Saturday, June 16, 2012

Obama's Drone Strike Legacy

The Washington Post asks if drone strikes will become Obama's Guantanamo?

The Obama administration’s increasing use of unmanned drone strikes to kill terror suspects is widely opposed around the world, according to a Pew Research Center survey on the U.S. image abroad.

In 17 out of 21 countries surveyed, more than half of the people disapproved of U.S. drone attacks targeting extremist leaders and groups in nations such as Pakistan, Yemen and Somalia, Pew said Wednesday.
But in the United States, a majority, or 62 per cent, approved the drone campaign.

“There remains a widespread perception that the U.S. acts unilaterally and does not consider the interests of other countries,” the study authors said, especially in predominantly Muslim nations, where American anti-terrorism efforts are “still widely unpopular.”

The White House declined to comment on the report. The Obama administration considers drone strikes one of its most effective tools to combat al-Qaeda — preferable to conventional war because the strikes produce fewer American casualties and meant to be more palatable abroad because the use of drones keeps U.S. troops on the ground to a minimum.

“In order to prevent terrorist attacks on the United States and to save American lives, the United States government conducts targeted strikes against specific al-Qaida terrorists, sometimes using remotely piloted aircraft, often referred to publicly as drones,” White House counterterrorism chief John Brennan said in April in a detailed and wide-ranging defence of the policy. He said targets are chosen by weighing whether there is a way to capture the person against how much of a threat the person presents to Americans.

The global drone campaign under President Barack Obama has killed a number of high-value leaders, arguably more than any other method including more than a decade of special operations raids inside Afghanistan. A strike in Pakistan this month killed al-Qaeda’s most recent second in command, Abu Yahya al-Libi.

Read it all here.

Jim Kouri reports:

On Sunday, Pakistan's Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani accused Obama of ordering unmanned aerial vehicle, or drone, strikes in his country to boost his political image, according to an Israeli security source who monitors Islamic nations.

More than a few political commentators and counterterrorism analysts on Sunday morning's television news shows spoke of President Barack Obama's abysmal week dealing with a lethargic economy, accusations of intelligence leaks and misstatements that provided ammunition for his opponents. But the criticisms didn't end there. Prime Minister Gilani's stated that Barack Obama is "using drone strikes in Pakistani tribal regions for political motives."

The Prime Minister's verbal assault came a day after President Obama allegedly ordered a "sharp increase" in drone strikes in Pakistan's tribal areas aimed at killing members of al-Qaeda and the Taliban.

"The United States is into the election year and Obama's decision has been aimed at gaining political mileage," Pakistani Prime Minister said during a press conference.

The U.S. officials were quoted as responding that Obama's decision to increase drone attacks reflected the "mounting U.S. frustration with Pakistan over a growing list of disputes."

But Gilani said that dialogue is going on with the United States regarding a supply line issue in light of the recommendations of the Parliamentary Committee on National Security, which continues to demand an apology from the United States over the killing of 24 soldiers in November during a drone strike.

"The Pakistanis want what Obama gives to others at the drop of a hat -- an apology. But the problem is Obama usually apologizes for the actions of other people and the past [Bush] administration. He apologizes on behalf of the American people or for American policies from previous administrations. Have you ever heard him apologize for something he did or he ordered done?" asks political strategist Mike Baker.
"Who is the more moral person? A man like Bush who believes in using military force? Or a man like Obama, who is against the use of military force -- unless he lied all those years -- but uses it to score political points so he can continue his true agenda? Which is the fundamental transformation of America," Baker noted.

On Thursday, the U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta stated in Kabul that the United States was running out of patience with Pakistan. He alleged that the country was being used as a safe haven by terrorists from neighboring Afghanistan.

Related reading:  US Pays Bounties on Leading Somali Terrorists

No comments: