Originally posted at Bullets and Ballots.
The argument that drone strikes may be counterproductive is nothing new. Left critics of the Obama Administration have been consistently making this argument for the last few years, Glenn Greenwald and Jeremy Scahill foremost among them. But, something seems to have occurred over the last few weeks: the mainstream media appears to have begun questioning the utility and consequences of these attacks.
The New York Times published an important and widely-discussed article on the Administration’s “kill list.” The story reiterates much of what leftist critics have been saying about Obama’s drone doctrine, particularly about the post-mortem identification of who is and who is not a “militant.”
The Washington Post — in my view, one of the most egregiously militaristic of the “respectable” media — has thrown its hat into the ring over the last week with two important articles, taking a hard look at the potentially radicalizing effects drone attacks are having in Yemen.
Khaled Abdullah reports that the attacks may be strengthening Islamist groups in tribal regions that have become “ground zero” for drone attacks:
Awlak tribesmen are businessmen, lawmakers and politicians. But the strikes have pushed more of them to join the militants or to provide AQAP with safe haven in their areas, said tribal leaders and Yemeni officials.
“The Americans are targeting the sons of the Awlak,” Aidaroos said. “I would fight even the devil to exact revenge for my nephew.”
In early March, U.S. missiles struck in Bayda province, 100 miles south of Sanaa, killing at least 30 suspected militants, according to Yemeni security officials. But in interviews, human rights activists and victims’ relatives said many of the dead were civilians, not fighters.
Villagers were too afraid to go to the area. Al-Qaeda militants took advantage and offered to bury the villagers’ relatives. “That made people even more grateful and appreciative of al-Qaeda,” said Barakani, the businessman. “Afterwards, al-Qaeda told the people, ‘We will take revenge on your behalf.’ ”
As the story clearly indicates, if jihadist organizations are growing in strength in Yemen, their ideology has little to do with. Neither sharia nor establishing the global caliphate, but rather the desire for justice and revenge is fueling the growth of the Islamist insurgency in Yemen.
The Post followed this up yesterday with a look inside the Administration’s rationale behind drone strikes in Yemen: