From Richard Lutz.
To date, according to analysts, drone attacks have killed about 300 civilians in Yemen in the past decade and up to 3500 civilians in Pakistan in the same period.
Both countries are theoretically neutral though poisoned, admittedly, with murderous terrorists.
Now in the same week that a soldier in killed in the streets of London by deranged killers comes a White House announcement over the 12 year war and drone warfare.
President Barack Obama has made a keynote speech agreeing to haul back on this pitiless way of killing men, women and children who have nothing to do with the war, ideological madness or jihadist tendencies that plague our planet.
By doing this Obama and his administration have more or less admitted by inference that since he took office in 2008, as commander in chief he has allowed these bloody attacks on the innocent to continue in the name of fighting terror or, as the US likes to say meaninglessly, in order to protect liberty.
The UK, per usual, has slavishly always pursued the American line of military strategy and has opened the doors to the British armed forces upping its own stakes in the drone industry- somehow expected the UK public to accept it is only for reconnaissance though each pilotless aircraft will perversely be armed and loaded.
The US announcement over drones means that President Obama, who for five years has dragged his feet over his promise to shut Guantanamo Bay, has really taken steps on this drone issue. But they are small baby steps.
It was urgently needed.
How many times have we heard, seen, read about a military attack in Afghanistan, Yemen or Pakistan that had gone drastically wrong and ripped apart bodies of people at wedding parties or in schools? How can a pilotless plane, directed by someone in a bunker in Nebraska, identify a guerrilla gunman from a shepherd scurrying home from the hills and trying to take cover?
Supposedly, the president and his team can suddenly do this. He will stop drone raids that kill non-combatants. Or try to. It’s a theoretical step in the correct direction. As is his commitment to shift control from the shadowy CIA to the Pentagon may make it a little more transparent about policy and strategy. And there is a glimmer of heartening news that drone attacks will be cut back in so called non-overt war zones which apparently includes Pakistan.
But warning signals remain. He stuck to the eye-popping comment that the drone assaults were ‘legal, just and necessary’ , a mind bending interpretation that whatever Congress agrees somehow has resonance and legality in a mud hut in the lee of the ToraTora mountains housing a peasant and his family:
‘Don’t worry honey, the drone attack on our compound is OK because the Americans say it is legal..Tell the kids.’
Maybe the White House should ask these potential victims what ‘legal’ means, what ‘just’ means and what ‘necessary’ means as they cower from a rain of death from the skies.