There has been much in the media lately about the increased use of drone warfare under the Administration of President Barack Obama. Until recently, the U.S. use of drone strikes was almost absent from mainstream media. Therefore, nationwide focus on the issue is long overdue, needed, and welcomed.
These public conversations, however, restricted to the paradigms of partisan politics deflect attention from important issues, such as the collapse of the United States peace movement around the globe and the challenge of effectively informing the public about drone warfare in an election year.
In the Sunday June 3 edition of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, Charles Krauthammer’s op/ed does a good job of addressing the hypocrisy of Obama whom he refers to as “Our Drone Warrior President.” In the conflicting roles of both peacemaker and avenger, Obama has seen the drone-targeted killing program flourish under his administration. This does in fact seem to contradict Obama’s so-called commitment to nuclear disarmament and his criticism of harsh counter-terrorism investigative tactics like those practiced at Guantanamo.
Escalating from 53 strikes in 2009 to 118 strikes in 2010, drone warfare seems to be the new favorite choice of combat in this “war on terror.” Much of Krauthammer’s clearly partisan commentary diminishes Obama’s military leadership, focusing on the inefficiency of drones due to the inability to extract what he calls “life-saving intelligence” from dead enemies. Yet, he defends the use of drones, basically because they are more effective and cheaper than conventional warfare.
I dissent from Krauthammer here, though questionably more economical, drones are by no means more effective. At its core, drone usage is a very counterproductive counter-terrorism tactic. Drones perpetuate an anti-American sentiment amongst our established enemies abroad and more dangerously, inspire the same sentiment amongst the people we are supposed to be protecting; creating new potential insurgents and enemies.
Krauthammer writes that drone attacks are “fully justified.” What he doesn’t address is the real cost of drone warfare. With all the casualties, mistakes and innocent lives loss as a result of drones, “fully justified” is a bit of an oxymoron. There’s no justification when the Obama administration has been creating kill lists and authorizing drone strikes, with both a lack of accountability and transparency.
Krauthammer also takes a swipe at our “delicate sensibilities,” which I assume means those of us who oppose war and promote peace. Supposedly, according Krauthammer, we suffer from “moral amnesia” because we harshly criticize Bush’s counterterrorism tactics more than we do Obama’s “assassination by remote control.”
The discussion of the escalating use of drones goes far beyond Obama and our “delicate sensibilities.” Obama definitely deserves to be called on his military hypocrisy but the conversation must go beyond the politics and policies of one Administration.
On Wednesday, St. Louis has the opportunity to engage in an expanded conversation on drone warfare. Medea Benjamin, another peace activist with “delicate sensibilities,” a commitment to challenge the Obama administration, and strategies for addressing the drone warfare in an election year will expand the conversation beyond the narrow paradigms of partisan politics.
Medea Benjamin is the co-founder of the anti-war group CODE PINK: Women for Peace and the author of “Drone Warfare: Killing by Remote Control” Benjamin’s in-depth discussion will address the dynamics, danger, and future of drone warfare. She will be speaking on Wednesday June 6th, at the St. Louis Friends Meeting House, 1001 Park Avenue, 7PM. This event is free and open to the public
Medea Benjamin will speak at St. Louis Friends Meeting House, 1001 Park Ave, 7 PM, Free
The event is co-sponsored by the Peace Economy Project, St. Louis Instead of War Coalition, Catholic Action Network, and the Inter-faith Committee on Latin America
For more information, firstname.lastname@example.org