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 -
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
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
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?