The West still tolerates the wounding and murder of children when it is done by the United States in the name of the war on terror.
In September, Stanford Law School and New York University’s School of Law released a joint study entitled “Living Under Drones: Death, Injury, and Trauma to Civilians From US Drone Practices in Pakistan.” (PDF)
Since 2004, the United States has used unmanned aerial vehicles or drones to make hundreds of attacks within northwest Pakistan, despite the nation’s protests. Drones have been heralded as being surgically precise in targeting terrorists while causing little “collateral damage.” Collateral damage generally refers to the maiming and killing of civilians.
The joint study declares, “This narrative is false.” The study was released after “nine months of intensive research,” including 130 interviews in Pakistan with victims as well as humanitarian and medical-aid workers. It also incorporates findings from an independent journalist organization based in London: the Bureau of Investigative Journalism (TBIJ).
According to TBIJ’s best estimate based on available data, from June 2004 through mid-September 2012, drone attacks in Pakistan killed 2,593 to 3,365 people; 474 to 884 were civilians, including at least 176 children. 1,249 to 1,389 people were injured. Evidence of other deaths is offered but not confirmed.
The study goes on to document the harm caused by drones even to uninjured people.
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.
People have become fearful of gathering in groups, even for funerals or religious rites. The American habit of striking the same target multiple times has made rescuers and medical personnel reluctant to help the wounded. “Some parents choose to keep their children home, and children injured or traumatized by strikes have dropped out of school.”
Peter Bergen, a CNN reporter who is often on the ground in Pakistan, reported on the “efficiency” of the drone attacks. He wrote,
Since it began in 2004, the drone campaign has killed 49 militant leaders whose deaths have been confirmed by at least two credible news sources. While this represents a significant blow to the militant chain of command, these 49 deaths account for only 2% of all drone-related fatalities.
Meanwhile, there is evidence that the constant bombardment of largely civilian areas has led to a spike in recruitment into terrorist or extremist groups.
In a New York Times article entitled “Secret ‘Kill List’ Proves a Test of Obama’s Principles and Will,” investigative reporters Jo Becker and Scott Shane maintained,
Drones have replaced Guantánamo as the recruiting tool of choice for militants; in his 2010 guilty plea, Faisal Shahzad, who had tried to set off a car bomb in Times Square, justified targeting civilians by telling the judge, “When the drones hit, they don’t see children.”