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On V Update to Old Ideas: Drones, the World Isn’t Getting More Violent, and “This Ain’t Hell” Doesn’t Take Criticism Well

(To check out other “On V Updates to Old Ideas”, please click here.)

Update to Drone Strikes

In our series, “Intelligence is Evidence” we expressed plenty of skepticism about America’s ability to accurately and justly target suspected terrorists with drones. Fortunately, President Obama--probably in reaction to the chance he could have lost the election; probably not due to continuing skeptical press coverage like here, or here, or here, or here--has decided to roll out a new “rulebook” for its so-called “kill list”.

Better late than never, though it still isn’t enough.

Update to the World is Less Dangerous

Inspired by John Horgan and Stephen Pinker, Eric C and I track the statistic of global violence. Whether on terrorism or deaths by war, we have concluded--based on the mountains of data supporting our position--that the world is getting less dangerous. The last few months have provided more supporting evidence. The numbers--again quantitative data not emotional arguments--also indicate that the biggest threat to Americans is gun violence, not terrorism.

- This National Journal article shows how little money the U.S. spends on preventing gun violence compared to terrorism (though gun violence kills far more people). Similarly, this article in New York Magazine lays out the shocking frequency of shooting sprees as opposed to terror attacks.   

- The National Counter Terrorism Center found that only 17 Americans died of terrorism [pdf] in 2011.

- The State Department released a similar report. It found similar low double digit deaths of Americans by terrorism.

- On the anniversary of 9/11, John Horgan reviewed the exaggeration of the terrorist threat.

- Stephen Walt--who we have relied on before in this field--again muses that we have inflated the risks of terrorism for funding purposes.

- And finally, in a shocking moment for Eric C, On Violence agrees with George Will. On ABC’s This Week a while back, he said that, “The world's always dangerous and all that, but the chance of dying on this planet from organized state violence is lower than it has been since the 1920s.” As he notes, there are protests all over the Middle East, but protests “beat the heck out of war.”

Update to Iraq War Repercussions

Though the national debate remains focused on Afghanistan, violence continues to plague Iraq. One of our favorite blogs, Musings on Iraq, hasn’t forgotten about that conflict. Check out the posts, “Iraq’s Insurgents Have Grown Deadlier Since U.S. Withdrawal” and “Iraq Remains A Deadlier Place Than Afghanistan” to read about continued violence.

Update to Both the Green Revolution’s Neda and the Whistleblower Protection Act

If you haven’t had a chance, check out last week’s On The Media episode, which covers both the woman who the media mistakenly thought was Neda Soltan and the new Whistleblower Protection Act. Expect more on the issue of “chasing the news” during next month’s “On V’s Most Thought Provoking Foreign Affair Event of 2012”.

The Feds Just Can’t Do Anything Right...Except Overseas!

As we’re exploring in “Our Communist Military”, conservatives cannot decide whether or not government is effective. For instance, during the 2012 campaign, Mitt Romney criticized the Obama administration’s handling of the Arab spring (lump this into the both-sides-of-the-aisle-use-foreign-affairs-to-score-cheap-political-points category). He then campaigned on a small government platform, claiming that the federal government can’t do anything right. As Andrew Sullivan wrote:

“It's more evidence of Republican incoherence: the government can't be trusted to intervene in Texas because it is too far away and the feds are incompetent. But Afghanistan, Iraq and Libya? Why don't we control them directly from Washington?”

Or from Greg Scolete:

“But this leads to the absurd assumption implicit in the criticism of the administration: that the U.S. federal government can deftly finesse the direction of Middle East politics in the 21st century. Particularly for those who profess a love of "limited government" it seems rather farcical to claim that the same incompetent government that can't be trusted to balance the budget can reach across the ocean and create a Middle East more to its liking.”

Update to Hypocrisy of SEALs Continued

Since we first wrote about how special operators have run rampant with self-publicity and the corresponding OPSEC violations, the Navy SEALs as a group have decided to 100% avoid needless self-promotion. Oh, except for this video game.

The self-promotion is so rampant the Daily Beast’s Daniel Klaidman wrote an entire article about Hollywood’s allure for special operators and how this might damage the force in the long run.

Update to How The Ain’t Hell responds to Criticism

First off, check out this great post, “The Rank Hypocrisy of Veterans on OPSEC”, by Jason Fritz at Ink Spots. It echoes our thoughts on SEALs criticizing the Obama administration’s leaks but ignoring their own OPSEC violation.

But what’s more interesting is how John Lilyea of This Ain’t Hell fame responded.

When we wrote the post, “Our Politically Correct Communist Milblogs”, Lilyea didn’t like what we had to say. “Obviously with a title like “Our Politically Correct Communist Milblogs” the author was just trolling for us to link to him. It’s a great tactic, since apparently no one reads the thing anyway, and he’s achieved his goal. Bravo!” At some point, Lilyea complained that he only found out about our post because someone emailed it to him.

When Jason Fritz criticized This Ain’t Hell in “The Rank Hypocrisy of Veterans on OPSEC”, Lilyea again took offense. “Do you want to discuss this with me? Or is it better that you just take shots at me behind my back? You send the link to other milbloggers, but not me? Welcome to obscurity.”

He followed that with, “Well, I never heard of your little blog before someone sent me a link today, so how would I know you were writing about me? You took the time to send a link to another milblogger, but you neglected to include me in the discussion. This is a blatant attempt to garner traffic and it failed...You took the whole post out of context so you could call me names hoping that I would send my hordes.”

So if you disagree with This Ain’t Hell’s John Lilyea: 1. You’re doing it to get traffic. 2. You should really email Jonn Lilyea. 3. John Lilyea doesn’t read your blog anyways and neither does anyone else.

One comment

One of the linked articles says that a Hollywood version of Op Red Wings is currently in production. It will be very interesting to see how the producers choose to handle two things. First, how many Taliban will comprise the force that defeated Mr. Luttrell’s group. Will they show the actual handful that did the deed or will they show multitudes?

Second, will they show the decisions that led to that team being defeated? For example will they show that the Marines originally give the job would have landed far away and walked in quietly rather than landing close to the objective?