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back to article Anti-drone bods haul MoD to court over SECRET KILLER ROBOTS

The Ministry of Defence is set to face a court hearing next week over its refusal to release information about Britain's lethal unmanned drone missions in Afghanistan. It will appear in front of the Information Tribunal on 23 and 24 September in a bid to defend its decision to throw a veil of secrecy around the use of drones in …

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Definitely in the public interest.

Can be done without breaching official secrets act.

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Or alternatively, definitely not in the public interest.

On current technology drones are not autonomous, and so any drone attacks are no more or less of a matter of public interest than the actions (for example) of regular or special forces. Nobody is making a big demands to know what the SAS and their mates get up to in Afghan, so why fuss about drones?

For fast jets there's no good reason why the aircrew would have either any vision of the target, and certainly no requirement for unaided vision. There's no difference between a toss-bomb attack where a fast jet pilot neither sees nor is seen by the target, and a drone attack, where the weapons are controlled by a bloke in an air conditioned shed somewhere?

Is the argument that it is better to be killed by a missile fired from an aircraft piloted by a bloke in a sweaty flight suit, than by a white collar approach? In either case the target is only observed by the jet or drone jockey on a flat panel display.

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Quite right

the only issue here is the use of the term 'unmanned drones' which makes these flying machines sound like something automate from a Sci-Fi film. They should be ground piloted aircraft or something to help keep those who are hard of thinking from getting confused and upset.

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"Or alternatively, definitely not in the public interest."

That depends on if in the eyes of the government we are waging a legitimate armed conflict where we can be open about what happened, or if we're running a clandestine programme of assassination. And to if we are happy enough to stand by our actions, or if for some reason we feel the need to pretend that it wasn't us.

Personally, I am uncomfortable with a 'secret war' being waged where our government shies away from its actions. Military action that is not under the microscope is essentially unregulated and thus can be carried out outside of the rules of war. I have a bit of an issue with that.

"For fast jets there's no good reason why the aircrew would have either any vision of the target, and certainly no requirement for unaided vision."

Yeah there is: Verification. If you're tossing live munitions in civilian areas, that's a DAMN good reason to put a Mk 1 eyeball on the target.

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"Definitely in the public interest."

Absolutely. If we are killing for arguably legitimate reasons that is one thing. If we are murdering for no good reason and putting everyone at risk through potential retaliation for that then we really ought to be allowed to know.

Simply saying we can't be allowed to judge which it is because it affects our national security is nonsense, merely ducking the question. It's no better than saying we cannot investigate allegations of police misconduct, racism or corruption because that might undermine operational effectiveness. All it does is keep the truth hidden and suggests to me that what they do does lack legitimacy.

They want to wage wars on behalf of the public without the public having any say in the matter. Those aren't our wars; they are their wars, but we are the ones who inevitably pay the price. We should all have a say in what is done in our names but they won't even let us know what is being done.

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""For fast jets there's no good reason why the aircrew would have either any vision of the target, and certainly no requirement for unaided vision."

Yeah there is: Verification. If you're tossing live munitions in civilian areas, that's a DAMN good reason to put a Mk 1 eyeball on the target."

Ah, how romantic, the "Mk1 eyeball" . How do you think that a fast jet gets its target and hits it? Does Biggles look over the side of the Camel's cockpit, and work out if the people on the ground are civvies? Or those slo-mo replays of attack videos is how it actually looks for real? Of course not. A fast jet won't even be low enough to see people on the ground unless he's just doing a noisy fly past to impress the natives. The attack coordinates will come from ground controllers using intelligence and satellite data, or laser designators by ground forces, the pilot (or weapons controller) sets the weaponry up, and the weapons can be loosed without the pilot having to examine in detail what he's attacking. That's how modern warfare is, and that's why it doesn't matter whether the weapons platform is flown by a meatsack aboard it, or one wearing short sleeves in an office in Wyoming.

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"Ah, how romantic, the "Mk1 eyeball" . How do you think that a fast jet gets its target and hits it? Does Biggles look over the side of the Camel's cockpit, and work out if the people on the ground are civvies? Or those slo-mo replays of attack videos is how it actually looks for real? Of course not. A fast jet won't even be low enough to see people on the ground unless he's just doing a noisy fly past to impress the natives"

I'm aware of what stand-off weapons are, thanks. I know it's hard to believe that anyone who understands such a novel idea would actually disagree with you, but that's what's happening here.

