Get Rethink Afghanistan Updates
Join us on Facebook Follow us on Twitter Follow us on Twitter Get E-Mail Updates
You can help

Contemplation of Drone Strikes in Quetta Belies Obama’s Claim of Just War

Posted by Derrick Crowe on December 14th, 2009

Derrick Crowe is the Afghanistan blog fellow for Brave New Foundation / The Seminal. The views expressed are his own. Sign our CREDO petition to reject escalation in Afghanistan & join Brave New Foundation’s #NoWar candlelight vigil on Facebook and Twitter. But make these your first steps as an activist to end this war, not your last.

Once again, the United States is rattling a saber about killing people in Quetta, despite all the inevitable civilian death and mass outrage. Such a move would show the shallowness of the “just war” talk in President Obama’s disgraceful Nobel paean to Mars. Quetta is a city of 850,000 people, which is somewhere between the size of Detroit, Michigan and San Francisco, California. Imagine targeting a person or group with a drone-borne, 500-lbs., roughly 125,600-square-foot-effective-kill-area [pi x (effective kill radius of 200 ft., squared)] bomb in San Francisco’s Union Square, and you get some idea of the civilian death and injury we’re talking about. (Actually, this kill area is larger than Union Square…)

And if you think that the U.S. would never use a drone to drop that kind of weapon on a mass of noncombatants that might also contain Taliban heavies, you’d be wrong.

According to Peter Bergen and Katherine Tiedemann, between 35-40 percent of those killed by drone strikes are civilians, and that’s a middle-of-the-road estimate. David Kilcullen and Andrew Exum estimated that as many as 50 civilians die for every two militants. The drones have been used in such an indiscriminate way that British legal expert Lord Bingham, a senior law lord, said:

the aircraft could follow other weapons considered “so cruel as to be beyond the pale of human tolerance” in being consigned to the history books. He likened drones, which have killed hundreds of civilians in Afghanistan, Pakistan and Gaza, to cluster bombs and landmines.

Former U.N. weapons inspector Scott Ritter expresses a similar sentiment in his recent Truthdig column:

Rather than furthering the U.S. cause in the “war on terror,” the [remotely piloted vehicle] RPV program, which President Obama seeks to expand in the Af-Pak theater, in reality represents a force-enhancement tool for the Taliban. Its indiscriminate application of death and destruction serves as a recruitment vehicle, with scores of new jihadists rising up to replace each individual who might have been killed by a missile attack. Like the surge that it is designed to complement, the expanded RPV program plays into the hands of those whom America is ostensibly targeting. While the U.S. military, aided by a fawning press, may seek to disguise the reality of the RPV program through catchy slogans such as “warheads through foreheads,” in reality it is murder by another name.

If the U.S. pushes ahead with the idea of targeting suspected militants in Quetta, we can put this idea of “just war” to bed. Or, in any of the inevitable civilian graves.

Cross-posted from Return Good for Evil.

Share this:

to “Contemplation of Drone Strikes in Quetta Belies Obama’s Claim of Just War”

  1. ENDIF says:

    If only we lived in such a fluffy and perfect world!

    Oh to be able to pull out of Afghanistan without having it become a base for extremists to topple Pakistan! A world where Pakistan was stable, and not in posession of four dozen nuclear weapons and a functioning industry to produce more! A world where Afghanistan wouldn't just go right back to the Taliban and their buddies! A world where the new owners wouldn't nuke their rival India! Or Israel!

    YAY!

    If we lived in that world I could finally have that rainbow-shitting unicorn I've always wanted! And a jetpack!
    And a pony!
    And a pony!
    YAY!!

  2. timtrewyn says:

    I think you rightly identify the issue of concern to the United States, that is, the security of Pakistan's nuclear weapons and its nuclear industry. However, chaos in Pakistan has not reached the point where India feels it necessary to intervene militarily, and Pakistan's army is taking on its extremist foes, if not ours. The population of Pakistan considerably exceeds that of Afghanistan. It strains my imagination that the larger would be conquered by the smaller unless backed by a larger player. What major power has sided with Al Qaeda? And the Taliban just want their turf. They've had an 8 year lesson in US ability to give them a hard time. I have no objection to the US sharing whatever nuclear security measures it wishes to provide to Pakistan. Pakistan's nuclear manufacturing facilities are a fixed target, a speciality of US guided munitions. The industry doesn't have a chance of falling into the wrong hands. The US presence in Afghanistan is more sophisticated than the media portray, but the simple fact remains, the US must attend seriously to its domestic economic issues if it is to sustain a potent military and its support of friends in the long run, or it will start to look like the Soviet Union of the 80s. You really have to note the shrewdness of Al Qaeda. With a small group on a shoestring budget, they've panicked the US strategic community into what history will show to be an over-reaction and lack of finesse.

