There’s No Such Thing as Civilians in the Drone War

John Glaser, May 29, 2012

Via Glenn Greenwald, this New York Times report on the Obama administration’s drone wars:

Mr. Obama embraced a disputed method for counting civilian casualties that did little to box him in. It in effect counts all military-age males in a strike zone as combatants, according to several administration officials, unless there is explicit intelligence posthumously proving them innocent.

…The C.I.A. accounting has so troubled some administration officials outside the agency that they have brought their concerns to the White House. One called it “guilt by association” that has led to “deceptive” estimates of civilian casualties.

“It bothers me when they say there were seven guys, so they must all be militants,” the official said. “They count the corpses and they’re not really sure who they are.”

Even when it is admitted that civilians are killed in drone strikes, it is inevitably described as legitimate “collateral damage.” There is a systematic refusal to call it what it really is, although former general counsel at the CIA John A. Rizzo, now under investigation in Obama’s war on whistleblowers, has referred to these killings as “murder.”




  • Deep_Thinker

    So, innocent until proven guilty?

    BTW, why the hell are we occupying other peoples countries again? For freedom? What Freedom?

    • http://peacerequiresanarchy.wordpress.com/ PeaceRequiresAnarchy

      Deep_Thinker, what do you mean "we"? I'm not killing people in Afghanistan, etc, nor supporting people who do. Are you? Language is important.

      I love Rothbard's commentary on this issue in the first page of his famous essay "The Anatomy of the State": http://mises.org/pdf/anatomy.pdf

      • Deep_Thinker

        Sorry, I mean the US. I mean what other country is occupying umteen nations right now?

        • http://peacerequiresanarchy.wordpress.com/ PeaceRequiresAnarchy

          I live in the geographic US, but again: I'm not occupying other peoples' homes nor supporting the individuals who do.

          My intent was just to draw attention to the fact that individuals are responsible for their actions and collectivist language (e.g. "we", "us," "our government," "the US", etc) can obscure that fact.

          I think it's better to make it clear to the people who do support the wars and foreign interventionism that they are the ones who are responsible, not the other people in their communities.

          • asoka

            When you say, "I live in the geographic US, but again: I'm not occupying other peoples' homes nor supporting the individuals who do.", consider all of the things you buy which are taxed in the U.S. I have no way of knowing whether your efforts add up to supporting war or ending it; however, I have known anarchist who don't support the war (in their opinion) but do pay plenty in U.S. taxes….which in my opinion means that the "anarchist in question" is not really a practicing anarchist as much as they are a theoretical anarchist.

            I do appreciate the point that the "we" that conducts and actively supports war does not include every U.S. citizen and I feel confident that you don't intend to support the war either.

            It isn't just the tax to consider either. Buying anything from anyone that supports the war very well may end up being support for the war.

          • http://peacerequiresanarchy.wordpress.com/ PeaceRequiresAnarchy

            The question of who is responsible and to what extent for the atrocities committing in the wars is important and not easy to answer.

            I would argue that the people on the front line who actually commit the acts of force have the most responsibility. These aggressors' superiors who don't actually do any fighting, but who order others to go fight or launch drone strikes certainly are responsible as well. In a general sense, anyone who speaks out in support of the acts of aggression is responsible in a sense as well.

            I think the best thing to do is to not use force aggressively yourself and speak out against those who do use force aggressively. Even then though, you may still be contributing to the crimes committed in the wars. This is because you may still be paying for the wars. Of course voluntarily paying for them and paying for them under duress are significantly different things from a moral perspective.

            Having said that, even if you are paying taxes to support a war under the threat of violence, it still remains that your money may be helping to support the war even though you are giving it up involuntarily. Note that I said "may" in the previous sentence. Isn't it true that regardless of whether or not I pay income taxes or regardless or not I refrain from shopping at a store that requires I pay a sales tax (VAT), the US Government will still pass a spending bill on the war in Congress just as large? The government can make their own money–they don't rely on collecting my money as much as I may initially assume. Of course if everyone refused to pay taxes then the state would starve, but my point is that I think that advocating against the war with words to others is more important than making sure that you don't eat a restaurant with a sales tax, etc.

            Sorry for the rant. To summarize, I don't think that you have to go to the extremes to avoid giving the government any of your money in order to be a "practical anarchist." I would have to quit my job to do that because my employer gives the government a certain percentage of the money that they give me. Spreading ideas can be very practical.

