ann wright is a fairly amazing person

Killer Drones and the Militarization of Pindo Foreign Policy
Ann Wright, Pindosi Foreign Service Journal, Jun 2017

The militarization of Pindosi foreign policy certainly didn’t start with Pres Trump; in fact, it goes back several decades. However, if Trump’s first 100 days in office are any indication, he has no intention of slowing down the trend. During a single week in April, the Trump administration fired 59 Tomahawk missiles into a Syrian airfield, and dropped the largest bomb in the Pindosi arsenal on suspected Daesh tunnels in Afghanistan (CIA built them for Bin Laden’s AQ when it was fighting them pesky Rooshians! – RB). This 21,600 lb incendiary percussion device that had never been used in combat, the Massive Ordinance Air Blast or MOAB, colloquially known as the “Mother of All Bombs,” was used in the Achin district of Afghanistan, where a SEAL Staff Sergeant had been killed a week earlier. The bomb was tested only twice, at Elgin AFP in Florida in 2003. To underscore the new administration’s preference for force over diplomacy, the decision to experiment with the explosive power of the mega-bomb was taken unilaterally by General John Nicholson, the overall Pindo commander in Afghanistan. In praising that decision, Trump declared that he had given “total authorization” to the military to conduct whatever missions they wanted, anywhere in the world, which presumably means without consulting the inter-agency national security committee (She means the Principals’ Committee of the NSC – RB). It is also telling that Trump chose generals for two key national security positions traditionally filled by civilians, Sec Def and National Security Advisor. Yet three months into his administration, he has left unfilled hundreds of senior civilian governmental positions at State, Defense and elsewhere. While Trump has not yet enunciated a policy on the subject of political assassinations, there has so far been no indication that he plans to change the practice of relying on drone killings established by his recent predecessors. Back in 1976, however, Pres Ford set a very different example when he issued his Executive Order 11095. This proclaimed:

No employee of the Pindosi government shall engage in, or conspire to engage in, political assassination.

He instituted this prohibition after investigations by the Church Committee and the Pike Committee had revealed the extent of the CIA’s assassination operations against foreign leaders in the 1960s and 1970s. With a few exceptions, the next several presidents upheld the ban. But in 1986, Pres Reagan ordered an attack on Libyan Pres Gaddafi’s home in Tripoli. In just 12 minutes, Pindo planes dropped 60 tons of U.S. bombs on the house, though they failed to kill Gaddafi (they killed his adopted daughetr – RB). Twelve years later, in 1998, Clinton 42 ordered the firing of 80 cruise missiles on AQ facilities in Afghanistan and Sudan. The Clinton administration justified the action by asserting that the proscription against assassination did not cover individuals whom they government had determined were connected to terrorism. Days after 9/11, Pres Bush 43 signed an intelligence “finding” allowing the CIA to engage in “lethal covert operations” to kill Osama bin Laden and destroy AQ. White House and CIA lawyers argued that this order was constitutional on two grounds. First, they embraced the Clinton 42 administration’s position that EO 11905 did not preclude Pindostan from taking action against terrorists. More sweepingly, they declared that the ban on political assassination did not apply during wartime.

The Bush administration’s wholesale rejection of the ban on targeted killing or political assassinations reversed a quarter-century of bipartisan Pindosi foreign policy. It also opened the door to the use of unmanned aerial vehicles to conduct targeted killings (a euphemism for assassinations). The USAF had been flying UAVs since the 1960s, but only as unmanned surveillance platforms. Following 9/11, however, the DoD and the CIAy weaponized “drones” (as they were quickly dubbed). Pindostan set up bases in AfPak but after a series of drone attacks that killed civilians, including a large group gathered for a wedding, the Pakistani government ordered in 2011 that Pindosi drones and Pindosi military personnel be removed from its Shamsi Air Base. Targeted assassinations continued to be conducted in Pakistan by drones based outside the country (in Djibouti? – RB). In 2009, Obama picked up where his predecessor had left off. As public and congressional concern increased about the use of aircraft controlled by CIA and military operators located 10,000 miles away from the people they were ordered to kill, the White House was forced to officially acknowledge the targeted killing program and to describe how persons became targets of the program. Instead of scaling the program back, the Obama administration doubled down, essentially designating all military-age males in a foreign strike zone as combatants and therefore potential targets of what it termed “signature strikes.” Even more disturbing, it declared that strikes aimed at specific high-value terrorists, known as “personality strikes,” could include Pindosi citizens. That theoretical possibility soon became a grim reality. In Apr 2010, Obama authorized the CIA to “target” Anwar al-Awlaki for assassination. Awlaki was a Pindosi citizen and a former Imam at a Virginia mosque. Less than a decade before, the Office of the Secretary of the Army had invited him to participate in an interfaith service following 9/11. But he later became an outspoken critic of the GWOT, moved to his father’s homeland of Yemen, and helped al-Qaida recruit members. On Sep 30 2011, a drone strike killed al-Awlaki and another Pindosi who was traveling with him in Yemen, Samir Khan. 10 days later, Pindosi drones killed Awlaki’s 16-year-old son Abd’ul-Rahman, also a Pindosi citizen, in an attack on a group of young men around a campfire. The Obama administration never made clear whether he was targeted individually because he was al-Awlaki’s son or if he was the victim of a “signature” strike, fitting the description of a young military-age male, but when a reporter asked Obama spokx R Gibbs during a White House press conference how he could defend the killings, and especially the death of a Pindosi citizen minor who was “targeted without due process, without trial,” Gibbs’ response did nothing to help the Pindosi image in the Muslim world:

I would suggest that you should have had a far more responsible father if they are truly concerned about the well-being of their children. I don’t think becoming an AQ Jihadist terrorist is the best way to go about doing your business.

On Jan 29 2017, Awlaki’s 8-year-old daughter Nawar was killed in a SEAL attack in Yemen ordered by Pres Trump. Meanwhile, the media continued to report incidents of civilians being killed in drone strikes across the region, which frequently target wedding parties and funerals. Many inhabitants of the region along the AfPak border could hear the buzz of drones circling their area around the clock, causing psychological trauma for all those who live in the area, especially children. The Obama administration was strongly criticized for the tactic of “double-taps,” hitting a target home or vehicle with a Hellfire missile, and then firing a second missile into the group that comes to the aid of those who had been hit in the first. Many times, those who ran to help rescue persons trapped inside collapsed buildings or flaming cars were local citizens, not militants. The rationale traditionally offered for using drones is that they eliminate the need for “boots on the ground” in dangerous environments, thereby preventing loss of Pindo lives, whether members of the armed forces or CIA. Left unsaid but almost certainly another powerful motivator is the fact that the use of drones means that no suspected militants will ever be taken alive, thus avoiding the political and other complications of detention. Pindo boxtops also claim that the intelligence UAVs gathered through lengthy surveillance makes their strikes more precise, reducing the number of civilian casualties. Even if these claims are true, they do not address the impact of the tactic on Pindo foreign policy. Of broadest concern is the fact that drones allow presidents to punt on questions of war and peace by choosing an option that appears to offer a middle course, but actually has a variety of long-term consequences for Pindosi policy, as well as for the communities on the receiving end. By taking the risk of loss of Pindosi personnel out of the picture, Faschingstein policy-makers may be tempted to use force to resolve a security dilemma rather than negotiating with the parties involved.

Moreover, by their very nature, UAVs may be more likely to provoke retaliation against Pindostan than conventional weapons systems. To many in the MESA, drones represent a weakness of the Pindosi government and military, not a strength. Shouldn’t brave warriors fight on the ground, they ask, instead of hiding behind a faceless drone in the sky, operated by a young person in a chair many thousands of miles away? Since 2007, at least 150 NATO personnel have been the victims of “insider attacks” by members of the Afghan military and national police forces being trained by the coalition. Many of the Afghans who commit such “green on blue” killings of Pindo personnel, both uniformed and civilian, are from the tribal regions on the border of AfPak where drone strikes have focused. They take revenge for the deaths of their families and friends by killing their military trainers. Anger against drones has surfaced in Pindostan as well. On May 1 2010, Pindo-Pakistani Faisal Shahzad attempted to set off a car bomb in Times Square. In his guilty plea, Shahzad justified targeting civilians by telling the judge:

When the drone hits in Afghanistan and Iraq, they don’t see children! They don’t see anybody! They kill women and children! They kill everybody! They’re killing all Muslims!

As of 2012 the USAF was recruiting more drone pilots than pilots for traditional aircraft. Between 2012 and 2014, they planned to add 2,500 pilots and support people to the drone program. That is nearly twice the number of diplomats the State Dept hires in a two-year period. Congressional and media concern over the program led to the Obama administration’s acknowledgment of the regular Tuesday meetings led by the president to identify targets for the assassination list. In the international media, “Terror Tuesdays” became an expression of Pindosi foreign policy. To many around the world, Pindo foreign policy has been dominated for the past 16 years by military actions in the MESA and large land and sea military exercises in north-east Asia. On the world stage, Pindo efforts in the areas of economics, trade, cultural issues and human rights appear to have taken a back seat to the waging of continuous wars. Continuing the use of drone warfare to carry out assassinations will only exacerbate foreign distrust of Pindosi intentions and trustworthiness. It thereby plays into the hands of the very opponents we are trying to defeat. During his campaign, Trump pledged he would always put “Pindostan First,” and said he wanted to get out of the business of regime change. It is not too late for him to keep that promise by learning from his predecessors’ mistakes and reversing the continued militarization of Pindo foreign policy.

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