Anti-Drone Movement Grows: Ethics, Legality and Effectiveness of Drone Killings Doubted
By Kevin Zeese and Margaret Flowers
Growing up in a war zone with constant fear of attack at any time and being forced to flee your home and community to live in a refugee camp or some other foreign place has dramatic psychological impacts. Civilians living in war zones suffer economically and experience shortages of basic necessities such as food, water and medicines. They also suffer from the threat or experience of being raped or beaten, losing a loved one and forced labor. Mental illness, including depression and post-traumatic stress disorder (or PTSD) are high in areas of conflict. Women, children, the elderly and the disabled are the most vulnerable.
The use of drones has dramatically increased the geographic reach of war zones to countries with which the United States is not formally at war. How many young people around the world are growing up in fear because of US military policy that monitors them with the constant buzzing of drones overhead? In some remote places, all that the population knows about the United States is our drones.
The two bombs at the Boston Marathon killed three and injured nearly 200 people. On the same day in Iraq, torn apart by US war and occupation, across Baghdad, Kirkut, Tikrit and several other Iraqi cities, 55 were killed and more than 250 were injured.
On April 17, two days after the marathon bomb, US drones attacked a vehicle in Yemen's Dhamar Province, killing five people, one of them identified as a local al-Qaeda leader in the Arabian Peninsula. We received an email from a Yemeni who was from the village where the attack occurred. He says: "Last night while I was enjoying a farewell dinner with a dear American Friend in Sana'a, the United States of America droned my village. There, my fellow village people joke that 'God himself doesn't reach their area' due to how deprived and miserable a place the area is ... It is the capital of misery and poverty and needed anything but a drone ... The same hand that taught me English and changed my life one day, droned my village last night. Horribly, unbelievable."
Attacks such as this create situations in which violence begets violence. Each Tuesday, President Obama meets national security advisers, reviews potential targets and approves drone killings. Then the US radicalizes whole populations in order to check a name off its kill list. Therefore, the first question we must deeply consider about US drone policy and military policy is, Does widespread use of drones make us less secure? Is there a better way?
A coalition of faith leaders wrote President Obama on April 16: "The use of these lethal weapons within the borders of other sovereign nations, at times without their permission, shrouded in secrecy and without clear legal authority, raises serious moral and ethical questions about the principles and the implications of this practice for US foreign relations and the prospects for a more peaceful world."
The faith leaders point out that it would be more effective to use policies that do not "boost recruitment for extremist organizations," but instead go to the root causes of violence "by creating conditions that defuse the hostility, including strategies to prevent violent conflict and to promote restorative justice practices, and effective economic development programs."
‘Growing hatred of US’: Yemeni testifies to Senate on drone program fallout
Yemeni writer Farea Al-Muslimi has revealed the shock and hatred felt towards the US after a drone bombed his home, the village of Wessab: “The attack terrified thousands of simple, poor farmers,” Muslimi told the Senate Subcommittee on the Constitution, Civil Rights and Human Rights in its hearing titled ‘Drone Wars: The Constitutional and Counterterrorism Implications of Targeted Killing.’
"The drone strike and its impact tore my heart, much as the tragic bombings in Boston last week tore your hearts and also mine," he added. “What radicals had previously failed to achieve in my village… one drone strike accomplished in an instant: There is now an intense anger and growing hatred of America.”
Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula is using US drone strikes to “promote its agenda and try to recruit more terrorists,” Muslimi explained.
The drone attack on Muslimi’s village killed an Al-Qaeda leader and four militants, according to Reuters. But Muslimi argued that the target was already known to many in Wessab, and Yemeni officials could have easily arrested him if the US had made the request.
Below: "Protesters loyal to the Shi'ite al-Houthi rebel group burn an effigy of a U.S. aircraft during a demonstration to protest against what they say is U.S. interference in Yemen, including drone strikes, after their weekly Friday prayers in the Old Sanaa city April 12, 2013." (Reuters/Khaled Abdullah)