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Obama's drone assassinations cruel

BY DI EDITORIAL BOARD | OCTOBER 17, 2012 6:30 AM

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At the University of Iowa, students often battle stress and loss of sleep. But in this safe haven, UI students don’t have to stress or lose sleep over unmanned aerial vehicles — the remote controlled aircrafts that spy on and bomb numerous countries in the Middle East and southern Asia.

The drones are not something students here have to think too much about while they are sleeping safely in their beds, but they should.

The CIA, the U.S. Air Force, and President Obama have greatly increased the number of unmanned aerial vehicles, also called drones, in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Yemen, Libya, and Somalia in an effort to kill terrorists.

This foreign policy adopted by Obama’s administration is not only ineffective, it is also cruel to the point of violating our Eighth Amendment.

 Yashar Vasef, the executive director of the U.N. Association of Iowa, stressed his organization’s focus on humanitarian efforts in this region of foreign policy.

“My personal opinion, though, is that the drone strikes are not taking into account the toll on civilians,” Vasef said.

A recent report released by Global Justice Clinic at the New York University School of Law and Stanford International Human Rights and Conflict Resolution Clinic data suggest that more civilians are being killed than the administration likes to admit.

Drones hover over some communities at all hours of the day, and civilians are under constant fear of attack, according to the report “Living Under Drones.”

These drones come at a cost, too — according to the Defense Department’s budget for fiscal 2012, $4.8 billion were used for drones.

The costs are high, both monetarily and in human lives, and people are beginning to question whether the drones even hit their targets.

The Global Research Institute reported that some drone strikes kill far more than just the targets. For example, one in 2009 killed 41 civilians, 22 of whom were children.

During the month of September, there have been at least three drone strikes in Pakistan, which resulted in the death of 12 to18 people, at most three of who were civilians, according to the Bureau of Investigative Journalism.

The bureau also reports that since 2004, based on materials available, between 474 to 884 civilians are reported killed by drones, and as many as 176 children are reported killed by the drones as well, in Pakistan alone.

Though drones are often supported because they keep Americans out of the line of fire and reportedly eliminate terrorists, there are too many questions left unanswered and too few held accountable when women, children, and civilians die.  

In Iowa City, the Veterans for Peace, along with other antiwar groups, has protested the use of drone warfare on the Pentacrest, as reported The Daily Iowan. These groups held posters and sang songs in an attempt to remind people that “when drones fly, children die.”  

Civilians are being largely ignored in the use of this deadly weapon, and with the collateral damage incurred in these attacks, the nation should ask whether the costs of drone attacks outweigh the results. Every new weapon raises questions of ethics. These drones have the potential to change the course of American warfare from a peacekeeping force for the world to a nation that cowers behind an unmanned aerial bomb. And for this, we must hold the current administration accountable.


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