DeM Banter: THE best data visualisations are the products of a desperate, raw urgency to inform. That power is packed in the punch of Pitch Interactive, an interactive design firm in Berkeley, California. On March 25th it released a sophisticated visualisation of American drone attacks, entitled “Out of sight, out of mind.” I came across this the other AM in the Economist…still processing… but would love to hear your thoughts….pretty amazing… (Full article link at the below)
July 29, 2013
PESHAWAR, Pakistan — Pakistani intelligence officials say a suspected U.S. drone strike has killed five people in the tribal region near the Afghan border.
They say two missiles hit the Shawal area of North Waziristan on Sunday evening when the men were crossing on foot into Pakistani territory from Afghanistan.
The two officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to brief reporters. They said the men have not been identified.
The U.S. drone program is a source of extreme tension between the two countries. Washington says it needs to send drones after dangerous militants because the Pakistani government refuses to engage them militarily. Pakistan charges that the drone strikes are a violation of its sovereignty.
2 Replies to “Pakistan: U.S. Drone Kills Five: AP PLUS amazing info graphic “Out of Sight, Out of Mind””
Okay, I’ll bite. Since this is a story to give perspective by statistics, let’s see Pitch visualize this data: Number of people killed on 11 Sep 2001: 2,996. Of those, 55 were in the military. I don’t know how many of the 2,941 were children. War is hell, just as AQ intended it to be for all of us.
And while respect for Pakistan’s sovereignty is one component of an overall strategy, the messy reality of this war is that some objectives won’t always align with each other (denying the enemy sanctuary to plan and prepare vs. building trust by respecting the sovereignty of people you need as friends). The Pitch graphic is useful in that it’s always important to remind killers of the collateral impact of their decisions and not just for a simple LOAC assessment.
Unfortunately the Pitch graphic comes across as an indictment against the THING (Drones), not the PEOPLE and their PROCESS of making the choices. With regard to the use of RPAs for killing: Other than to cede the enemy sanctuary if there ANY chance of collateral death, I am not sure what a better alternative might be when a military response is required/directed in these situations. I’ll start with the assumption we can’t field an Army large enough to put boots on the ground at all possible enemy staging areas. Next, attack by short-range artillery/missile (Cruise/ATACMS) or by bombing from a manned a/c will likely have a higher degree of uncertainty with respect to effectiveness and a potential for much greater collateral damage. Combatant commanders are choosing the most precise weapon they have that is also effective.
Has the presence of the RPAs lulled commanders into making decisions to engage when an attack is just not warranted? What tools are in place to provide review and oversight of these decisions? All good questions, but not unique to the “drone.” Perhaps the Pitch folks can do a graphic on the deliberation time and level of approval required to execute a drone strike vs. time and level of approval required to execute a manned time-sensitive target mission. This would highlight the PEOPLE and PROCESS differences between drones and manned missions.
Todd: My issue is RPAs have changed the way we are engaging… sovereignty is indeed a big issue–as such we should be at war with Pakistan…no?
What we are doing is indeed an act of war… is it not?
Would this have been palatable 75 years ago…50 years ago…25 years ago? We have not stopped to ponder what the advent of such information enabled technology has done to warfare (we are still thinking in an industrial age way of engagement, the enemy is not)…it is easy when it is us doing what we believe in our hearts to be right… but what will we do when China does this against Mongolia or Tibet? What will we think when Russia launches such an attack on Georgia…or when the technology is so readily available that a non-state group launches an attack on the CONUS? My point is not the moral issue… mine is the strategic–the what’s next, what has happened to boarders and airspace ownership? AND… how can we complain about it when we don’t like it. We are setting the precedent here…and the arms race is now in robotic technology.
Maybe too sci-fi, but I find it amazing to watch.