Category Archives: Drones

The Genocide that is Yemen

Based on the latest United Nations estimates;   ‘as of 1 November 2016 , health facilities reported more than 7000 people killed and more than 43,000 injured since mid-March 2015, including more than 3,200 children killed or injured. (UNOCHA) (out of an estimated totally Yemeni population of 27,913,984).

Medical materials are in chronically short supply, and only 45 per cent of health facilities are functioning. As of October 2016, at least 274 health facilities had been damaged or destroyed in the conflict, 13 health workers had been killed and 31 injured. 

Saudi intervention in what was till 2015 a relatively low-level civil war between rival Yemen factions, began in March 2015, to support one of the pro-Saudi  factions, and it would appear, to successfully strengthen the hold of Al Qaeda in the south of Yemen.

The United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (UNOCHA) states that as of March 2017:

The humanitarian situation in Yemen continues to deteriorate almost one and a half years after the escalation of conflict in March 2015.The escalation amplified an already existing protracted crisis, which was characterised by widespread poverty, conflict, poor governance and weak rule of law, including widely reported human rights violations.

Yemen was already the poorest county in the Middle East when the crisis escalated.  Men, women, and children were already facing a humanitarian crisis, stemmed from years of poverty, poor governance, and instability, including widespread violations of human rights. The situation has only worsened in the past year and the speed and scale of the deterioration is alarming. The economy is near collapse, public and private services have all but disappeared, and Yemenis have lost most of their livelihoods and have depleted most of their saving.  Yemen has turned into a protection crisis where the average citizen is facing tremendous hardships and the most vulnerable populations are struggling simply to survive.

More than 19 months since conflict escalated have left an estimated 18.8 million people in need some kind of assistance or protection in order to meet their basic needs, including 10.3 million who are in acute need. This represents an increase of almost 20 per cent since late 2014 and is driven by increases across key sectors. The 18.8 million people in need estimation is lower than the 21.2 million cited for 2016. These changes do not reflect an improvement in the catastrophic humanitarian situation in Yemen, but rather a further tightening around priorities based on a rigorous analysis of evidence. 

Even Human Rights Watch, a notoriously Western biased “human rights’ organization committed to western ‘human rights interventions’ (read ‘invasions of countries of people who are not white’), has stated that ‘With help from former President Saleh, Houthis, the Zaidi Shia group, took control of the capital and much of the north in late 2014. President Hadi and his cabinet fled to Saudi Arabia in early 2015 and in March, a Saudi Arabia-led coalition launched air strikes against the Houthis. Dozens of the airstrikes appeared to violate the laws of war. Houthi forces laid landmines and used other indiscriminate weapons in unlawful attacks . The UN reported in January 2016 that the conflict had claimed 2,795 civilian lives in 2015.

Not only is Saudi Arabia deploying the largest arsenal in the Middle East  courtesy of the United States and the U.K.) against the impoverished country of Yemen, but it has financed armed and trained their Wahabbhi ‘rebels’ like Al Qaeda and Al Nusra in Syria along with Qatar, to a massive degree over the past few years. The vicious sectarian ideologies of the Saudi ‘kingdom’s’ Wahabbists; long supported and bolstered by the U.K. , are the rationale for killing anyone who does not espouse those extremist Sunni views. The 40-45% of Yemenese who follow the  Zaidi order of Shia Islam- many of whom are supporters of the Houthis, are therefore regarded as apostates for extermination by the Wahabbists. Small wonder that Saudi pilots are clearly under order to attack Shi-ite civilian centres. It should however be noted   that  given  the U.K.’s longstanding  and extensive role in human rights abuses and war crimes in Yemen  (particularly in 1964 supporting the Saudis)  as detailed in  Christopher Davidson’s book “The Shadow Wars: the Secret  Struggle for the Middle East” , as well  as the huge investment by the UK war machine and the incompetence of the Saudi military, it is highly likely that, as in 1964, “retired’  RAF pilots are engaged in the aerial  bombardment of civilians in Yemen and other atrocities.

