A tool that allows a single, powerful individual to choose to blow up a house or a car or a picnic or a wedding party anywhere on earth is the epitome of those practices for which the phrase “imperial presidency” was created. This tool, the murder drone, follows the pattern of those practices. Here’s how it works. One president (George W. Bush) gets away with a new abuse of power. There are no consequences from the public or Congress or courts or governments or global institutions. So, another president (Barack Obama) expands it. Some people express outrage. A few take great risks and endure prison and fasting. But there are still no consequences. So, a third president (as is typical, switching political parties with each presidency, this time to Donald Trump) expands the abuse of power further still. And this time people hardly notice. What was once science fiction, and then an outrage, has become normal, even invisible. Why would anyone then ask President Joe Biden to stop “bug splatting” human beings? Would it even be polite to do so?
According to the Bureau of Investigative Journalism, drone murder-strikes in Afghanistan climbed from at least 235 in 2015 to at least 7,167 in 2019. In Somalia the same pair of years saw an increase from at least 11 to at least 63. Yemen saw at least 21 drone murder-strikes in 2015, but at least 127 in 2017. The numbers are uncertain, because the U.S. public relies on reports from the receiving end, not being entitled apparently to any reports from the U.S. government. The numbers of people killed, injured, made homeless, driven to starvation, forced into a wider war, or traumatized are even less certain. But we do know enough to be certain that the people launching the missiles never identify most of the people they kill.
The problem is the murder, along with the trauma, the cost, the support for lawlessness, the diversion of resources away from nonviolent solutions, and the creation of wider wars (as in Yemen) through “successful” drone wars. Drone surveillance is often an aid to violence, including murder, and also a step toward the acceptance of murder strikes.
The problem is not blowing people up with missiles outside of an official war. War — itself immoral and illegal, as well as often unidentifiable — is not a license to kill, but the crime of killing on a certain scale. The problem is not a lack of due process. There isn’t a process that allows someone else to drop a missile on you while giving you your due as a human being. The problem is not a lack of identification. Identifying a victim, rather than killing a stranger, does not justify any other sort of murder, and doesn’t justify this kind.
I support a ban on armed drones and drone surveillance. I support creating a treaty to do it. I’m glad that Ban Killer Drones is backing this petition and carrying it further: https://banweaponizeddrones.org
David Swanson is an author, activist, journalist, and radio host. He is executive director of WorldBeyondWar.org and campaign coordinator for RootsAction.org. Swanson’s books include War Is A Lie. He blogs at DavidSwanson.org and WarIsACrime.org. He hosts Talk Nation Radio.He is a Nobel Peace Prize nominee, and was awarded the 2018 Peace Prize by the U.S. Peace Memorial Foundation. Longer bio and photos and videos here. Follow him on Twitter: @davidcnswanson and FaceBook, and sign up for: Activist alerts. Articles. David Swanson news. World Beyond War news. Charlottesville news. Connect with WBW: https://facebook.com/worldbeyondwar https://twitter.com/worldbeyondwar https://youtube.com/user/worldbeyondwar https://instagram.com/worldbeyondwar https://linkedin.com/company/worldbeyondwar