Drones are bad, but drones will stay: Obama



At an important speech last Thursday since winning a second term, Obama ran into a heckler. Yet again.

“Can you tell the Muslim people their lives are as precious as our lives? Can you take the drones out of the hands of the CIA?” well-known anti-drone campaigner and founder of Code Pink group Medea Benjamin yelled at President Obama, interrupting him twice earlier, as he delivered a major counter-terror policy speech in Washington.

Twice, Obama managed to quiet the woman, as he pleaded her to let him finish. Benjamin yielded. She said she kept waiting to hear about changes that would represent a “significant shift in policy”. “Unfortunately, I heard nice words, not the resetting of failed policies.” That’s when she burst out. Medea Benjamin escorted out of Obama speech

In his long speech, Obama signaled a narrowing down of the war on terror, closing of Gitmo and limiting the use of drones — not abandoning them. Although there was much to appreciate in the new speech, the problem is that Obama speaks more than Obama does.

According to the New America Foundation data, in Pakistan alone, 3,336 people have been killed by these remote controlled skybombs since 2003. Many of these are believed to be unintended targets. They represent the most unspeakable of crimes. They are, without doubt, targeted killing.

The UN is already probing the impact of drone strikes on civilians. Ben Emmerson QC, the lawyer leading the probe, told BBC that drones represented “a real challenge to the framework of international law”.

Obama acknowledged this in his speech. “And yet as our fight enters a new phase, America’s legitimate claim of self-defense cannot be the end of the discussion. To say a military tactic is legal, or even effective, is not to say it is wise or moral in every instance.”

It was good to hear the president speak openly on the drones and its impact on civilian casualty. Obama owes an explanation on why drones should be a weapon of choice – his administration, according to a Boston Globe article, is believed to have launched about 300 drone strikes, five times more than under George W. Bush.

There’s no legal and moral justification for the use of such a secretive weapon that goes unaccounted. The secrecy of the drone programme allows little fair estimate of how many civilians have been killed in Pakistan and Yemen, for example.

Obama also expressed remorse – for the first time – about innocents killed by drones. “For the families of those civilians, no words or legal construct can justify their loss. For me, and those in my chain of command, these deaths will haunt us as long as we live, just as we are haunted by the civilian casualties that have occurred through conventional fighting in Afghanistan and Iraq.”

Yet it was shocking to hear Obama defend, however, the use of drones where “no alternative” was possible. The president needs to come up with more clear-cut details on how he plans to limit the drone programme or limit civilian casualties

Benjamin couldn’t have been clear enough on how Obama has been against all that he promised 9 years ago. She wrote on Common Dream website:

“While I have received a deluge of support, there are others, including journalists, who have called me “rude.” But terrorizing villages with Hellfire missiles that vaporize innocent people is rude. Violating the sovereignty of nations like Pakistan is rude. Keeping 86 prisoners in Guantanamo long after they have been cleared for release is rude. Shoving feeding tubes down prisoners’ throats instead of giving them justice is certainly rude.”

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  • Deb

    @ “when I got to that stage in my career when time became precious and out-of-office activities had to be limited, I picked books over everything else and cut down music, movies and TV. Because I’d rather read than do anything else.” – Bingo! Seems like my story! :-)

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    Kushal Reply:

    Grin. There’s gotta be SOME reason you’ve been reading this blog for so long, Deb. Shared interests.

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  • Anonymous

    Zia at it again. Skipped brutal killing of soldier in London street by Islamists.

    What a hypocrite this ZIa is!!!

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    engricn Reply:

    94000 killed in syria in last 2 years also had mother and father.there was no blood from dead and on body of killer.he approached by mi15 few months back.

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  • NSG

    why stop drones? they are doing a great job!!!!!!!! do terrorists have human rights? the day they kill another human being they relinquish their right to humanity and thus any law authority has the right to put an end his wrthless life…………..

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  • Anonymous

    This dilemma was once addressed in one of the blogs by this humble yours truly when got into an extensive duel with a certain blogger called BOBBY who happened to be a nuclear physicist.The topic was the justification of ATOM BOMBS on hiroshima and nagasaki.Bobby’s argument was japan was already on its knees and would have surrendered , I proved it conclusively quoting AKIO MORITA founder of SONY that IT WAS A NECCASARY EVIL.
    Now we hear KOREANS THINK IT WAS A DIVINE JUSTICE for the COMFORT WOMEN used by the *** military.Comfort women are korean women FORCED AS SEX SLAVES in service of japanese infantry.
    SAME I CAN HEAR A MILLION BANGLADESHI RAPE VICTIMS of 1971 war and ironically all the rapist were KHAN SENA in bagladeshi parlance , thus hailing from the very areas in NWFP where DRONES ARE DOING A MARVELLOUS JOB.
    Tasleema Nasreen’s aunt was raped by khan sena , she subsequently hanged herself.
    ISLAM RELIGION OF PEACE OR PISS
    also now shove the concept of UMMAH up your arse

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    engricn Reply:

    Tasleema Nasreen’s

    many indian respected writers tried to rape her also.this 5 times divorced women called tasleema nasreen is headache for society.if islam is bad become hindu.who stops this ***** to convert.she is tool in the hands of some foolish bengalees to defame islam.for them anybody writes some bad words for muslims or islam is HARDAY SAMRAT.u are unnatural people so always live on hate and lies.bloody idiots.