Since people have made mistakes in the past and accidentally dropped bombs on the wrong people, it is often quite common for pilots to bother looking before lobbing high explosives, especially in close support.

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Mk1 eyeball

You are fucking a-rights there should be an eyeball on target before the call goes up to loose the bomb. As many of them as possible. Because it is exactly that sort of bullshit, cavalier "fuck 'em if they can't take a nuke" attitude that killed my friends.

So FUCK YOU if you suggest for even a moment that we shouldn't have complete civilian oversight over ever bit of ordinance dropped. Fuck you with an F-16.

Asshole.

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"Why on earth do these tree hugging fuckwits feel they have a right to know what the military is doing? "

1. We pay for them.

2. What they do is democratically accountable to us.

Honestly, I don't know why I'm replying to a troll post so early in the day.

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@zooooooom

Assuming that your reply isn’t just your own trolling I can answer that one.

1. We pay for them.

Yes we do from taxes but this money pays for the men and women of the military to carry out tasks at risk

to their life.

2. What they do is democratically accountable to us.

Whilst these people are paid for by us, and indeed their actions are democratically accountable, we are also accountable to them and in particular to their safety.

Information classification systems are based on this principle so for instance the classification ‘secret’ would be information which if known would be ‘ life-threatening , disruptive to public order or detrimental to diplomatic relations with friendly nations’.

Clearly releasing these details about drone attacks could compromise the safety of the people on the ground who also might be involved.

So on balance you are trading a significant risk to the lives of people on the ground, against the right to freely available government information. With ‘rights’ come also responsibilities to other ‘rights’ (life, liberty etc) and as such your democratic right to the information is superseded by the militaries ‘right’ to keep people alive.

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Re: Troll?

@ Ebaneezer Wanktrollop

Ex Army - I never got to be hidden for the safety of the weapon system, I was expected to be legally and morally accountable for everything I did. Shoot someone and it'd better be a 'good shot' cause if you go around topping people you'll find yourself facing criminal charges.

Now back on topic, with your vast knowledge of how Army and Air Force opsec can be compromised by details of attacks which have already taken place, please explain to me why I am not allowed to know when drone attacks took place? What the target was? And if the strike was classified as a hit? How would me knowing any of that compromise opsec of future operations?

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"Horse shit. Why on earth do these tree hugging fuckwits feel they have a right to know what the military is doing?"

Because it's our military and we'd quite like to know that what they are doing is legitimate?

"If you really need to know why not join the armed forces, sign the Official Secrets Act and find out yourself - with a bit of front line work thrown in of course - but you don't wanna do that do you?"

Having done that does not mean that you get a life-time of updates from the MoD as to what is going on with every active part of the armed forces.

And I love the way that you dare to assume that nobody who has ever been on the sharp end gives a rats ar$e as to the legitimacy of our military actions or could ever be concerned about the matter. I can only assume by the way that you suggest others should 'get involved' before they have an interest that you have to, otherwise you're being massively hypocritical.

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Re: Troll?

Just because you were locked in a tin can and don't care, it doesn't mean that everyone else has to, you realise?

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Re: Ebaneezer Wanktrollop - Ex Royal Navy

"spent a good many years on board Polaris submarines"

So you say.

I'd ask for proof, but that would still not justify your words.

BTW, those "ordinary civilians" are the very ones you were supposed to be defending. Someone who is supposedly in your position should have a bit more respect for the citizens of their country, and a bit more understanding for notion of accountability.

Unless, of course, you were only doing it for the money. Which would explain your "don't concern you" attitude.

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Re: @zooooooom

You write:

"Clearly releasing these details about drone attacks could compromise the safety of the people on the ground who also might be involved."

I am not suggesting information should be released that would compromise the safety of personnel. However; the article writes;

"But the MoD refused to answer two questions which asked for the exact date and location of each drone attack, as well as details of whether how many times the Reaper drones fired weapons during both unplanned, reactive combat and scheduled operations."

i.e. historic detail. Presumably the enemy combatants involved already know if a drone strike hit them, its you and I, the funders of the the clone army, that are ignorant of the details.

