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American Style Killing Machine

 

Political Prisoners of the Empire  MIAMI 5     

     

 N T E R N A T I O N A L

Havana.  December 1, 2011

Claudia Fonseca Sosa

WITH the drone bombing attacks the United States government is carrying out in tribal regions of Pakistan, it's hard to know what to believe. An article in the Wall Street Journal summarizes the situation this way, "Combatants of terrorist groups are fired upon, but their identity is not always known."

A report from the Conflict Monitoring Center indicates that the recent strikes in Pakistani territory have a "punitive" objective since they are intended to punish Islamabad for its alleged collaboration with the Haqqani network. It is, in effect, an undeclared war, which has civilians as its principal victims.

Steven Zaloga, a U.S. historian who has studied world trends in weaponry for 36 years, explains that the so-called drones, created by the CIA, are situated hundreds of miles from the battlefield and allow military power to be asserted with a minimum of troop casualties. These spy planes are equipped with electronic sensors to undertake reconnaissance and precisely programmed missiles - killing machines.

Zaloga, also a member of the Teal Group, a well-known defense consulting firm headquartered in Fairfax, Virginia, reports that, in 2002, the Pentagon spent approximately $550 million on non-piloted aircraft and that this year the figure is getting close to five billion. He additionally estimates that global sales of these drones will reach $94 billion over the next 10 years.

Nevertheless, among the 40 countries which possess these weapons, only the United States, Israel and the United Kingdom have used them in belligerent actions, according to the United Nations. Others employ them as they were originally designed, for aerial reconnaissance.

In fact, Israel, the principal U.S. ally in the Middle East, is the second most active exporter of this technology on a world scale, with a broad range of models, from micro-drones known as Mosquitoes which only weigh 250 grams and the Bird's Eye, which two soldiers can carry on their backs, to the Panther, transported by two tanks and capable of flying 60 kilometers into enemy territory, as well as transmitting live images. Its insignia product is the five metric ton Heron, equipped with tremendously powerful missiles.

The U.S. expert added that these machines are relatively less expensive in comparison to others used by the U.S. Army and the fact that they reduce casualties within the ranks – already debilitated by the empire's unending wars – has transformed these drones into the weapon of choice for the White House.

It has been estimated that some 2,300 people have been killed in the search for members of the Taliban along the border between Afghanistan and Pakistan, where aerial attacks are becoming increasingly more frequent.

A report from the Investigative Journalism Office in London indicated in October that, of the 300 drone bombings of Pakistani territory since June of 2004, 248 have been carried out during the Obama administration. The current occupant of the Oval Office sent non-piloted planes equipped with missiles into the area every four days, while his predecessor, George W. Bush, did so every 47 days.

This source reported that the U.S. Air Force has a fleet of 230 remote controlled aircraft and is currently training more pilots to operate these, as opposed to fighter planes. The majority of the drones in use are of the Predator model, which can remain airborne for 36 consecutive hours and fire Hellfire missiles on their targets. Obama insists on describing them as "very accurate."

On the contrary, Chris Woods, head of undercover war research department at the Pentagon, told the newspaper Dawn that in 2011, these CIA aircraft attacked targets in Pakistan 66 times. More than 20% of the dead were civilians. What about the so-called accuracy of these drones?

For Obama, drones are miraculous weapons which will open the way for more bombings, leading to a victory in the war on terrorism. Their use is based on policy established during the Bush administration authorizing "all necessary and appropriate force" against those responsible for terrorist acts, giving the President the right - in fact, the responsibility - to use drones in self-defense. The question is then, what have civilian Pakistanis done to the Nobel Peace Prize winner?
 

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