Tuesday, 25 September 2012

Living Under Drones (Pakistan and her civilians)

Living Under Drones: Death, Injury and Trauma to Civilians from US Drone Practices in Pakistan

(The site ( livingunderdrones.org ) keeps hanging at the moment but you can find articles on sites such as the UK’s Guardian, The Telegraph and Daily Mail, the LA Times, CNN etc)

‘In the United States, the dominant narrative about the use of drones in Pakistan is of a surgically precise and effective tool that makes the US safer by enabling 'targeted killings' of terrorists, with minimal downsides or collateral impacts.

‘This narrative is false.’

The report says that the US government rarely acknowledges civilian casualties, though there is significant evidence that civilians are being injured and killed.
The report highlights the impact of drone attacks on civilians in Pakistan's tribal regions. Citing ‘extensive interviews with the local population’ (more than 130 interviews), the authors say:
  • children are being taken out of school out of fear of a drone-strike or to compensate for income lost from a dead or wounded relative [which means the knock-on effect is an increase in child labour and a decrease in child education]
  • there is ‘significant evidence’ of the practice of ‘double-tap’ strikes in which rescuers arriving at the scene are targeted in follow-up attacks (which is a key terrorist approach [the US government has previously said it’s a ‘hallmark’ of Hamas, but, well, it seems to be ‘okay’ if the US is doing it…hypocrisy much?)]
  • the ‘double-tap’ strikes are estimated to kill an average of 49 civilians for every one ‘known terrorist’
  • drones flying overhead have led to "substantial levels of fear and stress... in the civilian communities" [in other words, they are terrified and the drones are an act of terrorism]
  • as well as injury or death, the attacks cause property damage, severe economic hardship and emotional trauma for the injured and their families
  • people are afraid to attend gatherings such as funerals for fear of attack
No doubt there are those who justify all this, with ‘excuses’ such as ‘well, they’re the ones harbouring the terrorists’ and so forth.  Sure, the neighbours and family of the Aurora shooter knew what he was going to do, the neighbours and family of Timothy McVeigh knew he was going to put together and use a truck bomb?

Problem is, that’s exactly the kind of double-standard which feeds the animosity and frustration.  It’s fodder for those who want to incite others to acts of violence, they use it as form of justification.

I can understand the use of precision strikes (the general idea is a good one) and if they were working (and effective) in getting to the higher levels of terrorist organisations without killing civilians then, frankly, more people would be rooting for them.  Take, for example, the incident last year when there was a tribal gathering who were wholly aware that there was to be a drone attack (they had been notified in advance) and could hear the drones overhead, but considered themselves safe because they weren’t the target.  42 people were killed.  That is not a ‘precision strike’.

When (lower estimates) 140,000 to (higher estimates) 1,200,000 civilians have been killed in Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan over the past decade, and the people on the ground have a constant reminder and a constant fear about it, is it really surprising that there’s animosity towards those who are, with no misinterpretation of the word, terrorising them?

Although a strange analogy, it’s kind of like the US is ‘Kanye West’ and Pakistan et al are keep getting interrupted whenever they ‘voice their protestations’:

Pakistan: Innocent people are being killed in order to -
US: Yo, Pakistan, I think you’re a cool ally now and then and I’mma let you finish, but [insert ‘justification’ here]

It’s not as if the higher-ups in the US don’t know about the civilian loss and the effect it has, overall they just don’t care.

Out of sight, out of mind – not on the homeland so not of much (if any) concern and any retaliatory response is an act of aggression and terrorism against the US…

The good old ‘two rule world’.

(Am I coming across too cynical and ‘bitter’?)

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