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Making Enemies; Or, the Murderous Hypocrisy of Drone Strikes

By Craig Considine 
 
Drone strikes are considered by Washington elites and Senator Lieberman particularly as ‘a critical element in our effort, our campaign, and our strategy to deny the terrorists who are terrorizing the people of Afghanistan and Pakistan.’  Senator McCain also suggested that they’re a ’part of an overall set of tactics which make up the strategy for victory.’ 
 
Let’s not be blinded by such rhetoric and propaganda.  It’s downright misleading but most of all evil.
Reports roughly conclude that only 14 of the 700 deaths from drone strikes in Pakistan during 2009 were considered ‘high valued’ al-Qaeda targets.   This puts the success rate of drone strikes at an abysmal 6% and at an alarming rate of approximately 50 civilians killed for every militant.  Similar descriptions were also recorded by an Al-Jazeera correspondent from Islamabad who reported that ‘if you look at the number of strikes and the number of casualties on the ground the militants do not figure very prominently.’   Perhaps that’s because, as an anonymous ex-military officer put it, ‘if there’s one guy we’re trying to hit and there are thirty-four other people in the building, thirty-five people are going to die that day.’ 
 
So why aren’t drone strikes a productive tool towards the ‘victory’ McCain speaks of?
 
David Kilcullen, a well-respected Australian anthropologist and ‘counterterrorist’ specialist, suggests that drone strikes are ‘exciting visceral opposition across a broad spectrum of Pakistani opinion.’  Wonder why?
 
Each time a bomb kills innocent civilians it immediately triggers anti-American sentiment.  This makes it extremely difficult for soldiers and spies to find cooperative individuals to gain intelligence in the effort to find the ‘bad guys.’ 
 
Just as some Americans felt the need for revenge during the Mexican-American War, Pearl Harbor, and 9-11, so too will Pakistanis who’ve lost loved ones.   It’s extremely difficult to knock sense into individuals who are seeking revenge (kind of like W. Bush).
Pakistanis who have lost family members can’t easily forget these acts of terror no matter what kind of ridiculous rhetoric is thrown their way from the American or the Pakistani government.
 
This leads us to many important question: what do you think the reaction of Pakistanis would be to drone strikes?  Would they be more open and cooperative with the US presence?  Would they think the US’s their to ‘help’ the Pakistanis through poverty eradication and educational systems?  Wouldn’t their reaction mirror the hysteria that erupted in the hearts and minds of those Americans that lost loved ones in the World Trade Towers and the Pentagon?  Wouldn’t they want to go out and kill ‘the bad guys?’ Is it possible for you to sympathize with their want of revenge?  Can you picture someone becoming ‘radicalized’ if their family members were killed? 
 
Most importantly, can you understand how drone strikes makes more enemies?
 
Drone strikes are also solidifying the power and justification behind radical movements.  Instead of isolating extremists, drone strikes are effectively being used as the quintessential recruiting tool for the disenfranchised or for those seeking revenge.  To put it simply, as Kilcullen does, drone strikes have ‘given rise to a feeling of anger that coalesces the population around the extremists and leads to spikes of extremism.’ 
It’s nearly impossible to understand the logic behind McCain and Lieberman’s applause for drone strikes considering their continuation would be nothing but counterproductive.  They honestly come across as nothing but idiotic and stupid. 
 
Lieberman said that drone strikes have been useful in eradicating the terrorism that has plagued Afghanis and Pakistanis.  But whose terrorism does Lieberman speak of?  Islamic or American?  Many Pakistanis, in fact, are increasingly labeling drone strikes as ‘terrorism.’  Which terrorism do you think they would fight first? 
 
McCain, on the other hand, argues that drone strikes will help lead the US to ‘victory.’  What does he mean by ‘victory?’  If it entails killing innocent civilians and creating more terrorists, the US is well on its way to winning.  If ‘victory’ means eradicating the influence of al-Qaeda, the Taliban, and Islamic extremism, the US is well on its way to losing.  If the US wants to set forth on a more intelligent path to ‘victory,’ destroy the drone strike campaign, as Kilcullen suggests.  
 
In the president’s speech at the Naval Academy, he outlined the new strategy for Afghanistan and Pakistan.  The ‘new beginning’ he spoke of was based on mutual respect.  He insured Afghanis and Pakistanis that the new surge would work ‘to prevent cancer from once again spreading throughout the country.’  He also promised them ‘a future in which those who kill innocents are isolated by those who stand up for peace and prosperity and human dignity.’ 
 
Peace?  Prosperity? Human dignity?
 
Can you see the stupidity and hypocrisy behind drone strikes?
 
This article originally appeared on the blog of Craig Considine.

  

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World Can't Wait mobilizes people living in the United States to stand up and stop war on the world, repression and torture carried out by the US government. We take action, regardless of which political party holds power, to expose the crimes of our government, from war crimes to systematic mass incarceration, and to put humanity and the planet first.