Thursday, October 6, 2011

Deterrence And Drones

Forever, kinder, nicer war!
"Certain battles need to be fought every day, not necessarily to make the world a 'way more' better place Courtney, but to prevent it from becoming worse.”

"As acts of belligerency, terror and counter-terror are the opposite of total war: They’re symbolic and/or narrowly targeted. Their gradual shift from the fringe to the mainstream occurred over the last 40 years as our battlefield weapons became more destructive, our targeting capabilities more precise, and our tolerance for casualties, including enemy casualties, much reduced. By now targeted assassinations are near-acceptable instruments of public policy."

If Hybrid War truly replaces Total War as abovingly indicated - a drone-deterrence strategery is sweetly blossoming: How does Great Satan stop al-Qaeda from attacking the American homeland, without getting bogged down in protracted wars against insurgents?
In recent weeks a subtle limit has emerged in drone policy: Despite calls by some U.S. officials for drone attacks against the training camps of AQAP and al-Shabab, the al-Qaeda affiliate in Somalia, neither has been targeted. That's a deliberate policy decision -- aimed partly at preventing the spread of a Taliban-style insurgency to new theaters, such as Yemen and Somalia. 

As a matter of policy,top officials have decided (for now) against such strikes in the new battlegrounds, in part to prevent an ever-widening war that fosters the very "Slamic insurgency we want to contain. Indeed, officials say there haven't been any signature drone strikes against camps (as opposed to individuals) outside Pakistan's tribal areas, where al-Qaeda's core leadership is based. 

A senior administration official explains the policy this way: "If individuals target us, if they are in the chain of command for attacks against Americans," then the U.S. will authorize "direct action" -- putting such individuals on the "capture or kill" list that triggers a drone attack. But, the official cautions, "We don't want to get involved in a domestic confrontation inside Yemen or Somalia, or increase anti-U.S. sentiment" in those places. 

There is a deterrence formula implicit in this policy: So long as Somalia's al-Shabab remains an insurgent movement fighting the Transitional Federal Government, the U.S. -- while supporting the Somali authorities -- won't use drones. That weapon is reserved for those who directly threaten the U.S. "Al-Shabab can increase the danger to themselves if they attack us, or engage in actions designed to hurt our people," says the official. "We can act in self-defense, but also to send the message that if you threaten us, you do so at your own peril." 

This calibrated approach has reassured key U.S. allies, such as Britain, which have large m"Hammedist immigrant populations and were worried about the blow-back of U.S. campaigns against al-Qaeda affiliates. "There was concern that it was a blanket approach," concedes the U.S. official.  

What's good about the evolving drone policy is that it recognizes the need for limits. We don't have enough drones to kill all the enemies we will make if we turn the world into a free-fire zone. And there's something important in the hint of a deterrence strategy: This is how wars end in the part of the world where al-Qaeda arose -- through a balance of mutual restraint that makes a de-facto truce possible, even between the most bitter enemies. 

Pic - "Right of self-defense is inherent and may be exercised against current and future enemies that pose an imminent threat, including those operating outside of traditional combat zones."