A Brief History of Obama’s Drone Warfare

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Back in 2007………

 

 

President Obama was a very peaceful man who rose to power saying very peaceful things. In 2008 he was elected President of the United States and went on to win the Nobel Prize for Peace in 2009 “for his extraordinary efforts to strengthen international diplomacy and cooperation between peoples. The Committee has attached special importance to Obama’s vision of and work for a world without nuclear weapons. Obama has as President created a new climate in international politics.”

In hindsight perhaps the award was a bit premature. In 2015 president Obama has announced he will be keeping 5,500 troops in Afghanistan through 2017 and of course we still have a military presence in Iraq. People forget that Mr. Obama rose to power with a background in Law and community activism. He was elected with no military experience whatsoever. Mr. Obama made very clear to the world that he did not want American troops dying in deserts overseas, he no longer wanted War. But as active Commander In Chief he inherited two different Wars. To formulate a new strategy, Barack Obama turned to drone Warfare as an alternative to boots on the ground.

Rather then risk the lives of soldiers President Obama unleashed an army of drones to fight the battles humans would not. Drone Warfare in the scope of history is a new development. In this way there no real precedent or laws in place limiting of defining the jurisdiction of drone use in Warfare. I remember in 2013 President Obama said:

“To say a military tactic is legal, or even effective, is not to say it is wise or moral in every instance. For the same human progress that gives us the technology to strike half a world away also demands the discipline to constrain that power — or risk abusing it. And that’s why, over the last four years, my administration has worked vigorously to establish a framework that governs our use of force against terrorists –- insisting upon clear guidelines, oversight and accountability that is now codified in Presidential Policy Guidance that I signed yesterday”.

Even the President admitted that Congress needed to “real him in” on drone usage and set a new standard for acceptable Warfare. 2 years later now we are starting to get a very real picture why Barack Obama made this speech years ago. Earlier this year a human rights organization known as Reprieve released a set of data which indicated that only 1 out of every 28 deaths caused by drones were the actual target of the strike. It is estimated that 1, 147 people were killed in total to take out just 41 selected targets.

More recently 4 former drone operators with 20 years active duty experience between them wrote an open letter to the White House to raise public awareness to their time spent serving under Barack Obama. Taking into account the words of President Obama himself, the story these men paint a scary picture of the state of affairs. They surmise

“We came to the realization that the innocent civilians we were killing only fueled the feelings of hatred that ignited terrorism and groups like (the Islamic State), while also serving as a fundamental recruitment tool…..We kill four and create 10 [militants]. If you kill someone’s father, uncle or brother who had nothing to do with anything, their families are going to want revenge….we waited for those men to settle down in their beds and then we killed them in their sleep…..this administration and its predecessors have built a drone program that is one of the most devastating driving forces for terrorism and destabilization around the world”

This past October the Interceptor released a series of previously classified documents detailing USA drone strategy and tactics. You can read about them here: https://theintercept.com/drone-papers


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