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September 28th, 2013

No to Weaponized and Surveillance Drones

Response to questions about U.S. military use of drones is often — use of drones lessens the numbers of ground forces required and, therefore, our military casualties. Here in the U.S the battlefields of the Civil War are known  but most military actions in the Middle East, South Central, South Asia, and Africa in which we have been and are engaged are carried on principally in towns and villages, whether or not there are drones in the sky.  So, as I see it, our young still go off to war and continue to serve as ‘cannon fodder.’  It is they who carry out on the ground the military, often demeaning sometimes deadly, confrontations with townspeople-villagers — waking sleeping families, breaking into celebrations, disrupting ordinary gatherings — and they who reap the reaction of the invaded people.  Yes, there may be a saving drone — but not always.   David Swanson points out in “Wars Are Not Fought on Battlefields”  ‘The Battles of Fallujah were fought in the city of Fallujah, Iraq.'(1)  We know the result — destruction of the City of Mosques; aftermath: continuing high rate of birth defects, scientists suspect tied to the use of depleted uranium and white phosphorus in military assaults.(2)

Countering the claim that drones are more precise in targeting than manned aircraft, a research scientist at the Center for Naval Analysis found that missile strikes by drones ‘were 10 times more deadly to Afghan civilians’ than were strikes by fighter jets.(3) Officials who conducted a study for the Pentagon noted with regard to some drone pilots who suffered symptoms of PTSD — ‘Unlike traditional pilots flying manned aircraft in a war zone, the pilots operating remote drones often stare at the same piece of ground in Afghanistan or Iraq for days, sometimes months  They watch someone’s pattern of life, see people with their families, and then they can be ordered to shoot. (4)

In an Afghan village the Predator drones  are referred to as benghai, the ‘buzzing flies.’  Civilians are terrorized.  A villager said ‘They are evil things that fly so high you don’t see them but all the time you hear them.  Night and day we hear this sound and then the bombardment starts.'(5)  Some abandon hometowns in fear.   It is reported that in 2012 in Afghanistan 506 weapons were fired from unmanned aerial aircraft.(5)

Some drone strikes are carried out as killings of persons targeted by top U.S. officials for assassination abroad, this may include U.S. citizens. These are options for action not only in Afghanistan but also in countries with which the U.S. is not officially at war — Pakistan, Yemen, Somalia.  The circumstances of the targeted killing of Anwar Awlaki, American/Yemeni Imam, in Yemen, on September 30. 2011, as well as  the circumstances leading up to it, is dealt with by Jeremy Scahill in has book “Dirty Wars – The World Is a Battlefield” and in the film “Dirty Wars.” (6)  On October 14, 2011, after the assassination of Anwar Awlaki, his son Abdulrahman was kill by a drone while visiting relatives in the Yemeni village of Shabwah; relatives were also killed. Why?  “Dirty Wars” provides information gleaned by the author from media and other sources.(6)

I was 8 years old when, on December 8, 1941, we were sent home from school after being told the United States was at war.  Never since that morning have I been so terrified.  But we in the U.S. were spared; others, sadly, have not been so spared. Modern warfare has not been experienced on U.S. soil.  Do most of us know, do most of us care about the terror, and massive suffering, death, destruction our military and CIA operations in countries we have invaded (officially or not) has caused?  These have been countries that have not attacked, nor planned to attack, the US.  It seems that the 1997 “Statement of Principles of the Project for the New American Century”  [e.g. its positive view of U.S. military intervention](7) weighs heavily in U.S. foreign policy.  However, in this time of widespread international conflict and dissension, I believe the U.S. government  should desire to act to seek just resolution through diplomacy rather than through expressions of military might.  What is called for now is not military use of the drone nor design of more capable versatile versions of it but a worldwide ban on weaponized and surveillance drones, as well as enforcement of the ban on production and use of chemical weapons.  It is hoped that toward this end many of us will direct our views to the Secretary-General of the United Nations and to the United States Government.

For more info: http://www.knowdrones.com/

– Barbara Walker
for the Granny Peace Brigade

(1)  “Wars Are Not Fought on Battlefields,” David Swanson, Global Research, January 19, 2011 (from book “War is a Lie”).

(2) “Iraq War Anniversary:  Birth Defects And Cancer Rates At Devastating High In Basra and Fallujah (VIDEO),”  Eline Gordts, Huffington Post, March 20, 2013.

(3) “US drone strikes more deadly to Afghan civilians than manned aircraft — adviser”  Spencer Ackerman, The Guardian, July 2, 2013.

(4) “Report:  High Lelvels Of ‘Burnout” In U.S. Drone Pilots,” Rachel Martin, NPR, December 18, 2011.

(5) “U.S. Drone Strikes In Afghanistan Cause Villagers to Flee:  Report,” Kathy Gannon, Huffington Post,  March 28, 2013.

(6) “Dirty Wars – The World is a Battlefield,” Jeremy Scahill, Nation Books, New York, 2013.

(7) “Statement of Principles June 3, 1997 – Project for the New American Century.”

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