If Our Troops Aren't in Danger Then It Isn't War

By Ta-Nehisi Coates

Yglesias pivots off of this piece on military drones to note:


Part of what the White House is saying about the War Powers issue seems to rely on the idea that it makes a big difference if you're not dispatching actual human beings into an area of armed conflict. After all, everyone recognizes the difference between participating in a war and providing military equipment to someone. And a drone is just that, a piece of equipment rather than a soldier. By the same token, it's noteworthy that a lot of drone operating seems to be done by the CIA rather than the uniformed military services. The CIA can't raise an army -- that's the job of the Army -- but it seems that perhaps it can build up an army of remotely operated pieces of military equipment.

I understand this from the perspective of making an argument to Congress and the American people. But there's implicit message here to the rest of the world. Perhaps Americans don't consider it war, unless actual American soldiers are endangered. But why should, say, these guys draw the same conclusion?

I assure you if I were in Libya and my baby sister was killed by a NATO bombing, I would conclude, whatever my hatred of Gaddafi, that America was at war with me, that it had, indeed, commenced hostilities. I don't think I'd be wrong in that. 

This article available online at:

http://www.theatlantic.com/international/archive/2011/06/if-our-troops-arent-in-danger-then-it-isnt-war/240746/