  • Pingback: ANU News.net There’s No Such Thing as Civilians in the Drone War()

  • Tom Mauel

    This Memorial weekend
    extraordinary how the press can point the finger at Syria for civilian atrocities and demand another civil war. U.S. drone strikes that kill civilians at a Pakistan bakery simply don't exist in the western corporate press and there is zero reporting of any U.S. drone strikes. In the last two weeks at least twenty two US soldiers have died in Afghanistan. None of these deaths were reported in the Western press outside their hometown area.
    US Afghan combat deaths are reported, occasionally, as "NATO" soldiers. But there is never a follow up report that the "NATO" soldiers were all from the US and died in another horrible IED attack in Helmand or Kandahar province. The Afghan war is almost totally hidden from public view by the corporate press.

  • http://shortsaleandloanmod.info/ Maliaack

    combatants, according to several administration officials, unless there is explicit intelligence posthumously proving them innocent.

  • Pingback: Former CIA Official: Drone War Kills Innocents, Creates Terrorist Safe Havens « Antiwar.com Blog()

  • Pingback: Pakistan PM: Drones Violate Human Rights -- News from Antiwar.com()

  • Pingback: UN Rights Chief Calls for Probe into US Drone War in Pakistan -- News from Antiwar.com()

  • Pingback: UN Rights Chief Calls for Probe into US Drone War in Pakistan « Stop Making Sense()

  • Pingback: CA Rep. Says Drone Strikes Creating ‘Real Enemies’ « Antiwar.com Blog()

  • http://vidanjareieftina.blogspot.com/ Chesnoiu Laurentiu

    Sir,
    Even last year, before the GE 2008, the situation was the same. Not many flags was seen on cars and buildings. Even then, the rakyat was already fed-up with the state of affairs in this country. You are spot on, sir, when you say something is missing in the atmosphere this year. After the elections, there was widespread coffee shop talk and everyone had something to say about it. Now, there is an eerie silence among the folks. It seems, they are again fed-up with what’s going on. Well, there you are. A bleak Merdeka is our lot. Happy Merdeka to you, sir. You are the foremost statesman of our times.

  • http://www.autosale101.com/ Thutas

    “It bothers me when they say there were seven guys, so they must all be militants,” the official said. “They count the corpses and they’re not really sure who they are.”

  • Pingback: Citing Potential ‘War Crimes’ UN Official Questions Legality of Drone War -- News from Antiwar.com()

  • http://earthens.net Kyle Gordy

    Obama, performing his stand up routine, inadvertently brings the horrors of drone warfare home. Check out the gonzo animation, COLLATERAL DAMAGE, at earthens.net

  • tuongyens2

    When you say, "I live in the geographic US, but again: I'm not occupying other peoples' homes nor supporting the individuals who do.", consider all of the things you buy which are taxed in the US I have no way of knowing whether your efforts add up to supporting war or ending it; however, I have known anarchist who don't support the war (in their opinion) but do pay plenty in US taxes…. http://thegioioplung.com/Danh-muc/bao-da-op-lung-

  • halinhsang

    I look forward to a life of peace, not war for everyone, but it will be impossible

    .. .http://miengdanthammohoi.wordpress.com/2013/05/07/mieng-dan-tham-mo-hoi-nach-ao/

  • http://lesang.vn/san-pham/n24/c89/nokia-lumia-920.html bao da cho lumia 920

    Having said that, even if you are paying taxes to support a war under the threat of violence, it still remains that your money may be helping to support the war even though you are giving it up involuntarily. Note that I said "may" in the previous sentence. Isn't it true that regardless of whether or not I pay income taxes or regardless or not I refrain from shopping at a store that requires I pay a sales tax (VAT), the US Government will still pass a spending bill on the war in Congress just as large? The government can make their own money–they don't rely on collecting my money as much as I may initially assume. Of course if everyone refused to pay taxes then the state would starve, but my point is that I think that advocating against the war with words to others is more important than making sure that you don't eat a restaurant with a sales tax, etc.

  • http://lesang.vn/san-pham/n22/c97/bao-da-op-lung-htc-one.html op lung htc one

    The C.I.A. accounting has so troubled some administration officials outside the agency that they have brought their concerns to the White House.I live in the geographic US, i like this

  • http://www.kedaibola.com/ agen bola

    Learned a lot from it. I will store your webpage and will continue to keep read through your new articles. Wonderful! Thanks!