As supposedly democratic and humanitarian Western governments usually do in times like these, the U.K. government has contracted lawyers to concoct grotesque legal arguments that their massive arms sales to Saudi Arabia and their support of U.S. drone killings in Yemen, do not constitute an equally massive violation of the rule of international law. The U.K. Government, its foreign policy advisors and its hand-in-glove armaments manufacturers are once again undoubtedly guilty of horrifying war crimes.

Middle East Eye notes that The UK government licensed arms exports worth £3.3bn ($4.2bn) to Saudi Arabia during the first 12 months of the Saudi-led conflict in Yemen, a campaign group has revealed. The Campaign Against Arms Trade’s analysis of government figures, released this week, shows the total is at least £500m more than previously thought.

From April 2015, the UK approved exports including so-called smart bombs, components for combat aircraft, armoured vehicles and communications equipment.

The government in Riyadh is the UK arms industry’s biggest customer and the figures show that the Middle East is the UK’s largest overall export market for weapons, including Eurofighter Typhoon jets that have dropped devastating 2,000-lb bombs in urban areas in Yemen.

Note only has the UK been supplying the corrupt regime in Riyadh with massive amounts of military hardware over many many years , but it also has (as do the Americans) personnel on the ground assisting the Saudis in their genocide.

The U.S. involvement in Saudi Arabia however, dwarfs the U.K.’s historical complicity with the brutal Saudi regime. Since 2009, the Obama administration’s has signed Saudi Arabia up to $57 billion worth of arms sales.

Manifestly internationally illegal U.S. drone murders in Yemen have been targeting Al Qaeda there for the past 15 years. Supposedly these drone strikes target Al Qaeda leaders in Yemen, yet mysteriously Al Qaeda has steadily grown in power and influence; particularly and predictably since the Saudis launched their war against the Houthis, supported by the U.S. and the U.K. Now the Trump administration is once again increasing the Yemen drone strikes.

In  addition, the Saudis,  despite their denials,  are enforcing a  naval  and air blockade of Houthi  held areas of Yemen,  further  exacerbating an already  dire humanitarian  situation on the ground. The Saudis  and United States and the mainstream media claim,  without any evidence,  that  the Iranians  are militarily supporting the Houthis.  Should this have been  the case,  we would have seen  satellite imagery  of Iranian  planes and  ships  trying to  break  the blockade, if not Iranian  seized vessels and arms.

The reality is that  the Houthis have more than enough  weaponry  through  the Yemen army that have  largely backed  the Houthis,  and through  seized armaments from the Saudis. While a different branch of Shi-ism,  the Iranian  government is clearly sympathetic to  the  Houthis and is likely to  have at  least supplied  the Houthis with the technical  now-how for their devastating missile attacks on  Saudi  troop deployments.

The sad reality is that Western democracies have cloaked their barbarities in pursuit of profit and power under labels of ‘ bringing the true religion’, ‘civilisation’, ‘democracy’ and ‘humanitarian intervention’, since long before the rise of capitalism. Western governments cannot kill their own populations in large numbers as they would no longer be in power at the next election!: instead they are licensed to kill the ‘other’, the ‘dark races’, the ‘uncivilized’, the ‘un-Christian’ in ‘foreign’ countries. Yemen is the epitome of ‘foreign’ to the West.   For not only are they of significant interest to the West’s pawns in Riyadh, the Saudis; they are also tribal, dark skinned, and at the bottom of the heap in terms of poverty and far away from the gaze of Western publics.  An ‘ideal’  testing ground for Western  weapons.

The Gulf potentates are therefore none better for the West to sell vast amounts of weapons to, and watch their incompetent new owners destroy them in vast numbers in the vicious war with the Houthis and their allies in Yemen. It makes little difference to their Western minders that the Saudis are committing genocide in Yemen; aided with targeting facilities and refueling of aircraft by the United States and U.K trainers..

The current application of the rule of law in international politics and conflict is a complete farce. It is grounded purely in ‘right is might’;  which for this current and previous century at least, has been the prerogative of Western powers against ‘The South’.  That dynamic is now of course changing rapidly with the rise of China and the resurgence of Russian military power.

