Opinion: U.S.-led drone war is self-defeating
September 30th, 2010
10:59 AM ET

Opinion: U.S.-led drone war is self-defeating

By Ken Ballen, Peter Bergen and Patrick Doherty, Special to CNN

Editor's note: CNN National Security analyst Peter Bergen and Patrick Doherty are members of the staff of the New America Foundation, a Washington-based think tank that looks for solutions across the political spectrum. Ken Ballen is president of Terror Free Tomorrow, a nonprofit institute that researches attitudes toward extremism.

For the United States there are few more strategically important places today than the tribal region of Pakistan, headquarters of al Qaeda and the Pakistani Taliban, and also home to a syndicate of other militant jihadist groups from across Asia.

It is where Faisal Shahzad, who tried to blow up a car bomb in Times Square in May, was trained. So was Najibullah Zazi, the Afghan-American who plotted to explode bombs on Manhattan's subways in 2009. It is also the source of a good deal of the violence that is racking neighboring Afghanistan.

Yet this critical region is one of the most opaque places in the world; international journalists and aid organizations rarely venture there, there's little open dialogue because, until last year, most political parties were banned from operating there. As a result, the views of its inhabitants have largely been a mystery.

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Filed under: Civilian deaths • Drone strikes • Opinion
soundoff (38 Responses)
  1. DurtOrange

    It Seems to me that the U.S led forces are in a 'containment war' right now. The battles are being waged for the most part in these Middle East deserts instead of the battles taking place in the heart of London, Paris, Berlin, New York...
    The terrorist are being pinned down where they come from....contained. It's not 100%...your going to have the occasional bombing in other parts of the world..but the war is draining quite a bit of the terrorists resources and manpower. I can only believe that the terrorists have figured this out, but haven't come up with a solution...yet.
    It's possible they will not find a solution because there might not be one... which would mean that this 'containment war' is working.

    October 2, 2010 at 11:07 am | Report abuse |
  2. karnac the merciless

    great kaboookiee....we have winchesters....i have the 1886 with the 45/70...this is a take down.(hurts) and will shoot a camel off it's feet (dung) so far it has only won the west but we shall aim east (satellite) i have learned (well) in physics that lbs is same for feather as steel ball falling (grounded) this was asked by arab student (lbs) and the funnie was answers.

    October 1, 2010 at 11:37 pm | Report abuse |

    We have only won wars in which we have been able to put the enemies leaders and their places of residence into harm's way. Old men NEVER go into battle. The drone attacks are slowly killing middle and upper management- it is working and will continue to work- the old men directING this war are dying as well as their sons. Obviously, Pakistan is one of those "allies" we wish we did not have. We need to treat them exactly for what they are– our enemies best friend. The tribal areas need to be declared as "un-governed", the actual border is on the eastern side of the tribal areas. This area is an open war zone. It is absurd for Pakistan to have armed observers ( they are not guards– they are not guarding anything) on a totally porous border shooting at American aircraft. That will get you dead. To be a taliban leader is literally becoming a death sentence- they are beginning to talk to Karzai for a reason and its spelled D-R-O-N-E.

    October 1, 2010 at 4:29 pm | Report abuse |
  4. patch vader

    The entire region is a third world dung heap. Are all of those with their hands up trying to get work visas for the US, or are they shouting the famous "death to america"? Hard to tell. Personally, i like the idea of an unannounced death from the sky. Give ups Bin Laden and we will happily go our way.

    October 1, 2010 at 2:01 pm | Report abuse |
  5. No Apology

    Precision strikes with drone aircraft is in effective. We should use B52s and carpet bombing.

    October 1, 2010 at 11:08 am | Report abuse |
    • Uga

      I think it's time to drop something more potent than a hellfire missile. The Pakistanis need to learn that we mean business.

      October 4, 2010 at 6:24 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Roy

    The poll results were misinterpreted. The locals are not opposed to drone strikes they are opposed to America. The reports states: "Our poll found that opposition to the drones dropped dramatically if they were operated by Pakistanis". This part of the world hated America before 9-11 and before the drone attacks begin. Why? That is what you need to answer and resolve.
    Putting this weapon in the hands of Pakistan would be a major mistake. One that would haunt us for decades.

    October 1, 2010 at 8:15 am | Report abuse |
  7. Rick Cox

    When I hear that these towel heads don't like the drone attacks, it just makes me want to do more of them. Perhaps they would like it better if we just carpet bombed the tribal areas until every soul there was sent to allah. The simple fact is, never going to give a hoot about these ignorant stinking muslims. How about we deplete our nuclear weapon stockpile by dumping all of them on this area!

    October 1, 2010 at 5:15 am | Report abuse |
    • Eric P

      Clearly, you're an expert on ignorance. You've obviously spent your whole life perfecting yours.

      October 5, 2010 at 12:53 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Daniel-2

    What I find to be most sickening of all are these right-wing nutjobs blogging in here to brag about what a "good" job these cursed drones doing! Can anybody in their right mind imagine Jesus condoning this oscene butchery??? Well I can't!!!

    September 30, 2010 at 3:13 pm | Report abuse |
    • Guest101

      Allah condones killing innocent civilians according to the extremists? Would Jesus not want us to defend ourselves?

      September 30, 2010 at 5:54 pm | Report abuse |
    • dnsmith

      Don't really give a popo about what you think Jesus, or Muhamed, Shiva, Vishnu or Buddha would or would not approve. Fact is we have never targeted Islam, only fanatics who are heretically claiming jihad as their right to kill indiscriminately.

      September 30, 2010 at 6:31 pm | Report abuse |
    • Larry Valecia, Calif.US Army Forever...

      Obviously, you can't Daniel-2, because you're not in your right mind.

