Jul 13, 2009
The Wall Street Journal is officially in love with President Obama's undeclared air war inside of Pakistan's borders. In an unsigned editorial,
the paper enthusiastically endorses Obama's use of predator drones to
bomb areas throughout Pakistan. The WSJ editors praise the
administration, saying "to its credit, [the White House] has stepped up
the use of Predators." The editors declare: "When Pakistan's government
can exercise sovereignty over all its territory, there will be no need
for Predator strikes. In the meantime, unmanned bombs away."
paper accurately notes some of the reasons for opposing drone strikes:
"the belief that the attacks cause wide-scale casualties among
noncombatants, thereby embittering local populations and losing hearts
and minds." The WSJ also accurately reports:
Lord Bingham, until recently Britain's senior law lord, has
recently said UAV strikes may be "beyond the pale" and potentially on a
par with cluster bombs and landmines. Australian counterinsurgency
expert David Kilcullen says "the Predator [drone] strikes have an
entirely negative effect on Pakistani stability." He adds, "We should
be cutting strikes back pretty substantially."
But Bingham and Kilcullen are naive fools, according to the WSJ
editors. Moreover, they are fools who have been suckered by evil
un-embedded reporters. "If you glean your information from wire reports
- which depend on stringers who are rarely eyewitnesses," the editors
quip, "the argument [against drone attacks] seems almost plausible."
Right, these "stringers" who often risk their lives to reveal the human
toll of U.S. bombings are far less credible than the fat cat editors of
the WSJ (some of whom are probably in the Hamptons having servants clip
their toe nails or mix their Martinis as I write this).
The WSJ editors descend from their thrones to mingle among the mortals and teach us the error of our ways:
Yet anyone familiar with Predator technology knows how
misleading those reports can be. Unlike fighter jets or cruise
missiles, Predators can loiter over their targets for more than 20
hours, take photos in which men, women and children can be clearly
distinguished (burqas can be visible from 20,000 feet) and deliver
laser-guided munitions with low explosive yields. This minimizes the
risks of the "collateral damage" that often comes from 500-pound bombs.
Far from being "beyond the pale," drones have made war-fighting more
Ah, yes, that famous humane war we have all been waiting for. Finally!
The WSJ editors then reveal the highly independent, impeccable source for their information: "A
U.S. intelligence summary we've seen corrects the record of various
media reports claiming high casualties from the Predator strikes."
Wow. Remember when the Bush administration was correcting all those
errors about Saddam's WMDs? Not surprisingly, the WSJ states that "In
each of the strikes in 2009 that are described by the intelligence
summary, the report says no women or children were killed. Moreover, we
know of planned drone attacks that were aborted when Predator cameras
spied their presence."
The WSJ wants this U.S. "intelligence"
shared with the American public and the world, arguing, "We understand
there will always be issues concerning sources and methods. But critics
of the drone attacks, especially Pakistani critics, have become
increasingly vocal in their opposition. They deserve to know about the
terrorist calamities they've been spared thanks to these unmanned
flights over their territory."
It is very telling that the WSJ editorial-with no apparent
shame-fails to mention the U.S. drone attacks last month that may have
killed more than 80 people in Pakistan, including as many as 70 people
in a U.S. bombing of a funeral procession in a tribal area. The WSJ
editors defend the attacks, saying they are killing "high value
targets," saying of those killed by U.S. drone strikes, "Is the world
better off with these people dead? We think so." But the fact is that
some statistics from
the Pakistani government suggested that of the 700+ people killed in
these U.S. drone strikes since 2006, 14 were "high value targets" or
"al Qaeda" leaders and the vast majority were civilians. In this case,
the real question is: "What does it say about the U.S. that its
government authorizes the killing of these civilians?"
© 2023 The Intercept
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