Should we see the control of the International War Crimes Tribunal pass from Western judges who have been consistently ‘pressured’ by Western governments to take certain political stances, to Russian or even Chinese adjudicators; we may finally see some justice in bringing the long line of Western politicians and military leaders responsible for more than a century of horrendous war crimes around the world, to justice.

Finally, while the removal of suffering of Yemen’s humans should be the priority of our fellow humans; there is no-one and nothing that protects the devastation to the other species that were already struggling to survive before this brutal war erupted.

While we have likely already passed the point of no return in having a relatively liveable climate on this planet; we still, as the sole cause of this destruction in this world, have an obligation to try and save what remains of the other species on this precious Earth. Our constant futile human wars are doing a great deal to speed up that process of planetary destruction.


Links

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Yemeni_Civil_War_(2015%E2%80%93present)

http://www.unocha.org/yemen/crisis-overview

http://news.antiwar.com/2017/03/10/saudi-airstrike-kills-26-mostly-civilians-in-yemen-market/

https://www.hrw.org/middle-east/n-africa/yemen

https://www.caat.org.uk/resources/countries/saudi-arabia

http://www.parliament.uk/business/publications/written-questions-answers-statements/written-question/Commons/2017-03-03/66440

https://www.rt.com/op-edge/372979-british-collusion-sectarian-violence/

http://energydesk.greenpeace.org/2016/01/15/data-how-guns-and-oil-dominate-uk-saudi-arabia-relationship/

http://www.middleeasteye.net/news/uk-approves-33bn-arms-sales-yemen-126867279

http://www.reprieve.org.uk/press/uk-bases-used-targeting-secret-us-drone-war-documents-indicate/

https://richardfalk.wordpress.com/2017/03/11/reading-elisabeth-webers-kill-boxes/

http://ronpaulinstitute.org/archives/peace-and-prosperity/2017/march/09/bomb-the-shstart-out-of-them-trump-drones-yemen-more-in-one-week-than-obama-in-a-year/

http://nationalinterest.org/feature/blowback-americas-disastrous-policy-yemen-will-be-profound-18698

Christopher Davidson:  “The Shadow Wars: the Secret  Struggle for the Middle East” 

http://christopherdavidson.net/BaseHub/2017/01/22/shadow-wars-video-trailer/

The Monster that was Obama

Thankfully the  words of adulation for  ex-president Obama are now dying down and we are instead  now innundated with hate media  (not altogether underserved)  for President Trump.

Obama was above all  things a con-artist. The sweet  honeyed words of the used car  saleman,  masking  sociopathic   intent . A man  who  talked peace and made war. A man  who  preached enviromentalism  and destroyed much  more than he preserved. A man  who  faked humanity while ruthlessly killing  innocents by  drone.

And a man  who  has set  the scene for the  destruction of what little remains of the U.S democratic  process, through  his  persistent undermining of his successor.

By  why  let me drone on?

Please look at this excellent  record of  his legacy by  Samuel Johnson   for yourself,  and decide….


Links

View story at Medium.com

 

Supporting Our Friends in Yemen

Once again we see bombs falling in the middle east; this time on the civilians in Sana the capital of Yemen by Saudi  Arabia and their arab coalition friends, with the full support of the United States. Livingunderthebombs Once more the mainstream media portrays these bombings as some fair and responsible response to evil aggressors. The reality could not be further from the truth. In reality we see the hereditary dictatorship in Saudi Arabia , which holds to extremist wahhabinist Sunni views, providing logistical support for its Al Qaeda affiliates in  Yemen: the home of Al Qaeda, and the original home of the Bin Laden family. The Houthi separatist rebels that the Saudis and their friends are now attacking from the air are no angels themselves, but they in no way equate to the terrorists that the Saudis, and by proxy,the United States and its allies, are supporting in the Yemen. The Saudis and the Arab League have been  touting the bombing campaign  and the preparation for 40,000  Arab league troops to  invade Yemen as the result of Iranian “meddling’  in Yemen to  support their fellow Shi-ite  brethren ( however the Houthi  Zaidi Shi-ite sect is apparently more closely related to  Sunni  practice than it is to  Iranian  Shiites’). In reality there is currently no evidence but much  speculation about Iranian involvement, with  the Houthis themselves  denying Iranian  involvement.

