Monday, October 15, 2012

THE DRONES...THEY HAUNT ME

An MQ-9 Reaper remotely piloted aircraft takes off from Joint Base Balad, Iraq. Photo: USAF
A new analysis from a global citizen advocacy group on the secretive U.S. drone campaign claims there is very little knowledge of the actual number of civilian casualties connected with each strike, despite official information to the contrary, according to a report on Wired.com.

The Obama administration has previously stated that civilian casualties from the Pakistan drone war were in the single digits, while the Bureau of Investigative Journalism estimates the minimum death toll is closer to 450, according to the story.
Single digits?  The claim is laughable.  No one...no one knows the body count of innocents killed by covert drone attacks in the Middle East, not even the White House, not Congress.  The drones haunt me not only because of innocents killed, not only because of grieving families left behind, but also because of the toll on the living, the people of Pakistan, Yemen, and Somalia, who go about their daily lives in fear of the sound of drones, who can't sleep nights because they're frightened of a drone attack.

I've thought I should not write about the drones three weeks before a crucial election, because the reckless use of our military might would be much worse under the living nightmare of a Romney administration, but the haunting remains, and so I write.  The drone attacks are done in our name, in the name of each one of us who claims citizenship in the US, without discussion or accountability, and that's not right.  Attention must be paid.

H/T to Wired for the photo.

14 comments:

  1. It lingers, the 9/11 fear and hysteria that some use as an excuse to use any and all means to "protect" the U.S., even if those increasingly brutal and secret means kill innocents. First, the "all volunteer" Army professionalizes the fighting (and lets most people avoid the consequences of war) and then the experts turn shooting into a video game with drones and as many high tech devices as they can dream up ... bloodless killing, as far as the operators are concerned ... but it is not a video game or a political game or a game of any kind for the people on the ground. But "our" politicians and soldiers get further and further from the consequences of violent action all the time, many perhaps never stop to imagine what it might be to have a drone enter their own neighborhood, how much fear and hatred that would inspire in their own back yard. Easier to assume that whatever Americans do must be good and fine and justified and if "they" don't submit to our will, then it's just their own fault if the market blows up, if children die just for playing in the street near a target they had no idea was there ... collateral damage ... never mind ... just talk tough some more - works every time with the flag wavers ... it's all fine as long as so-called good Christian patriots do it to protect American freedom ... because we're supposed to be exceptional ... hmmmmmm .... just not seeing it today. Exceptional looks more like the Pakistani girl trying to get an education in a dangerous place who now lies in a hospital - she is exceptional, not those who send drones to places they don't understand or care about.

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    1. No one is on the ground monitoring the effects of the drone strikes, except in Afghanistan, where the military in charge and have people near the sites who estimate the numbers of casualties.

      And yes, the use of drones is war by distant robots.

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  2. It's certainly not right, Mimi, and I substantially agree with Genette.

    But what to do? Obama promised in his first campaign to close Guantanamo, but he hasn't - last I checked it was still in business, but the media has gone dead silent on all that. So what hope is there for the innocents - or for any of us, in this nightmare new world?

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    1. Obama has not closed Guantanamo, but it's not so much his doing as it is the Republicans.

      The responsibility lies not so much with the White House but with Congress, which has thwarted President Barack Obama's plans to close the detention center, which the Bush administration opened on January 11, 2002 with 20 captives.

      Congress has used its spending oversight authority both to forbid the White House from financing trials of Guantánamo captives on U.S. soil and to block the acquisition of a state prison in Illinois to hold captives currently held in Cuba who would not be put on trial -- a sort of Guantánamo North.


      I don't know what hope there is, Russ.

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    2. Hope that the idiocy of some Republican Congressional candidates will lead to a new Speaker and a new political reality in Washington.

      FWIW
      jimB

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    3. Jim, my best hope is that if Obama is reelected, he will be free of concern about another term and thus free to stand up for policies that will make life better for more citizens of the country...and I'm not talking about the very rich, who feel persecuted and under siege. And I'd hope to see a few more Democrats who will act like Democrats, rather than Dinos, in Congress.

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  3. The drone war is enough to make one despair:

    http://dissenter.firedoglake.com/2012/10/15/denver-teens-death-by-drone-remains-shrouded-in-secrecy/

    I hope Obama wins re-election by so large a margin that his victory cannot be stolen -- and so many progressive Democrats are elected to Congress that his neo-Republican policies can be opposed. Four years ago, Obama's election seemed a solution; today, it will be a stop-gap that allows the struggle to continue. The real fight begins on November 7th.

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    1. Yes, an American citizen was assassinated with no explanation given to the family. You can be certain we won't get an answer in the next few weeks.

      If Obama wins, and I think it's no sure thing, Democrats will have to hold his feet to the fire on violations of civil rights.

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    2. We need to ask ourselves if we must operate the American empire? If we do, if we think we have to dictate the policies and potentials of people in other lands, then the war making will continue, and like any empire, we will own a professional military.

      That military no matter how loyal and patriotic, will always seek to make sure the other guy does the dying. In general that makes sense. But it also will always be willing to kill a lot of those outside the empire and "let God sort them out." From the perspective of the empire professional, that makes sense.

      FWIW
      jimB

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    3. Obama has stated that we are the leaders of the world. He's been less heavy-handed about throwing our weight around than the previous president, and he extricated us from one war. If he wins another term, he will get us out of Afghanistan, and he will be hesitant about involving us in another war in the Middle East. It's the covert operations that are the most worrisome now.

      I remember Eisenhower's warning about the military-industrial complex in his farewell address in 1960. He was so very right, but we did not pay attention and quite soon began our long involvement in the appalling Vietnam misadventure.

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  4. Learn from our mistakes, we must, but we don't seem to - still, still, still defining "strength" as weaponry and threat in the language of our culture and sadly in most of the major religions of the world ... see the evidence: war mostly kills but does not resolve conflict, particularly not ideological impasses, it only determines who gets to be the coercive power of the moment. What if we demanded of our leaders a new model of strength, a model of negotiation and understanding and compromise and literally doing unto those others as we would have done unto us? What if we called strength the patience to sit at the table working it all out for as long as it takes, not just until we get weary of words, insist on putting down the guns, insist that killing each other is always the wrong answer and elect only those people who are strong enough to resist the frustated urge to violence when met with persistent disagreement? Send the hawks, the chicken hawks, the impatient back to the private sector once and for all. That might help.

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    1. Exactly, Marthe. I'm just finishing Walter Wink's Engaging the Powers, which is a splendid book. What if we, as a nation, made it our policy to first and foremost explore every avenue of nonviolent resistance against evil? What if we took violent response off the table as a solution, except in the most extreme cases of saving the lives of innocents? Alas...it won't happen.

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    2. Let us then go for the 'as if', vote as if it can, will, one day be so ... vote as if even this might be possible.
      And stock up on single malts until ...

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    3. ... vote as if even this might be possible.
      And stock up on single malts until ...


      I'll buy what you're selling, Marthe.

      Delete

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