Drone attacks have long been a key feature of US foreign policy in the Middle East, and with an increase in the volatility of the region due to the civil unrest from the nationalism sweeping through the Middle East, they are likely to increase. Not only are the drone attacks a severe infringement of nation-states’ autonomy and sovereignty, but more significantly, the attacks lead to countless deaths and often leaving residents of targeted areas scared to leave their home for fear of death.
A recent stark example of the brutality of these strikes occurred in Pakistan on Saturday 1st December, in the tribal district of South Waziristan, where a drone attack killed 3 people who were dismissed as ‘suspects’ in a effort to validate the strike. Of course, no one can be sure. With over 2,700 casualties in Pakistan from these aerial assaults, it is more evident than ever that a fierce drone campaign lies at the heart of US and Western policy in the Middle East. Over the past few weeks and months we have, however, seen a dramatic rise, most notably in Pakistan, of anti-drone protests which predictably has only claimed a brief moment of air time in the mainstream media.
However, the impact of these campaigns will more than likely fade into obscurity due to the lack of attention Washington and its allies give to outside parties in the international arena. Whilst the West is intent on unilateral action against its perceived enemies, there appears to be no bounds to the strategies and instruments used to achieve ‘victory’. Perhaps one of the most outrageous examples of this willingness to achieve victory at any cost is the targeting of these so ‘suspected insurgents and enemies via drone strikes, who often, turn out to be innocent victims of the United States’ arrogance on the international stage when dealing with states it deems as an enemy. Frequently, we hear of innocent civilians being struck and killed by Hellfire missiles fired from these unmanned aerial vehicles which seem to go unreported by mainstream news sources which have other interests at stake which would be destabilised by indulging in such stories.
Not only is there absolute silence on the validity of drone attacks from the international community and the media, but there appears to be widespread tacit consent for the actions of the United States. Two months ago, this was demonstrated all too clearly by the United Nations Secretary General.
Double standards were yet again rife with Ban Ki Moon condemning Hezbollah for flying a drone over Israeli airspace yet a denunciation for the savage air attacks carried out by the United States in the Middle East has never materialised from the international organisation save for a few negative rumbles. It is as if the United Nations will do nothing to upset the dominant world superpower and risk incurring the wrath of the US, whilst similar actions are condemned as unacceptable if committed by what is labelled a ‘volatile’ state.
This is indicative of the global political system in which the dominant superpowers are allowed near carte blanche to do with uncooperative clients such as Yemen, Afghanistan and Pakistan as they wish. In understanding this, we comprehend that until we challenge the strategies and objectives of countries such as the United States, Britain and their unilateral actions, we are offering tacit consent for them to continue doing what they are doing.
The only chance that we have as a community of individual nation states is to stand up and challenge the use of drones, just as we did with cluster bombs, and force them to stop these barbaric attacks on ‘suspected’ enemies who often turn out to be innocent civilians who cannot leave their home for fear of an attack.
Thank you to Sam Wheeler for contributing this post.