In essence this is a warning from a four-star US General to his government about the use of drones, saying that if America uses them carelessly then it has no right to be outraged over extremist retaliation.
Stanley McChrystal: “I question its universal validity. If you go back to the British tactics on the North-West Frontier, the “butcher and bolt” tactics, where they would burn an area and punish the people and say, “Don’t do that anymore,” and simultaneously offer a stipend to the leader while saying, “If you will remain friendly for a period of time, we’ll pay you”—that approach worked for a fair amount of time. It managed problems on their periphery. But it certainly didn’t solve the problems.
The tactics that we developed do work, but they don’t produce decisive effects absent other, complementary activities. We did an awful lot of capturing and killing in Iraq for several years before it started to have a real effect, and that came only when we were partnered with an effective counterinsurgency approach. Just the strike part of it can never do more than keep an enemy at bay.
And although to the United States, a drone strike seems to have very little risk and very little pain, at the receiving end, it feels like war.
Americans have got to understand that.
If we were to use our technological capabilities carelessly—I don’t think we do, but there’s always the danger that you will—then we should not be upset when someone responds with their equivalent, which is a suicide bomb in Central Park, because that’s what they can respond with.”
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