I am sure you are all aware of Captain Constitution’s recent filibuster on the Senate floor. He droned on for 12 hours about Obama using Hellfires to take out Jane Fonda and/or Tea Party members at cafes. While I can applaud Paul taking obstructionism to the public and not blocking Brennan behind closed doors, I can’t get over how he took a serious issue, drone warfare, and made it into a ‘dog and pony’ show. The issue with drones is not the potential for the Executive branch of the United States government to use them against non-combatant Americans, but the overreach of the White House in drone use overseas. The threat is not from the White House, but from police departments across the country that are itching to get drones in their arsenal to use for surveillance.
There are valid criticisms for drone warfare. One, it is starting a new arms race, with each and every country with a military budget pouring money into unmanned aerial vehicles. From Iran to Israel to Pakistan, each state is actively trying to catch up to the US in its drone arsenal. And while there are no international guidelines to drone use, this can be a real problem.
Furthermore, droning Pakistan is fueling anti-American sentiments in an already unstable country. The majority of drone strikes occur in two tribal regions of Pakistan. These strikes come out of nowhere, causing devastating mental and emotional damage to the woman and children of the region. And as for the men, well, it doesn’t matter if they are ‘good’ guys or ‘bad’ guys. If you are a male of military service age, you are counted as an enemy combatant. What a way to fudge the numbers on civilian deaths- count them all as enemies.
There is the issue of sovereignty, as well, which many people laugh off. I like to use this example- say Mexico has drones, and a Mexican cartel has set up shop in some small US border town. Now, this cartel is a threat to Mexico. So Mexico drone strikes the town, which is in the US. And some civilians are killed along with the ‘bad guys’. Do you think Americans would tolerate that? Well, why should Pakistanis tolerate the US raining Hellfires down on their territory just to get at a few enemies. It’s all about the sovereignty of a state, and while you may think that example is stretching it, it is basically what the US is doing to Pakistan in the name of our ‘national security’.
There is the argument that ‘warfare is changing’. Well, yeah. It is. Perhaps one day wars will be decided like they were in one of my favorite B movies- RoboJox, where giant robots punch each other out in a stadium. But in real life today, we still have many men and women on the front lines, in immediate danger and harms way. This is why the recent ‘drone medal’ caused such a stir in the Pentagon and on the Hill. Dubbed the ‘X-box’ medal, or the ‘Nintendo medal’ if you are old school, it was set to outrank the Bronze star and the Purple Heart. This was upsetting to many- while no one is saying those that serve their country don’t deserve recognition, there is a huge difference between putting your actual life on the line for others, and sitting in an office thousands of miles away with a coffee and a joystick. Studies have been done showing that drone operators suffer mental and emotional stress, and they should be thanked for their service, but let’s get the order of precedents straight before we hand out medals.
The secrecy of drone use and kill list is also high up there on ‘things I don’t like about drones’. The Obama administration is starting to come clean, agreeing to give access to kill lists and drone plans to members of Congress. The CIA, however, still likes to pretend drones don’t exist.
So, let’s get it straight America. Drones will be used against you by your local police dept. in a matter of time. Drones are causing massive distress to innocent people in Central Asia. Drones are the way of the future. It is up to us to stand up to this program, call for transparency, and demand that the White House follow strict protocol when using drones.
Have a happy weekend. Also, @drunkenpredator is a rather funny twitter account to follow.