In Oz, we have a paper called The Australian, which was created by Rupert Murdoch when he was still a young bloke. Overseas visitors, therefore, may find it anomalous that in last weekend’s The Weekend Australian Magazine there was an article by Johann Hari that was critical of US policy in Afghanistan and Pakistan. Specifically, the use of drones in the so-called war on terror. The same magazine, by the way, runs a weekly column by one of Australia’s leading left-wing commentators, Phillip Adams, and has done so for decades. In his country of origin, it appears, Murdoch is something of a softie. Having said that, the article cannot be found on the magazine’s web page. Murdoch wouldn’t want to dilute his overseas persona apparently.
If I could provide a link, I obviously would, because I can’t relate this story any more eloquently than the journalist does. He starts off by asking the reader to imagine the street, where they live, being bombed by a robotic plane controlled by pilots on the other side of the world in a ‘rogue state’ called the USA. A bit of poetic licence on my part, because Hari does not use the term ‘rogue state’ and he asks you to imagine that the drone is controlled from Pakistan, not America. Significantly, the ‘pilots’ are sitting at a console with a joy stick as if they’re playing a video game. But this ‘game’ has both fatal and global consequences.
The gist of Hari’s article is that this policy, endorsed by Obama’s administration and “the only show in town” according to some back-room analysts, is that it actually enlists more jihadists than it destroys.
David Kilcullen, an Australian expert on Afghanistan and once advisor to the American State Department ‘…has shown that two percent of the people killed by the robot-planes in Pakistan are jihadis. The remaining 98 percent are as innocent as the victims of 9/11. He says: “It’s not moral.” And it gets worse: “Every one of these dead non-combatants represents an alienated family, and more recruits for a militant movement that has grown exponentially as drone strikes have increased.”’
David Kilcullen, who was once advisor to Condoleezza Rice during Bush’s administration, once said in an ABC (Oz BC) radio interview, that ‘…we need to get out of the business of invading other people’s countries because we believe they may harbour terrorists.’
‘Juan Cole, Professor of Middle Eastern History at the University of Michigan, puts it more bluntly: “When you bomb people and kill their family, it pisses them off. They form lifelong grudges… This is not rocket science. If they were not sympathetic to the Taliban and al-Qa’ida before, after you bomb the shit out of them they will be.”’
According to Hari, drones were originally developed by Israel and are routinely deployed to bomb the Gaza Strip. Not surprisingly, the US government won’t even officially acknowledge that their programme exists. Having said that, Bob Woodward, in his book, Obama’s Wars, claims that ‘the US has an immediate plan to bomb 150 targets in Pakistan if there is a jihadi attack inside America.’ In other words, the people who promote this strategy see it as a deterrent, when all evidence points to the opposite outcome. As Hari points out, in 2004, a ‘report commissioned by Donald Rumsfeld said that “American direct intervention in the Muslim world” was the primary reason for jihadism'.
I could fill this entire post with pertinent quotes, but the message is clear to anyone who engages their brain over their emotions: you don’t stop people building bombs to kill innocent civilians in your country by doing it to them in their country.