The Drone Debate: Dismantling Terrorism Hubs or Creating More Terrorism Recruitment Opportunities

Are Drone Strikes Killing Terrorists or Creating Them?
What the evidence says about one of the biggest questions in the debate over targeted killings.
Hassan Abbas, The Atlantic, March 31, 2013

There's been a lot of chatter recently about "Out of Sight, Out of Mind," a new online infographic which shows a chilling visualization of all estimated deaths in Pakistan caused by U.S. drone strikes, including children and civilians, based on estimates from the Bureau of Investigative Journalism and New America Foundation. Whether you agree with the numbers, or the politics, behind this particular project (put together by the data visualization firm Pitch Interactive), at least it's sparking debate. And that's got to be a good thing -- there's still so much we don't know about this highly controversial issue.

To say that the use of drone strikes is a polarizing topic would be a vast understatement. In U.S. policy circles, it's projected as an effective counter-terrorism tactic, whereas globally, it is often seen as tacit abuse of state sovereignty. And that's before you get to the debate over potential international law and human rights violations.

Take, for example, the use of drone strikes to target al-Qaida, the Taliban and their affiliates in the restive tribal belt of Pakistan bordering Afghanistan. There are a variety of studies available regarding the accuracy, reliability and ultimate effectiveness of this tool of war, and, using the same data, analysts can come to very different conclusions depending on their particular point of view, or -- in some cases -- that of their employers.

For some, the percentage of civilian deaths is the criterion, and for others, denying the terrorists sanctuary is a critical benchmark. The problem is a lack of credible data (and consensus) regarding exactly how many terrorists have been killed by drone strikes and who those terrorists are. Thus, objectivity has become another victim in the process.

For complete article, click here or here (Asia Society)


JV Chan said…
International Human Rights does not exist -it has become subjective. Every country or region (EU) has its own human rights policy. Each particular country’s human rights norms is dependent on that country's history-the threshold applied will be different for each country.
The USA-a country that has seen history terrible blood-letting and ruthlessness-genocide of the indigenous Indian population, enslaving people and a civil war killing their own seems to have a different view of human right than Europe-the same of International Law-Europe and the USA differs. Pre-emptive strikes are not unusual-the Gulf of Tonkin incident that triggered the US invasion of Vietnam (58,000 marines died-3 million Vietnamese), earlier the USA attacked Mexico unilaterally chasing Pancho Villa. Some examples that are contrary to UN Charter.

In the USA, a child can be treated as an adult and imprisoned for decades, in employment law-an employee has no right when he is terminated at will, which may have been a disguised dismissal-the burden is very high to show -retaliation, so its common in the USA, to think that collateral damage like killing people in a drone strike is negligible. Every life is important-presently the Geneva Conventions are "crystal clear" -you cannot attack a civilian populated area. Who knows whether the dead mother or the relatives in a wedding or good Samaritans killed are Al Qaeda or not-different strokes for different folks!

Anyway, what if I am right? I am right. What can we do about it-Darfour they are killing people too, in Burma, the Rohangiyans Muslims are being butchered by Buddhists-the former the ICC has a warrant to arrest Bashier-how do we gauge what is right or wrong if the International Prosecutor does not act without fear or favor?

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