"It'll compromise XYZ safetly" is a defense all too readily available to the military when it simply doesn't want to be held accountable and allow the true picture of a war to emerge.

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Re: @zooooooom

"Information classification systems are based on this principle so for instance the classification ‘secret’ would be information which if known would be ‘ life-threatening , disruptive to public order or detrimental to diplomatic relations with friendly nations’."

Or because someone didn't want to be held accountable or for people to stick their nose in and can justify it within those perimeters. That happens just as often.

"Clearly releasing these details about drone attacks could compromise the safety of the people on the ground who also might be involved."

*Clearly*? You've jumped ahead. Please tell us how it is 'clear' that prior drone attack locations compromises people on the ground? I'm pretty sure that the OPFOR already knows where it was bombed. The only people who don't know appear to be the people buying the drones and voting.

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Pint

Re: Troll?

I'm quite amused that someone who spent his entire military career in a tin can, out of communication with everyone else in the military for months at a time advises people that if they want to know what the military is doing, to join up. The average person watching the news would have known more about what they were doing than you, chap.

And as regards being churlish towards others for not 'being at the sharp end', I again find it amusing to hear from someone who was on board a SSBN, where the riskiest and nastiest thing to realistically have happened in the last twenty years is getting into a hot-bunk to find someone else's still warm man-juice on the sheets.

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harm "relations between the UK and another State".

I am sure it would if we were doing something we shouldnt have been doing. If we are committing to war we should commit to it. Otherwise bring our guys home because they will only be killed otherwise and the half arsed effort aint worth it.

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FAIL

Good comment

...harm "relations between the UK and another State".

Maybe in that case you should not be doing it and calls into question who's side are we on. It does not seem to be the Afghans.

It brings to mind the saying: "In order to save the town we had to destroy it."

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Re: Good comment

Did that when we invaded Normandy in WW2 and you know something, the french weren't complaining!

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Good comment

And look what we did to Caen during the Normandy campaign

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Royal_Engineers_in_Caen.jpg

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Anonymous Coward

The answer is simple, we should know how many people our Government is killing in our name. The current Government seems happy to speed as much as they can killing people rather than saving lives, fortunately for some, the last time they let people know that they wanted to kill some more, they were told no.

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Anonymous Coward

Be careful what you wish for

Of couse, if we brought our soldiers home, they would be killing people here, on their own time. It might be better to keep them busy elsewhere.

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"The answer is simple, we should know how many people our Government is killing in our name. "

If you look, you will see that the military of both UK and US and other allies are careful not to release collated information on insurgent casualties. Partly because that's not good public relations, and partly because in the rather unreliable world of counter insurgency, the total to date of enemy combatant casualties is not reliably known. Even if it was it means little, but the raw numbers could easily be used to reach the wrong sort of conclusion.

For example: if there were an estimated 800 active Taliban fighters in a given district, and you think you killed 300 in a couple of years, how many are left? The answer is no idea, because jihadist reinforcements may have come or gone, local militia may have combined or splintered with the insurgents, non-combatants may have become radicalised and armed in response to Western or local government attacks, corruption or injustice. And the original estimate was probably wrong, as would be the guess of casualties.

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Gauging the success of warfare via bodycount is indeed a bad idea, and no measure of success.

BUT: That doesn't mean that those figures should be hidden from us, especially as regards civilian casualties. As pointed out repeatedly, we live in a civilised and free society and should know who and where is being destroyed at our expense, in the name of our 'freedom'.

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They aren't asking how many bullets were fired. They aren't asking how many tank shells were fired. They aren't asking where the ground vehicles drove and when. They aren't asking where the planes flew, what they spied, and what they attacked. In all these cases the "point of impact" is remote from the firer

So why are they asking for detailed information about remote controlled aircraft?

If British troops are being sent to war by the elected government of the day then they should be equipped with the best tools for the job. If the use of remote controlled aircraft places our troops in the safest position then that's the tool that should be used. The real debate is should our troops have been sent to war.

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but why not?

Good point, let's have a complete inventory. It's being done in our name, with our money, why shouldn't we know that it's money well spent?

