Droning On About Targeted Killings

Remember way back in olden times, like about 10 years ago, when the U.S. government regularly chastised Israel for targeted killings of its enemies with remotely piloted aircraft? 

The Israelis considered it a successful tactic that avoided sending IDF soldiers into densely populated Palestinian areas and risking serious Israeli casualties – and a good way to off some bad guys.

The George W. Bush administration strongly disagreed. It was harshly critical of the policy, saying it was “only inflaming an already volatile situation,” especially when occasional mistakes resulted in the deaths of innocent civilians.

If you haven't heard much complaining out of Washington lately there’s a very good explanation.  Drones haves become a mainstay of America's war on terrorists (Obama may have dropped the phrase but he’s intensified the war).

Drones are today’s U.S. weapon-of-choice because they present less risk to American soldiers, can respond more quickly, are relatively cheap and able to reach more remote locations undetected.

A recent front-page article in the New York Times provided an interesting look at Barack Obama’s drone war policy.  The Pentagon hasn’t found a way to avoid collateral damage (the euphemism for killing innocents) but it has come up with some creative ways to rationalize it.

Israel pioneered the use of Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAV) while the United States was still trying to perfect its own more than 30 years ago.  In fact during the Reagan administration the U.S. Navy actually got some from Israel to use for reconnaissance off the coast of Central America because no American UAV’s were available, but Pentagon stuck to its NIH (Not Invented Here) policy and persisted in developing its own instead of buying proven systems from Israel. It took several years to catch up.

A Bush State Department spokesman called the Israeli practice "heavy-handed" and said, "we've made repeatedly clear that we oppose targeted killings."

That was then, this is now. Drones away.

About the Author
Douglas M. Bloomfield is a syndicated columnist, Washington lobbyist and consultant. He spent nine years as the legislative director and chief lobbyist for AIPAC.