Drone Strikes: How to Win Enemies and Endanger America

The ever-more-secret United States "War on Terror" is itself terrorizing thousands of innocent people in the Middle East. This ill-conceived war can only hope to make the world less safe for Americans.

The war on terror being conducted by the United States has entered a new phase--death from the skies.  And the pilots of those death-dealing airplanes are often sitting in an office building in the United States.

 Stress has more recently been taking a larger toll on remote pilots of drone strike aircraft in the war on terror. Why? In large part because they often witness the death of innocent civilians on their television screens--people that they have helped to kill.
Nearly half of the military’s drone operators report high stress levels, according to a new Air Force survey... the study’s authors found “limited stress related to a unique aspect of the operators’ jobs: watching hours of close-up video of people killed in drone strikes.” The survey ... revealed that shifting back and forth between different realities — driving to a base from which they run combat operations and then going home to face different kinds of stress — present “unique psychological challenges” for drone operators. 
 We should hope that our violence-saturated video-game culture hasn't desensitized Americans to the harsh reality of killing.

But that's not the worst part.

Hundreds of innocent civilians are being killed by remote-piloted drone strikes, and the United States media is telling you almost nothing about it, because the Barack Obama administration has branded it as a crime to do so. Glenn Greenwald of Salon Magazine, citing a Washington Post study, reports that
In 3 years, the Obama administration has built a vast drone/killing operation”; [the Post article] describes the complete secrecy behind which this is all being carried out and notes: “no president has ever relied so extensively on the secret killing of individuals to advance the nation’s security goals.”
  Greenwald goes on to point out:
In sum: the President can kill whomever he wants anywhere in the world (including U.S. citizens) without a shred of check or oversight, and has massively escalated these killings since taking office (at the time of Obama’s inauguration, the U.S. used drone attacks in only one country (Pakistan); under Obama, these attacks have occurred in at least six Muslim countries). Because it’s a Democrat (rather than big, bad George W. Bush) doing this, virtually no members of that Party utter a peep of objection
And that's not the worst part either.  America's global war on terror is supposed to be making America safer.  But it's not.  It's raising the level of hatred of America by people of other countries to dizzying and dangerous new heights.  It's increasing the number of people who consider themselves America's enemies. And it's putting Americans in greater danger.

The Atlantic reports that
In the countries where the drone system is most active -- Pakistan and Yemen -- relations with local governments and communities are awful, and perceptions of the United States could barely be any worse.
  The article from The Atlantic continues:
In Yemen, the insistence on drone strikes in the absence of any broader (and more intensive) political engagement with the opposition political movements has created the mass perception that the U.S. is intimately tied to the oppression of the Yemeni people -- a dangerous social meme that al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula certainly tries to coopt for its own advancement.
 (It certainly can't have helped this perception that the  Obama administration is considering admitting Yemen's feared and hated dictatorial president into the United States for medical treatment.)

This international news magazine reports that
Civilians have been the major victims of US drone attacks, carried out regularly against Pakistan's North and South Waziristan tribal regions under the pretext of targeting anti-American and pro-Taliban militants.

The aerial attacks by the pilotless, remote-control aircraft have killed hundreds of people in the volatile regions over the past years. 

The protesters described the US drone attacks as a key factor behind growing unrest across Pakistan. 
Such random killings do not help the reputation of America as "a shining city on a hill" to the rest of the world. This article from six months ago reports the anguish and the anger
the strikes not only kill the innocent but injure untold numbers and radicalise the population. "There are just pieces of flesh lying around after a strike. You can't find bodies. So the locals pick up the flesh and curse America. They say that America is killing us inside our own country, inside our own homes, and only because we are Muslims.
"The youth in the area surrounding a strike gets crazed. Hatred builds up inside those who have seen a drone attack. The Americans think it is working, but the damage they're doing is far greater."
Even when the drones hit the right compound, the force of the blast is such that neighbours' houses, often made of baked mud, are also demolished, crushing those inside...

It has only gotten worse since then.

My goodness. I think the people of Pakistan and Yemen have been remarkably patient. If we want to be victorious in the war on terror, then we must stop terrorizing innocent people.


  1. US official, "There's no... moral issues when it comes to robots. That is, unless the machine kills the wrong people repeatedly. Then it's just a product recall issue."
    Must watch:

    For the record, I don't recall many Democrats protesting Bush era power abuse either... except Sanders and Kucinich, who still do. In government, most Democrats are doormats.

  2. Janus: The TED conference presentation, from which your quote came, had me worried at first. It looked like the presenter was excited that we could use robotics to control the world militarily. I'm glad that he clarified that he was extremely bothered by the moral aspects of this.


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