ONTD Political

Obama victory infuriates Pakistani drone victims

1:35 pm - 11/08/2012

Men step on a U.S flag during an anti-American rally organized by Shabab-e-Milli, the youth wing of the Jamaat-e-Islami party, in Peshawar April 13, 2012

he roars celebrating the re-election of U.S. President Barack Obama on television give Mohammad Rehman Khan a searing headache, as years of grief and anger come rushing back.

The 28-year-old Pakistani accuses the president of robbing him of his father, three brothers and a nephew, all killed in a U.S. drone aircraft attack a month after Obama first took office.

"The same person who attacked my home has gotten re-elected," he told Reuters in the capital, Islamabad, where he fled after the attack on his village in South Waziristan, one of several ethnic Pashtun tribal areas on the Afghan border.

"Since yesterday, the pressure on my brain has increased. I remember all of the pain again."

In his re-election campaign, Obama gave no indication he would halt or alter the drone program, which he embraced in his first term to kill al Qaeda and Taliban militants in Pakistan and Afghanistan without risking American lives.

Drone strikes are highly unpopular among many Pakistanis, who consider them a violation of sovereignty that cause unacceptable civilian casualties.

"Whenever he has a chance, Obama will bite Muslims like a snake. Look at how many people he has killed with drone attacks," said Haji Abdul Jabar, whose 23-year-old son was killed in such a bombing.

Analysts say anger over the unmanned aircraft may have helped the Taliban gain recruits, complicating efforts to stabilize the unruly border region between Pakistan and Afghanistan. That could also hinder Obama's plan to withdraw U.S. troops from Afghanistan in 2014.

Obama authorized nearly 300 drone strikes in Pakistan during his first four years in office, more than six times the number during the administration of George W. Bush, according to the New America Foundation policy institute.

Since 2004, a total of 337 U.S. drone strikes in Pakistan have killed between 1,908 and 3,225 people.

The institute estimates about 15 percent of those killed were non-militants, although that percentage has declined sharply to about 1-2 percent this year. Washington says drone strikes are very accurate and cause minimal civilian deaths.

The Pakistani government says tens of thousands of Pakistanis have been killed in the fight against militants. Many were civilians caught in suicide bombings. Others were killed by the Pakistani army.

"NO DIFFERENCE"

Getting accurate data on casualties and the effects of drones is extremely difficult in the dangerous, remote and often inaccessible tribal areas. The Taliban often seal off the sites of strikes.

While the aerial campaign has weakened al Qaeda, its ally, the Pakistani Taliban, remains a potent force despite a series of Pakistan army offensives against their strongholds in the northwest.

Seen as the biggest security threat to the U.S.-backed Pakistani government, that faction of the Taliban is blamed for many of the suicide bombings across Pakistan, and a number of high profile attacks on military and police facilities.

"We are amazed that Obama has been re-elected. But for us there is no difference between Obama and Romney; both are enemies. And we will keep up our jihad and fight alongside our Afghan brothers to get the Americans out of Afghanistan," said Pakistan Taliban spokesman Ehsanullah Ehsan.

On Thursday, a suicide bomber rammed the gates of a military base in Pakistan's biggest city, Karachi, killing at least one soldier and wounding more than a dozen people.

Pakistanis were largely indifferent in the run-up to Tuesday's election, expecting little change to the drone attacks regardless of whether Obama or Republican challenger Mitt Romney won.

"Any American, whether Obama or Mitt Romney, is cruel," Warshameen Jaan Haji, whose neighborhood was struck by a drone last week, told Reuters on the eve of the election. "I lost my wife in the drone attack and my children are injured. Whatever happens, it will be bad for Muslims."

Pakistani politician Imran Khan, a vocal critic of U.S. drone strikes, said he believed Obama stepped up the attacks in his first term so he wouldn't look weak on national security.

"I think Obama essentially has an anti-war instinct," he told Reuters. "Without the worry of being re-elected, he will de-escalate the war, including the use of drones. This is positive."

But for Mohammad Khan, who is not related to the former cricketer, the damage is already done.

The February 2009 drone attack that destroyed his home left him as the main provider for 13 family members, forcing him to move to Islamabad and work with a real estate company.

"When the Sandy hurricane came, I thought that Allah would wipe away America," he said. "America just wants to take over the world."

source
kitanabychoice 8th-Nov-2012 09:31 pm (UTC)
I'm certainly not surprised they feel this way. :\
mollywobbles867 8th-Nov-2012 09:38 pm (UTC)
I do not blame them one bit. I hate the drone strikes with a fervor that matches my hate for Dubya. I will say that I have failed in not writing the president or representatives to stop the drone attacks.
crossfire 8th-Nov-2012 09:41 pm (UTC)
Washington says drone strikes are very accurate and cause minimal civilian deaths.

