For Those Who Think These Airstrikes Are "Surgical"

Dennis Loo | October 2, 2014

For every one militant killed, forty-nine innocents are killed.

Two key elements in the current popularity in the US of Obama's "relentless" airstrikes upon Syrians and Iraqis is that they are not jeopardizing American lives - since it's only Syrians and Iraqis who are being killed - and that these "relentless" airstrikes are allegedly "surgical."

These attacks are not surgical. They are evenmore indiscriminate than drone attacks. And drone attacks, as a 2012 authoritative study by Stanford and New York Universities concluded, are exceptionally indiscriminate.

For every one militant killed, forty-nine innocents are killed.

(It should be pointed out that even when alleged militants are killed by drones, they have been killed without due process, in countries such as Pakistan that we are not at war with, and over the express objections of these nations, simply by POTUS' declaration of a death sentence in secret session with his close advisors. Thus, even this outrageously low 2% of drone kills of alleged militants can be and should be classified as war crimes. We should further note that the US government officially defines those it kills in drone attacks as "militants" and "terrorists" as long as they are of a certain age and male.)

Here for their relevance not only to the ongoing use of drones by the US but to the "relentless" air strikes upon Syria and Iraq, are some excerpts from that study:

Just one in 50 victims of America’s deadly drone strikes in Pakistan are terrorists – while the rest are innocent civilians, a new report claimed today.

The authoritative joint study, by Stanford and New York Universities, concludes that men, women and children are being terrorised by the operations ’24 hours-a-day’.

And the authors lay much of the blame on the use of the ‘double-tap’ strike where a drone fires one missile – and then a second as rescuers try to drag victims from the rubble. One aid agency said they had a six-hour delay before going to the scene.

The tactic has cast such a shadow of fear over strike zones that people often wait for hours before daring to visit the scene of an attack. Investigators also discovered that communities living in fear of the drones were suffering severe stress and related illnesses. Many parents had taken their children out of school because they were so afraid of a missile-strike.

And for the human face of this, see these statements from villagers:

Sadaullah Khan, a 15-year-old who lost both legs in a drone strike, says that before his injury, 'I used to go to school…I thought I would become a doctor. After the drone strikes, I stopped going to school.'

Noor Behram, a journalist: 'Once there has been a drone strike, people have gone in for rescue missions, and five or ten minutes after the drone attack, they attack the rescuers who are there.'

Taxi driver: 'Whether we are driving a car, or we are working on a farm, or we are sitting at home playing cards – no matter what we are doing we are always thinking the drone will strike us. So we are scared to do anything, no matter what.'

Safdar Dawar, President of the Tribal Union of Journalists: 'If I am walking in the market, I have this fear that maybe the person walking next to me is going to be a target of the drone. If I’m shopping, I’m really careful and scared. If I’m standing on the road and there is a car parked next to me, I never know if that is going to be the target. Maybe they will target the car in front of me or behind me. Even in mosques, if we’re praying, we’re worried that maybe one person who is standing with us praying is wanted. So, wherever we are, we have this fear of drones.'

Resident from the Manzar Khel area: 'Now (they have) even targeted funerals…they have targeted people sitting together, so people are scared of everything'

Dennis Loo is a member of the Steering Committee of World Can't Wait.


World Can't Wait mobilizes people living in the United States to stand up and stop war on the world, repression and torture carried out by the US government. We take action, regardless of which political party holds power, to expose the crimes of our government, from war crimes to systematic mass incarceration, and to put humanity and the planet first.