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    Centex Reply:

    It’s about drones. Personally I think we should not use them because some think we not doing it like traditional aircraft so not the same. It’s not about saving pilots but saving face.

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    Centex Reply:

    It’s about drones. Personally I think we should not use them because some think we not doing it like traditional aircraft so not the same. It’s not about saving pilots but saving face.

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    engricn Reply:

    SAME I CAN HEAR A MILLION BANGLADESHI RAPE VICTIMS of 1971 war and ironically all the rapist were KHAN SENA

    nothing but bullshit.khans were running from village to village for shelter.i am in contact with mukti bahini leaders according to them,

    first mukti bahini and his supporters killed 150000 people which include lot of pak supporting hindus as well.then pak army killed around same numbers to maitian law.hindus suffered more in pak action.
    grand daughter of bisr has written a book lately on this after good research.this is factual not propaganda.read .

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  • Anonymous

    Zia my pal

    Give us also an article on how this Islamic shit has created havoc all over the world. They want the rule of Hafees saeed to prevail even over Lal qila. SO what is wrong with droning them?

    Remember Kandhahar. We had no solution to exterminate the scum. If Americans are doing our dirty work, you should celebrate and not cry.

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  • prashant saxena

    Zia,

    The awesome one (who refused to take Arabic lessons when he was a kid, and now we must all listen to his BS), as a moderate Muslim you probably agree that it is sad that innocents are being killed all over the world by Muslims who the moderates like you call terrorists. You will not and can not do anything to stop them.

    So, how can you ask for the US to stop it’s drone strikes, which admittedly and regeretably also have innocent victims?

    If you are indeed what you claim to be, launch a Jehad against terrorism. Clean your own house first, so called liberal.

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  • Faulitics

    Zia is fighting for the “human rights” of terrorists by protecting these terrorists while the drones are fighting for the human rights of the victims by attacking these fanatical Islamist terrorists. A drone is more humane and has a better understanding of justice than this Zia.

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    co Reply:

    lets see you how you react when the drone kills your dear ones..I dont know which is worse you ignorance or arrogance

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  • Anonymous

    You are seeing things through the biased prism of a neo-convert. Every major terrorist strikes in the past few decades has an inspiration in the tribal areas of Pakistan. The war onterror is with an organization that unlike a nation, does not respect the conventions of war. This is a guerilla warfare. Sending in our troops to hunt the terrorists renders our troops as sitting ducks, when the terrorist blends in with the populace and landscape.
    And hence the justification for drone usage. That said the drones have been modelled on using precision guided weapons, thus minimizing the collateral. But then, if the regular population prefers to be in the vicinity of a terrorist, then US has no option. Contrarily you should blame the terrorists and their enablers for using the general population as shields and/or collateral to incite a public opinion against the fight on terror.

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    engricn Reply:

    believe me nothing can save them.

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  • Anonymous

    GOOD NEWS ! GOOD NEWS !! DRONES KILL TALIBAN LEADER !!!

    Even Pakistan celebrates as the leader of the scum called Taliban was killed by American drones. SO Zia , should you not celebrate?

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  • Abhi

    I would like Zia to write about Pakistan killing Indians through their policy of “a thousand cuts”. Magnanimity is a two way street.

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  • engricn

    now americans are using drones in america on their own people.

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  • Anonymous

    The big issue is what do the Taliban want?

    Is Obama carrying on the drone attacks because these people are Muslims or is it because these people have attacked the US, attacked India, attacked even sensible and liberal Pakistanis and their minorities.

    The world will stop favouring drone attacks in case Taliban is replaced and dies a natural death and a liberal regime which allows all religions ot flourish takes over Afghanistan.

    I cannot figure out how the holy Koran has been interpreted to justify the haraam Taliban.

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    engricn Reply:

    see a documentary film coming on aljazeera

    AFGHANISTAN ,PRICE OF REVENGE.

    u will understand everything.

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  • ddkr

    @media Benjamin appreciations for raising much sought question , nothing can justify even a single innocent killing whether it is Muslim or Non-Muslim life. Killing of 3336 must be answered in comprehensive manner. Technologies must be used wisely otherwise it will create blunders .

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  • Dr.Raj

    like your name ur a taliban. one thing u do not understand is that a less pakistani is one less terrorist for Indian Army to fight.

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