Micah Zenko

Politics, Power, and Preventive Action

Zenko covers the U.S. national security debate and offers insight on developments in international security and conflict prevention.

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You Might Have Missed: Drones, Israel’s Nuclear Weapons, and “Big Boy Pants”

by Micah Zenko
May 11, 2012

U.S. soldiers with patrol the Zharay district in southern Afghanistan on April 24, 2012 (Courtesy Reuters/Baz Ratner). U.S. soldiers with patrol the Zharay district in southern Afghanistan on April 24, 2012 (Courtesy Reuters/Baz Ratner).

Nick Paumgarten, “The World of Surveillance,” The New Yorker, May 14, 2012.

Patrick Egan, president of the Silicon Valley chapter of the Association for Unmanned Systems International: “The first time a drone Tases the wrong dude at a Phish concert, you’re going to have problems.”

(3PA: This is a breezy and industry-friendly look at the increase of domestic drones.)

Jay Solomon, “Mideast Nuclear Meeting in Doubt,” Wall Street Journal, May 10, 2012.

Plans for a United Nations-backed conference aimed at ridding the Middle East of nuclear weapons are unraveling because of political upheaval in the region and diplomatic sparring over suspected nuclear-weapons programs in Iran and Israel, said officials involved in the event’s preparations.

The conference, tentatively set for December in Helsinki, would mark the first meeting of Mideast states solely focused on establishing a nuclear-weapons-free zone in the region.

(3PA: In 2010, all 189 Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT) signatories agreed to hold this conference by the end of 2012. India, Israel, North Korea, and Pakistan are not signatories to the NPT.)

Anshel Pfeffer, “Israel’s New Submarines Geared at Tackling Rising MidEast Threats from the Sea,” Haaretz, May 10, 2012.

(3PA: Along with the test of Israel’s Jericho III ballistic missile, which is believed to be nuclear capable and have a range of 3-4,000 miles (reaching all of Iran), these new submarines further expand Israel’s nuclear weapons capability.)

Jim Michaels, “U.S. Military Snipers Are Changing Warfare,” USA Today, May 9, 2012.

Snipers have quietly emerged as one of the most effective but least understood weapons in the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Advancements in technology and training have made them deadlier than in any previous generation. Their ability to deliver accurate shots minimizes collateral damage—a key factor in counterinsurgency—and they are often more effective than much ballyhooed drones at secretly collecting intelligence.

Julian E. Barnes and Adam Entous, “U.S. Seeks Faster Deployment,” Wall Street Journal, May 7, 2012.

U.S. military leaders have developed new proposals to speed the deployment of elite American special-operations forces to a growing number of the world’s trouble spots, advancing the Obama administration’s emerging approach to armed involvement abroad.

Under the new military plan, U.S. special-operations forces would be deployed either as strike groups or trainers for local armed forces. The proposal fits with a new Pentagon military strategy put in place by President Barack Obama in January that advocates greater use of special-operations forces.

In addition to their flexibility, special units are attractive because they cost less than conventional forces and carry fewer risks of long-term entanglements. The new military strategy also emphasizes other small-force approaches to global conflicts, including unmanned aircraft and partnerships with host countries.

Secretary Panetta Interview with Judy Woodruff at the Pentagon, May 3, 2012.

MS. WOODRUFF:  Pakistan.  It was acknowledged this week that the drone strikes have been underway for some time against targets in Pakistan.  Are those going to continue no matter what the government of Pakistan desires and wants in that regard?

SEC. PANETTA:  Well, you know, without referring to those specific operations because they still remain covert operations –

MS. WOODRUFF:  But they were acknowledged.  John Brennan.

SEC. PANETTA:  There was some acknowledgement of the fact that, you know, that they’re used but the basic operations remain sensitive and they remain classified.  But let me just say this.  We were attacked.  The United States was attacked on 9/11.  And we know who attacked us, we know that al-Qaida was behind it, and we are going to do everything we can, use whatever operations we have to, in order to make sure that we protect this country and make sure that that kind of attack never happens again.

