Posted by Big Gav in afghanistan
Paul McGeough has an interesting article in the SMH about developments in the war in Afghanistan - America's deadly robots rewrite the rules .
The kohl-eyed Hakimullah Mehsud probably is dead. He was the target for a missile fired last month from an unmanned aircraft hovering over the Afghan-Pakistani border - but launched by an operator in the US.
Mehsud was the ruthless mastermind of multiple suicide bomb attacks in Pakistan. He was part of a suicide mission on December 30 at Khost, just across the border in Afghanistan, which killed seven CIA agents who were working on the covert operation that now appears to have ended Mehsud's brief and brutal leadership of the Taliban in Pakistan.
In the artistry of war, the insertion of a Jordanian double-agent who detonated his explosive vest inside this super-sensitive CIA bunker was flawless. But, in their payback, the enraged Americans confirmed the breadth of a new horizon in modern warfare - launching 15 clinical drone attacks in which more than 100 people died along the border, as Washington's electronic eyes and guns sought out Mehsud and his Taliban and al-Qaeda allies.
War does not get more radical than this - technically, politically and, perhaps, ethically.
Consider: for the first time ever, a civilian intelligence agency is manipulating robots from halfway around the world in a program of extrajudicial executions in a country with which Washington is not at war.
Consider, too: the drone wars were initiated under the presidency of George Bush. But it is the Democrat Barack Obama who has given them flight and stumped up sufficient funding to spark serious debate on the end of the ''Top Gun'' era of the fighter-pilot.
And there is this: despite decades of American disquiet about assassinations abroad and a shrill Republican critique of him as a security wuss, the professorial Obama is the new killer on the block, authorising more drone attacks in the first year of his term in office than Bush did in his entire presidency.
At the White House these days they hold their breath, praying for a turnaround in the war in Afghanistan to vindicate Obama's gamble in dispatching 50,000 more young Americans to a conflict some deem unwinnable.