U.S. Drone Strikes Kill Civilians in Pakistan and Afghanistan

Radio Havana Cuba

More than a dozen people have been killed and several others severely injured in separate strikes by U.S. killer drones in Pakistan and Afghanistan. The highest casualties have been reported in Pakistan where 10 people were killed in the U.S. drone strike on Wednesday.

Local intelligence sources say the attack took place in the volatile Nazyan area of Khyber Agency close to the border with Afghanistan. Local Pakistani officials have confirmed the attack, saying those killed in the operation were Taliban militants.

Meanwhile, another air strike by the foreign forces’ unmanned aircraft in Afghanistan left at least four people dead. Afghan officials say the casualties in the attack in the western Farah Province were Taliban militants. However, the militant group has not yet commented on the deaths.

U.S. drone strikes have escalated significantly over the past years, fueling anti-American sentiments in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Yemen and Somalia. The aerial attacks, initiated by former U.S. President George W. Bush have escalated under President Barack Obama. Obama has defended the use of the controversial drones as “self-defense.”

 

2 comments

  1. “Self-defense”?! Or self-ennobling he meant to say.

  2. The invention of the aeroplane over a century ago was an important marker in human progress. But the technology that spread human dominance of the earth to the skies soon had military applications. The first recorded aerial bombardment took place in Libya in 1911 where Italy was fighting the Ottoman empire. A hundred years later European powers were bombing Libya again – and this time some of the pilots were thousands of miles away.

    In the last 10 years drones have been used in at least seven countries – Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, Palestine, Pakistan, Somalia and Yemen. Seventy-six countries now own such weapons, which range from small 20kg surveillance drones to 11m long Reapers armed with Hellfire missiles and laser-guided bombs. Large armed drones are still the preserve of the wealthiest nations. Only the US, Britain and Israel are known to have used them in combat.The market for drones is growing and is expected to almost double in the next decade, to $11.3 billion (£7bn).

    Drones have changed the way war is waged. An estimated 3,000-4,500 people have been killed by US drone strikes in Pakistan, Somalia and Yemen. However, it’s hard to count the number of dead – let alone how many were civilians – due to the remote locations of many strikes. Official US policy is to consider any male of military age a militant unless proven otherwise, rendering the official stats an Orwellian aberration. However a steady stream of reports from Waziristan indicate that children, village elders at tribal meetings and innocent bystanders are among the dead.

    A majority of US drone strikes have been on President Barack Obama’s watch. He who promised change has certainly been true to his word. Suspected “terrorists” are no longer kidnapped, tortured and held for years without trial. They are simply killed.

    The president and his national security team reportedly meet once a month to decide which individuals to add to the “kill list.” These include US citizens like Anwar al-Awlaki and his 16-year-old son, killed in two drone strikes last year in Yemen. Legal process is not required, only “due process,” which means that Obama has discussed the matter with security advisers. How ironic that a man who routinely orders extra-judicial killings is a Nobel Peace Prize winner.

    A recent study reported in the New York Times found that only 2 per cent of drone strikes killed “senior Taliban and al-Qaida leaders.” The relentless killing has turned public opinion in Pakistan against the US, contributing to revenge attacks in Afghanistan and the attempted Times Square bombing a couple of years ago, where the bomber explicitly mentioned drone strikes as a motive. Ex-counterterror chief for the CIA, Robert Grenier, has warned the US is “creating more enemies than we are removing from the battlefield.”

    There is a worry that politicians may see drones as a way of avoiding the inevitable impact on public opinion of soldiers coming home in coffins. The wars in Vietnam, Iraq and Afghanistan all became steadily more unpopular because of the endless stream of dead and wounded veterans.

    Britain is set to double its fleet from five to 10 Reaper drones in the next year, enabling the government to have three in operation at any one time. But the argument that drones keep “our boys” out of danger misses the point. The question is not how to maximise enemy casualties while minimising our own, but why are we in Afghanistan at all?

    The countries targeted by drones are among the most deprived and unstable regions on the planet. War, however it is waged, will not end the problems of terrorism or instability. It will make them worse.

    These comments first appear in 2012 in article in the Morning Star in the 27th-28th October weekend edition of the paper. http://morningstaronline.co.uk – The Morning Star is the only left-wing British daily tabloid newspaper with a focus on social and trade union issues. Articles and comment columns are contributed by writers from socialist, social democratic, green and religious perspectives.

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