Drones – the Dark Side of power: Dr Hatem Bazian

Drones pakistan of 13Last week, Pakistan headed a list of visitors from 13 different countries who read an article on this site about their countryman Karim Khan, now freed.

The Hindu reports that Mr Khan was blindfolded and driven to an undisclosed location where it is alleged that he was chained, beaten, tortured and repeatedly questioned about his investigations into drone strikes, his knowledge of drone strike victims and his advocacy work. On Wednesday, the Rawalpindi Bench of the Lahore High Court had ordered the government to produce Karim Khan at a hearing on February 20. Early on Friday morning, he was driven to the Tarnol area of Rawalpindi, where he was thrown out of a van after being told not to speak to the media.

Dr Bazian dronesAmerican readers often top the list and today’s extract will be of direct interest to them. Like others, Dr Hatem Bazian writes of his feeling of loss and profound disappointment that President Barack Obama – for whom he enthusiastically voted twice – has  “opted for the allure of the ‘Dark Side’ “- a Star Wars reference.

He asks, “What would Martin Luther King, Jr and Nelson Mandela say about the drones?”

“In the real world of military strikes and the mounting losses of civilian lives in Arab and Muslim nations, in the United States’ war on terror one of the many weapons of choice are drones, which can be deployed anywhere in the world, and their effects are immediately devastating. It is the indiscriminate killing of so-called targets of interest without the mobilisation or loss of US troops on the ground.

“Added to this is the highly dubious tactic of “double taps“, whereby a second strike closely follows the first strike, as people gather to help the injured. This makes the use of drones even more controversial because it increases the number of casualties to include rescuers. It also blatantly reveals the destructive power drone warfare. It enables President Obama to become “really good at killing people“.

obama drone“It is ironic that President Obama has been the direct beneficiary of both the anti-war and the civil rights movements, which allowed many generations to discover their inner power and harness it for positive change. The relationship of the struggle for human dignity led by the civil rights movement and the victory of President Obama should never be underestimated or underappreciated.

“I voted for President Obama in two elections hoping that he would uphold the legacy of the real “Jedi order” of civil and human rights advocates. But this continuation and strategic escalation of the “war on terror” policies, in particular drone warfare, mars his legacy.

“The easy, silent and clinical deployment of death and destruction while constructing the illusion that it is a sound, legally defensible policy and in-line with universal human right principles is confusing at best, and outrageous at worst.  Blood is not an argument and the ability to kill without being seen and not knowing how many are being killed is not a rationale or an argument for dealing with the threat of terrorism. 

“Drones are in reality a growth industry and are part of the economy and they are no longer only an ethical, moral and legal justification for fighting terrorism. The choices that we make in the military industrial economy are used to expand government and private expenditure to save “us” from the imminent threat.

War is business . . . The decision to deploy this weapon is one of choice and the power to do so is animated by indiscriminate and reckless disregard for life itself”.


Read the whole article here.

Dr Hatem Bazian is the founder of the Islamophobia Studies Journal and a senior lecturer in the Departments of Near Eastern and Ethnic Studies at Berkeley. His interests include  International Relations and Globalization Studies, Arabic Language, Arab Society and Culture, Classical Arabic Literature and Poetry, Qur’anic Commentary, Colonialism and Post-Colonial Studies.

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