The Trouble With Predators

by Patrick Appel

David Kilcullen's and Andrew Exum's article (in yesterday's NYT) on why we shouldn't use drone attacks in Pakistan is excellent:

The drone campaign is in fact part of a larger strategic error our insistence on personalizing this conflict with Al Qaeda and the Taliban. Devoting time and resources toward killing or capturing “high-value” targets not to mention the bounties placed on their heads distracts us from larger problems, while turning figures like Baitullah Mehsud, leader of the Pakistani Taliban umbrella group, into Robin Hoods. Our experience in Iraq suggests that the capture or killing of high-value targets Saddam Hussein or Abu Musab al-Zarqawi has only a slight and fleeting effect on levels of violence. Killing Mr. Zarqawi bought only 18 days of quiet before Al Qaeda returned to operations under new leadership.

Yglesias adds his own two cents. So does Matt Steinglass Andrew's thoughts on Obama, Cheney, and the war in Afghanistan are here.