Micah Zenko

Politics, Power, and Preventive Action

Zenko covers the U.S. national security debate and offers insight on developments in international security and conflict prevention.

Print Print Email Email Share Share Cite Cite
Style: MLA APA Chicago Close

loading...

U.S. Drones: The Counterinsurgency Air Force for Pakistan, Yemen, and Somalia

by Micah Zenko
November 27, 2012

The RQ-4A Global Hawk at a forward-deployed location (Staff Sgt. Reynaldo Ramon ME/Courtesy Reuters). The RQ-4A Global Hawk at a forward-deployed location (Staff Sgt. Reynaldo Ramon ME/Courtesy Reuters).

This past Sunday, Scott Shane of the New York Times reported that the U.S. presidential election spurred the Obama administration to develop and formalize a set of explicit rules to govern the U.S. targeted killings program. Each time that Obama administration officials leak information about a new process (how to make kill lists) or phrase (Disposition Matrix) that supports U.S. targeted killings, Americans are once again reminded of the Long Third War, which has resulted in the deaths of over three thousand individuals outside of battlefield settings. It is remarkable how certain pundits are still shocked by the scope and depth of targeted killings that the United States has carried out for over a decade—albeit most vigorously in the past four years under the guidance of John Brennan and authorized by President Obama.

Whenever such stories are published about some purportedly new aspect of the U.S. targeted killings program, I receive many calls from reporters seeking clarification, context, or just a line for their story. Yesterday, I was fortunate to speak with Justin Elliot of ProPublica (who has done some excellent reporting on drone strikes and civilian casualties) for a question and answer session that expands on my comment in the New York Times: “We don’t say that we’re the counterinsurgency air force of Pakistan, Yemen and Somalia, but we are.”

To learn more, please read the full piece: “Have U.S. Drones Become a ‘Counterinsurgency Air Force’ for Our Allies?

Post a Comment 1 Comment

  • Posted by Don Bacon

    Most excellent (my highest rating)
    Thanks for staying on this travesty.

    In President Obama’s foreword to the 2010 National Security Strategy he says: “In all that we do, we will advocate for and advance the basic rights upon which our Nation was founded, and which peoples of every race and region have made their own.”

    And the NSS itself states: (excerpts)
    “The rule of law—and our capacity to enforce it—advances our national security and strengthens our leadership. At home, fidelity to our laws and support for our law enforcement community safeguards American citizens and interests, while protecting and advancing our values.

    “Legal Aspects of Countering Terrorism: The increased risk of terrorism necessitates a capacity to detain and interrogate suspected violent extremists, but that framework must align with our laws to be effective and sustainable. When we are able, we will prosecute terrorists in Federal courts or in reformed military commissions that are fair, legitimate, and effective. For detainees who cannot be prosecuted—but pose a danger to the American people—we must have clear, defensible, and lawful standards. We must have fair procedures and a thorough process of periodic review, so that any prolonged detention is carefully evaluated and justified. And keeping with our Constitutional system, it will be subject to checks and balances. The goal is an approach that can be sustained by future Administrations, with support from both political parties and all three branches of government.

    “Uphold the Rule of Law: The rule of law—and our capacity to enforce it—advances our national security and strengthens our leadership. At home, fidelity to our laws and support for our law enforcement community safeguards American citizens and interests, while protecting and advancing our values. Around the globe, it allows us to hold actors accountable, while supporting both international security and the stability of the global economy. America’s commitment to the rule of law is fundamental to our efforts to build an international order that is capable of confronting the emerging challenges of the 21st century.”

Post a Comment

CFR seeks to foster civil and informed discussion of foreign policy issues. Opinions expressed on CFR blogs are solely those of the author or commenter, not of CFR, which takes no institutional positions. All comments must abide by CFR's guidelines and will be moderated prior to posting.

* Required

Pingbacks