Drones concern me because of their heartlessness. With increasing technological advances the West is using weaponry that kills without risk to western life. When you believe like I do in John Stockwell’s Third World War:-
in the killing with impunity that occurred during this “war”, then drones are just a heinous extension. Third World peoples will be killed indiscriminately.
Here is the myth. Through intelligence gathered an individual can be targetted and killed by a drone and no-one else injured.
The practice is far from this.
Here is a report from Human Rights Watch as to how drones were used by the Israelis supposedly to target individual suicide bombers, “The total number of Gazan civilians killed by drone-launched missiles remains unclear. Israeli and Palestinian human rights organizations-B’Tselem, the Palestinian Centre for Human Rights, and the Al-Mezan Center for Human Rights-together reported 42 drone attacks that killed 87 civilians. Amnesty International told the media that it documented 48 civilian deaths from drones, and this does not represent the full number.”[p3].
The report gives details of “six Israeli drone strikes, which in total killed 29 civilians, eight of them children”.
Drone activity is prevalent in Pakistan, here is a report from the Bureau of Investigative Journalism and this graph shows strikes and deaths in Pakistan.
Now I make no claims to knowledge of so-called terrorist activity in Pakistan but I am certain that the number of deaths is far higher than the number of these supposed terrorists. But with drones if the US gets it wrong only Pakistanis really care, US people don’t have to care – US lives and votes are not lost.
These drones are becoming a more central part of the “War on Terror”, a response to a so-called act of terrorism. What can conceivably be “more terrorist” than sending drones into another country? Is the US/NATO at war with these countries? On what basis of law is it acceptable to send machines, sometimes fully-automated, to kill people who have not been tried in a court of law? The US President, or a hand-picked White House committee, decides that it is acceptable to kill some people, and that is enough. They claim it is based on intelligence but NATO went to war based on intelligence that there were WMD – Weapons of Mass Destruction, and found none. Prior to this Iraqi war many had claimed there was no viable intelligence, are the same organs of government to be trusted with determining the viability of “terrorists” as targets for drone attacks? Only this week (week of 2/10/11) one US citizen was killed without trial apparently by drones, how can this be acceptable in a civilised society?
Here are a couple of clips. The first shows a promotion video, and you can see the relief in the airman that drones mean he does not have to go into action. Who would not choose to sit in front of a computer screen instead of flying over enemy territory?
This second clip is much more frightening:-
It is a CBS interview (full transcipt can be found here) with an airman at the video control of a drone. On the screen you see figures walking and then a man “hot” ie he has just fired his gun. The airman shoots but it is not a bullet that clearly brings down the airman alone. There is some sort of explosion and the blast range is not clear from the camera angle. I suspect the interview is supposed to depict the scenario that with intelligence a particular terrorist having just fired a gun can be picked off by the drone. To me there is no evidence that this is what happens, because the blast radius is not clear. If it is not clear in a pre-arranged video, how much worse does it get in less controlled conditions? When you consider the difference between the apparent precision of promotional info and the affect of such a blast radius then you can accept these BUJ figures. I have no doubts at all that because of the drones people in Pakistan have become politicised, and are seeking the nearest US targets which are in Afghanistan. This is a clear example of policy creating terrorists. If your family is being bombed what do you do? Maybe there are some terrorists there but there are also terrorists in the US, indiscriminate killing is never acceptable.
To my satisfaction I have established that these drones are not as precise as the PR proclaims. Despite what is told the peoples of NATO countries, the scenario that intelligence can determine the identity of a particular terrorist and that a drone can be sent to kill them without hurting anyone else is a complete fallacy. This is why drones are so heinous, and the people who implement policy using them are seriously callous and heartless. And how much did this new reaper cost? $54 million, how much of that is profit? If I was inclined to build military machines I would have no hesitation in trying to promote their sales – and profits – MIC causing war.
Are drones “safe”? Even if you accept the lies about the precision, is the technology of drones actually safe? Here is a drone crash database. Is this evidence for their safety?
I have already stated that I consider responding to the drone attacks has contributed to the recent attacks in Afghanistan – as if further excuse was needed. This is part of a phenomenon that is being called blowback. A man’s family is killed by a drone supposedly targetting a terrorist. Is that man going to turn around and say it is acceptable that his family dies in response to 9/11? His first reaction is to lash out and fight back, this is a human reaction – not the action of a terrorist with a political motivation for destruction of the US leadership. This phenomenon of “chickens coming home to roost” is called blowback. When people argue that US foreign policy is creating terrorists it is hard to disagree. The reaction of the man wanting vengance for the death of his family is not the reaction of a terrorist but if his only recourse is to work with terrorists to seek vengance such a human reaction is understandable. Here is further discussion on drones and blowback by a Peace Studies lecturer. This article discusses the questionable legality of drone attacks. As a peace campaigner these arguments are moot, such killing for profit is never acceptable to me, but it is significant that the CFR are also concerned about the global isolation these killings are causing.
For further details on drones download pdf’s from this UK website, there is also campaigning info at the site.
What campaigning can be done? Occupy MOD, nice thought but a bit risky. Why not investigate the Drone Campaign Network UK?