Oh.

violetrose 8th-Nov-2012 09:43 pm (UTC)
Lol ikr? I think all of the Pakistanis in this article would like to have a word with Washington officials.
adalmin 8th-Nov-2012 09:48 pm (UTC)
I don't get the idea of drone strikes at all. Militants don't ONLY hang around militants. Militants take prisoners, have innocent families and relatives and friends and acquaintances, go eat lunch at the local shop, etc. They don't just lurk in their Militant Evil Batcaves waiting to get bombed.

To say that you can precisely predict that a drone strike will land on a 100% militant target is asinine. Even civilian casualties of 1% are too high.
pommedeterre 8th-Nov-2012 10:04 pm (UTC)
Perfect comment is perfect.
imnotasquirrel 8th-Nov-2012 10:12 pm (UTC)
and some people wonder why they hate our guts...

Washington says drone strikes are very accurate and cause minimal civilian deaths.

doesn't washington classify all military-age males within a strike zone as combatants? because that might have something to do with it...
cozmic_oceanz 8th-Nov-2012 10:18 pm (UTC)
I understand, but I feel this is also so disheartening because does anyone think Romney would have not done the drone strikes?

We really need a third party to join the level playing field. The green party, namely.
celtic_thistle 8th-Nov-2012 10:43 pm (UTC)
I agree so strongly with the Green Party. I really need them to be a viable option. :/
____jonas 8th-Nov-2012 10:30 pm (UTC)
Are drones expensive? I there any chance cuts to defense spending could end or at least reduce the number of strikes?
bleed_peroxide 8th-Nov-2012 10:49 pm (UTC)
While I can certainly understand why they're so upset, do they really think that Romney would have been any better about it?
violetrose 8th-Nov-2012 10:51 pm (UTC)
They don't.
endlos_schleife 8th-Nov-2012 10:51 pm (UTC)
I'd be able to think a lot higher of Obama if he finally realized that Drone-Strikes and Kill-Lists are not a feature of a democratic country proclaiming to work for peace and democracy abroad.

I don't care for arguments that Romney would do the same, or that this better than alternative solutions - sending unmanned drones to kill "terrorists" in the name of "peace" cannot possibly be the favored solution.
one_hoopy_frood 8th-Nov-2012 10:53 pm (UTC)
It would only have been worse with Romney.

I'm so sorry that this happens and I hate it, but the alternative would have only been worse.
one_hoopy_frood 8th-Nov-2012 10:57 pm (UTC)
Which is totally not helpful to anyone who has lost family so I don't know why I even bothered to comment. Idk. It's depressing and I hate feeling helpless about it.
stevie_jane 8th-Nov-2012 11:03 pm (UTC)
Drone strikes are such a shit idea, honestly. Someone high up in the military who knows as much should be honest about how bad an idea they are and challenge everyone to rethink the whole policy.
adalmin 8th-Nov-2012 11:15 pm (UTC)
My dad-in-law is a Vietnam vet and he says the US military is basically making all the same mistakes it did in Vietnam.

Fighting insurgents/guerrillas with DRONE STRIKES. Ridiculous.
awfulbliss 8th-Nov-2012 11:17 pm (UTC)
I'd bet good money many would consider this a war crime under a Republican administration. What separates this from the way Bush ran his wars, how Nixon blanketed Southeast Asian villages with bombs out of nowhere, etc. exactly?
nepthys_12 8th-Nov-2012 11:18 pm (UTC)
While I truly believe Romney would have been much much worse, Obama needs to stop the drone strikes now. I voted for him, but he needs to stop murdering Pakistani civilians. I know he got the shit end of the foreign policy stick, but there is no excuse for this.
paksenarrion2 9th-Nov-2012 04:06 am (UTC)
I agree with this 100%

He has done some good things-getting us out of Iraq, working to get us out of Afghan. But for fuck's sake, stop the drone strikes NOW. Murdering innocent people is unconscionable.
belleweather 8th-Nov-2012 11:22 pm (UTC)
So I'm really honestly confused about this -- my understanding is that no one can get into the tribal areas where these drone strikes are being done, and all the information we're getting through the media is what they're hearing from people in urban (urban-er?) Pakistan and Afghanistan, which is not really the most reliable and unbiased source as far as what is really happening on the ground.

Can anyone correct/inform me on this or direct me to something with more details? School me, please, ONTD_P.
bacchae23 8th-Nov-2012 11:44 pm (UTC)
You, in fact, are about right! The only people who really get the info in and out are the people in villages. The U.S. has surveillance shit in the areas, but the only real info coming in and out are people within villages, some of which are potential contacts to US intel.

This is a pretty good article that I think was posted hereabouts a few weeks ago. It's pretty interesting:
http://www.cjr.org/feature/covering_obamas_secret_war.php?page=all

And I'm going to get on my soapbox now and then get off and scuttle away before I get crucified.

Coming from close friends and family have been to the Sandbox as Marines and Navy people -- honesty isn't exactly a policy the Pakistanis/Afghanis/Iraqis are terribly interested in in regards to Americans. Who wants to admit that they're supporting the Pakistani/Afghani Taliban? Furthermore, who wants to exactly be seen being potential bros with the Great Satan of America? Answer? Nobody.

