November 12, 2012
A report, produced by the law schools at Stanford and NYU entitled, “Living Under Drones”, documents the damage and terror that drone-strikes have inflicted on the tribal areas of Pakistan. The report challenges the idea that the drone-strikes that enable the “targeted killing” of terrorists, are “surgically precise” and cause minimal civilian casualties.
On the contrary, it argues the targeted killing program in this remote-control war has resulted in hundreds of civilians having been killed – including 176 children. The fact that drone strikes are so frequent has, it is argued, made residents of the tribal areas frightened to gather in groups, whether for a funeral or a marriage.
The continuous killing with drones does not eliminate violence aimed at the US but rather guarantees its permanent expansion. Mark Danner in the New York Review of Books says that:
There is much evidence to suggest that many, at least by any reasonable definition of “threat,” do not—indeed, that in as many as 94 percent of the cases the targets are “mere foot soldiers” about whom, according to terrorism expert Peter Bergen, “it’s hard to make the case that [they] threaten the United States in some way.” What is not in dispute is that these killings of thousands of Muslims, conducted by remote control by a distant superpower, have caused enormous resentment and hatred of the United States in Pakistan and throughout the Islamic world, a consequence that helps revivify and perpetuate the political sentiments at the root of the war on terror.
The War on Terror was successfully locked into the familiar political constellation of a four-decade-long cold war by George Bush and the Republicans by linking it back to the fascism, Nazism, communism and totalitarianism of the 20th century.
The Republican justification is that killing Muslim children with drones protects American children from terrorism. It makes America safe. However, it is Obama who has institutionalized the highly classified practice of targeted killing, transforming ad-hoc elements into a counterterrorism infrastructure capable of sustaining a seemingly permanent war in many different regions of the world.
Glenn Greenwald says that:
What has been created here - permanently institutionalized - is a highly secretive executive branch agency that simultaneously engages in two functions: (1) it collects and analyzes massive amounts of surveillance data about all Americans without any judicial review let alone search warrants, and (2) creates and implements a "matrix" that determines the "disposition" of suspects, up to and including execution, without a whiff of due process or oversight. It is simultaneously a surveillance state and a secretive, unaccountable judicial body that analyzes who you are and then decrees what should be done with you, how you should be "disposed" of, beyond the reach of any minimal accountability or transparency.
The US is continuing its steps along the path to a state of endless war and the powers and benefits it engenders.