  3. ENDIF says:

    1. “chaos in Pakistan has not reached the point where India feels it necessary to intervene militarily”

    Not yet. And this knife cuts both ways: they both hate and distrust each other, both covet Kashmir, regularly trade fire over it. Many of the now virulent extremist groups they're fighting now were nurtured by Pakistani intelligence in the first place. The Mumbai attacks last year? Lashkur E Toiba. Pakistani intelligence groomed as guerillas against India. War almost broke out, and could still.

    2″The population of Pakistan considerably exceeds that of Afghanistan. It strains my imagination that the larger would be conquered by the smaller unless backed by a larger player. “

    Huh? The notion that Afghanistan might try to conquer Pakistan had never crossed my mind, being an astronomically distant possibility.

    The extremists we are fighting in Afghanistan are largely the same people Pakistan is fighting in Waziristan, and they cross the border with impunity in order to escape retaliation by one or the other as needed. You cannot squeeze a liquid in your fist, you must contain it to control it. NATO on one side, Pakistan on the other. Remove either and they can continue indefinitely.

    3. “the US must attend seriously to its domestic economic issues if it is to sustain a potent military and its support of friends in the long run, or it will start to look like the Soviet Union of the 80s.”

    Total agreement. But it must do both if we are not to follow their example, as it was failure to do either that ultimately killed the USSR.

    4. “With a small group on a shoestring budget, they've panicked the US strategic community into what history will show to be an over-reaction and lack of finesse.”

    Total agreement. Such is the nature of Asymmetrical Warfare.

  4. ENDIF says:

    1. “chaos in Pakistan has not reached the point where India feels it necessary to intervene militarily”

    Not yet. And this knife cuts both ways: they both hate and distrust each other, both covet Kashmir, regularly trade fire over it. Many of the now virulent extremist groups they're fighting now were nurtured by Pakistani intelligence in the first place. The Mumbai attacks last year? Lashkur E Toiba. Pakistani intelligence groomed as guerillas against India. War almost broke out, and could still.

    2″The population of Pakistan considerably exceeds that of Afghanistan. It strains my imagination that the larger would be conquered by the smaller unless backed by a larger player. “

    Huh? The notion that Afghanistan might try to conquer Pakistan had never crossed my mind, being an astronomically distant possibility.

    The extremists we are fighting in Afghanistan are largely the same people Pakistan is fighting in Waziristan, and they cross the border with impunity in order to escape retaliation by one or the other as needed. You cannot squeeze a liquid in your fist, you must contain it to control it. NATO on one side, Pakistan on the other. Remove either and they can continue indefinitely.

    3. “the US must attend seriously to its domestic economic issues if it is to sustain a potent military and its support of friends in the long run, or it will start to look like the Soviet Union of the 80s.”

    Total agreement. But it must do both if we are not to follow their example, as it was failure to do either that ultimately killed the USSR.

    4. “With a small group on a shoestring budget, they've panicked the US strategic community into what history will show to be an over-reaction and lack of finesse.”

    Total agreement. Such is the nature of Asymmetrical Warfare.

Peacemakers take action to lead the charge to end the war. Join forces with the over 100,000 people who make a difference.
FACT SHEETS

BLOG POSTS FROM DERRICK CROWE
BLOG POSTS FROM ROBERT GREENWALD
RECENT POSTS

SEARCH THE BLOG
Subscribe via RSS
Become a Peacemaker



Bronze Telly Award
QUESTIONS
For general questions, email us here.
For technical issues regarding this site, contact us here.

PRESS

For Press inquiries, please contact Kim at: bravenewfoundation.press@gmail.com



CREDITS
Director: Robert Greenwald - Executive Director: Jim Miller - Producer: Jason Zaro - Associate Producer: Dallas Dunn, Jonathan Kim, and Kim Huynh - Researcher: Greg Wishnev - Editor: Phillip Cruess - Political Director: Leighton Woodhouse - VP Marketing & Distribution: Laura Beatty - Production Assistant: Monique Hairston

LEGAL
Anyone is allowed to post content on this site, but Brave New Foundation 501(c)(3) is not responsible for that content. We will, however, remove anything unlawful, threatening, libelous, defamatory, obscene, racist, or that contains other material that would violate the law. By posting you agree to this.





Brave New Foundation | 10510 Culver Blvd., Culver City, CA 90232