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DRONE WARFARE January 14, 2013

Posted by wmmbb in Terrorism Issues.
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The killings by drone fired missiles controlled by pilots thousands of kilometers or miles from the scene of murder is perhaps justified by a “time of war, or public danger”. But who knows.

It is remarkable how the enemy can be dehumanized as “the other” so that human decency and consideration does not need to apply.We are to suppose that the “dialectic of history” will never come into the picture. When the “bad guys” wear the white hats the plot will get very confusing. Now it is simply that might and capability makes right. At which point, the realization will come that nobody should be above the law. If the law is to apply it should do so equally with no impunity.

There is wide concern. For example, Simon Jenkins in The Guardian writes:

The greatest threat to world peace is not from nuclear weapons and their possible proliferation. It is from drones and their certain proliferation. Nuclear bombs are useless weapons, playthings for the powerful or those aspiring to power. Drones are now sweeping the global arms market. There are some 10,000 said to be in service, of which a thousand are armed and mostly American. Some reports say they have killed more non-combatant civilians than died in 9/11.

I have not read one independent study of the current drone wars in Afghanistan, Pakistan and the horn of Africa that suggests these weapons serve any strategic purpose. Their “success” is expressed solely in body count, the number of so-called “al-Qaida-linked commanders” killed. If body count were victory, the Germans would have won Stalingrad and the Americans Vietnam.

Neither the legality nor the ethics of drone attacks bear examination. Last year’s exhaustive report by lawyers from Stanford and New York universities concluded that they were in many cases illegal, killed civilians, and were militarily counter-productive. Among the deaths were an estimated 176 children. Such slaughter would have an infantry unit court-martialled. Air forces enjoy such prestige that civilian deaths are excused as a price worth paying for not jeopardising pilots’ lives.

This week President Obama appointed two drone “enthusiasts” as his new defence secretary, Chuck Hagel, and his new CIA chief, John Brennan. Drone war is now the flavour of the month and the military-industrial complex is licking its lips. If Obama, himself a lawyer, had any reservations about the legality of these weapons, he has clearly overcome them.

I doubt the contention that drone attacks do not have a strategic purpose is correct.  Probably, so as to avoid distinction, it might be more convenient to conflate strategic and tactical purposes. Firstly, it may contended that murder the leadership of “terrorist” organizations. Secondly, they can penetrate otherwise inaccessible locations. Thirdly, they seem mostly invulnerable to attack and save losses in personnel and equipment. Fourthly, the logistics of the operation are far cheaper than conventional warfare, especially if the costs associated with payment and corruption of governments and local spies is not considered. Fifthly, there is for the moment only one nation state has the capacity to run a widespread drone regime. Sixthly, they would not effective against a relatively sophisticated nation state, such as Iran, because, as has been demonstrated, they have the capacity to capture them and take them down, and by violating the territorial airspace of another country, they would represent a conventional act of war.

We should not just concentrate on the pilotless aircraft. It is a weapon system significantly guided by satellite communications. Weapon systems are social systems. The people who run this system, who direct it, are seemingly indifferent to the people they kill, and of course there are honest mistakes, and those who make them are unaccountable. How is it that a political and legal system allows such blatant criminality. This includes indifferent to the trauma and terror inflicted on the subject populations.

Paul Jay interviews Gareth Porter on The Real News Network (first 6:10 minutes) relating to drone murders, including of civilians, in Pakistan:

The criminality is justified by war and the attack, now eleven years, on the US, and others before and since. The logic of violence does not allow that it creates more violence, or supposes that violence can contained, often in self-destructive and oppressive forms, in distant, less technologically advanced societies. The United States paid no direct retaliatory cost for the horrific bombing of South East Asia. The superordinate requirement of justice is that such perpetrators should be brought to account albeit imperfectly by indictments, judgments and reparations.

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