Did my buddy Jeremy Scahill get a new Nation blog while I was at Guantanamo Bay? Huh, I guess so, which is all to the good. In this post, he catches Christine Fair of Georgetown making the absolutely unsupportable claim that drone strikes in Pakistan don’t kill civilians, a statement so untethered from reality I have to believe she misspoke. I’ve never met a drone strike advocate who claimed that the drones exclusively kill militants.
Meanwhile, about the broader point Fair was discussing with Dylan Ratigan: is it so hard to believe that someone would be radicalized into designing a car bomb (however ineptly) at least in part because of the drone strikes that kill his countrymen? It’s amazing how we can easily understand something like that calculus in the abstract, but when we see a potential instantiation of that well-described phenomenon, we hem and haw and fear being accused of Rationalization. There’s a world of difference between recognizing that revenge for the drones could have contributed to Shahzad’s calculus and endorsing his attempt at murdering civilians in Times Square. The argument for the drones has to be that they’re worth some measure of blowback, not that blowback is impossible and no civilians will ever die in a drone assault. (I’m not saying I endorse that argument, I’m just talking about what could get it off the ground, intellectually.)