Saturday, November 22, 2014

US launches 500th drone attack

As Micah Zenko noted in an article in 2012, November 3 that year marked the tenth anniversary of the first drone attack by the US. No one took notice. The same will apply to the 500th confirmed US drone attack today outside of combat zones.



In his 2012 article Zenko called the drone strikes America's Third War. Micah Zenko is the Douglas Dillon fellow in the Center for Preventive Action (CPA) at the Council on Foreign Relations (CFR). He has worked previously at Harvard and the Brookings Institution. Targeted killings were originally directed supposedly at a small number of key terrorist leaders thought to be an imminent threat to the US. Now the attacks barely merit a mention in the press. As Zenko puts it in his 2012 article: What was once considered an immediate response to an exceptional threat to the United States is now a permanent and institutionalized feature of U.S. foreign policy. Perhaps by November 3, 2022, policymakers and the American people will have noticed.
 Certainly in November 2014 Zenko is one of the few who have noted that a recent drone strike in Pakistan was the 500th such attack. The attack destroyed a house in Mada Khei a village in North Waziristan. The attack reportedly killed six people and wounded three others. All six who were killed were said to be suspects but none were identified. The reports were from a security official in the area.
 The Pakistan military has been carrying out an offensive in the area and claims to have killed about 1,200 militants. Before the offensive the population of the area about a million people were told to leave their homes, creating a huge flood of displaced people.
In the final years of the Bush administration there were just a few attacks each year. However, since Obama came to power attacks have increased in number and been extended to both Yemen and Somalia. In all, the 500 attacks are estimated to have killed 3,674 people but only 473 are listed as confirmed civilian casualties with the rest usually never identified but classified as "suspects". The 500th strike was reportedly also the 21st strike of this year in Pakistan. The Pakistan government constantly complains about the strikes but does nothing to stop them. Of the 500 drone strikes 50 were authorized by president George W. Bush and the other 450 by the Nobel Peace Prize winner Barack Obama.