By Harrison Schmidt, Jennie Eisert, & Meredith Aby
For Pride, 2012
Since 2004, the use of drones by the US Military, CIA, and NATO in modern warfare has become widely promoted in the mainstream media as a “precise” strategy of eliminating military targets with minimal civilian casualties and no danger to US troops. According to President Obama’s chief counter-terrorism adviser John Brennan, Obama himself has “insisted” that US drone strikes are “surgical” and “do not put… innocent men, women and children in danger.” In reality the physical distance between the drone and it’s shooter makes lack of precision unavoidable, and has caused civilian casualties in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Yemen, Somalia, and the Philippines.
The US military has been waging a “hearts and minds campaign” to win over the support of the population of Afghanistan but despite U.S. propaganda the majority of Afghans do not support the U.S./NATO occupation of their country. Drones are a consistent source of tension between occupation troops and the Afghans. While the life of the drone pilot might be kept safe, the danger to ground troops increases along with anti-US sentiment caused by the civilian atrocities attributed to drone strikes. Recently, increases in incidents of Afghan troops turning their weapons on U.S. and NATO troops have been reported, proof of the spreading resentment toward the foreign occupation of Afghanistan.
While the war is officially carried out in Afghanistan, many of the drone strikes have been aimed toward the bordering areas of Pakistan. An independent research site, Pakistan Body Count, claims that 2,179 civilians died as a result of drone strikes, 12.4% being children and women. The Bureau of Investigative Journalism has found that since President Obama took office, at least 50 civilians were killed in follow-up strikes of civilians who had gone to help victims, and more than 20 civilians have also been attacked in deliberate strikes on funerals and mourners. This blatant disregard for civilian life has led over 60% of the population of Pakistan to consider the US as an enemy. The death toll caused by drone attacks is unacceptable and unjust. Afghan and Pakistani civilians deserve to be treated as valuably as U.S. lives.
Not only has the U.S. violated the sovereignty of Afghanistan it has repeatedly violated the sovereignty of its neighbor Pakistan. Regardless of whether Pakistan is the U.S. ally or enemy it has no legal or moral right to fly killer drones through their sovereign airspace. It’s no surprise that Pakistan public opinion does not support cooperation with the U.S. because of its use of drones.
Recent polls show that support of the U.S. occupation in Afghanistan are at a new low of 27%. It’s important that the peace movement continue to demand that the troops come home but also we should also demand an end to drone warfare because they are also a part of the occupation. Just like the troops, DRONES OUT NOW!