• House Armed Services Committee had recently heard testimony from David Kilcullen–a former adviser to General David Petraeus–who believes the drone attacks take too many civilian lives. Kilcullen testified that while drone attacks are suspected to have killed 14 Al-Qaeda leaders since 2006 in Pakistan, at the same time the weapons have killed about 700 civilians–a 50:1 ratio of innocent victims to targeted enemies.
“We need to call off the drones,” Kilcullen said.
“I realize that they do damage to the Al Qaeda leadership,” he told the House Armed Services Committee. But that, he said, was not enough to justify the program. “Since 2006, we’ve killed 14 senior Al Qaeda leaders using drone strikes; in the same time period, we’ve killed 700 Pakistani civilians in the same area. The drone strikes are highly unpopular. They are deeply aggravating to the population. And they’ve given rise to a feeling of anger that coalesces the population around the extremists and leads to spikes of extremism. … The current path that we are on is leading us to loss of Pakistani government control over its own population.”
“There are other ways to do it.”
Kilcullen is a former Australian army officer who served in Iraq as a top advisor to U.S. Army Gen. David H. Petraeus. Full article here
• Lord Bingham, until last year the senior law lord (Britain), said that some weapons were so “cruel as to be beyond the pale of human tolerance”.
“Are there, for example, and this goes to conflict, not post-conflict situations, weapons that ought to be outlawed? From time to time in the history of international law various weapons have been thought to be so cruel as to be beyond the pale of human tolerance. I think cluster bombs and landmines are the most recent examples.
“It may be – I’m not expressing a view – that unmanned drones that fall on a house full of civilians is a weapon the international community should decide should not be used.”
• Unless we come up with a coherent Pakistan policy, then nothing works,” said Milton Bearden, who as C.I.A. station chief in Islamabad once led the agency’s campaign to arm Afghan mujahedeen against the Soviet Union.
“If courage is the coin of the realm, then courage is what proves to the local Pashtun tribes that you are their allies,” he said.
But Pakistan is different, Mr. Jones said. In the northwest, where Al Qaeda’s leaders are now based, he sees little hope that the drones alone can address the core problem, which he says is militancy already strong among local residents. So continued strikes there, he said, may mean only more trouble and instability for Pakistan.
“You don’t clear territory, you don’t hold territory, and you don’t undermine Al Qaeda’s support base with Predator strikes alone,” he said.
Full article here
• The new American commander in Afghanistan, General McChrystal, said he would sharply restrict the use of airstrikes here, in an effort to reduce the civilian deaths that he said were undermining the American-led mission.
“Air power contains the seeds of our own destruction if we do not use it responsibly. We can lose this fight,” General McChrystal told a group of his senior officers during a videoconference last week.
“When we shoot into a compound, that should only be for the protection of our forces. I want everyone to understand that,” he said. – General McChrystal, American Comander in Afghanistan
Full article here
• “It has been … [our stance] that drone attacks are a violation of Pakistan’s sovereignty and must be stopped. We are in regular contact with the US and our concerns over recent strikes have been put across strongly,” said the spokesman, adding that Pakistan’s own law-enforcement operations were “proceeding satisfactorily”. –Pakistani Governmnet spokesperson
Full article here
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