– Washington increases drone missile strikes in Afghanistan (Radio Australia)
Winning the hearts and minds of the people in action.
The US military has used drones to attack suspected terrorists in Pakistan since at least 2004. Proponents of the small, unmanned planes say they are capable of “surgical strikes” that reduce civilian casualties and effectively combat terrorism.
Is that true? Well, not really, according to a new report from the New America Foundation, a non-profit research institute.
The percentage of civilians killed by drones in Pakistan is at about 32 percent, or one out of three, the report states, and the strikes themselves have little effect in deterring terrorist activities in either Pakistan or Afghanistan. Researchers do not believe any of the reported strikes targeted Osama bin Laden.
Our study shows that the 114 reported drone strikes in northwest Pakistan, including 18 in 2010, from 2004 to the present have killed approximately between 834 and 1,216 individuals, of whom around 549 to 849 were described as militants in reliable press accounts, about two-thirds of the total on average. Thus, the true civilian fatality rate since 2004 according to our analysis is approximately 32 percent.
The group’s report is titled “The Year of the Drone,” referring to 2009. According to the figures obtained by the foundation, the Obama administration has increased the use of drone strikes considerably when compared to the previous years of the Bush administration.
There were 114 reported drone strikes from 2004 through 2009, but only 45 during the Bush years. The other 51 were during last year.
…[A]lthough the drone strikes have disrupted militant operations, their unpopularity with the Pakistani public and their value as a recruiting tool for extremist groups may have ultimately increased the appeal of the Taliban and al Qaeda, undermining the Pakistani state. This is more disturbing than almost anything that could happen in Afghanistan, given that Pakistan has dozens of nuclear weapons and about six times the population.
Although the US military executes the strikes with the approval of the Pakistani government, the people feel differently. Only 9 percent approve of drone strikes.
The group ReThink Afghanistan has already created a short documentary using some of the report’s findings.
“Clearly when you have a drone strike that kills a wedding party of ninety people when you’re really after one person and maybe you didn’t even get that person, this contributes to the problem,” Rep. Keith Ellison (D-Minn.) says in the film.
By Andrew McLemore
Saturday, March 6th, 2010 — 10:42 pm
Source: The Raw Story
More on the war on terror:
– Obama: ‘I will promise you this, that if we have not gotten our troops out by the time I am President, it is the first thing I will do. I will get our troops home. We will bring an end to this war. You can take that to the bank.’ (!)
Murray asserts that the primary motivation for US and British military involvement in central Asia has to do with large natural gas deposits in Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan. As evidence, he points to the plans to build a natural gas pipeline through Afghanistan that would allow Western oil companies to avoid Russia and Iran when transporting natural gas out of the region.
Murray alleged that in the late 1990s the Uzbek ambassador to the US met with then-Texas Governor George W. Bush to discuss a pipeline for the region, and out of that meeting came agreements that would see Texas-based Enron gain the rights to Uzbekistan’s natural gas deposits, while oil company Unocal worked on developing the Trans-Afghanistan pipeline.
“The consultant who was organizing this for Unocal was a certain Mr. Karzai, who is now president of Afghanistan,” Murray noted.
“There are designs of this pipeline, and if you look at the deployment of US forces in Afghanistan, as against other NATO country forces in Afghanistan, you’ll see that undoubtedly the US forces are positioned to guard the pipeline route. It’s what it’s about. It’s about money, it’s about oil, it’s not about democracy.”
“I have lost understanding of and confidence in the strategic purposes of the United States’ presence in Afghanistan,” he wrote Sept. 10 in a four-page letter to the department’s head of personnel. “I have doubts and reservations about our current strategy and planned future strategy, but my resignation is based not upon how we are pursuing this war, but why and to what end.”
“I’m not much for this war. I’m not sure it’s worth all those lives lost,” said Sergeant Christian Richardson as we walked across corn fields that will soon be ploughed up to plant a spring crop of opium poppy.
Opium production rate has soared to 6,900 tons in Afghanistan in the past 10 years ‘despite‘ the presence of 100,000 foreign troops in the country for nearly eight years.
A report by the UN Office on Drugs and Crime said on Wednesday that Afghanistan produces 92 percent of the world’s opium that has devastating global consequences.
The UN report also noted that Afghanistan’s illegal opium production is worth 65 billion dollars.
The heroin and opium market feeds 15 million addicts, with Europe, Russia and Iran consuming half the supply, UNODC reported.
– Top US commander in Afghanistan: The Taliban have gained the upper hand:
The Taliban have gained the upper hand in Afghanistan, the top American commander there said, forcing the U.S. to change its strategy in the eight-year-old conflict by increasing the number of troops in heavily populated areas like the volatile southern city of Kandahar, the insurgency’s spiritual home. Gen. Stanley McChrystal warned that means U.S. casualties, already running at record levels, will remain high for months to come.
(Source: The Wall Street Journal)