And of course, they're asking about what WAS done, not about who might be targetted tomorrow or next week, so there's no possible risk to troops or 'security'.

Okay, it'll piss off the loony "Kill everyone in the world" warmongers in the White House and the Pentagon, but that's not actually a problem for most normal human beings.

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Re: but why not?

"Good point, let's have a complete inventory. It's being done in our name, with our money, why shouldn't we know that it's money well spent?"

As you well know, the essential problem in the UK has been that defence money hasn't been well spent, because it got frittered on crap that either didn't work or never reached the front line, or arrived so late that the requirement had gone. And achievable measures, like properly armoured transport, or adequate helicopters have not been provided because there wasn't the money after spending billions buying hundreds of not very useful Typhoons, paying to build and then cut up Nimrods, paying to store Chinook Mk3s because we couldn't decide if our own spec was safe or not, etc etc.

Drones are cheap, they don't expose our servicemen to undue harm, and they are no more or less at risk of harming the innocent than conventional approaches to raining death on foreigners. So if we're going to start with an audit, we should first of all examine WHY we are involved, then examine why our people didn't have the right kit. Of course, we did have an enquiry into Iraq, but have you noticed that government have sat upon it?

I think we can at least all agree that the decision not to get involved in Syria was the right one.

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"So why are they asking for detailed information about remote controlled aircraft?"

Ok: Let's have that, too.

Lack of demands for every piece of information does not make a desire for specific parts of that information worthless, does it?

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Re: but why not?

"So if we're going to start with an audit, we should first of all examine WHY we are involved, then examine why our people didn't have the right kit. Of course, we did have an enquiry into Iraq, but have you noticed that government have sat upon it?"

Because Tony said so.

If we can only look back on the current government for doing one decent thing it will be that our democratically elected MPs at least were given a vote on Syria.

"I think we can at least all agree that the decision not to get involved in Syria was the right one."

Can we? I'm still torn on many levels between the options. 100,000 people dead and counting because we think it'll be a bit messy/expensive and they don't have much oil? I'm not sure I could look Syrians who have had kids gassed in the eye and tell them that. Would you be comfortable to?

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Re: but why not?

@Psyx

"Can we? I'm still torn on many levels between the options. 100,000 people dead and counting because we think it'll be a bit messy/expensive and they don't have much oil? I'm not sure I could look Syrians who have had kids gassed in the eye and tell them that. Would you be comfortable to?"

Who do we attack? The west is certain that assad used chemical weapons, no evidence. The russians claim to have evidence it was the rebels.

Do we go in and kill a load of people because we want to blame them? What happens when their gov topples and all the nutters take over? Which nutter should be running syria and why is your choice more important than the people of syria?

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Re: but why not?

"Who do we attack?"

The regime who has been torturing people for 20 years, perhaps?

" The west is certain that assad used chemical weapons, no evidence. "

There is plenty. You just have to look somewhere other than mainstream media for details. For one, rule #1 of launching gas attacks is to not do it into the wind. For six days prior to the recent attacks the wind was blowing towards central Damascus and the military bases there, so it would have been a great time for the rebels to do so. Instead the attack occurred on the day that the wind changed.

If you have any kind of interest in making up your own mind, then read this for the view of people who know what the hell they are talking about and who don't have a particular agenda or anything to gain from bias:

http://brown-moses.blogspot.co.uk/

And you can also read the UN report, which doesn't spread blame but is pretty damning.

"The russians claim to have evidence it was the rebels."

Which we *haven't* seen. And are these the same Russians who want to maintain a Mediterranean naval base and have been selling Assad weapons for years?

"Do we go in and kill a load of people because we want to blame them?"

The ultimate goal of military action isn't to kill people.

"What happens when their gov topples and all the nutters take over?"

So it's fine to let butchers rule because another butcher will probably take over? That's morally indefensible as a course of action.

"Which nutter should be running syria and why is your choice more important than the people of syria?"

I don't have an opinion on the matter, but it seems that you have already decided that any candidates are already nutters. And the people of Syria should have that choice, and for it not to be made at gunpoint. That IS important and it won't happen if we do nothing.

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Re: but why not?

@Psyx

"The regime who has been torturing people for 20 years, perhaps?"

