With the Obama Administration’s nomination of John Brennan as CIA Director and Chuck Hagel as Secretary of Defense, drone warfare is being treated with the same caution as a kite-flying contest at a Cub Scout summer jamboree. While drone warfare may be hailed as a new, cost-effective way to wage war, it has many implications that often go unreported. One being the effect drones have on driving up militant group enlistment, another being the heavy psychological toll that they inflict on the inhabitants of drone patrolled regions.
But perhaps the most heated topic when it comes to drones is the civilian casualties that it produces. When politicians and media outlets claim that the drone program has low to no civilian casualties, it should be taken with a grain of salt. As a report conducted by Stanford and NYU states, the CIA declares all adult males killed by drone strikes as militants. The report also goes on to state that out of roughly 3,325 people killed in Pakistan by drones, between 474 - 881 were civilians.
The Stanford/NYU report titled “Living Under Drones” can be found at http://livingunderdrones.org/
I wanted to touch on the drone warfare issue one more time while it’s back in the spotlight, thanks to Rand Paul’s filibuster. If you are unaware, Paul filibustered the nomination of John Brennan as CIA Director to obtain an answer from the Obama Administration about whether they had the right to use drone strikes against U.S. Citizens.
Siding with Rand Paul on any issue can open up a long and dark conspiracy cavern on infowars.com if you aren’t careful, but he was not totally off his meds by asking this question. No matter how unlikely or inconceivable it may seem, historical occurrence’s such as the Kent State massacre can act as an example that even the U.S. Government can muster enough gumption to kill some citizens.
With that said, Rand Paul’s question is not my biggest concern when it comes to drone warfare. Even foreign civilian casualties, which I’ve touched on before (see above) is not my biggest issue. My true fear when it comes to drone’s is that it marks another step forward in the United State’s population being completely disassociated with it’s countries operations.
Our news media is noticeably absent went it comes to covering our war efforts, with Mother Jones’ fixture "We’re Still at War" being the only day-to-day coverage that I can think of. In fact, up until 2009, there was an 18 year ban on news coverage of dead soldiers returning from war zones.
Even more to that point, if the average American is aware of our war efforts, they probably only know of our recent adventures in the Middle East, being left unaware of our ever expanding war efforts into Africa. And yes, the African front has proved to be prime real estate for drone strikes.
Advocates for drone warfare often sight that it will make war cheaper and safer, but is that actually a positive? War inherently is not safe, cheap, or even good. When a nation goes to war, it should be an all in effort and experience, where even those who are not serving at least have some knowledge of what is happening. Drone warfare marks a change of sweeping war under the rug, not requiring the citizenry to be kept aware as the operations of the Government become ever more exclusive.