Bug splats. That is what the American operators of drones, sitting in safety thousands of miles away, call the casualties of a drone attack in Pakistan and Yemen. Why bug splats? Because that is what a human body zapped by a drone looks like on the video screens.
Thousands of those splats were in fact innocent bystanders unfortunate enough to be nearby the “target” or were the good Samaritans trying to help the casualties of this attack. We call using drones the evolution of modern warfare, but is it not murder?
Are drones the way forward? No, there are many more pursuable options.
One is, building intelligence and police capacity in the countries where terrorists are operating and using peace-building techniques within communities that experience terrorism to try and break the cycle of violence. As a peacebuilding major and an indirect victim of the 1998 Al Qaida bombings in Nairobi, I have experienced violence and fear and strongly believe in alternative methods.
It may be cheaper to use drones than fighter jets or deploying an army of American troops to these areas, but the truth is that these drones are immoral, counterproductive, and not always accurate.
During the search for Osama Bin Laden, an innocent farmer and his family were killed by a drone. Why? He was tall, had a long beard and resembled Osama. What was wrong with arresting this man, to be able to accurately confirm who he was? Why take these innocent lives, instead of following the normal rules set by the judicial system in advanced democracies? What happened to being innocent until proven guilty?
Don’t the citizens of Yemen and Pakistan deserve the right to be questioned and tried like every other human, or does the American government get to decide their fate beforehand? Why is there a lack of transparency on how these drones are being used?
There is no official document from the government stating the number of people killed by these drones. An estimate of 4,800 people killed is what the media is reporting, and of that, 1500 people were killed just because they were unlucky enough to be nearby the “target.” These “targets” are suspected (emphasis on suspected) high profile Taliban or Al-Qaeda members, but using the possibility of getting the larger target as justification of killing innocent people is ludicrous.
One drone costs $6.4 million and the government owns 8,000 of them. Do the math. Drones became popular in the Bush era, but Obama has used over 426 and counting in Pakistan and Yemen. That’s $2.73 billion of your tax dollars being used to kill innocent babies, women, men and elderly people in this misguided war on terror. If this war was moral then why are you in the dark? If it is your money you deserve to know what it is being used for.
These drones destroy hospitals, market places, impoverish citizens and cause insecurity, but the American government does not reimburse these countries for the damage caused.
With the Internet at your disposal, you should be aware of this issue. In- formation is out there, and as American citizens everyone should be informed about the injustices that are occurring. Will you choose to be blind and deaf to all these innocent lives that are being taken by your government?
Last year when the Sandy Hook shooting occurred, the media coverage and the uproar caused by the public was overwhelming. Why do the innocent people killed in Pakistan or Yemen by this government not get the same media coverage or get your deepest sympathies?
Let your humanity decide, not your prejudice. As a school that teaches about justice, breaking stereotypes and helping improve the world, why is this issue not discussed more? As EMU students, as American citizens, and as people you should be informed and outraged about the use of drones.