When the George W. Bush, then Commander in Chief of the year-old U.S. “war on terror,” authorized a Predator drone strike on a car in Yemen in November 2002, the act was shocking and the details hazy for years. The CIA, which ran the operation, the first known targeted killing by Hellfire missile from an armed drone, says the six men killed were “suspected” al-Qaeda members.
This attack demonstrated the illegitimacy, injustice and immorality of the U.S. program of weaponized drones and targeted killing. As with “enhanced interrogation,” another aspect of the U.S. war of terror, the program is largely secret, with just enough information released to terrorize the globe the U.S. seeks to control.
In 2013, Obama finally acknowledged the U.S. military targeted killing program and said he would explain how people are chosen to be killed. But it took an ACLU lawsuit to get the material made public. As if it’s all a game, the Obama administration referred to the guidelines as a “playbook,” which include targeting men over a certain age as “combatants” and twisting international law to justify killing civilians, under the rubric of America being “the good guys” whose lives are more important than others’.
Three U.S. administrations have escalated the use of drones for targeted assassination. The Biden government will continue to use them as essential to the biggest military in the world and its mission of maintaining global control. Norman Pollack, author of Capitalism, Hegemony and Violence in the Age of Drones, literally the textbook on drones, wrote, “I view the drone, although a small part of the American arsenal, for its geopolitical significance and symbolic value: a miniaturization of the nation’s foreign policy framework, flexible, intimidating, lethal, having strategic-psychological import in fulfilling US aspirations in the global economy and political order.”
The imperialist countries that deploy weaponized drones should be trusted as much as they are with massive stockpiles of nuclear, chemical and biological weapons, which is to say not at all. These weapons pose an existential threat to humanity and the planet, and along with the death penalty, they must be abolished.
There must be a global ban on weaponized drones and drone surveillance.