mixed bag in my experience.

  • Pro Libertate||

    The transition is not complete, but it will be. Oh, yes, it will be.

  • ||

    It seems to be an age thing.

    Whereas once Europeans learned to speak British English they now seem to universally choose American style English.

    The exception I think might be Holland where everyone under the age of about eighty speaks perfect English with a British accent because all their teachers, and their teachers before them, do.

  • mad libertarian guy||

    as demonstrated by virtually everyone learning English with an American accent.

    Except for every European who learns English, which is a good chunk of them. Most Brazilians I know also learn British English.

  • tarran||

    So the guys who went on reckies to look for Jerry at dawn were infantilized? Good to know.

  • Paul.||

    Everyone forgets how many English drinking songs have the word "Whoops" in the title.

  • Heroic Mulatto||

    If they used the term "recce," then yes.

    "Recon" sounds a lot less like something one would do to a diaper, yes?

  • ||

    But hey, at least we don't insist on creating and using diminutives for like, any and every word

    U tell em girlf!

  • OldMexican||

    Meanwhile, as the Stanford/NYU report notes, "collateral damage" estimates from drone warfare in Pakistan range as high as 881 civilians and 176 children, and "evidence suggests that U.S. strikes have facilitated recruitment" to terrorist groups.

    That's the idea. Ever since the fall of the last hobgobblin (the Soviet Union), the US Establishment could not wait longer to create and grow a new one to keep American boobs obedient and compliant.

  • ||

    I must admit I like compliant boobs. Oh you meant the populous! Silly me.

  • ||

    cop gets big settlement after court rules he was improperly fired - for advocating mj decriminalization.

    he took his settlement and decided instead to pursue teaching, currently at the UW... notable quote.

    this is a good case considering that in some jurisdictions, officers have been fired for as little as simply being a MEMBER of LAW ENFORCEMENT AGAINST PROHIBITION.

    i support cops' right to dissent on the war on drugs! opponents of the WOD should as well imo

    A former Mountlake Terrace police sergeant whose views supporting the decriminalization of marijuana led to his dismissal in 2005 has won his job back and an $815,000 settlement from the city and Snohomish County.

    However, Sgt. Jonathan Wender will not return to the streets. In addition to the financial settlement, the city has agreed to keep him on administrative leave and to pay him a $90,000-a-year salary for the next two years, when he will be able to retire after 20 years with the department.

    In addition, he won back pay dating to when he was fired and the restoration of his retirement benefits, said his lawyer, Andrea Brenneke.

    In a lawsuit, Wender, 42, had claimed the city and county violated his right to free speech by targeting him for his political beliefs. Wender, who holds a Ph.D., teaches full time at the University of Washington and has written and lectured extensively about police work and drug policy.

    http://seattletimes.com/html/l.....ed13m.html

  • ||

    oh, notable quote from Wendler: "There is a tragic beauty in working the streets, [and] I miss the intimacy of making order out of chaos."

    considering his PhD dissertation was: "Policing as Poetry: Phenomenological and Aesthetic Reflections Upon the Bureaucratic Approach to Human Predicaments."

    that's appropriate

  • R C Dean||

    Good: the city/county was held accountable for violating the First Amendment by punishing someone for their views.

    Bad: the taxpayers got raped good and hard. $815,000 cash, plus two more years of salary so he can qualify for a full pension.

    Individual copocrats who actually did the bad deed: out of pocket not one red cent.

  • Almanian's Evil Twin||

    Drone-War Doublethink.

    Brings to mind, "Discount Doublecheck"

    *makes that weird Aaron Rodgers move from the commercial*

    that is all

  • The Derider||

    The "living under drones" study found that the strikes had killed between 1,658 and 2,597 people, including 391 – 780 civilians.

    391/1658 = 23.6% 780/2597 = 30.0%

    A ratio of 24% to 30% civilian casualties in an aerial bombing campaign seems highly accurate, compared to every other aerial bombing campaign.

  • nike001||

    One hour we do not speak. I thought a lot. Finally, still feel like saying it's the fox is not possible, we Cheap Football Cleats can not find evidence that the gray-haired woman does not show fox, but no evidence, just to prove that the fox can transform himself into a cheap ugg boots for women white-haired woman. And to compare with each other, or scientific concepts prevail.

  • sohbet siteleri||

    The Bush administration introduced any number of such fuzzwords to the political lexicon:Sohbet - Chat

  • sohbet siteleri||

    Part of the job is to try to identify body parts. Sohbet - Sohbet Odaları

  • sohbet siteleri||

    the disposition matrix.Sohbet Siteleri - Chat Siteleri

  • sohbet siteleri||

    he took his settlement and decided instead to pursue teaching, currently at the UW... notable quote.Güzel Sözler - Şarkı Sözleri

  • sohbet siteleri||

    You have to wonder if this is a smart long-term policy in an unstable country with nuclear weapons. Sohbet - Chat

  • sohbet siteleri||

    Likewise British English rules in South Asia and Africa for historical reasons. Latin America and Europe tend to be a mixed bag in my experience. Mynet Sohbet - Sohbet

  • sohbet siteleri||

    In addition, he won back pay dating to when he was fired and the restoration of his retirement benefits, said his lawyer, Andrea Brenneke.Film izle - Dizi izle

  • sohbet siteleri||

    i support cops' right to dissent on the war on drugs! opponents of the WOD should as well imo. Sohbet - Sohbet Odaları

  • sohbet siteleri||

    One can definitely say that whatever benefit we get from the drone wars, is not worth the cost of increased terrorist recruitment. Oyun - Mirc indir

  • sohbet siteleri||

    The "living under drones" study found that the strikes had killed between 1,658 and 2,597 people, including 391 – 780 civilians. Rüya Tabirleri - Yemek Tarifleri

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