Targeted Killing and Collateral Damage

Drones. The word has been said so many times now that it has almost lost its meaning. Say it with me now, “drone strike”, see it’s easy, you just throw it around. In reality a drone strike is a deep visceral thing. I have been reading up on the use of drones by various actors, mainly the CIA and it is quite remarkable.

They were first used in 1994 during the Bosnian war, only for reconnaissance. The first use as a military tool was 2002, not surprisingly in Afghanistan, trying to knock off Osama. Since then, use has increased exponentially, across both the Middle East and Africa. In fact anywhere the US and its allies can operate without major political attack (IE any third world country) drones are being used, to kill people.

You, like me, probably think that any time a drone launches a missile that kills someone, then some human has made the decision to kill the target. This is in fact not true. Obviously there is still currently a human operator actually pulling the trigger on firing the missile at the other human. But he doesn’t make the decision on whether to kill them, he is merely a technician administering the method. For the record two humans operate a drone, one to fly one to look at the pictures and fire the weapons.

The US now has a system in place that can decide to have a human killed just on their behaviour. Now, by behaviour I don’t mean that they have been fighting US forces, or firing rockets. They can be targeted for going to certain buildings for a few days in a row, or spending time with a certain person. Once the decision is made, it is not human reviewed. Just think about that for a second. Put yourself on the fleshy end of this equation. You are a farmer, one week, some millitants come to your house and force you to give them food and lodging for a few days before they move on. You are now on the list due to your behaviour. The next day a Hellfire missile comes in and kills your family whilst you are working in the field.

That is something that blows my mind and all I can see it doing is driving people in to extremism and hatred of the west. Just crazy.

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