From December 14, world media was saturated with images and comment on the latest mass slaying by a young American male armed with cheap, easily and legally available firearms. These arms increasingly include high powered infantry war-theatre weapons such as US-made M16 and Russian AK47 Kalashnikovs, Heckler & Koch HK416 and 417 assault rifles, the Iraq-made Tabuk sniper rifle, Israeli Uzi submachine guns, and a large range of similar 5.56mm and 7.62mm calibre weapons with a killer firing range of 1 kilometre or more. In the US, sales of these arms always leap after each designer killing but Barack Obama shed a couple of tears on primetime TV concerning the Newtown outrage.
Overseas however, the USA's dirty drone war grinds on, killing every day - with child deaths a prime "collateral damage". Obama does not weep about this on primetime. TV talking heads are not too loquacious about these "extrajudicial killings".
Members of the US Congress convened in Washington on Thursday 13 December to discuss the United States’ ongoing extrajudicial slayings of Americans and foreigners overseas using drones. On Capitol Hill, Republican Dennis Kucinich led a House Judiciary Committee panel discussion that demanded more transparency from president Obama on how his administration decides and carries out the targeted killing of suspected terrorists using drone aircraft, an increasing tactic in America’s war on terror. The death toll is of course secret, but estimates are of hundreds, possibly thousands of persons including large numbers of civilians, including women, children, and US civilians abroard, dying in these extrajudicial killings.
Despite the growing number of "extrajudicial", that is illegal killings, the White House has remained impassive and mostly quiet on its drone war program. Most information on this dirty war are only to be gleaned through intelligence leaks to the media. In Obama's rare statements on the drone war, he has only defended it. Obama's administration defends the program as "legal". In February, the US Defense Department's senior lawyer Jeh Charles Johnson defended the drone strikes with this statement: "Under well-settled legal principles, lethal force against a valid military objective, in an armed conflict, is consistent with the law of war". He then gave the official Obama administration cop out on these killings: "It does not, by definition, constitute an ‘assassination.'".
At Newtown, Connecticut however, Obama does not defend extrajudicial killings of children. In a similar way to rising demands for gun control, opponents of the US drone war are now becoming more vocal and demanding more transparency on this cowardly and illegal killing.
On December 13, winding up the panel discussion, Dennis Kuchinich issued a statement from his office announcing a proposed resolution that would require the Obama administration to provide the legal basis for the drone strikes. Kuchinich said: "Despite the committee’s decision to report the resolution unfavorably, the committee engaged in a timely and important debate on the use of drones abroad and the violation of the constitutional rights of US citizens targeted abroad". Like several other members of the House Judiciary Committee, Kuchinich is especially alarmed about the "proliferation threat" of drone war - firstly the US creates a dangerous legal precedent, secondly it incites or encourages other nations to follow suit with drone killings and attacks on other countries.
These attacks have no need to limit themselves to the softest targets of all - human beings, often villagers in countries as widespread as Yemen, Pakistan, Somalia, Afghanistan - but can attack major strategic economic targets in enemy countries. These targets will inevitably feature nuclear reactors, nuclear waste dumps, LNG terminals, pesticide and oil refining facilities, power plants, Internet and computer servers and similar vulnerable, high damage potential targets. The USA of Obama has decided to use "dirty drones" to assasinate persons - including US citizens - in countries with which it is not formally at war. It must expect to be treated, or can fear being treated the same way.
QUITTING THE SINKING SHIP
The dirty war in Afghanistan is winding down rapidly, as the "defenders of freedom" break ranks and steal away in the night. The latest contingent to quit this illegal war is the French Army. Obama remains dug-in in Afghanistan, for reasons of national pride and maintaining the flimsy myth of 9/11, al Qaeda, bin Laden and the Taliban organizing and executing the year 2001 kamikaze airplane attacks on New York and Washington. Another and simpler reason why the US will inevitably abandon this dirty war is that occupying and invading troops - of the USA and its remaining allies - are unable to step outside of their bunkers and dugouts without heavy military protection: they would be rapidly assasinated if not. The war to win the "hearts and minds" of the Afghan people is a total failure.
In a November 1 Editorial Board article published by the Washington Post, the board wrote: "It has been 10 years since the first strike by an armed U.S. drone......Since then, according to unofficial counts, there have been more than 400 “targeted killing” drone attacks in Pakistan, Yemen and Somalia — countries where the United States is not fighting a conventional war. About 3 000 people have been killed, including scores — maybe hundreds — of civilians"
Refusing to link the drone war with the progressive winding down of the Afghan war, the Obama administration has to date given no hints of any kind that it intends abandoning this new dirty war. Persons close to the administration claim the drone program "expects to continue adding names to kill or capture lists for years". Their well-rehearsed rationale is that while drones may indeed prompt "propaganda claims" that drone war is illegal, evil and cowardly, it is really a more effective and — indeed yes! — humane way to combat an irregular enemy: identifying and eliminating its leaders as well as a few collateral victims. Also of course, drones do not put the lives of U.S. soldiers at risk and can cause fewer collateral deaths than all-out invasion and occupation of designated "rogue states".
Another well-rehearsed defence of drone war is that other countries already use drones to take out their opponents, including Russia in Chechnya and China in Tibet. The proliferation threat is brushed aside by saying other nations will inevitably acquire or develop, and use armed drones, just as they have adopted all previous advances in military technology, from the bayonet to the cruise missile. And of course nuclear, biological and chemical weapons!
The massive difference - and danger - of drone war is however simple to understand. The US Homeland Security surveillance program on potential threats inside the US now includes a requirement by all model airplane shops and equipment suppliers to report any suspicious purchases, especially made using cash to avoid paper trace of payment, concerning larger-sized remote controlled models. The Obama administration which sheds crocodile tears over the Newtown killings is rapidly democratizing, downsizing and cutting the entry price of strategic warfare - but does it know this?
By Andrew McKillop
Former chief policy analyst, Division A Policy, DG XVII Energy, European Commission. Andrew McKillop Biographic Highlights
Co-author 'The Doomsday Machine', Palgrave Macmillan USA, 2012
Andrew McKillop has more than 30 years experience in the energy, economic and finance domains. Trained at London UK’s University College, he has had specially long experience of energy policy, project administration and the development and financing of alternate energy. This included his role of in-house Expert on Policy and Programming at the DG XVII-Energy of the European Commission, Director of Information of the OAPEC technology transfer subsidiary, AREC and researcher for UN agencies including the ILO.
© 2012 Copyright Andrew McKillop - All Rights Reserved Disclaimer: The above is a matter of opinion provided for general information purposes only and is not intended as investment advice. Information and analysis above are derived from sources and utilising methods believed to be reliable, but we cannot accept responsibility for any losses you may incur as a result of this analysis. Individuals should consult with their personal financial advisor.
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