Thursday, November 29, 2012

The Drones: Cowboy Behavior

Iran’s defense minister confirmed that Iran fired on a US drone unmanned aircraft that had entered Iranian airspace. US says it was a routine surveillance mission using international airspace over the Persian Gulf. It was the first time Iranian aircraft fired at an American drone that the US says was protecting American interests. US warned that drone flights will continue. Understanding American drone strikes is difficult, because they are based on uncertain information from dubious sources. How many people have been killed by these unmanned aircraft by the CIA strikes in Yemen and Pakistan? How many are really civilians? How many are children? The Obama administration and the CIA have been secretive about the fast-growing drone program. There are few challenges to the US administration’s description of those killed as “militants”. Are they really terrorist sympathizers? How can they tell from unmanned or even manned planes? Are they victims of American militarism, using weapons indiscriminately without fear of retaliation? There has never been a serious public debate in Congress on the program. Carrying out strikes in secrecy without accountability is dangerous. About once a month, the CIA sends a fax to a general in Pakistan and Afghanistan intelligence, indicating where the US intends to conduct drone strikes. The Pakistanis, who in public oppose the program, don’t respond. The US concludes it has tacit consent to strike with drones. Obama administration officials believe they are on firm legal ground in their drone program, that Pakistan failure to object amounts to a “YES”. Others call the drone program “cowboy behavior”, and unease is widespread except in the US. What if all countries did what the US is doing?


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