Which country? Who put us in charge of policing the world? The UN is stuck behind needing proof. Simply put the US and UK have already done what you advocate in iraq. Didnt go well. We did something similar in afghanistan, didnt go well either.

"There is plenty. You just have to look somewhere other than mainstream media for details. "

And how solid is the proof? If it was solid then it would be good enough for the UN. The direction of the wind isnt proof, it is at best an indicator. But we are as certain of what happened as we were that saddam had WMD.

"Which we *haven't* seen. And are these the same Russians who want to maintain a Mediterranean naval base and have been selling Assad weapons for years?"

I did say claim and the UN should call them on it. So far everyone wants to blow shit up except russia who wants to find, remove and destroy the chemical weapons. And syrian gov agreed to it. As for selling weapons, that is now on hold and was back ordered. That makes a huge difference, as it does for the US and egypt. Egypt having a reworded uprising because the official wording would automatically stop the US from making further sales (still sending back ordered stuff) to egypt.

"The ultimate goal of military action isn't to kill people."

It is the means to the end and as of our latest campaigns the result too. More people being killed because we took military action.

"So it's fine to let butchers rule because another butcher will probably take over? That's morally indefensible as a course of action."

So you agree with causing the additional killings in the middle east? There is no denying our actions were the cause. So the question is if it was worth it. Remove 1 butcher and let loose many on the civilians.

"I don't have an opinion on the matter, but it seems that you have already decided that any candidates are already nutters. And the people of Syria should have that choice, and for it not to be made at gunpoint. That IS important and it won't happen if we do nothing."

Interesting, You support the opposition (some serious butchers) which would likely result in a terrorist organisation taking over and likely oppressing the people further. And thats a win? Before you assume I think that means leaving a butcher in charge I dont. But the russians seem to have more pull with assad and seem to be trying diplomacy before military. You say the choice should not be made at gunpoint but you forget both sides are carrying guns and the population is split over wanting assad in or out. Split over wanting the west to blow syria off the map or not. Doing something and being the aggressive nutter wanting to blow shit up are two different things

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Re: but why not?

"Who put us in charge of policing the world?"

We did when we started doing it. Now it appears that we're picking and choosing, dependant on how much cash it's worth to us in oil and rebuilding the infrastructure.

One could also argue that it is the moral duty of the strong to protect the weak. If there is no 'world police' then those in a position to help have a moral obligation to do so.

"The UN is stuck behind needing proof."

No: The UN is stuck behind the Russia and and China vetoing everything. It's really the UN's job to be 'world police', but their hands are tied.

"Simply put the US and UK have already done what you advocate in iraq. Didnt go well. We did something similar in afghanistan, didnt go well either."

And it's easy to ignore the dozens of other times where intervention has helped. Do we pick and choose based on merely the failures, while being blind to successes?

"And how solid is the proof? If it was solid then it would be good enough for the UN. The direction of the wind isnt proof, it is at best an indicator."

Pretty solid, if you'd follow the link and have a look and do some research rather than electing not to because it disagrees with your pre-formed opinion based on mainstream media.

"But we are as certain of what happened as we were that saddam had WMD."

Rubbish. No evidence of that was ever in the public sphere.

"So far everyone wants to blow shit up except russia who wants to find, remove and destroy the chemical weapons. And syrian gov agreed to it. As for selling weapons, that is now on hold and was back ordered."

Aww, bless Russia for being the good guys. Except Syria is swarming with Russian military advisors at present. Russia simply wants to stall and keep Assad in power to retain their military base and weapon sales. Have you *seen* how much Russian kit Syria owns? The maintenance contracts alone are worth billions, regardless of new sales. It's all about the money and strategic position for them, just as it was in Iraq for us.

http://www.vocativ.com/09-2013/exclusive-as-the-u-s-takes-aim-at-syria-russians-are-in-the-line-of-fire/

"So the question is if it was worth it. Remove 1 butcher and let loose many on the civilians."

Iraq... probably in the long run. And from a moral standpoint, allowing one regime of mass-murderers to stay in power because we think it'll be better in the long run is morally questionable at best.

"Interesting, You support the opposition (some serious butchers)"

I said that, where? You appear to have confused taking the opposite side of debate with siding with the opposite side of the conflict. As to the opposition being 'some serious butchers'... well, *some* of them are, yes. You can't write them all off and shove them into that little catch-all box, though.

