A year ago a Yemeni lawyer responded to a drone attack with anger on Twitter:
Dear Obama, when a US drone missile kills a child in Yemen, the father will go to war with you, guaranteed. Nothing to do with Al Qaeda. (“Do Less Harm,” by Sarah Holewinski, Foreign Affairs, Jan/Feb 2013, pg. 19)
Given this man’s reaction and those of countless others in the Middle East where drone attacks are common, it’s time for a national debate on how this weapon should be used and how its civilians victims should be compensated. For us, deploying drones means fewer American boots on the ground, but the weapon kills indiscriminately. According to writer Sara Holewinski, between 2007 to mid 2009, drone attacks were responsible for “roughly half of U.S. caused civilian casualties” (Ibid, pg. 18)
As the leading exporter of weapons, the United States has an obligation to show leadership in setting standards for how innocent war victims are compensated. If we don’t others will fill the vacuum. The government of Sri Lanka, for example, is marketing its own playbook for the war on terrorism. In their campaign against the Tamil Tigers, they cornered approximately 5,000 of the enemy along a narrow strip of land together with hundreds of thousands of uprooted civilians. Unable to distinguish one from the other, the government annihilated anything that moved. As unthinkable as that is for a strategy, Sri Lanka’s leaders have been “travelling to other countries facing domestic insurgencies, including Myanmar, (formerly Burma) Pakistan and the Philippines to share the lessons of their victory.” (Ibid, pg. 19)
Annihilation is not a policy our nation should encourage by being silent or by failing to show others that we have a consistent plan for aiding war victims. Let us speak with a clear voice so that the world knows we care.
(Courtesy of verdenfata.com)