The Case for a Permanent Suspension of U.S. Drone Strikes

by Matthew Hobbs


Assured by design to be perceived as antagonistic, Noam Chomsky, now a wizened 82, has begun referring to U.S. drone policy as “by far the biggest terrorist campaign in the world” and “a terror generating machine…a terrorist operation.”

While drones themselves may be considered antagonistic by foreign people due to their increased implementation and specifically their participation in displays of force and open aggression in sovereign airspace, they are not being used currently on the U.S. soil.

Luckily for us, the president has authorized their use by way of pen with the help of the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) in several cities by 2015. Unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) projected purposes, such as harmless sounding as weather emergencies and traffic violations, to such ambiguous purposes such as crime solving and surveillance. Like any new technology, there aren’t many ways of judging their effectiveness without a necessary period of trial-and-error, which we will get into a little later.

I attended a drone seminar earlier this year sponsored by the Dayton city government to see what all of the hub-bub was about. Throughout the seminar, the organizers attested to the heightened degree of safety the community would possess, and raved about the numerous jobs that developing and implementing the technology would bring.

They were kind enough to put on a presentation explaining how they used aerial photos to bring a burglar to justice. Yet, when questioned by the attendees, the organizers of the seminar had, in my humble opinion, no solid explanation as to how the photographs helped. I couldn’t help but wonder, “Was this what the Wright Brothers had in mind when they developed flight, and if not, how much they would be rolling around in their graves?”

I wasn’t convinced by any means of a useful purpose, nor any degree of effectiveness in that role. What is much more convincing is their current use in Yemen and Pakistan, foreshadowing their existence on the world stage.

Amnesty International recently released a report on the subject of drones. One particular story, taking place in Pakistan, involved a 68-year old grandmother named Mamana Bibi going to see her granddaughter, as they were walking together, a drone targeted her and killed her in the presence of her granddaughter.

The U.S. government has not acknowledged her death and likely never will, so no one will be brought to justice and her family will not be compensated for her death. Amnesty International’s report states: “It’s time for an investigation of alleged unlawful killings resulting from U.S. drone strikes.”

I don’t find this statement outlandish, but it is going to take public action and civil disobedience to make our elected officials budge to the tune of organizing the proper authorities and implementing the rule of law in our flagrant foreign military dealings. Ideally, this must happen before the defense contractors get together and conspire to siphon as much money as they possibly can from the Pentagon and the taxpayers. These murders must be addressed before our representatives go about their business—with open intent or a particular trained ignorance—of developing silent killers and information-gatherers. It may seem like asking too much from those in power, if there even is such a thing.

With habeas corpus out of the picture as each armed drone lifts off, there simply isn’t any need for the government to track down and bring people to justice, when they can simply kill those who are considered undesirable by our leadership. Osama Bin Laden is a good example of this new tactic being implemented during our ‘new’ gilded age of corporate money-dominated politics. The idea that people are so terrible as to not be tried in a court of law is surely not one of a dignified society, but more along the lines of the cold cutthroat belief system embedded in the totalitarian power structures of multinational corporate entities.

All of this being said, I would suggest it is time for the public to inform themselves on the matter in order to develop an understanding of the subject, and, therefore, a stance on the question that drones present to our immediate future.


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