Death from the skies: 100 and still droning on

This weekend saw four CIA drone strikes in Pakistan with a death toll estimated to be around 35.   This has brought the number of drone strikes in Pakistan since Nobel Peace Prize winning President Barack Obama came to power to 100.  The Guardian reports that British Reapers have been used 97 times to launch attacks in Afghanistan since 2008.

The Guardian information comes in their reporting of the 90,000 secret US military files, released via  Wikileaks,  that detail military operations between 2004 and 2009 in Afghanistan.   The files can be downloaded from Wikileaks here.

This report details an armed strike by a Reaper drone which resulted in two Afghan children being wounded.

This report details how a Reaper continues to attack people fleeing from its inital attack.  

This report details how a Reaper was assigned to bomb 3 people believed to be planting an IED.

No doubt as people trawl through the thousands of files, more details of how drones are operating in Afghanistan will emerge.



Categories: US Drone Operations

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4 replies

  1. In case your readers are interested in perspective: Human Rights Watch says that ‘drone strikes are accomplished with minimal civilian deaths’ For a more rounded view on the efficacy and impact of drones read: //www.foreignpolicy.com/articles/2010/05/28/drone_wars?page=0,1

  2. Hmm…yeah….right…..C. Christine Fair is very good at perspective – stating first of all that nobody knows how many civilians are killed in the FATA area by unmanned drones, but because the Taliban say many are killed, then this must be false ergo not many are killed!!!!

    Sheesh, thanks for that perspective – but I think I’ll actually believe the interviews with Pakistani/NGO medics/orderlies who are constantly treating (and talking about) the number of dead/injured from each of these strikes.

    Oh and the fact that C. Christine Fair used to work for the RAND corporation doesn’t influence my thinking (or her perspective) in the slightest!

    If you honestly believe that dropping 500lb – 2,000lb bombs on a village only damages ‘one or two houses’, then I suggest you visit your nearest military testing range and ask them if you can stand within 20 metres of a detonating 500lb bomb!

    Then you may have some empathy/pity for the villagers who are maimed and killed by these weapons!

    • Oh dear Dave…..sorry to read you have such a problem with ‘perspective’. I read the article and it does give a fairly balanced view of the situation. With respect to your casual and rather dismissive comments regarding the author and her previous links to the RAND organisation I did a little research and came up with the following which perhaps may provide some ‘perspective’ for you.
      “C. Christine Fair is an assistant professor in the Center for Peace and Security Studies (CPASS), within Georgetown University’s Edmund A. Walsh School of Foreign Service. Previously, she has served as a senior political scientist with the RAND Corporation, a political officer to the United Nations Assistance Mission to Afghanistan in Kabul, and as a senior research associate in USIP’s Center for Conflict Analysis and Prevention. She is also a senior fellow with the Counter Terrorism Center at West Point.” hardly the profile of a ‘Hawk’?
      No one debates that there are casualties from drone strikes, some of these civilian. The author makes this clear. The point at issue is the basis for the irrational and hysterical response to those casualties caused by Drones when compared to the ‘conventional’ approaches.
      Your comments about the impact of large bombs is equally spurious as it would be the same regardless of the means of delivery.
      You pointedly failed to mention the view of that renowned right wing think tank (oops sorry nearly resorted to sarcasm there!) ‘Human Rights Watch’ and/or the Pakistani journalist instead refering to just a few unnamed NGOs and medics who would no doubt have commented on the impact of all the devastation regardless of the source. In fact your opening comment regarding the assessment of casualties only needs the rebutal of the original text:
      ” As a result, all we have is a smattering of anecdotal accounts, which vary depending upon who is asked, and where, when, and how they are interviewed. On one hand are those who rubbish the Pakistani media claims of civilian casualties and assert that the drones effectively kill militants but not civilians. On the other are outraged residents who live in fear of the constant buzzing of the drones circling above. It’s unreasonable to extrapolate any kind of majority opinion from either one of them.” That seems fair and gives ‘perspective’ Did you actually read the article properly or are your biases so ingrained that you will knee jerk your responses regardless? Of course the Taliban would have nothing to gain by exagerating casualties??(there I go again).
      If you have your way and the Drones are stood down and, God forbid, the Taliban win the battle will you be there to address the devastation to the countless thousands/millions of casualties like Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani or the generation of girls who will be effectively enslaved and deprived of an education or will you have ‘moved on’ and be using your blinkered bias to renounce some other ’cause celebre’ with a clear conscience?

      Perhaps we should leave the last words to the author:

      What is clear enough, however, is that the drone strikes, however unpopular they may be, are likely to be more popular than the realistic alternatives: the Taliban’s violence or the Pakistani army’s operations, which have displaced millions.

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