Between episodes of “Judge Judy” and “The Biggest Loser,” I found some worthwhile brain food saved on the DVR in the home office. First was an episode of “Nova” on PBS called “Rise of the Drones,” which discusses the evolution of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) on today’s battlefield. Making a guest appearance was Abe Karem, the inventor of the UAV (hailed as “the dronefather” by The Economist). The episode also starred Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., who predictably raised the specter of Big Brother assassinating American citizens abroad willy-nilly without any transparency in the decision-making process.
Coincidentally, the other item was also related to drone strikes: an interview on CNN’s “State of the Union” of both Stanley McChrystal and Michael Hayden, the former commander of U.S. forces in Afghanistan and a former CIA director under President George W. Bush, respectively. McChrystal and Hayden provided a good point-counterpoint discussion on the costs and benefits of armed UAV strikes against high value targets during the War on Terror (or whatever the hell we’re calling what Dexter Filkins called “The Forever War.”)
It was interesting to see McChrystal, the former prince of black operations while at Joint Special Operations Command, and Hayden, who intensified the CIA’s armed UAV strikes under this tenure, sitting side by side during the interview. McChrystal voiced a concern many have about these unmanned strikes: (1) that the immediate operational benefits of erasing an HVT from the face of the earth might be outweighed by the new terrorists we may eventually create with collateral casualties and (2) that these clinical assassinations make an act of war too easy, with little to no risk to an American life. Hayden’s primary defense of the program was simple and strong – the people targeted over the years posed an imminent threat to the U.S. homeland, Americans and the nation’s interests.
In any case, the clips are worth a quick look and a moment’s reflection, maybe while you wait for the next football season to begin.