WAR DRONES ON September 16, 2010Posted by wmmbb in CENTRAL ASIA.
As Pakistan experiences severe and crippling flooding, the US continues drone attacks in North Wazaristan, especially after the weather lifted.
Rasool Dawar and Kimberly Doxier report for Associated Press, via Juan Cole’s Informed Comment. They report that drone attack into Pakistan have been continuous since 2004, and that recent attacks have been the most intense. Since the beginning of September, 60 people have been killed from 13 missile strikes. Dawn reports that 1,070 people have been killed in 125 drone attacks since August 2008.
These attacks that result in civilian deaths have the effect of terror on a population. There is inevitable questions as to whether they constitute war crimes. It would be argued that are carefully targeted, but even under the conditions of war it is a crime to kill non-combatants. The tribal areas are described in a contradiction in terms as lawless. It more likely that the invaders are the lawless criminals.
The problem will be in the future when Western Nations are attacked by drones combined with death squads as is now occurring in Afghanistan and Pakistan. What then will be the response? It will be too late to reaffirm legal principles and process.
Who know what happened to bin Laden? One of the pretexts for invading, and attempting to conquer Afghanistan, was that he was living there at the time, but perhaps it was possible that he might have been in Pakistan. The failure to effectively prosecute the capture of bin Laden at Tora Bora remains a largely ignored and untold story. Again in this account the death of civilians does not seem to matter.
Meanwhile as the drone war continues, Juan Cole notes:
Pakistani opposition to the US incursions against Pakistani sovereignty has been muted because of the vast flooding that has affected much of the country, and dealing with which has pinned down the Pakistani military. Another 25 villages in the Sindh province were submerged by flood waters on Tuesday. Hundreds of more villages are menaced by the waters of Manchhal Lake, which is now full to capacity and could overflow. Incredibly, the flooding continues to displace Sindhi villagers on a massive scale without generating much in the way of news in the US. The displaced are facing lack of potable water and food shortages.
Tom Engelhardt and Nick Turse developed an American Way of War Quiz which included the following:
9. Recently, Iran unveiled a new armed drone, billed as a long-range unmanned aerial bomber and dubbed the “Ambassador of Death” by the country’s president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. Afterwards, the Pentagon:
a. Cut out drone strikes in Pakistan to send Iran a message that conducting regular attacks on a country with which you are not officially at war is impermissible.
b. Announced plans to rethink the fast-and-loose rules of robotic assassination used in its Terminator wars for the better part of a decade so that Iran could not cite U.S. actions as precedent.
c. Stepped up drone strikes in the Pakistani tribal borderlands, sometimes carrying out more than one a day.
Correct answer: c. In discussing Washington’s desire to export drone technology to allies, Secretary of Defense Robert Gates has termed Iranian drones a “concern.” The U.S. has, however, not only continued to pave the way for Iran (and every other nation and non-state actor) to conduct drone attacks with utter impunity, but accelerated the process. For his part, State Department spokesman P.J. Crowley recently echoed Gates, calling Iran’s drones a “concern to us and concern to Iran’s neighbors.” Of the new Iranian drone’s hyperbolic unofficial moniker, he said with a laugh, “It’s a curious name for a system.” Perhaps he’s unaware that his own government has dubbed its two marquee armed drones — with a straight face, mind you — Predator and Reaper (as in “Grim…”) and that those aircraft launch “Hellfire” missiles. The official name of the Iranian drone is actually the least inflammatory of the three: “Karrar” or “striker.”
This stuff cannot be made up. It seems to me that the Iranians may well support the Northern Alliance rather than the Sunni Pashtuns.