Gareth Porter provides his usual convincing argument to demonstrate the tenuous Iranian arms link. However the spectre of Iranian hegemony is a very  useful  tool for both  the Saudi and Israeli regimes. The reality again  is somewhat  different. It is Saudi wahhabi  extremism and its grand goal of violently eliminating all other “heretical”  Islamic sects,  (including the Sunni Sufis who  form  a large proportion of the Yemen Sunni population) as well as  Israeli fears of  a rising major middle east  power which   (unlike the other Gulf states)  cannot be bought by  the United States, that is prompting this assault on Yemen.

Map  of Al Qaeda in Yemen: 2104 by CriticalThreats.org
Al Qaeda reach in Yemen: 2014

The Houthis have been in danger of fully ousting Al Qaeda from Yemen and therefore had to be forcefully removed as a threat. Be assured that Western intelligence is fully informed of the implications of this invasion, but will not for some months recognise that this new adventure is in fact the beginning of the end of the extremist Saudi regime, with many of their military  composed of Yemen nationals  not so  sympathetic to  Wahhabi  extremism and its  hatred of Shiites and other Muslim sects. The removal of the wahhabist Saudi “monarchy” will remove one of the key drivers for any rationale for the supposed “war on terror” and as such, is something to be feared in Washington and their war industry.

Ironically Iran has proved itself adept in the many middle east  wars initiated by  the United States and its proxies, at using the  confusion and anarchy  so  created to its advantage . The Saudis and their “allies” have undoubtedly already committed a  multitude of war crimes  in their bombings of  Yemen infrastructure and civilian targets. Those crimes will  not be forgotten .

Interestingly the Wall St  Journal is  clearly (and proudly?)  stating that  US Command is providing the intelligence and command for Saudi air-strikes in Yemen.   Once again  this implicates senior US Military and political  figures  in  further war crimes in  just  another Middle East  country. Once again  as Pepe Escobar notes; we see the total  absurdity of this “War on Terra”.

Postscript

The decision by  the U.N  Security Council on 14th April  2015,  by 13 votes to  Russia’s abstention, to  condemn the Houthi invasion of southern Yemen, and impose sanctions on the Houthi leadership, is a sad indictment of international  politics.

While support for sanctions by  the US and UK  for their Saudi  arms and oil   trading partner, was to  be expected, most troubling was China’s willingness to  support sanctions; this presumably  indicates a shift in China’s alliances towards Saudi Arabia as   a major oil  producer  which  will  then  reflect  badly on their  developing relationship  with Iran. This is a serious miscalculation of coming events by  the Chinese.

One has  also to  wonder how  these supposedly educated and informed  security council  members could have failed to  notice that , right from the very  beginning, that this  was a genocidal  war; a war  by  the Saudis that  conformed to  no international agreements to  protect  civilians. But of course;  this was indeed all  known to  those  representatives who  voted to  support the Saudi  airstrikes.  A savage indictment indeed  of our international  processes designed  to  protect  civilians.

And  a lovely lucid article on the role of Iran in all  this  Persian Gulf game playing  from Flynt Leverett and Hillary Mann Leverett at Consortium News…: the wonderful “turn  facts on  their head and make them lies” type of gambit from the Saudis and Israelis..

And, as of 20th June 2015, a tranche of  top  secret Saudi  Foreign Ministry files  released by  Wikileaks, showing  the  less than  savoury  role played by  the Saudi  hereditary  dictatorship  in the affairs of the Gulf and beyond..


Links

http://rt.com/op-edge/244585-yemen-conflict-saudi-arabia-intervention/

 http://disquietreservations.blogspot.co.nz/2015/03/putting-sanctions-on-saudi-arabia.html

http://atimes.com/2015/03/m-k-bhadrakumar-responds-it-suits-everyone-to-pretend-this-is-a-solo-saudi-act/

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/graham-e-fuller/decipher-yemen_b_6965564.html

A Call to Resist Saudi (and US) Aggression in Yemen
http://www.thenation.com/article/203225/call-resist-saudi-and-us-aggression-yemen?utm_source=twitter&utm_medium=socialflow#

Al-Qaeda Seizes Yemen Port, Frees Over 300 Prisoners

Is the Whole “War on Terror” a Fraud?


