General McChrystal on Drones: 'They Are Hated on a Visceral Level'

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Even the man who pioneered the use of drones in Afghanistan worries about them.

germandronereuters.jpg

A German drone (Reuters).

General Stanley McChrystal cautioned about the use of drones in a recent interview with Reuters. While he applauded what they allowed him to do with his special forces troops, he told the news agency that the people of Afghanistan just hated drones. 

Here's what he said in full. It's not the first time that he's sounded such warnings, but it's still remarkable coming from the man who ran the American war (aka counterinsurgency) in the country. 

"What scares me about drone strikes is how they are perceived around the world," he said in an interview. "The resentment created by American use of unmanned strikes ... is much greater than the average American appreciates. They are hated on a visceral level, even by people who've never seen one or seen the effects of one."

McChrystal said the use of drones exacerbates a "perception of American arrogance that says, 'Well we can fly where we want, we can shoot where we want, because we can.'"

Not to put too fine a point on it, but drones make American power clear. We can kill without risk of getting killed. Who would not hate that power dynamic, were it visited upon one's country? 

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Alexis C. Madrigal

Alexis Madrigal is the deputy editor of TheAtlantic.com, where he also oversees the Technology Channel. He's the author of Powering the Dream: The History and Promise of Green Technology. More

The New York Observer has called Madrigal "for all intents and purposes, the perfect modern reporter." He co-founded Longshot magazine, a high-speed media experiment that garnered attention from The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, and the BBC. While at Wired.com, he built Wired Science into one of the most popular blogs in the world. The site was nominated for best magazine blog by the MPA and best science Web site in the 2009 Webby Awards. He also co-founded Haiti ReWired, a groundbreaking community dedicated to the discussion of technology, infrastructure, and the future of Haiti.

He's spoken at Stanford, CalTech, Berkeley, SXSW, E3, and the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, and his writing was anthologized in Best Technology Writing 2010 (Yale University Press).

Madrigal is a visiting scholar at the University of California at Berkeley's Office for the History of Science and Technology. Born in Mexico City, he grew up in the exurbs north of Portland, Oregon, and now lives in Oakland.

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