I’m somewhat confused by the DC press corps suddenly being outraged that US drone strikes might be counterproductive and actually kill innocent civilians based on bad intel. Have you paid any attention to the last 12 years of US targeting debacles?— Garrett M. Graff (@vermontgmg) September 20, 2021
Speaking Monday to Tucker Carlson, Tulsi Gabbard, U.S Representative from Hawaii and former candidate for the Democratic presidential nomination, laid out the threat she perceives from "Islamist ideology," which she distinguished from "Islam." She stated
Militarily, we have two choices in how we do that. Number one, continue to invade and occupy and nation-build in countries around the world, just as we did in Afghanistan- at great cost. number two, we an take a targeted approach using air strikes, using our special forces to go in and go after these terror cells.
The reality is that the cost, the cost to the American people, the cost to our troops, the cost to civilians will be far less if we take this targeted approach to go after these Jihadist terrorists, that if we continue to make the very same mistakes that we saw in Afghanistan and other parts of the world of invasion, occupation, and nation-building...
Gabbard argues "the cost to the American people, the cost to our troops, the cost to civilians will be far less if we take this targeted approach."
"Two out of three ain't bad," Jim Steinman wrote for Meat Loaf over 40 years ago, and Gabbard might have gotten two right. Obviously, the cost to American soldiers will be far less and, unless there is an increase of terrorism on American soil, the cost to the American people will drop. But the cost to civilians will not.
Drone strikes in North Africa/Middle East are likely to rise. They will do so in part because the military will not roll over and play dead. The weapons of war must be used for something and they probably will be called upon to do more now that there will be fewer American soldiers in the region to respond to terroristic threats.
Journalist Garrett Graff is rightfully annoyed that there was little attention paid by the media to USA "targeting debacles" of the past twelve years. Avoidance of the topic helped prevent public outrage over civilian deaths.
But this door swings both ways. One reason media generally ignored the air strikes was that there is scant interest among the public in deaths of foreign civilians. They are not Americans. The deaths we care about are those of American men and women, the same individuals to whom we say "thank you for your service" when we are sincere and when we are not.
That's why Tulsi Gabbard can claim "the cost to civilians will be far less if we take this targeted approach," though she knows otherwise. She may know, too, that while numerous surveys in recent months have asked voters whether they support withdrawal of troops from Afghanistan, far fewer explore sentiment about air strikes.
Those questions would raise awareness of this approach, to which the federal government has been pivoting in fits and spurts over the past three Administrations. Investigation of the role of the intelligence establishment in assisting the strategy is critical. Still, not many Americans would care- and even fewer would disapprove, especially if Gabbard and others continue to whitewash it as "targeted."