 

 

Rumblings on the Eastern Front

The Post title parodies  that  remarkable and brave account of the German war  in  Western Europe during World War One, “All  Quiet of the Western Front”  by    Erich Maria Remarque, a German veteran of World War I.

220px-Remarque_Im_Westen_nichts_Neues_1929As Robert Parry wrote in Consortium News If you wonder how the world could stumble into world war three – much as it did into world war one a century ago – all you need to do is look at the madness that has enveloped virtually the entire US political/media structure over Ukraine where a false narrative of white hats versus black hats took hold early and has proved impervious to facts or reason.”

But this impervious narrative is an essential  component of the drive to  crush  the Russian  economy with  sanctions and lowered oil  prices, along with  the attempts to  encircle   China via the  East  Asian  Pivot.

Much  like the sanctions imposed on Iran for decades because of their fictional  nuclear weapons development, every  political  player West  and East  knows that  the fictional  Russian  troops in Eastern Ukraine (aside from  the Crimea)   are a wonderful  excuse to  attempt to economically destroy  the country. It is virtually impossible for the sanctioned country  to  prove the absence of something that  did not exist  in  the first place. But as Cuba has so ably proved in  the past 50  years, alternative strategies are possible and even beneficial.

The impact  of  crashing oil prices -however temporary-  on   all  the major oil  producers- including  Saudi Arabia, Dubai,  Abu Dhabi  and Qatar as well as Iran,  Venezuela, Russia and the shale oil industries of the U.S. and Canada , are unknown  and unpredictable. Did the  powers-that-be in  Washington and London consider what the impacts  of plunging oil prices would have on their jihadists  in Syria and Iraq and their consequent capacity to  buy more men and equipment? or even consider that weakening oil prices will  strengthen  China’s economic position in  the world?- we may never know…

In response to  these threats , Russia  and China have launched a whole swathe of economic  agreements between themselves and with other  neighbouring countries . As Pepe Escobar describes it, the   development of  the new silk road  via  high  speed rail  links between   China  and the rest  of Asia and Europe has begun  at  a startling rapid pace and will  result in  a completely changed  political/economic dynamic in  the world within  a very  short space of time that will also  be out of the reach  of U.S. and U.K . interests.

There is therefore urgent  need for the UK and US war economies  to  move fast  to eliminate these new threats as Western economies start to  crumble and their capacity to   control  markets and other state and non-entities is progressively  reduced.

Perhaps that  haste is the reason for the  level of incompetency  shown  by  the State Department in  putting “their man” Natalie Jaresko as Ukraine’s new Finance Minister.  The contempt shown to  Eastern Europeans  by  the US government in the appointment of this  corrupt US citizen and State Department official  as Ukraine’s Finance Minister is staggering, but yet remarkable for the   lack  of a response from  the (for now) subjugated Western Ukrainians. Or the even more absurd  Obama reaction to  some hacker group  infiltrating Sony and threatening  the company  for its film which  encourages the  assassination of a living head of state – something for which  the company could in fact  be indicted for in an international  court of law; (were there such a neutral  international  player)

The recent  reports from  the U.S on the types and extent of torture US officials are prepared to  disclose, is a tiny drop  in the ocean of the countless examples of the extent to  which  US and UK governments have long been  prepared to enslave, murder, torture and destroy  indiscriminately  if it serves their interests. While the British Empire’s  brutality  against  those of other skin colour  should need no further  explanation, it is often useful  to  point out  that the United States’ history  of state terrorism  and genocide is also  a very long one;  beginning with  the terror and genocide against  the Plains Indians in the  late 18th  century,  to  the US’s    brutal  colonizations  of  the Philippines and Caribbean in the 19th  century and the genocide committed in  the name of “democracy  and freedom”  in Korea, Vietnam,  Cambodia and Iraq ( to name just  a few). The 21st  century  is no  exception to  this long litany of terror, torture and murder by  these two  so-called “civilised” countries.  The scale of devastation and horror inflicted by  these two  countries against other  (‘foreign’)  populations, has no  equal.

