If the new administration is keenly interested in reversing the misfortunes of that region, it has to understand the uniqueness of every country and appreciate the untold harm inflicted on civilians by the US and other militaries. Only dialogue and truly respecting the sovereignty of Afghanistan and Pakistan can begin to stabilise the fractious situation.
– Ramzy Baroud, May 14, 2009
U.S. drones killed 123 Pakistani civilians and three al Qaeda in January, the largest death toll ever for a single month. 17 more died today, some low-level militants, most civilians. Apparently the sharp increase in drone attacks is motivated by revenge, for the late December suicide attack that killed seven CIA drone-targeting experts in Afghanistan. All this in the context of the just-released Pentagon budget, which features a 75% increase in funding for drone production and operations.
What a moral low America has reached, to be doing what we are doing to Pakistan’s innocent civilians. But the perp country’s people and media ignore the crime because, after all, no Americans are dying. Admittedly, we seemingly have no control, so what is the point of protesting? So a quiet but ugly war guided by the lowest of motives, simple revenge, takes over, bullies against bullies, civilians be damned.
US drones killed 123 civilians, three al-Qaeda men in January
Monday, February 01, 2010
By Amir Mir
LAHORE: Afghanistan-based US predators carried out a record number of 12 deadly missile strikes in the tribal areas of Pakistan in January 2010, of which 10 went wrong and failed to hit their targets, killing 123 innocent Pakistanis. The remaining two successful drone strikes killed three al-Qaeda leaders, wanted by the Americans.
The rapid increase in the US drone attacks in the Pakistani tribal areas bordering Afghanistan can be gauged from the fact that only two such strikes were carried out in January 2009, which killed 36 people. The highest number of drone attacks carried out in a single month in 2009 was six, which were conducted in December last year. . . .
The unprecedented rise in the predator strikes with the beginning of the year 2010 is being attributed to December 30, 2009 suicide bombing in the Khost area of Afghanistan bordering North Waziristan, which killed seven CIA agents. . . .
Today’s toll is 17, from a massive attack on obscure, impoverished villages. Again, revenge seemed to be the motive, for shooting down a drone a few days ago. Imagine that, the audacity of shooting down a missile that is seeking to kill you?
17 die as drones rain 18 missiles on NWA
Wednesday, February 03, 2010
By Malik Mumtaz & Mushtaq Yusufzai
MIRAMSHAH/PESHAWAR: In the biggest attack so far by the American spy planes in the Pakistani tribal areas, the US drones on Tuesday rained a barrage of missiles on different locations of Dattakhel Tehsil of North Waziristan Agency (NWA), killing 17 people, including militants, and injuring several others.
Government officials in Miramshah, the main town of North Waziristan, said nine spy planes took part in the brazen attack, firing 18 missiles and causing heavy human loss.
They feared the death toll could rise as rescue work could not be started in some of the places due to fear of more missile strikes by the unmanned spy aircraft. Besides the militants, several villagers were said to be among the victims. The villagers came under attack from the drones while approaching the spot to help retrieve the bodies and the injured from the rubble of the collapsed houses. . . .
An intelligence official said on condition of anonymity that the drones mostly targeted small posts set up by the militants. He said it appeared the US forces in Afghanistan wanted to avenge the loss of their drone, which the militants had allegedly shot down in the same area a few days ago.
He said initial reports indicated that most of the people killed in Tuesday’s missile strikes were either low-level militants or poor villagers. “I did not hear that any big name had died,” he claimed. It was the biggest missile attack by the CIA-operated spy planes in the tribal areas along the border with Afghanistan.
Baroud in the quote at the top of this diary is right. And so is John Arquilla. The drone war is creating more war and hatred in Pakistan, plain and simple, and Obama has learned nothing except avoid American casualties from his predecessor.
. . . John Arquilla, a professor of defense analysis at the Naval Postgraduate School who frequently advises the military, said, “The more the drone campaign works, the more it fails — as increased attacks only make the Pakistanis angrier at the collateral damage and sustained violation of their sovereignty.”
If the United States expands the drone strikes beyond the lawless tribal areas to neighboring Baluchistan, as is under discussion, the backlash “might even spark a social revolution in Pakistan,” Mr. Arquilla said.
And it will only get much worse. . . .
US plans 75% increase in drone operations
By Anwar Iqbal
Wednesday, 03 Feb, 2010
WASHINGTON: The US defence budget for 2011 seeks more funds to enhance drone operations by 75 per cent, citing its success in targeting militants in Afghanistan and Pakistan’s tribal belt.
“With this funding, we will increase the unmanned Predator and Reaper orbits from 37 to 65, while enhancing our ability to process, exploit and disseminate information gathered by this game-changing technology,” said Chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff Admiral Mike Mullen. . . .
On Monday afternoon, the Pentagon sent a $708 billion defence budget proposal to Congress, reflecting a shift in the US military strategy from conventional wars to counter-insurgency. . . .
Although the $3.8 trillion budget President Obama announced on Monday is the third budget in a row with a deficit of more than $1 trillion, it boosts the defence outlay by 3.4 per cent over the 2010 enacted level.
The following report indicates the Obama administration wants to double production of drones:
Obama’s Budget Calls for Billions in New Spending for Drones
Tuesday 02 February 2010
by: Jason Leopold, t r u t h o u t | Report
. . . Aside from the size of the defense budget, another controversial aspect of it is what it will fund. More than $2 billion will be used to purchase unmanned aerial vehicles, or drones, which the Obama administration has used increasingly over the past year to target suspected terrorist hideouts in Afghanistan and Pakistan. The drones, which the administration wants to double in production, have been blamed for a significant rise in civilian casualties. . . .
For the first time, according to The Los Angeles Times, the Air Force is proposing the purchase of more drones than combat aircraft and will double the production of the MQ-9 Reaper, "a bigger, more heavily armed version of the Predator drone, to 48. The Army will also buy 26 extended-range Predators."
"The expansion will allow the military to increase unmanned patrols – the number of planes in the air at once – to 65, up from its current limit of 37," The Los Angeles Times noted.
Defense Secretary Robert Gates told reporters Monday that the use of drones will continue to increase "even as the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan eventually wind down."
"The more we have used them, the more we have identified their potential in a broader and broader set of circumstances," Gates said.
Spending on the Predator and Reaper drones will jump from $877.5 million in 2010 to $1.4 billion next year.
BTW, drone strikes had already set a record in 2009, Obama’s first year a huge increase over the number of attacks in 2008. Change We Believe In?
US Killed 700 Civilians in Pakistan Drone Strikes in 2009
by Jason Ditz, January 02, 2010
On January 1, 2009, a US drone strike killed two senior al-Qaeda leaders, the first in what then President-elect Barack Obama had said would be a dramatic escalation of the aerial bombardment of Pakistan’s tribal area.
And escalate it did. The US launched 44 distinct drone strikes in Pakistan in 2009, far more than in previous years. The pinnacle of America’s drone achievements was in August, when they killed Tehreek-e Taliban Pakistan (TTP) leader Baitullah Mehsud.
Much has been made of the successes, but while the strikes have been regular and they almost always are presented by Pakistan’s intelligence community as having killed “suspects,” the actual successes are few and far between, with only five confirmed kills of real militant leaders, and a handful of unconfirmed claims that usually haven’t panned out.
The vast majority of the deaths, around 700 according to one estimate, have been innocent civilians. With such a massive civilian toll and so little to show for it, it is no wonder that Pakistani people have been up in arms over the continued strikes.