By Victoria Ross
The Buffalo News’ Nov. 3 editorial supporting drone warfare was sadly misguided. For each targeted person, many innocents are killed and countless terrorized. Even accurately targeted “kills” multiply rather than subtract from our enemies. Before long, we’ll be exposed to drones ourselves – a nightmare scenario. Let’s choose another path.
Stanford Law School and New York University’s School of Law reported in September that only about 2 percent of fatalities from U.S. drone strikes in Pakistan are “high-level” targets. Their report says the strikes have killed far more people than officially acknowledged, have traumatized innocent civilians, and have largely been ineffective. It calls for a re-evaluation of the program.
Other studies put the rate of civilians killed between 33 percent and 98 percent. Although our government claims such deaths have been in the “single digits” during President Obama’s years in office, the actual numbers are shrouded in secrecy and inaccuracy.
I have spoken with courageous and loving Afghan boys who study Mahatma Gandhi and Martin Luther King Jr., and who ask for our friendship. Go to www.GlobalDaysOfListening.org for the opportunity to dialog with Afghan people. Or come to Hallwalls on Human Rights Day (Dec. 10) to learn more about PeaceJam Afghanistan.
Targeted killing of civilians is illegal under the U.N. Charter and the Geneva Convention (the Supreme Law of the Land under Article 6 Section 2 of the Constitution). Making assassination more like a video game increases mistakes, and burdens drone operators with post-traumatic stress disorder even more often than direct combat does.
Likewise, disregarding sovereignty could result in similar attacks on us. The low cost and availability of drones, the possibility of interception/hacking, and our own championing of such warfare makes us vulnerable to strikes in kind.
Buffalonian Bonny Mahoney, recent citizen delegate to Pakistan, is eager to share her experiences, including with traumatized drone victims. Please contact the WNY Peace Center (www.wnypeace.org) for more information.
The suffering caused by drones will soon be brought home: Congress has directed the Federal Aviation Administration to prepare to integrate some 30,000 drones into U.S. airspace. Imagine constant surveillance, followed by weaponization to keep police out of harm’s way.
We would be wise to observe the rule of law, exercise diplomacy and support peacemakers and peacekeepers on the ground. Let us strengthen nonviolent people power to encourage the cooperation required for facing critical challenges.
Victoria Ross has masters degrees in law and diplomacy, and social work, and is a peaceful conflict resolution consultant for the WNY Peace Center and the Interfaith Peace Network.