That is not to  say  that   those state entities the United States and the UK  wish  to destroy  are themselves  necessarily humanitarian  and democratic; but it can be argued  that  -as in  the case of  post 1917 Russia, Weimar Germany, North Korea and Cambodia; where  civic institutions are crushed by  an overwhelmingly  powerful  outside force, then despotism  can freely reign.

The United States , the United Kingdom  and a few other ex-colonial  powers, have no  such  excuse. It is interesting to  note, that  up  until  the development of the “Terrorist” threat post 9/11, the  actions  of those two  states against  their own citizens had been  relatively benign; their emphasis has traditionally been on  harming external  states for  commercial  benefit; that  locus appears to  be changing into  a more wide-ranging capacity to  harm or  destroy  any individuals or entity  within  or without their  state borders that   impinge on the  powerful “elite”s capacity to  extract  more money for itself. In  all  probability,  this shift in  focus  is directly attributable to the dawning understanding that  the days of Western hegemony over  the world’s resources are numbered.

What  is blindingly obvious in this analysis is the totally banale and infantile drivers for these  constant wars, let alone  their leaders’  complete lack  of understanding and compassion for the suffering of others.   And we should not forget   the  massive contribution to  environmental  destruction this  300  year  old process  has delivered. This is certainly not an intelligent  process, although  the processes of domination and extraction of plunder are often complex.

We can only watch in  amazement  at the  psychopathic behaviours of key  US officials delighting in  the violent deaths of others  -eg  Dick Cheney, or Hilary  Clinton (below)

or Obama joking about killer drones, knowing full well  the impacts in  families and communities of  the thousands of innocent lives killed by  these random killing machines.

In fact  recent evidence on Hillary Clinton’s motivation’s for the war in Libya, reveal  little else than  the fact  that she didn’t like Muammar Ghaddafi.  Certainly there was absolutely no  evidence of the  genocide of Libyan civilians  by  Ghaddafi’s forces as was alleged and provided as rationale to U.S. supporting the jihadist  forces  there. Clinton’s  maniacal  delight in  Ghaddafi’s brutal  death  is a warning to us all.

and the UK’s Blair  and Jack  Straw who  simply refuse to  acknowledge that  their orders  resulted in  the needless deaths of hundreds of thousands of Iraqis and Afghans based simply on their whim ( ‘I kill because I can’). It may  be salutory  to  read Ahmad Baqawi’s damning analysis of the NATO intervention in Libya  and the resultant total  and deliberate destruction of Libya as a nation-state, or perhaps Peter Lee’s account of the  brutal  murder and destruction carried out by  the West  proxy’s in Syria in the name of “democracy  and freedom”

In another more equitable world , those  politicians would have long ago  been convicted and sent to high security forensic mental  health wards; or perhaps, as  the highly respected American  columnist   William Pfaff notes -simply tried Nuremburg style and, if convicted on  the evidence,  hanged.


Links

John Pilger – The Coming War documentary’ campaign

Living by the Sword….

“Those who  live by  the sword,  die by  the sword”

Through its abrogation of key  elements of the Geneva Convention by  using torture, genocide and illegal  incarceration of people it thinks could  do  things to US interests that  the state might not  like, the US has  progressively negated key  aspects of the constitutional  protections for its own  citizens.  In addition, professional  bodies such  as the American Pyschological  Association and the American Medical  Association, in  tacitly    legitimizing torture and murder ( drones or otherwise)  and  random  indefinite imprisonment of people the state thinks might be a risk  to the US, have  destroyed their legal   and moral authority .

The Orwellian  legal  and  state  double-speak ( what is evil  is good,  what  is war is peace) by  US political  and legal figures,  is now accepted as truth by  the vast  majority of US citizens and many in the Western world. Many US citizens are consequently  no  longer able to differentiate between right and wrong/truth  and lies.