    Panduan Judi Bola, Modifikasi Mobil Motor, Bokep Streaming, Panduan Casino Online, Panduan Poker Online

  • http://ghantoby.blogspot.com/ Ghantoby

    I am very excited that I have found your post because I have been searching for some information about it for almost three hours. Jasa seo

  • http://www.vfc-engineering.com/ Smith Albert

    This is really a very well written and informative post. I have gone through this and came to know so much important facts. Here, I want to share some of my experience related to cars and its maintenance. As we all know, Cars are the things that need to be maintained. If we are not going to do this the cars will give us problem and for these things to avoid we have to maintain our car like we have to service our car after kilometers of run and also have to change the engine oil of it. So, after having a car we also have to repair our car from good repair centers whenever required to get better performance from it. .

  • http://www.indobetlucky.com/sbobet/ sbobet

    I was very encouraged to find this site. I wanted to thank you for this special read. I definitely savored every little bit of it and I have you bookmarked to check out new stuff you post.I definitely love this site. Keep it up!..

  • http://www.sgbet77.com ibcbet

    There's certainly a great deal to know about this issue. I really like all the points you have made.

  • http://twitter.com/Zain937 @Zain937
  • irfankk123

    This is because you may still be paying for the wars. Of course voluntarily paying for them and paying for them under duress are significantly different things from a moral perspective.
    bubblegumcasting

  • http://isparmo.web.id Pembicara Marketing

    I dont like war seriously

  • http://cpiemmv.com/study-bubblegum-casting-reviews-before-asking-your-folks/ pinky88

    good job

  • http://cpiemmv.com/study-bubblegum-casting-reviews-before-asking-your-folks/ pinky
    • http://www.ghdownload.com/xiu-xiu-meitu-photo-editor-free-download/ xiu xiu meitu

      I am really impressed with this blog. It is easy to see that you are passionate about your writing.

  • http://sgtbcollege.org/use-bubblegum-casting-reviews-to-get-benefit/ pinky88

    There's certainly a great deal to know about this issue. I really like all the points you have made.
    what does bubblegum casting do

  • http://binatang.net/x.html Binatang
  • http://internetsecurity24.blogspot.com Free Antivirus

    You Can Also Protect Your Everything From Online Via- Free Download Internet Security

  • http://zackpcgames.blogspot.com Steven Smith

    Excellent post admin very informative information from this post Pc Games Free Download

  • http://www.joemaldea.com wedding photographer

    Photography is one of the most amazing profession there are so many professional who love photography and one of us is Dubai Wedding Photography who are professional photographer in Dubai

  • wedphotograph

    Amazing Dubai Wedding Photography for wedding events for couple. No need to hire a company but only a freelancer to shoot every angle of your wedding from the preparation to the wedding day.

  • wedphotograph

    Wedding Photography Dubai is the one who give everything the best pictures on your wedding day.

  • jerukpisang
  • http://www.beetechie.com/ Serzfus Startup

    So many people asking what is Serzfus Startup Technology but the simple explanation is it is the primary name of Serzfus which is focus on statup technology. Startup Technology is an organization which is designed to search for a repeatable and scalable business model. It focus on development and research for markets. And one of them is Serzfus Startup Technology

  • http://cokeandpopcorn.pw/ Serzfus Startup

    Food business is better to publish on Inforgraphic. We all know that infographic are one of the top free process to promote a business so food business is one good idea to start. Start a Serzfus Startup Technology will help you on Serzfus Startup Technology.

  • http://betrapid.org/index.php/2015/09/11/choosing-the-best-gambling-game/ betrapid.org

    The best Asian betting company who are now the leading in the whole Asia Sbobet and Ibcbet.
    Betting Game

  • http://agenbola.guessmarket.com/index.php/2015/07/22/free-bet-for-new-members/ agenbola

    Trusted betting is very important to bettors and strategy to bet is also one most importnat thing before playing.Free Betting

  • http://guessmarket.com guessmarket.com

    Why gamblers love to bet? they love because they become addict? or it is part of fun and as a hobby? Well lets find out and try something here.
    agen ibcbet

  • http://guessmarket.com guessmarket.com

    Why gamblers love to bet? they love because they become addict? or it is part of fun and as a hobby? Well lets find out and try something here.
    agen ibcbet

  • http://www.baliaround.com baliaround

    make peace bro, not war, and what is the point make a war, let we live in our peacefully. love peace and respect

  • http://betrapid.org betrapid.org

    I’m impressed, I have to admit. Seldom do I encounter a blog that’s both equally educative and interesting, and let me tell you, you have hit the nail on the head. The issue is something that too few folks are speaking intelligently about. I am very happy that I stumbled across this in my hunt for something relating to this.
    http://Betrapid.org