New Internationalist

Droning on

December 2009

While Obama polishes his Nobel Peace Prize, awarded for ‘his extraordinary efforts to strengthen international diplomacy and co-operation between peoples’, the good folk of Pakistan will not be celebrating with him. A recent study by the New America Foundation reveals that since Obama became President, the US has carried out 41 drone attacks there (compared to 34 in 2008, when George W Bush was in office). The study estimates that between 750 and 1,000 innocent Pakistanis have been killed since the air strikes – ostensibly targeting Taliban militants – began in 2006. General Stanley McChrystal, the US’s top commander in neighbouring Afghanistan, has himself admitted the devastating outcomes of such action: ‘Preoccupied with protection of our own forces, we have operated in a manner that distances us – physically and psychologically – from the people we seek to protect. In addition, we run the risk of strategic defeat by pursuing tactical wins that cause civilian casualties or unnecessary collateral damage. The insurgents cannot defeat us militarily, but we can defeat ourselves.’

This column was published in the December 2009 issue of New Internationalist. To read more, buy this issue or subscribe.

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