MS. WOODRUFF:  It sounds like you’re saying they’ll continue.

SEC. PANETTA:  The United States is going to defend itself under any circumstances.

Transcript of “Hard Measures: Ex-CIA Head Defends Post-9/11 Tactics,” CBS News 60 Minutes, April 29, 2012.

Lesley Stahl: Did the psychologist, did he tell you how long it was going to take, if you use these techniques, to break Abu Zubaydah and anybody else that you might capture?

Jose Rodriguez [Director of the CIA Counter Terrorism Center]: You know, he had speculated that within 30 days we would probably be able to get the information that we wanted, yes.

But before moving forward, Jose Rodriguez got his superiors, right up to the president – to sign off on a set of those techniques, including waterboarding.

Jose Rodriguez: We needed to get everybody in government to put their big boy pants on and provide the authorities that we needed.

Lesley Stahl: Their big boy pants on–

Jose Rodriguez: Big boy pants. Let me tell you, I had had a lot of experience in the agency where we had been left to hold the bag. And I was not about to let that happen for the people that work for me.

Lesley Stahl: There wasn’t gonna be any deniability on this one?

Jose Rodriguez: There was not gonna be any deniability. And I tell you something. In August of 2002, I felt I had all the authorities that I needed, all the approvals that I needed. The atmosphere in the country was different. Everybody wanted us to save American lives.

The authorities came from the Justice Department in an opinion, later dubbed one of “the torture memos” – that detailed what was permissible.

(3PA: On Saturday, after Rodriguez’s “big boy pants” line was used in 60 Minutes commercials, five suspects in the 9/11 terrorist plot were arraigned at a military tribunal in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.  At one point during the hearing, as Air Force Captain Michael Schwartz—an attorney for Walid Bin Attash—explained why his client refused to wear headphones for court translations, military officials censored Schwartz’s comments with a white-noise button that lasted forty seconds. Four days later, the Pentagon released the portion of Capt. Schwartz’s blocked comments: “The reason for that is the torture that my client was subjected to by the men and women wearing the big-boy pants down at the CIA, it makes it impossible…”)

Naci H. Mocan, Colin Cannonier, “Empowering Women Through Education: Evidence from Sierra Leone,” The National Bureau of Economic Research, April 2012.

In this section we investigate the extent to which the increase in educational attainment due to the FPE program has impacted men’s attitudes regarding women’s well–being. Table 6 displays the descriptive statistics for men. A comparison between men and women reveals an interesting and surprising picture. For example, while 56 percent of women indicated that a wife would be justified in refusing sex when she is tired (see Table 1), 68 percent of men believe that such a refusal is justified. Similarly, the proportion who thinks that a wife is justified in refusing sex if the husband has an STD is higher among men than women. Along the same lines, the proportion of men who think that wife beating is justified is lower than the proportion of women who think the same (0.23 vs. 0.36), and the proportion of individuals who think that female genital mutilation should be discontinued is higher among men than women (0.38 vs. 0.30). These are surprising findings because one would expect that the rate of support for the statements in favor of women’s well-being would be higher among women. (pg. 20-21)

We find that an increase in education changes women’s preferences. Specifically, an additional year of schooling makes women more likely to declare that a wife is justified in refusing sex when she is tired or when the husband has a sexually transmitted disease. The same increase in schooling makes women more likely to disagree with the statement that wife beating is justified and more likely to declare that the practice of female genital mutilation should be stopped. These results indicate that education empowers women because an increase in education makes women more intolerant of practices that conflict with their well-being. An increase in education also reduces the number of desired children and increases the propensity to use modern contraception and to be tested for AIDS. (pg. 23-24)

Post a Comment 1 Comment

  • Posted by Patrick Egan

    Just say no to domestic weaponized drones! :-)

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