It is by now well known that Stanford and NYU have issued a study “Living Under Drones, Injury and Trauma to Civilians From US Drone Practices in Pakistan” that refutes Obama Administration claims that U.S. drone strikes in Pakistan conform to international law and cause no significant harm to civilians. Here is Glenn Greenwald’s report on that study. And, per HuffPo,
Asked why opinion polls consistently rank Pakistan among the most anti-American countries in the world, [Pakistani Foreign Minister] Khar responded with a single word: “Drones.”
Joshua Foust published an immediate rejoinder to the Stanford/NYU study in The Atlantic, questioning the quality of the research and concluding:
In the short run, there aren’t better choices than drones. The targets of drone strikes in Pakistan sponsor insurgents in the region that kill U.S. soldiers and destabilize the Pakistani state (that is why Pakistani officials demand greater control over targeting). They cannot simply be left alone to continue such violent attacks. [...]
Drones represent the choice with the smallest set of drawbacks and adverse consequences. Reports like Living Under Drones highlight the need for both more transparency from the US and Pakistani governments, and for drawing attention to the social backlash against their use in Pakistan. But they do not definitively build a case against drones in general. Without a better alternative, drones are here to stay.
Foust’s conclusion raises the obvious question: Drone strikes are the best choice to accomplish what?
- Spread anti-Americanism throughout the Muslim world?
- Garner recruits for terrorist organizations?
- Prolong the Global War on Terror (or whatever it’s now called).
Obama has seen how well GWOT has worked for his predecessor, himself, and their patrons. He likes to brag that he brought the troops home from Iraq, but in fact he was pushed out the door kicking and screaming. And, in spite of setting a withdrawal date, yesterday he told BBC Persian Television, which reaches Persian-speaking audiences in Afghanistan, Iran and elsewhere, that U.S. troops will stay in Afghanistan “until the job is done.” So, yes, I have to agree with Foust that drones are the option of choice, but only if as it appears the goal is to keep the U.S. in an Orwellian state of perpetual war.
Kevin Goszstola’s rebuttal to Foust can be found here.