"which would likely result in a terrorist organisation taking over and likely oppressing the people further."

Citation required. How so. Please expand on why a terrorist organisation would likely take over. You mean like in Libya or Egypt or Iraq. Oh wait... that's not what happened.

"But the russians seem to have more pull with assad and seem to be trying diplomacy before military."

It's called stalling. Plenty of dictators have happily played along with diplomacy while machine-gunning their own population. The art of diplomacy has been called "The art of saying 'nice doggy' while finding a big stick", and not mistakenly, either. Ultimately diplomacy needs to be backed up with a credible threat in these situations, and Assad has no real motivation to stop shelling civilians, still.

"You say the choice should not be made at gunpoint but you forget both sides are carrying guns and the population is split over wanting assad in or out."

Yes, and they should get to decide at the polling station.

"Doing something and being the aggressive nutter wanting to blow shit up are two different things"

Yes, and I did say I was torn on military intervention. Anyone whose mind is 100% cast-iron made up on either side probably hasn't thought about it all enough.

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Re: but why not?

@ Psyx

"One could also argue that it is the moral duty of the strong to protect the weak. If there is no 'world police' then those in a position to help have a moral obligation to do so."

One can argue almost anything. It is the joy of language and the joy of manipulation. Another way of putting it is you want us to invade another country and bully them to do it our way. Except the rebels are made up of a lot of nutters similar to those who like to blow us up. Or do you think we should take over the country and place whoever we want in charge? Like afghanistan. Went well. Not.

"No: The UN is stuck behind the Russia and and China vetoing everything. It's really the UN's job to be 'world police', but their hands are tied."

And of course when the police cant do anything you create a lynch mob and kill the bad guys yourself! Yeeehaaa. Isnt taking the law into your own hands against the law?

"And it's easy to ignore the dozens of other times where intervention has helped. Do we pick and choose based on merely the failures, while being blind to successes?"

Go on. WW2? WW1 (which lead to WW2)? What other mass invasions resulted in a win? Our recent actions in afghan, iraq, libya are highly relevant. Insanity is doing the same thing over and expecting a different result. If we keep getting it wrong then maybe its because we are doing it wrong. Maybe we dont understand the people or situation as well as we think we do.

"Pretty solid, if you'd follow the link and have a look and do some research rather than electing not to because it disagrees with your pre-formed opinion based on mainstream media."

Take your itchy finger off the trigger and engage brain. I havnt got the pre-formed opinion, I dont have the answer. I dont know because the proof is still being gathered. And instead of assuming the answer is to blow shit up (as you are doing) I am happy to see the diplomatic approach of talking to both the rebels and gov to collect and destroy the chemical weapons. Maybe get them to talk. Maybe resolve this so everyone is happy instead of shooting people to make more enemies.

"Aww, bless Russia for being the good guys. Except Syria is swarming with Russian military advisors at present."

Aww blinkers. Cute. Libya was swarming with our advisers. Afghan and iraq more so. Maybe syria too since we send them kit and want to publicly send arms. Egypt is swarming with US kit and the US isnt supposed to send any more because the gov was overthrown. Yet they are. And it is russia discussing the diplomacy option. Diplomacy. Try it as the word of the day.

"Iraq... probably in the long run. And from a moral standpoint, allowing one regime of mass-murderers to stay in power because we think it'll be better in the long run is morally questionable at best."

So its morally right to kill a load of people, remove all the people in charge who could actually run the country and then impose our way on them. So its moral to cause the breakdown resulting in people killing each other? Your morals are funny. We didnt remove saddam. We removed all the levels of order too.

"I said that, where? You appear to have confused taking the opposite side of debate with siding with the opposite side of the conflict."

Sorry but I asked who do we attack and you said- "The regime who has been torturing people for 20 years, perhaps?". So you want to attack the syrian gov. According to you your not sure if we should stay out of the conflict. Based on your comments.

"Citation required. How so. Please expand on why a terrorist organisation would likely take over. You mean like in Libya or Egypt or Iraq. Oh wait... that's not what happened."

Eh? You do know the muslim brotherhood was VOTED in? Yes they got removed my the military eventually but that action is suspect. Libya fell into chaos of warlords running their own little bits and killing people. Afghan is a mix of taliban and afghans killing for whoever seems the best choice at the time. Iraq is in a bombing campaign against civilians based on religious belief/divide. All of them lost control to thugs and the terrorist organisations recruited well from the damage. And you say it aint happened. Cute. If you want citation look at the events after the wars up to now for each country.

"It's called stalling. Plenty of dictators have happily played along with diplomacy while machine-gunning their own population."

So forget the diplomacy and lets go shoot some people. Yeefreekinhaaa again. Or why not take advantage of russia talking diplomacy and force them to get diplomacy moving? If russia backs out then they open the ground for war. Instead you assume the russians actions and want to skip to interfering in another countries war.

"Yes, and they should get to decide at the polling station."

Ignorance is blis. We live in a democracy. They dont. So you wanna enforce a democracy on them? You want to force our way on them? I thought you wanted the killing to stop. Or do you mistakenly conflate the two? How many people have been killed at polling stations in afghan and iraq?

"Yes, and I did say I was torn on military intervention. Anyone whose mind is 100% cast-iron made up on either side probably hasn't thought about it all enough."

To be torn on the idea of military intervention requires a lot of justification. To consider military action while ignoring diplomatic solutions is war happy. Making assumptions that your way is the right way and should be imposed on their people is blindness. Choosing the path to kill more is blood hungry. And now we go back to start- One can argue almost anything.

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Re: but why not?

"One can argue almost anything."

Ok then: It IS the moral duty of the strong to protect the weak. No argument there, then. How we do it is the only real topic.

"Go on. WW2? WW1 (which lead to WW2)? What other mass invasions resulted in a win? Our recent actions in afghan, iraq, libya are highly relevant."

Perhaps look at the less showy UN interventions in dozens of nations in the last 50 years instead of the stupid ones. Most have turned out ok. There are a lot less open mass graves in the Balkans than there were. Parts of Africa are a lot safer. Arguably even Korea is North and South still thanks to intervention, rather than one big North. And yes: Even intervention in WW2 made the world a lot better place than letting Panzers claim every inch of Europe.

"Take your itchy finger off the trigger and engage brain. "

You appear to have missed the bit where I said that I was undecided on intervention. I'm taking the opposite side of debate to discuss it, not because I want us to blow shizzle up.

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ACx

The problem with this is the march towards war by machine only. Remote controlled drones are a step further down the line. Don't for one second be rank stupid enough to assume autonomous drones are not next down the line. The reason this is a problem is that the less home side soldiers that are likely killed or risk death, the easier it is for a government to put war on others.

Comparisons with SAS, missiles etc are completely missing the point. Its the effect these things have on political decisions that matters. Sending in the SAS to murder some one risks a lot, droning them from a cowardly distance is home side human cost free. A drone is worse than a missile because its seen as being covert. Also , a missile can only attack one target at the end of a course. A drone can hang about, follow, kill multiple times, and return.

It is also interesting that were call IEDs and booby traps cowardly and so on, while we think these drones are perfectly reasonable. Odd that.

And of course, as we see creeping in to the USA, the drones will be used in the UK on British citizens in time. How many drones could we have for the cost of one police helicopter?

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Drones are cowardly?

what planet are you on?

The mission for any armed forces is to win the war and come home alive.

Thats it

You goto war, you kill the enemy , you make sure your troops suffer the minimum dead, and then you go home.

If using drones means 1000 enemy dies for every trooper you lose, thats a winning situation.

If you order a frontal attack by 1000 troops into the teeth of machine gun fire while you've got drones sitting on the ground, everyone will start saying "Wtf dude"

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" The reason this is a problem is that the less home side soldiers that are likely killed or risk death, the easier it is for a government to put war on others."

That's cobblers. Our government have waged war fairly freely for the past thirty years or so, regardless of the cost in lives. As we have proven in Iraq, Afghan and Libya, it is already easy to topple governments by remote exercise of power with little risk to our servicemen, but its the bit afterwards that is a problem. Either you abandon the country to its fate, or you impose your own order with occupation. So having autonomous drones will not make any difference to the likelihood of war.

" A drone can hang about, follow, kill multiple times, and return."

