Drones kill innocents daily

Himyar al Qadhi stands next to a building pockmarked by damage from the drone strike that killed his brother Adnan, who was targeted for his alleged ties to AQAP. Neighbors and family express doubt that he was doing anything clandestine in support of AQAP. Photo courtesy of MCT Campus.

Imagine that armed combat drones circled Elon as a regular occurrence.  There would be a constant buzzing in your ears, eventually joined by a sudden whoosh, punctuated by a deafening explosion.  This is what daily life is like in Yemen, Pakistan and Somalia.  We are not at war with any of these countries, yet we rain death upon them from the sky with uncaring, unfeeling machines whose operators sit in offices far away, detached from the carnage.

According to Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC), the official number of fatalities from the drone campaign is an estimated 4,700 people. Graham said that the collateral deaths justified the killing of senior-level al-Qaida members.

The most commonly used military drone is the General Atomics MQ-1 Predator which carries 100-pound missiles designed for use against tanks.

So who are the drones killing?   Families and communities are being killed, echoing the American air campaign in Vietnam and Cambodia when our air force hit swathes of jungle with high explosives, incendiaries and chemicals.  The Nixon administration thought this would simply eliminate the enemy; this is the same mindset of our current administration.

The issue is that our enemy hides amongst a civilian population. When high explosives are used, they will kill innocent civilians. We are somehow surprised when survivors take up arms.  Military recruitment spiked in America after 9/11, which killed less than 3,000 people.

As Dr. Cornel West stated on the radio program “Smiley and West,” “Nixon, Bush, Obama, they’re war criminals. They have killed innocent people in the name of the struggle for freedom, but they’re suspending the law very much like Wall Street criminals….If you and I, brother Tavis, if we kill an innocent person, we’re going to jail.”  If we want to put Bush on trial for war crimes, then Obama also needs to be tried.  The story might be different if we were actually at war with these countries, but we are not; Obama has circumvented the judiciary and Congress.

Even more frightening is our unwillingness to send American soldiers who actually have a chance to win over hearts and minds. The Obama administration is using the return of American soldiers from Iraq and Afghanistan as a cover for expanding the use of drones; they are trying to make this expansion seem like a just course of action.

But how can military action be just if we do not even have the stomach to send in our own forces?

 It is social Darwinism in modern times; we count the lives of Americans as greater than the lives of Yemeni children.  As Sir Peter Alexander Ustinov said, “Terrorism is the war of the poor, and war is the terrorism of the rich.” A drone is just as much a weapon of terror as a hijacked plane is; we just don’t want to admit it.

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