Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Living with attack drones

Can you imagine living in a place where armed flying drones roam the skies, ready to attack without warning at any moment? If not, how about spending some time in Pakistan.

A new report says that in the past several years, U.S. drone strikes have "killed 2,562-3,325 people in Pakistan, of whom 474-881 were civilians, including 176 children.[3] TBIJ reports that these strikes also injured an additional 1,228-1,362 individuals." I doubt that drone strikes are anywhere near a leading cause of death in Pakistan, but it must have a similar effect on the human psyche as old-fashioned terrorism:
US drone strike policies cause considerable and under-accounted-for harm to the daily lives of ordinary civilians, beyond death and physical injury. Drones hover twenty-four hours a day over communities in northwest Pakistan, striking homes, vehicles, and public spaces without warning. Their presence terrorizes men, women, and children, giving rise to anxiety and psychological trauma among civilian communities. Those living under drones have to face the constant worry that a deadly strike may be fired at any moment, and the knowledge that they are powerless to protect themselves. These fears have affected behavior. The US practice of striking one area multiple times, and evidence that it has killed rescuers, makes both community members and humanitarian workers afraid or unwilling to assist injured victims. Some community members shy away from gathering in groups, including important tribal dispute-resolution bodies, out of fear that they may attract the attention of drone operators. Some parents choose to keep their children home, and children injured or traumatized by strikes have dropped out of school. Waziris told our researchers that the strikes have undermined cultural and religious practices related to burial, and made family members afraid to attend funerals. In addition, families who lost loved ones or their homes in drone strikes now struggle to support themselves.
The abstract also says 'The number of “high-level” targets killed [] estimated at just 2%. [...] As the New York Times has reported, “drones have replaced Guantánamo as the recruiting tool of choice for militants.” [...] One major study shows that 74% of Pakistanis now consider the US an enemy.'

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