A lot of propaganda is out there about President Barack Obama having used as much as five times as many unmanned aircraft drone strikes in his first term as President than George W. Bush before him. This is being used by the Republican side to try to create the image that Obama has actually done more to instigate the wars that he was supposedly going to end. We could get all the numbers that are being pasted all over the Internet, via websites and social media. Rule number one: we don’t quote facts that aren’t necessarily facts.
For starters, these numbers are not from an official source. Believe it or not, you can’t just call up the Pentagon and ask for numbers on drone strikes. As a matter of fact, drone strikes usually have special targets and would be under the highest of security. None of the propaganda you see that makes this claim comes from an official source or quotes anyone that there might be some reason to believe credibly have this information. So, that’s the first problem here. There is no way to check up on this information and make sure that it is accurate. That goes for both presidents, not just Obama. The low numbers attributed to the Bush presidency are just as impossible to confirm, leading us to believe that the numbers can’t be trusted in and of themselves. But, for the sake of argument and analyzing the situation farther, let’s just assume for a moment that the numbers are accurate.
The next problem is simple technology. Drone technology is not altogether new, but it has grown by leaps and bounds in terms of accuracy and reliability in recent years. It also is a fairly controversial tactic in the international community. Now, it’s hard to get into that part of the issue, because it’s a long slippery slope. After all, the entire argument seems to go around the idea that the aircraft are unmanned. So, those that oppose drone attacks in particular seem to be angry because there is no risk of human life on the other side. It would make more sense to be against the attacks completely than to be picking at drones in particular. It makes perfect sense that any military in the world would use a drone attack if it was effective to avoid that very risk of life. If the technology is accurate and gets the right people or installations with minimal civilian losses, then it’s a no-brainer to use it. Errant drone strikes only fueled the controversy.
The technology is now much better than it was in the earlier years of the Bush presidency. So, if the aforementioned numbers are correct, it makes perfect sense that President Obama would use drone strikes more consistently than Bush because the technology now makes it possible. If the propaganda really made sense, it might be more correct to criticize Bush for not using drones enough. After all, not using drones meant more American lives on the line, both directly as in inside of an aircraft and indirectly for the troops on the ground that were not benefiting from drone attacks as support. That’s right…we said it. Perhaps the real propaganda should be focused on Bush for not having done it more often. After all, both wars were considerably more escalated at that time.
Oh, but therein lies the point right? Why is Obama having to use so many drone strikes in wars that are supposed to be on the downswing, if not over completely? Well, that might be a good question, especially since so much of President Obama’s successful campaign in 2008 revolved around reducing troops overseas and ending the Iraq War. This is one of those things that political candidates “lie” about. We put that in quotes because it is quite possible that they aren’t lying, as much as they are just uninformed.
Remember, right now President Obama is the acting President of the United States. He has military briefings and intelligence that help him make decisions. Mitt Romney, for instance, does not have this intelligence at his disposal. So, it’s easy to make promises when you don’t have all the facts. It is entirely possible that Obama made all of these boasts based on an outside-looking-in viewpoint, but on day one after his inauguration, he found out what is really going on and knew instantly that his promises might be a little harder to keep than he thought. This goes for the financial sectors as well. People running for president have to make speeches and campaign promises based on considerably less information than a sitting president. Which makes them basing a lot of their fodder on roughly the information of, well, you and I?
Things change fast when you find out what is really going on.
The really puzzling thing about these sorts of election-year propaganda is the seemingly little purpose they serve. In this case, Republicans see the information and go, “See, he lied all along and is worse than Bush anyway.” The Democrats see it and dismiss it as bullshit. So, no one is going to be pulled one way or another over it. No Obama supporter saw those numbers and changed their whole stance, or vice versa. Sometimes propaganda exists not to change minds, but to get everyone fired up for a flame war.
So flame away!