On Wednesday Seumas Milne wrote in the Guardian: “(T)he war on terror is mutating, growing and spreading. Drone attacks, which have escalated under Obama from Pakistan to north Africa, are central to this new phase”.
These strikes are far from “clean, surgical attacks” as their targets depend on intelligence that is “routinely demonstrated to be hopelessly wrong”. Milne asserts that, in many cases, far from targeting named individuals, they are “signature strikes” against, say, all military-age males in a particular area or based on a “disposition matrix” of metadata, signed off by Obama at his White House “kill list” meetings every Tuesday:
“(U)p to 951 civilians are estimated to have been killed in drone attacks in Pakistan alone, and just 2% of casualties are “high value” targets”.
President Obama’s redefinition of US ‘defence’ policy
US defence policy will no longer include land wars and occupations. Milne sees global assassination and undercover killings as a central part of American strategy. He adds: “(T)he battlefield has gone global. The number of countries in which the US Special Operations Command is operating has risen from 40 to 120”.
A new film
Dirty Wars – a new film by American journalist Jeremy Scahill – focuses on killings on the ground by covert US special forces, proxy warlords and mercenaries in multiple countries. He sees US special forces operating as death squads, committing “targeted killings of terrorists and insurgents for the benefit of a grateful nation back home”.
Milne does not accept the British official presentation of UK drone operations in Afghanistan as being “a moral cut above those of the CIA and Joint Special Operations Command (JSOC)”, reminding us that Noor Khan, whose father was one of more than 40 killed in a US drone attack in Pakistan, was at the appeal court in London last week, asking the British government to reveal the extent of GCHQ support for such war crimes.
Consequences of Obama’s military policy
Seumas Milne’s conclusion:
“At best, drone and special forces killings are extrajudicial summary executions. More clearly, they are a wanton and criminal killing spree. They also create precedents. If the US and its friends arrogate to themselves the right to launch armed attacks around the world at will, other states now acquiring drone capabilities may well follow suit . . .
“The US-led dirty wars are a recipe for exactly the endless conflict Obama has promised to halt. They are laying the ground for a far more dangerous global order. . . What is justified in the name of fighting terrorism has spread terror across the Arab and Muslim world and provided a cause for the very attacks its sponsors are supposed to be defending us against at home”.