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Drones from the Other Side

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Imagine you awake to the sound of a machine noisily buzzing over your house, and another machine nearby in the sky, and another.  These machines and others like them have been around for months.  They never leave.  While you live in the United States, the machines belong to the government of Pakistan.  The machines are unmanned drones armed with missiles.  Every once in a while they blow up a house or a car or a couple of kids playing soccer or a grandmother walking to the store, sometimes a McDonald's or a shopping center.

Imagine that you've learned to live with this.  The popularity of homeschooling has skyrocketed, as nobody wants to send their kids outside.  Telecommuting is now the norm for those able to maintain employment.  But there's no getting used to the change.  Your kids wake up screaming and refuse to sleep.  Your rage makes you physically ill.  Antidepressants are on everybody's shopping lists, but shopping is a life-and-death proposition.  Canada is facing an immigration crisis.  So is Mexico.

Now, Pakistan claims to be targeting evil criminals with surgical precision.  And some in the U.S. government go along with this.  But others object.  The U.S. Supreme Court declares the drone deaths to be murder or war -- murder being illegal under U.S. law, and war being illegal under the U.N. Charter via Article VI of the U.S. Constitution. 

The U.S. Congress insists that criminals must be indicted and prosecuted, that negotiations with hostile groups cannot succeed while drones tear the negotiators limb from limb, and that Pakistan has no right to put its robots in our skies no matter what its good intentions.  Statements agreeing with this opposition to the drones are signed by everybody who's anybody.  Popular demonstrations against the drones, and -- bravely -- in the face of the drones, dwarf anything seen before.  In fact, the world joins in, and people protest Pakistan's murder spree all over the globe.  Human rights groups in various countries denounce it as criminal.  The Pakistani prime minister reportedly checks off men, women, and children to kill on a list at regular Tuesday meetings.  He's burned in effigy across the United States.

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But Pakistani human rights groups take a different tack.  In their view, some of the drone murders in the United States are illegal and some are not.  It depends on the knowledge and intentions of the Pakistani officials -- did they know those kids were just playing soccer or did they believe their soccer ball was an imminent threat to the nation of Pakistan?  Was blowing up those kids necessary, discrete, and proportionate?  Were they militants or civilians?  Was blowing them up part of an armed conflict or an act of law enforcement, and what type of armed conflict or what law was being enforced?  Pakistan, these groups argue, must not blow people up without identifying them, without verifying that they cannot be captured, and without taking care not to kill too many civilians in the process.  Further, Pakistan must reveal the details of its legal reasoning and decision making, so that the process has transparency.  Indeed, Pakistan must begin running its proposed drone killings by a judge who must sign off on them -- a Pakistani judge, but a judge nonetheless.

The Pakistani human rights groups are not made up of evil people.  They very much mean well.  They want to reduce the number of Americans killed by drones.  And they are not permitted to declare all drone killing illegal, because these killings might be part of a war, and these groups have adopted as a matter of strict principle the position that wars must never be opposed, only tactics within wars.  They believe this makes them "objective" and "credible," and it certainly does do that with certain people.  These Pakistani human rights groups are not pulling the trigger, they're trying to stop it being pulled as often.  Lumping them together with the Pakistani military would be Bushian (with us or against us) thinking.  But it's harder to see that from under the drones here in the United States with the kids wailing and Uncle Joe's brains still staining the side of the Pizza Hut, than it would be perhaps in Pakistan or at the United Nations Headquarters in Islamabad.

From here in the United States, the cries are for justice.  Many want the prime minister of Pakistan prosecuted for murder. Many are beginning to view the absence of such legal justice as grounds for violence.  I'm growing worried over what my neighbors and even myself might unleash on the rest of the world.  I'm beginning to fall in love with the feeling of hatred.

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Read more about drones.

Watch the Wounds of Waziristan video.

Do a die-in like this one.

Watch this video of an event on drones and militarization at NYU.

Watch this video of drone survivors visiting Congress.

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Watch Unmanned: America's Drone Wars.

Sign the petition at BanWeaponizedDrones.org

Get your city or state to oppose drones.

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David Swanson is the author of "When the World Outlawed War," "War Is A Lie" and "Daybreak: Undoing the Imperial Presidency and Forming a More Perfect Union." He blogs at http://davidswanson.org and http://warisacrime.org and works for the online (more...)
 

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