August 1, 2014

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Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Drone strikes ineffective, harmful

Flickr/codepinkhq

Before you begin to form an opinion on this column, I ask you one question: If all people are created equal, does one innocent individual matter more than the next?

The Justice Department recently released an explanatory “white paper” to justify the targeted killing of American citizens, as the government attempts to enact legislation to that effect. The basis of the document says that it is lawful to target and kill an American citizen “who is a senior operational leader of al-Qa’ida or an associated force” if and only if “an informed, high-level, official of the U.S. government has determined that the targeted individual poses an imminent threat of violent attack against the United States”

At first I was all for this document, as I am sure most American citizens would be. However, give it a second thought.

In recent years we have not seen an enemy country attack our land with unrelenting force. The only way we know what war feels like is when we vicariously live it through our television sets. Over the past wars we have waged, which have depleted our resources significantly, America has been depicted as the bad guy to the people of the native country. After looking at the facts, I can understand why. In Afghanistan it is estimated that at least 15,500 civilians who have been killed. for every one terrorist, 50 civilians are killed. Those are innocent people with families, jobs and lives. This casualty total leads to overpacked hospitals and mental anguish.

The method by which most of these individuals have been killed is drone warfare. This tactic involves sending in remotely controlled drones to bomb a selected area. It is America’s favorite and “safest” war tactic. Regardless of how safe it is for our troops, it is heinous in terms of job efficiency. The statistics behind drone warfare state that.

I don’t know about your logic, but that sounds like a slaughter to me.

A study conducted by Stanford and NYU, titled “Living Under Drones” interviewed individuals who have experienced the consequences of drone warfare and paired the interviews with thoughts made by our “high-level” government officials. To start off, Obama has confirmed that he has authorized 283 strikes in Pakistan, which is six times more than that of the Bush administration, according to CNN. This increase causes nothing but terror for civilians throughout foreign countries.

Clive Stafford Smith, the director of the London-based organization Reprieve, which facilitated many of the interviews used in the study, said, “Drone strikes go further than simply killing innocent civilians. An entire region is being terrorized by the constant threat of death from the skies.
“Their way of life is collapsing: kids are too terrified to go to school, adults are afraid to attend weddings, funerals, business meetings, or anything that involves gathering in groups. Yet there is no end in sight.”

Just imagine relating these statements to your life. Imagine not being able to celebrate birthdays because of drone strike fear. Imagine not being able to work because of the fear you that you might not see your family again if you leave.

The reason I targeted drone warfare specifically is because one of the guidelines listed in the white paper for lawful killing of a foreign civilian is, “the operation would be conducted in a manner consistent with applicable law of war principles.” Well if we stay consistent with the actions of the Obama administration, then we can clearly see that he will not send in a tactical team in for the kill. He will send in one of his drones, which might get the job done, or might kill 50 civilians instead.

Having said this, and conveying such facts, I ask you two final questions. Is it worth risking the lives of 50 civilians just to hopefully eliminate one terrorist? And are we as a nation going to support this white paper, which gives our government, which prides itself on drone warfare, even more military control?

Dennis Topakov is a Collegian columnist. He can be reached at dtopakov@student.umass.edu.

Comments
3 Responses to “Drone strikes ineffective, harmful”
  1. Arafat says:

    “If all people are created equal, does one innocent individual matter more than the next?”

    Wll if this doesn’t bring mindless relativism to its logical mindless end-point.

    Hitler = Mother Teresa.

    Dennis – do I have that right?

  2. Arafat says:

    Here is what some ex-Muslims say about Islam. I encourage you, and all Muslims, to free yourself.

    “But the religion of Islam means Peace!

    Or does it?…

    The Good Muslims

    Although there are certainly many good people who call themselves
    Muslims, all of these people are either living in terrible fear of leaving
    their religion, or have been duped by it. Or, they choose to remain eternally
    clueless about it…

    And then of course there are the many evil Muslims. Those Muslims
    who KNOW that Islam is evil.

    Those Muslims who happen to be personally honorable Muslims, are
    ironically, the very worst of Muslims, for they give a very bad religion a good
    name and aid in its continuation. Those Muslims who act as Imams and Islamic
    “academics” and work to further the goals of this fundamentally unjust,
    inherently violent, and highly intolerant religion are also doing great harm to
    humanity.

    If these above mentioned groups of persons continue in their ways
    and succeed in keeping Islam alive and flourishing, the world will be a truly
    dark place no sane person would want their son or daughter to live in. The time
    has come for all Muslims, both laymen and learned, moderate and fundamentalist,
    to objectively re-examine the religion they currently believe to be infallible
    and beyond the need for critical examination. The horrible truth about the
    Islamic religion must become known if humanity is to survive.

    It has become obvious to many Muslims that there is something seriously wrong
    with Islam. But what? What is wrong with Islam? Was Muhammad merely a sick
    human being and a liar? Is Islam the corrupted product of many different hands?
    These questions are well worth asking as there is so much at stake. Those
    people who are good people and adhere to Islam must be asking themselves
    whether Islam is in fact a religion come from God as Muhammad proclaimed. Those
    Muslims who know of Muhammad’s questionable behavior (murder, assassination,
    thievery, pedophilia, etc.) are now wondering whether they want to continue
    blindly following this sick man and his hateful and violent religion.