If a guy from your village suicide bombs himself, he'd never do that -- it was a guy from out of the country. If a mine magically shows up in front of your farm and kills five guys on patrol, well you NEVER knew who it was.

I understand that many people are intimidated by assholes like the Talibs and others. I understand that fear is a powerful weapon in keeping people quiet. But I ALSO understand that we give billions of dollars to Pakistan and for years that country has done butt-fucking nothing but wimper in front of insurgency and piss money down the drain.

Yes, there is gray area. Yes, people die. The strikes where women and kids are blown up really suck. And drones present a very creepy gray-ish/black area that does need to be discussed. But there's a lot of bullshit on both sides and I get TIRED of people saying it's all Evil America Evil America.

Edited at 2012-11-08 11:48 pm (UTC)
purplerains 8th-Nov-2012 11:51 pm (UTC)
How about Robert Gibbs saying that the American citizen who was killed because of no fault of his own should have had a more responsible father?

I don't think he asked for his father to be a terrorist. Asshole.
jadziadrgnrdr 8th-Nov-2012 11:58 pm (UTC)
Yeah American foreign policy has always been rotten to its very core, from the Transatlantic Slave Trade to now. Completely inexcusable. If you want to wage war, wage war, don't fucking get deadly toys to do your dirty work reducing taking a human life to little more than a fucking XBox achievement.

Edited at 2012-11-08 11:59 pm (UTC)
bacchae23 9th-Nov-2012 03:14 am (UTC)
In that case, do you want to bring out the spears, shields and lances and reneg on firearms altogether? They themselves are "deadly toys," right?
poetic_pixie_13 9th-Nov-2012 01:26 am (UTC)
But they totally hate us for our freedom~

Fuck it. Drones are evil, pure and simple. They're not just completely ineffective but fuel the grief, loss and hatred that creates militants and terrorists in the first place. Not just in human life (which is more than enough) but destroying infrastructure, weakening all levels of government, and creating such large-scale trauma that growth, development and hope can't ever really happen. Drones are part of a larger system that just destroy what it claims to be building and enables and furthers the violence, hate and death that it's supposed to contain and end.
baked_goldfish 9th-Nov-2012 03:41 am (UTC)
I honestly think that about the only thing that would stop or at least limit the use of drone warfare is Congressional action. Obviously Romney would be as bad or worse than Obama has been, but I'm not entirely convinced that either Stein or Johnson (or any other third party candidate) would be able to end it on their own - in Johnson's case, I've no reason to believe he wouldn't flip positions and continue it once he sees that drone production is profitable to certain corporations, being the pro-corporate dude that he is. Same with Ron Paul. In Stein's case even if she did manage to overcome those around her who want to continue, there's no saying after her hypothetical administration someone else would come in and re-start drone warfare.

If Congress could work on the shifty definition of "combatant," and engage in a rigorous public debate about drone warfare in general before coming up with some basic standards to limit or (in my dream world) ban the use of UAVs for killing, that would be a start. Congress needs to actually get off its duff for once. You can't trust the executive to not use drones for bombing when they know they're able to get away with wholesale murder that way.
thevelvetsun 9th-Nov-2012 07:02 am (UTC)
The President is the commander in chief of the military. There is no Republican obstructionism that can force his hand on continuing drones. He could end it today if he wanted to, instead he made the decision to bomb Yemen within 24 hours of being re-elected.
tabaqui 9th-Nov-2012 04:29 am (UTC)
And they - along with Kuwait citizens, and Afghanistan citizens - have every right to be pissed as hell. Two things about the Obama administration that infuriate me - drone strikes and Gitmo. They need to go - yesterday.
mimblexwimble 9th-Nov-2012 06:18 am (UTC)
I posted this as a response to a comment above, but perhaps others will be more interested in it: Living Under Drones.
ms_maree 9th-Nov-2012 06:32 am (UTC)
Ugh, double-tapping. I first read about that im a Guardian article when village elders nominated some younger boys to take photographs of the damage afterward so they could report it. And then they were killed when another drone came in. A lot of locals were convinced that it was America's way of keeping things quiet by punishing anyone trying to get information out.
little_rachael 9th-Nov-2012 07:22 am (UTC)
I don't blame them for feeling this way. I do feel like I have blood on my hands for voting for President Obama. And I was aware of these drone strikes when I voted, so I have nothing to say in my defense.
window_girl 9th-Nov-2012 02:58 pm (UTC)
I feel really stuck, as an American who is also a pacifist.

On one hand, I'm always choosing between two evils when I vote. I'm still fighting for my rights and the rights of my neighbors.

On the other hand, people are fucking losing their basic right to fucking live and breathe because of the guy I voted for to try to better take care of myself and my neighbors.

I don't know what I can do to help/stop this other than sign anti-drone, anti-war petitions, write to the president and my representatives...

I don't want this to happen, ever. This never should have happened at all.
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