      September 30, 2010 at 7:13 pm | Report abuse |
      • Daniel-2

        I suppose that you are Phunnie boy,trying to make another sick joke out of this obscene war under Larry Valecia's name.

        September 30, 2010 at 8:15 pm | Report abuse |
    • SmokeyJoe

      Today a drone strike eliminated the threat to some German cities by killing persons with German citizenship who had travelled to the Pakistan/Afghanistan border region for terrorist training. Naturally, surviving jihadists will cry and squeal that those killed were innocent and were prospective candidates for the Nobel Peace Prize, because they visualize themselves as coming up soon on the drone hit-list. If you jihadists are really afraid for your lives, turn yourselves in to NATO forces and give all the information you know on the locations of the jihadist leadership figures. If you don't, you are in real danger of losing your lives while those jihadist leaders who never go forward into battle hide to save their lives and don't believe in the lies that they will have eternal pleasure in heaven for their acts of indicriminate mass murder.

      October 4, 2010 at 1:41 pm | Report abuse |
    • mastadon2

      they didn't have drones when Jesus was alive...so It's hard to say...
      But I think they did have Laser guided anti tank weaponry.
      I know Jesus would have liked to blow stuff up with that....

      October 4, 2010 at 11:35 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Ray

    Oh bull.Self defeating my @$$.Yeah lets just let the terrorists run roughshod.Are we surprised Osama Bin Laden hasn't been captured or killed yet.US aid to Pakistan must be linked to cooperation.It is time to cut off the billions of dollars in aid if Pakistan doesn't stop their incessant whining.Come on Pakistan start shooting and we will hand you your @$$ on a platter.

    September 30, 2010 at 2:45 pm | Report abuse |
    • Larry Valecia, Calif.US Army Forever...

      Get off of it,Ray! Will you cut out that right-wing bla-bla-bla? Of course the obscene butchery caused by those cursed drones are bound to make us look bad as anybody with half a brain would know!

      September 30, 2010 at 3:06 pm | Report abuse |
      • TBT

        Anybody with half a brain? Obama is ordering those drone strikes, so are you accusing him of only having half a brain?

        October 5, 2010 at 4:15 pm | Report abuse |
    • mark

      bin laden is dead, he would have a video out showing his ugly ass/face if he were alive.

      October 4, 2010 at 3:22 pm | Report abuse |
  10. bailoutsos

    Breaking news -"'Opium production down in Afghanistan, U.N. says"

    September 30, 2010 at 2:35 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Jeremy

    I have a very difficult time taking seriously an opinion piece from an ostensibly reliable news source when the authors and editors can't differentiate the proper use of rack/wrack. The violence would be 'wracking' Afghanistan, not 'racking'. This is just shameful.

    September 30, 2010 at 12:50 pm | Report abuse |
    • Joe

      We should always strive to use proper spelling and grammar, but let's not miss the point of a story because we're too focused on being grammar police. Lighten up. You come off as snobby when your only comment is about a spelling mistake.

      It's like the people who clog message boards with comments like "it's bush's fault, or obama's fault. After 3 or 400 times the joke gets old.

      September 30, 2010 at 6:37 pm | Report abuse |
      • vincent

        Our English is important part of our culture and we take it seriously. Try to mess up a word in a different language like french or spanish and see how those people react. What does it is all George Bush fault or Obama fault have to do with our english?

        October 1, 2010 at 8:49 am | Report abuse |
      • IMHO

        Lighten up, Joe. After all, the publishers of this website purports to be professional communicators. When they allow themselves to appear as less, it's fun to play "gotcha!"

        October 2, 2010 at 9:06 am | Report abuse |
      • wcushman

        Vincent, why do you not capitalize French and Spanish along with English. Do you think they are inferior?

        October 4, 2010 at 10:46 pm | Report abuse |
    • john

      rack seems to fir also: to torture on the rack
      : to cause to suffer torture, pain, anguish, or ruin
      a : to stretch or strain violently
      b : to raise (rents) oppressively
      c : to harass or oppress with high rents or extortions
      : to work or treat (material) on a rack

      September 30, 2010 at 10:33 pm | Report abuse |
    • Brian

      Agreed. Journalism degrees are a joke these days, and the media no longer holds credibility in my book. Walter Cronkite was the last of the honest media spokesmen.

      October 1, 2010 at 11:46 pm | Report abuse |
    • IMHO

      I guess, with all the downsizing and all, editors and proofreaders were the first to go. Or maybe it's that the online part of the network famiily is just the redheaded stepchild.

      October 2, 2010 at 9:00 am | Report abuse |
    • The_Mick

      Jeremy, maybe YOU should do some research first. From dictionary.com: rack –verb (used with object) definitions [first 11 are noun defs.]: 12. to torture; distress acutely; torment: His body was racked with pain. 13.to strain in mental effort: to rack one's brains. 14. to strain by physical force or violence. 15. to strain beyond what is normal or usual. 16. to stretch the body of (a person) in torture by means of a rack. 17. Nautical . to seize (two ropes) together side by side.

      October 2, 2010 at 10:29 pm | Report abuse |
    • Facefur

      Instead of playing word police and wasting bits and page space, you might look into the content of the article. Complaining about spelling does not contribute anything to the discussion of the overall issue.

      October 4, 2010 at 1:11 pm | Report abuse |
      • mark

        no kidding, idiots

        October 4, 2010 at 3:20 pm | Report abuse |
    • El Kababa

      I doubt these articles are edited. My CEO would say, "How does paying an editor increase corporate profits?"

      October 5, 2010 at 10:13 am | Report abuse |
    • Marnie

      I agree, however; we are making some progress. Pakistan needs to cooperate or give up its nuclear weapons. You can't leave adult toys with children.

      October 6, 2010 at 11:16 pm | Report abuse |