    Unfortunately, the fear that Muhammad’s Islam has induced in the
    minds of Muslims has rendered them incapable of thinking rationally about the
    religion. This is changing though, as more and more Muslims become exposed to
    the grotesque truth about Muhammad and his Islam. Upon learning the truth about
    Islam, honest people of integrity begin the profoundly liberating process of apostasizing
    from Islam. It can definitively be stated that no decent person of sane mind,
    knowing the real facts about Islam, could remain in the religion with a clear
    conscience. We informed apostates of Islam know for certain that Muhammad’s
    Islam is in reality the exact opposite of what it claims to be.

    Most Muslims genuinely do not know how evil Islamic ideology
    really is. It is an indisputable fact that Islam institutionalizes
    discrimination against women and non-Muslims, effectively puts an end to freedom
    of speech and freedom of conscience, and ensures perpetual warfare amongst
    mankind. Islam is not a religion of peace. Islam is not a flawless faith
    received from a god on high. Muhammad was not the perfect man. This “religion”
    is so perverse in fact, that it demands that those who leave it be killed.

    Muhammad was a deranged man. He was so deranged in fact, that he
    himself believed his own lies. He made his living and satisfied his “needs” by
    creating enemies and then raiding and looting their property. Muhammad and his
    gang of criminals butchered thousands of people during their raids. Often the
    women and children were spared death only to be enslaved and sold for profit or
    used as concubines and free labor. Many of the modern day followers of
    Muhammad’s cult of Islam want to re-live that savage age. They want to
    slaughter “infidels” and take their wives. They want to see stonings,
    amputations, and mute women in full length black garb on every street. The
    early Muslims became Muslims by being duped or threatened by that convincing
    mad man. Modern Muslims, even the most educated, are Muslims due to either fear
    or ignorance, period.

    Those folks who consider themselves to be good Muslims must be
    terribly disturbed when witnessing the constant horrors being created around
    the world by their co-religionists who rightly justify their evil deeds in the
    name of Islam. Tragically, according to Islam, Muslims need only treat Muslims
    justly – to hell with the rights of those who will not submit to Islam. The
    misery and loss of life being created by Muslims acting upon Islamic doctrine
    is staggering. The harm that Islam has wrought upon humanity is without
    parallel among the world’s religions. It has now become crystal clear to
    sensible people that Muhammad’s legacy is the most shameful and harmful legacy
    of all of the leaders the world has come to know by name. The name Muhammad now
    denotes disgust, distrust and dishonesty. Though for Muslims, as any “true
    believer” will tell you, Muhammad must still be considered the perfect man,
    whose every word and example is to be obeyed without question…???

    It is quite reasonable that many folks who currently call
    themselves Muslims are considering walking away from this sick man’s
    cult/belief system as billions of good people have done before them. Only an
    imbecile would continue to believe that Muhammad was the messenger of god.
    Truth be told, many Muslims stay in Islam simply out of fear for their lives.
    Though the following statement is harsh to be sure, it is none the less true: Educated
    Muslims, especially those living in non-Muslim majority countries, should be
    ashamed of themselves for not taking the time to learn and consider the
    objective truth about Islam from easily available sources and then wholly
    abandoning Islam and joining the effort to expose this terrible fraud.

    Those Muslims who choose to stubbornly cling to Islam knowing what
    they now surely know about it are stabbing themselves and humanity in the back.
    Fifty years from now, Islam will be seen as a belief system far worse than even
    Hitler’s Nazism, and those human beings who remain “Muslim” will be looked upon
    as mentally ill freaks that no reasonable person would trust or respect.
    Adherence to Islam in the 21st century is fast becoming known as the ultimate
    self-betrayal. Now that the truth about Islam has become known, there is no
    excuse for a free man or women to remain Muslim.

    Islam should rightly be abhorred by all persons of conscience. Muhammad’s Islam is a
    fundamentally unjust ideology with hatred and violence coursing through its
    veins. ‘The good Muslims’ must decide whether they want to live a lie and go
    down the dark path of Islam or make the courageous decision to abandon this
    religion entirely and help in the effort to expose it for what it is. It is time
    for the good Muslims to come to the realization that Muhammad’s Islam, taken in
    totality, amounts to a colossal fraud and a terribly harmful ideology.”

  3. Misleading Statistics says:

    “In Afghanistan it is estimated that at least 15,500 civilians who have been killed…The method by which most of these individuals have been killed is drone warfare.”

    The second half of that quote is completely inaccurate. Accurate on civilian deaths from drone strikes is hard to come by, but most reports and studies put the figure at 300-500 for all drone strikes done by the U.S. in all countries (not just Afghanistan).

    1) It is well known that the preponderance of civilian deaths can be attributed to militias in Afghanistan. The UN has come to this conclusion repeatedly, including in its latest report which found that militias in Afghanistan were responsible for 81% of civilian deaths, versus 8% for coalition forces (the rest could not be linked to a specific cause).

    2) The 15,500 civilian casualty figure is for the invasion in its entirety, not just drone strikes.

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