The US has been fighting wars to  protect  its “interests” (read  companies) for most of its existence, beginning with the genocide of the North American  Indians who  populated much of North America at  the time of European settlement and leading to the wars with Spain in  the Carribbean  and the Philippines in  order to  develop  an empire to exploit , as with  other Western powers of the time.

But it is really only in the years after the end of Second World War in 1945, that the power of the corporations in the US has finally overturned all  semblance of  human rights,  decency  and fairness  in the US . These wars, and particularly the  genocides committed  in North KoreaVietnam, Cambodia and Iraq, have  lead to  no  negative national consequences for the US ,   and have thus  resulted in those in power in the US believing  that they are immune to the  impact of the death  and destruction they inflict on others.

Moreover, over those intervening 65 years of constant war, the US has  steadily become a “war machine”- its raison  d’etre being to fight and kill others for what they have. Each marine that returns home brutalised  and scarred by  the reality of war;  each  soldier who  returns to  his home town finally knowing the truth of what  “the greatest nation in  the world ” really stands for, is a time bomb of death  and destruction to  that community. A culture of violence as the solution to  anything  has now  totally permeated every  aspect  of American  society.   To  quote another of those biblical  aphorisms -“what ye sow, so  shall  ye reap”

And with each  war, the targets of American state violence  become ever more  aware of the complete and viciously laughable  hypocrisy of the United States; it’s  Presidents mouthing  ghastly platitudes of the US being the ” shining city on  the hill” , the exemplar to  the world of peace and democracy,  while raining terror and death on the helpless. For the families and communities of the  millions killed by  the US military since the second world war, there remains no  justice – no resting place.

What is now desperately  needed is an international  legal body  that is truly impartial-no longer  controlled by those  rich  and powerful states who commit the the vast majority of the  terror and death  they so  loudly condemn in others.  An international  body  that  seeks justice, not vengeance,  that  ascribes appropriate  compensation to those whom  the powerful have done injustice to.

When every war-mongering state, not just as is currently ,  its head of state,  knows that, regardless of the colour of the skin of those in power, the  warring state will be punished with heavy financial reparations for the evil  it has done- only then  will the incentive for war   rapidly recede and justice prevail.

“Targeted” Killings: the Drone Murders

A recent article in McClatchy  papers entitled, Obama’s drone war kills ‘others,’ not just Al Qaida leaders  clarifies the recent lies by  the Obama administration that only senior Al Qiadia leaders are targeted by  drones.  Unremarkedly many of those “non-civilians”  killed are not Al Qaida connected,  are not senior members of anything, and are often the product of mafia-type  turf wars, clan-based feuds or even neighbourhood spats in  the various countries where the US likes to kill  people with drones.

It is therefore important to note that these are not “drone wars”   these are drone murders.  There is no officially announced US  war going on between  the US  and Pakistan, Yemen, or Somalia.

Jordan Paust in  a labyrinthine legal  argument entitled ‘Self-defense targetings of non-state actors and permissibility of U.S. use of drones in  Pakistan”  attempts to argue that the US is permitted to kill  anyone it thinks could be considered a threat  in  the future ( i.e  a perversion of the term  “imminent threat”) on foreign soil under the rules of international  engagement. This argument subverts international  law to  a remarkable degree; implying that anyone can murder anyone else if they just might possibly fit the pattern of someone who  might in  the future decide they  might do  something nasty  to another’s  nation.  My guess is that means probably 50% of the world’s population should be exterminated right now using that logic.   However it is the type of tortuous logic that US federal lawyers are using to defend the morally and legally indefensible . It should also be noted that the US logic in killing Taleban  leaders in  Afghanistan and Pakistan by drone  is based upon the premise that the Taleban  are a lethal threat to  US troops; which of course they  are while the US continues to  occupy their homeland. However the Taleban (unlike Al Qaida) are not,  and  never will be, any threat to  the US homeland.

Drone apologists will  also argue that the use of drones is a humanitarian approach  to  removing problems  for the US because the killings are ‘targeted’; but again  that pre-supposes that  the brave little men behind the computer screens  firing the rockets from  drones know for real who  they  are  killing.

