Drones kill too many innocents
People are more than simply a number in a system. | wikimedia.org
Targeted killing is an euphemism for assassination. While every president since the Ford administration maintained an executive order banning assassination by U.S. forces, the Obama administration has redefined “assassination” with its use of drones in the War on Terror.
Unmanned Combat Aerial Vehicles
Drones are the tools of what is currently the largest assassination program to exist in global warfare. The drone has allowed the White House to effectively act as judge, jury and executioner. The use of unmanned combat aerial vehicles to attack military targets is perceived by the public as surgical, efficient and effective. The public also justifies drones by claiming they prevent the use of “boots on the ground.”
According to The Intercept, between 648 and 1,576 people have been killed by U.S. drone strikes in Yemen and an estimated 65 to 249 people have been killed so far by U.S. drone strikes in Somalia. Yet, intelligence does not show how many civilians have been killed in these strikes. According to an article by The Intercept, “the identities of the ‘people killed’ were often unknown and may include civilians as well as suspected terrorists or militants. The U.S. almost never publicly acknowledges individual operations.”
Current casualty statistics are always heavily distorted and underreported because all military-age males killed by drones are considered enemy combatants. If a 17-year-old male was killed by a U.S. drone strike, his death would not be considered a civilian casualty by U.S. statistics regardless of his innocence. Unless those killed by drone strikes are posthumously shown to be innocent, their death will not even appear on the military’s civilian casualty count. In the eyes of the law they are ultimately guilty until proven innocent.
The possibility of being a combatant is enough to justify one’s death under the current U.S. system. If killed with their families and neighbors, the victims of drone strikes would ultimately be forsaken by justice and forgotten by the world. Not only will the victims’ bodies be too burned or dismembered by the drone’s powerful Hellfire missiles, their very existence would be challenged by a war which is highly classified and sanitized.
Drone strikes are a terror weapon because they incite fear, death and suffering to the people below.
Political theorist Noam Chomsky states that the drone program “terrorizes villages, regions, huge areas. It is the most massive terror campaign going on by a long shot.” Drones bring death from above, and people cannot surrender to drones.
The Disconnect of War
Whether a villager in Yemen or a drone operator carrying out duties to kill from above, the disconnect of war will strip and simplify the person to a number in the system. The presumption of innocence has met the same fate as the very document it has been codified in; as English politician William Blackstone in 1759 said about the Magna Carta, “the body of the charter has been unfortunately gnawn by rats.”