Barack Obama’s first term has been a huge success. Obamacare has laid the groundwork to insure 30 million Americans who were previously uninsured, the American automobile industry is thriving, “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell” has been repealed, the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act was signed into law and the president passed Wall Street and credit card reform.
The president has proven that he provides the best solutions to the domestic problems facing America. But while Obama’s domestic initiatives have been laudable, his foreign policy has not been. It’s not that Republican foreign policy, which is full of notions such as “unwavering resolve” or simply “leadership” will quell riots and protests that have come from a century of imperialism, is amazing. But despite all of the achievements of Obama, it’s difficult to fully support an administration that maintains a drone policy that is counter-productive and wreaks havoc on villages, killing innocent men, women and children.
A new study released by the Stanford and NYU Law Schools details the atrocities and faults of what has become our weapon of choice in the “War on Terror.” These drone strikes enter sovereign Pakistan against the wishes of its government and proceed to inflict horror. We are told that the drone strikes are precise tools, used only in the rarest of situations against high level targets, and that civilian casualties are of extreme infrequency. These are simply lies.
According to the study, “from June 2004 through mid-September 2012, available data indicate that drone strikes killed 2,562 to 3,325 people in Pakistan, of whom 474 to 881 were civilians, including 176 children. TBIJ reports that these strikes also injured an additional 1,228 to 1,362 individuals … high-level targets killed as a percentage of total casualties is extremely low — about 2 percent.”
To combat the bad press that would come from the release of these civilian casualty numbers, the Obama administration implemented a secret policy to record “all military-age males in a strike zone as combatants.”
Another atrocious part of the drone program is that its overseer, the CIA, has been consistently accused of “double-striking.”
This means that a drone will launch one attack, then follow it up with another moments after, killing first responders and others that come to assist victims. As put by Glenn Greenwald of The Guardian, “The U.S. government has long maintained, reasonably enough that a defining tactic of terrorism is to launch a follow-up attack aimed at those who go to the scene of the original attack to rescue the wounded and remove the dead. Morally, such methods have also been widely condemned by the West as a hallmark of savagery.”
These policies, when practiced during the Bush years, were enough to prompt calls for the administration to be indicted to The Hague. But now, when the Obama administration increases the attacks, it is met with cheers at the Democratic National Convention.
The drone program also sets the dangerous precedent of adding an American citizen to the kill list and later executing said citizen without due process. This is a call that we may trust Obama with, but should shake with fear when imaging what neo-cons like those that Romney has promised to appoint would do with such a precedent.