Guest Post by Katherine Tiedemann: Attack of the Drones, Part 25


Katherine Tiedemann is a Policy Analyst at the New America Foundation.
The drone wars continue. This morning’s Predator strike in Pakistani Taliban leader Baitullah Mehsud’s hometown of Makeen, South Waziristan is the 25th this year (compared to six this time last year), and the fourth in the last two weeks to target Mehsud. A strike in late June missed Mehsud by just a few hours. And even though the Pakistani army carried out its own offensive just hours after this morning’s US strikes, a spokesman for the Pakistani military said the attacks were not coordinated, and insisted that the American strikes are counterproductive to the campaign.
Pakistani objection to the use of airpower in war is no recent phenomenon. In the Third Waziristan War, fought in 1919 between the British army and Afghan rebel forces, the British used the Handley Page Type O, an early bomber, to attack Kabul from the sky. As they do 90 years later, the Pashtun warriors considered the airstrikes “unsporting,” as historian Jules Stewart said at a Jamestown Foundation conference in April.
Late last month, the Pakistani army launched an offensive in South Waziristan, after around three months of fighting the Taliban in the Swat Valley (once known as Pakistan’s Switzerland). My New America Foundation colleague Nick Schmidle argues that the army should work on clearing-holding-building in Swat before moving on to the Waziristans, and he’s right–the Pakistani military has a history of somewhat half-hearted attempts at banishing its militant scourge, and so should focus on what they may actually be able to accomplish, one step at a time.
The CIA’s drones program is likely to continue for the near term, as unpopular as it is among Pakistanis, because frankly, there aren’t many other options.
— Katherine Tiedemann


5 comments on “Guest Post by Katherine Tiedemann: Attack of the Drones, Part 25

  1. samuelburke says:

    US Predator drones launched an attack on a compound in South Waziristan’s Zangara area today, killing at least 16 suspected militants and wounding around 30 others. The attack targeted a former office of Tehreek-e Taliban Pakistan (TTP) leader Baitullah Mehsud, but it does not appear that he or any other high profile targets were present at the time of the strike.
    It is the second US drone strike in the area in the past few days, the previous one killing at least 17 and wounding 27 others on Friday.


  2. Daivid says:

    Drones kill dispassionately on instructions from someone at a console half a world away. They are high tech assassination machines which assassinate whoever happens to be in their sights.
    They will cost us the hearts and minds of Afghan and Pakistani villagers. It will not matter if we take out the Taliban leadership if, in the process, we create cadres of civilians who hate us for what we do to their relatives, their friends, their wedding parties, and their funeral processions, not to mention simply to innocent villagers who happen to be in the way.
    If they are the only option, then we have no option, and the sooner we abandon this homicidal madness, the better. Our troops can be good guys till the goats come home, and a Predator drone can undo all of the good they have risked life and limb to offer.


  3. Mike Milton says:

    The option is simple and clear. Cease being the bully of the world
    and break with tradition by becoming a force for good instead of
    this era’s provider of blitzkrieg in support of ‘the’ homeland.


  4. ... says:

    one day someone is going to come along and explain how a country that has to bail out it’s banks (can’t look after it’s own people on the street though) has the money to spend on killing machines…. meanwhile what appear like ordinary citizen commentary can say quite flippantly “frankly, there aren’t many other options.” no, i guess not if your country has gone to hell in an hand basket and you are okay with it all…


  5. charlie says:

    How precious. Sure, the drone attacks may kill
    scores of innocent civilians and foment unrest in
    the Pakistani tribal regions, but hey, “frankly,
    there aren’t many other options.” What a stunningly
    persuasive defense of using unmanned drones to kill
    people in foreign lands.
    How about this for an alternative: not killing
    people who have caused no harm to the U.S.? Or is
    that not serious enough for you Washington
    establishment types?


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