Death from Above

The “Peace” President Obama’s Indiscriminate Bombing of Pakistan

BASICS #16 (Nov / Dec 2009)
by J.D. Benjamin

Almost a year after the election of U.S. President Barack Obama, the rhetoric of “hope” and “change” has been dashed against the brutal realities of an escalating campaign of targeted assassinations using remote controlled “predator” drones. During the first ten months of his presidency, Obama authorized the Central Intelligence Agency to launch remote drone attacks on Pakistani territory more than 41 times: as many drone attacks as President Bush carried out during his last three years in office.

In a recent report to the United Nations Human Rights Committee, Philip Alston, the UN Special Rapporteur on Extrajudicial, Summary or Arbitrary Executions, criticized the use of drone attacks, saying that “these drones, these predators, are being operated in a framework which may well violate international humanitarian law and international human rights law. The onus is really on the government of the United States to reveal more about the ways in which it makes sure that arbitrary executions, extrajudicial executions, are not in fact being carried out through the use of these weapons.”

The United States has ignored Alston’s concerns, claiming that the UN Human Rights Committee or General Assembly have no role regarding killings carried out in an armed conflict. Alston has retorted that the American position is “simply untenable”.

Estimates of the death toll resulting from drone attacks are over 700 people in northwest Pakistan alone. This includes not only suspected armed fighters, but also anyone who happens to be nearby, including women and children. In one June 2008 strike, the CIA killed more than 80 people and maimed dozens more in a funeral procession for people who had died in an earlier attack. Such attacks have stirred bitter hatred amongst the local population and pushed many to join the armed resistance against the NATO occupation.




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