Here Comes Trouble: Stories from My Life

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David Swanson

David Swanson is a longtime peace and justice activist and author of 'War Is a Lie'

November 6th, 2013 11:55 AM

Drones from the Other Side

Imagine you awake to the sound of a machine noisily buzzing over your house, and another machine nearby in the sky, and another.  These machines and others like them have been around for months.  They never leave.  While you live in the United States, the machines belong to the government of Pakistan.  The machines are unmanned drones armed with missiles.  Every once in a while they blow up a house or a car or a couple of kids playing soccer or a grandmother walking to the store, sometimes a McDonald's or a shopping center.

Imagine that you've learned to live with this.  The popularity of homeschooling has skyrocketed, as nobody wants to send their kids outside.  Telecommuting is now the norm for those able to maintain employment.  But there's no getting used to the change.  Your kids wake up screaming and refuse to sleep.  Your rage makes you physically ill.  Antidepressants are on everybody's shopping lists, but shopping is a life-and-death proposition.  Canada is facing an immigration crisis.  So is Mexico.

Now, Pakistan claims to be targeting evil criminals with surgical precision.  And some in the U.S. government go along with this.  But others object.  The U.S. Supreme Court declares the drone deaths to be murder or war -- murder being illegal under U.S. law, and war being illegal under the U.N. Charter via Article VI of the U.S. Constitution. 

The U.S. Congress insists that criminals must be indicted and prosecuted, that negotiations with hostile groups cannot succeed while drones tear the negotiators limb from limb, and that Pakistan has no right to put its robots in our skies no matter what its good intentions.  Statements agreeing with this opposition to the drones are signed by everybody who's anybody.  Popular demonstrations against the drones, and -- bravely -- in the face of the drones, dwarf anything seen before.  In fact, the world joins in, and people protest Pakistan's murder spree all over the globe.  Human rights groups in various countries denounce it as criminal.  The Pakistani prime minister reportedly checks off men, women, and children to kill on a list at regular Tuesday meetings.  He's burned in effigy across the United States.

But Pakistani human rights groups take a different tack.  In their view, some of the drone murders in the United States are illegal and some are not.  It depends on the knowledge and intentions of the Pakistani officials -- did they know those kids were just playing soccer or did they believe their soccer ball was an imminent threat to the nation of Pakistan?  Was blowing up those kids necessary, discrete, and proportionate?  Were they militants or civilians?  Was blowing them up part of an armed conflict or an act of law enforcement, and what type of armed conflict or what law was being enforced?  Pakistan, these groups argue, must not blow people up without identifying them, without verifying that they cannot be captured, and without taking care not to kill too many civilians in the process.  Further, Pakistan must reveal the details of its legal reasoning and decision making, so that the process has transparency.  Indeed, Pakistan must begin running its proposed drone killings by a judge who must sign off on them -- a Pakistani judge, but a judge nonetheless.

The Pakistani human rights groups are not made up of evil people.  They very much mean well.  They want to reduce the number of Americans killed by drones.  And they are not permitted to declare all drone killing illegal, because these killings might be part of a war, and these groups have adopted as a matter of strict principle the position that wars must never be opposed, only tactics within wars.  They believe this makes them "objective" and "credible," and it certainly does do that with certain people.  These Pakistani human rights groups are not pulling the trigger, they're trying to stop it being pulled as often.  Lumping them together with the Pakistani military would be Bushian (with us or against us) thinking.  But it's harder to see that from under the drones here in the United States with the kids wailing and Uncle Joe's brains still staining the side of the Pizza Hut, than it would be perhaps in Pakistan or at the United Nations Headquarters in Islamabad.

From here in the United States, the cries are for justice.  Many want the prime minister of Pakistan prosecuted for murder. Many are beginning to view the absence of such legal justice as grounds for violence.  I'm growing worried over what my neighbors and even myself might unleash on the rest of the world.  I'm beginning to fall in love with the feeling of hatred.

##

Read more about drones.

Watch the Wounds of Waziristan video.

Do a die-in like this one.

Watch this video of an event on drones and militarization at NYU.

Watch this video of drone survivors visiting Congress.

Watch Unmanned: America's Drone Wars.

Sign the petition at BanWeaponizedDrones.org

Get your city or state to oppose drones.

Ask your Congress member and senators to introduce legislation banning weaponized drones.  Ask state legislators to do same.

Ask the ICC to prosecute drone murders.

Join in anti-drone actions everywhere.

November 9 at CIA Headquarters, join in the First Anniversary of Monthly Protests of Drone Murders at the CIA.

Come to the Drone Summit in Washington DC, November 16-17

The day before the Summit, November 15th, join us for a march from the White House to the headquarters of drone maker General Atomics. After the Summit, on November 18th, we will lobby members of Congress to push for legislation regulating the use of killer drones and domestic spy drones.

Every Tuesday: Stop the Killing

March 14-16, 2014, Santa Barbara, Global Network's 22nd Annual Conference

June 6-9, 2014, Sarajevo Peace Event

July 26-27, 2014, Third National UNAC Conference, Purchase, NY

July 28, 2014, 100 Years Since Launch of War to End All Wars That Created More Wars

August 27, 2014, 86 Years Since Signing of the Kellogg Briand Pact

Small Actions, Big Movements: the Continuum of Nonviolence - International Conference of WRI co-hosted by Ceasefire Campaign 4 Jul 2014 - 8 Jul 2014, Cape Town, South Africa

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