What, like a normal combat aircraft? And a drone is covert, but a missile isn't? How the fuck do you think drones kill people?

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Re: Drones are cowardly?

If using drones means 1000 enemy dies for every trooper you lose, thats a winning situation.

Define enemy? Does it include wedding guests?

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Re: Drones are cowardly?

If using drones means 1000 enemy dies for every trooper you lose, thats a winning situation.

If using drones means 1000 enemy dies, well presumably enemy - we couldn't really tell on the monitor - they had trucks and stuff, which is usually a good enough sign - for every trooper, thats a winning situation. I mean if they weren't enemy before, they sure are now!

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@ACx

“A drone is worse than a missile because its seen as being covert. Also , a missile can only attack one target at the end of a course. A drone can hang about, follow, kill multiple times, and return.

It is also interesting that were call IEDs and booby traps cowardly and so on, while we think these drones are perfectly reasonable. Odd that.”

A Drone is better than a missile because when you fire a missile the situation on the ground can change before the missile hits, and there is no coming back from that, you just have to sit there and hope a bus full of school children doesn’t turn up in the next 15 minutes, a drone is much closer, thus that’s less of a problem, as you said, a drone can hand out, adjust to the situation and chose when to stop and when to continue, you fire a missile and there is bugger all you can do once it’s gone.

IEDs and booby traps are cowardly, because they don’t care who they kill, with drones you have control over it, drones are the equivalent of someone having a sword and the other having a long bow, and IED is digging a hole with spikes to kill the next thing that uses the road.

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The big question is, what difference does it make? They could just as easily fly a stealth fighter in and do the job and no one would be up in arms about a drone being used, but that costs a lot more and risks the life of the pilot. Ultimately what difference does it make if you are killing people with a manned drone or a manned aircraft?

If these people had a problem with the killing in and of itself then fair enough, but they don't because they are members of organisation called things of the like "Ban Drones" etc... It makes no sense.

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The big question

@ bigtimehustler

"The big question is, what difference does it make? They could just as easily fly a stealth fighter in and do the job and no one would be up in arms about a drone being used, but that costs a lot more and risks the life of the pilot. Ultimately what difference does it make if you are killing people with a manned drone or a manned aircraft?"

I think the problem is the lack of support for these wars entirely. There are no clear goals for afghan or iraq. Worse our soldiers were sent without proper kit while money was thrown at nothing or as good as nothing. Then we find the wars strongest justification being that blair wanted to go to war so they did, and happily made up evidence to do so.

Add that to the increased publicity of our security agencies activities and use of technology against its people. We have the illegal assault in Pakistan of osama's compound which was easily supported and justified because he was there. They were 60% sure if I remember right. If he wasnt there what would the situation have been like? Then we have drone strikes hitting Pakistan without their permission yet without going to war with them.

Basically the technology isnt a bad idea. Its use to save our soldiers lives is great. But the publicity they have received is shocking because of political reasons and political abuse. The arguments against dont seem to be fighting their application to war. Instead the arguments against seem to be fighting their application to politics.

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" but that costs a lot more and risks the life of the pilot"

Only from accidents. One of the defining aspects of the wars we've been involved in has been that our fast jets have been largely out of reach of the opposition's long range surface to air weaponry either because they never had any, or because preliminary missile strikes eliminated them.

Things are a different for the helicopters, but they are largely doing close support for ground forces, which isn't yet a role that drones have been proven in.

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Re: The big question

Indeed and I agree with you, my point is that there is an issue to be discussed, but it is not drone or no drone. The people who are anti drone need to decide what it is they really oppose and properly put their support behind that, not fight it like a proxy war through the issue of drones.

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Yes, and thats all well and good, but this article is about people largely being anti drone. My question is, why are they anti drone? Is it because really they are anti war rather than drone, in which case perhaps they should focus their argument on their real problem and not a random application of the war which has no real affect on how many lives are lost as if drones were to be banned as some of these people would like, the lives would just be lost a different way.

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This is Droidism, Pure and Simple.

This group is just another example of the droidist tendencies amongst those who refuse to let our metal cousins serve their country with pride alongside the meat soldiers.

A Friend of Fernando Poo,

affiliated to Equal Opportunities for Androids.

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