If Drones Don’t Make You Nervous, They Should

Jamie Samdalh ’15
Contributing Writer

It’s been 11 years and we’re still at war. Somehow it’s easy to forget Afghanistan, the Philippines, the Horn of Africa, the Sahara, Pakistan and Yemen – out of sight, out of mind. Conflicts in all these places are ongoing, though they frequently go unmentioned by the media – until recently. Beginning last week with the leak of a confidential government white paper, drones have finally become headline news. The very next day, it was revealed that the C.I.A. has been operating out of a base in Saudi Arabia for two years.

Now, that shouldn’t come as a shock. The drone strikes being carried out in Yemen had to be coming from somewhere. What is significant is that the Washington Post had the story on hold for some time – at the request of the government. At the very least, let this serve as a reminder of just how corrupt U.S media is. If you let the news come to you, you won’t be getting news. In order to know what is going on, you have to actively seek the truth.

Now that a source beside Aljazeera or BBC has finally picked up the controversy, Americans have no choice but to face the policies of their own government. We like to think of Barack Obama as our progressive president. We ignore his war policies because they are inconvenient to our conception of him as an honest, well-intentioned, liberal man. Sure, we’ll cheer for him when he talks about women’s equality and LGBT rights but let’s also remember that he isn’t about to end this war.

From violations of privacy to mechanized manslaughter, if drones don’t make you nervous, they should. The use of drones may have started under the Bush administration, but according to the BBC, the use of drones has doubled in the years Obama has spent in office. It is certainly curious, to say the least, that the supposedly hyper-precise drone strikes kill so many civilians, including the hundreds killed over the last decade, in Pakistan alone.

Drones aren’t used exclusively for killing, of course. Often unmanned aircraft are used to do surveillance and listen in on cell phone conversations. Less scary, but not that much less scary. If we can’t stop our government from using these weapons, we need to at least understand the implications. We need to be pressuring the administration for explanations. Passivity certainly isn’t going to end this war.

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