They don’t:  hearsay,  patterns of behaviour that infer  that a person who   is behaving suspiciously is a terrorist, confused information feeds,  or simply deliberate mis-information  all  play a significant part in creating one  error of judgement after another.  The McClatchy  article says that ” drone operators weren’t always certain who they were killing despite the administration’s guarantees of the accuracy of the CIA’s targeting intelligence and its assertions that civilian casualties have been “exceedingly rare.”  In  addition the US government’s and CIA  process of using ‘Signature Strikes” ensures that many more innocent people will be killed.

A “signature strike” is a killing of  someone believed to be a militant whose identity isn’t necessarily known. Such strikes are reportedly based on a “pattern of life” analysis – intelligence on their behavior suggesting that an individual is a militant. The policy, reportedly begun by Bush in Pakistan in 2008, is now allowed in Yemen, under stricter criteria.- from  Everything We Know So Far About Drone Strikes.   Often the signature is simply a group of  young men who  happen to be in  the ‘wrong’ place at the ‘wrong’ time.    Anonymous State Dept officials tongue in  cheek (but realistically) describe the process as identifying  3 young men  doing jumping jacks in  a field as being terrorists.

A Stanford and New York University law schools  study estimates that  there are, on average, 49 civilian deaths for every one known terrorist killed. In my view this also  is likely to  be a vast under-estimation of the “collateral  damage”.  Weapons manufacturers love to  sell  the virtues of their weaponry, and none of its vices.

Policy Mic notes that  ‘The Bureau of Investigative Journalism found that from June 2004 through mid-September 2012, drone strikes killed between 2,562 and 3,325 people in Pakistan, including 176 children.

Drone apologists will  say  that  it is “hearsay”  that the drone murders cause anger and fear and  and a consequential increase in  the number of  new “terrorists” who hate the US.  The Stanford study is sufficient in itself to  explain why that viewpoint is a nonsense. Death  from  a cloudless sky  that kills your innocent  brother,  sister grandparents or children is enough to  arouse life-long hatred and anger in  any human being.  Or,  as in  many reported cases, civilians are attacked   by drones when they go to help  those injured in  a previous drone attack; a clear violation of international law.  But of course all  that hatred helps to fuel  demand for even more weapons…

The  logic of using  drones is  that they can kill where  having boots on the ground would be  risky or problematic (ie no  collateral  damage in  the US media of “our boys” being killed) . Thus when  the US State Department makes assertions about who it is killing and limited civilian collateral damage, it simply is making it up;  it doesn’t have a clue who  it is really killing , unless it is  confirmed at  some later date by other events and information;  and civilian deaths for the most part, don’t get reported.

In addition the  ever-present fear of imminent annihilation from out of the blue creates absolute terror among children and  others who  are less mobile and vulnerable . Policy mic again states “the interviewee described the constant surveillance of the drones as “a wave of terror,” adding that “children, grown-up people, women, they are terrified. . . . They scream in terror.” Another described the drones as “like a mosquito. Even when you don’t see them, you can hear them, you know they are there.” Many of the drones are capable of hovering almost invisibly at  high altitude for hours on end before firing at  their targets.

Thus it is absolutely clear that the United States not only violates human decency and morality but also violates  internationally binding agreements on  the rules of war, in  its use  of drones. The drone murders  must stop.

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Postscript

A great  article by  Faisal Moghul on  the The Orwellian Paradigm or, Killing you, for your own safety explores the irrational (or perhaps quite rational) language and ethics of the War on Terror

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William Pfaff:   “Of Drones and Dishonor”

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Other links:

http://www.thebureauinvestigates.com/category/projects/drone-data/

http://law-wss-01.law.fsu.edu/journals/transnational/vol19_2/paust.pdf

http://www.policymic.com/articles/15340/drone-strikes-in-pakistan-have-killed-thousands-of-civilians

http://americansecurityproject.org/issues/asymmetric-operations/the-strategic-effects-of-a-lethal-drones-policy/

http://www.propublica.org/article/everything-we-know-so-far-about-drone-strikes