Governments have always done things in secret from the masses, whether to avoid panic, public backlash, to save face or covertly for the greater good, to save lives, because rival entities who discovered whatever was done would seek retribution; America is no different. However thanks to scandal histories like Watergate combined with today’s 24/7 news cycles and all access to information media, we think we have to have it in real time or we’re somehow being bamboozled. With that said, between president Obama’s new controversial pick to lead the CIA and a new leaked 16 page memo that reads like a manual for how and when it is ok to kill suspected terrorists, even American citizens, more and more people are uneasy about these unmanned drone strikes reportedly meant to take out key terrorist targets deemed both as an imminent threat and too dangerous to put through any kind of due process. Top military warn of becoming too casual about using such a tactic while news media report reactions, opinions from the regions where this is most common, asking if the cost is too high, as it makes things worse in such regions fostering resentment, one commenter saying directly it created more terrorists. Human rights activists decry the use of drone strikes particularly against American citizens because it sends the message the Executive Branch has the right to play judge, jury and executioner, plainly overreaching what it was ever meant to do. Yet it seems as if the outsides, non-government, non-military have once again managed to oversimplify a complicated issue and overlook key components to the whole picture.
Put another way it, the Executive Branch, is saying it has the right to protect its people with all the powers of the office; the periphery groups listed along with ordinary people need to understand drone strikes are A- part of modern warfare, whether we like it or not, B- do not cost or endanger American life in any immediate or tangible way vs. sending them into direct combat, using manned aircraft that can be shot down killing soldiers in and of itself or leaving them stranded on foreign soil to be captured and tortured. They are not used on an arbitrary basis; they have yet to become routine, especially in the killing of high priority, dangerous targets. They are used precisely in places too dangerous for human military personnel to go, on the worst of the worst. Do we want it to become like so many of the video games today desensitizing soldiers, military personnel to the gravity of the situation, of course not, do we want to rely too heavily on it, promote the perception we are forcing our own brand of justice on the world sans legal proceedings of any kind, of course not; however, the other side to that coin is what else are we supposed to do? Do we allow terrorist organizations’ top leadership to continue to function, continue to plan, recruit, train people to kill our citizens, to create massive tragedies like 9-11? Relatedly, do we need to acknowledge civilian deaths caused by drone strikes, do we need to make sure our intel is as accurate as it can be, do we need to be careful not to become too cavalier about any death we have a hand in, even that of a terrorist of course, but the larger picture is not just the safety of America, instead the safety of the globe, the safety of citizens who care far more about growing their crops, running their business, caring for their family than any religious doctrine, people who are not Muslim, people who hold no religious affiliation, people who are Muslim but not radical want no part in this religious war declared by little groups here and there. Case in point the innocent bystanders in countries like Mali, a most recent terrorist hotbed; British soldiers are there to ferret out terrorist activity but also to attempt to restore stability to that country, thrown into chaos when more and more terrorists began to flood in, essentially taking over.
As to drones used on American citizens, completely missed or purposefully side stepped by the human rights set, aptly called bleeding heart, in this instance; these are not American citizens on US soil, in US territories or countries with which the United States has an extradition treaty. These are Americans who have gone radical, who are present in countries within the region not to visit family, not to gain an educational experience, see firsthand what all the fighting and upheaval are about, but who are there for the sole purpose of joining, connecting with a terror network, to receive instruction at a terrorist training camp or to recruit more terrorists to the cause, to plan terrorist attacks on American, westernized nations’ citizens, the former constituting treason. At some point we have to recognize when someone has forfeited their American citizenship by their actions; another question can you provide due process to a person you have no access to, to mete out justice? Perhaps better phrased, how can you provide a rouge US citizen with their legal, born right to due process if they are hell bent on trying to kill you while you attempt to give then said due process; further is it just, fair, right to put their right to due process over protecting the lives of US, other nations military persons who will have to go after them, who could become victims of IED’s (improvised explosive device), suffer everything from traumatic brain injury to becoming a quadruple amputee, to PTSD in order to catch one highly dangerous person? Is it fair, just, right to leave innocent, ordinary, non-combatant lives in the balance while we attempt to track down and apprehend such a person, when we have another option on the table? Bringing us again to what these classification of targets are not; they are not akin to Guantanamo detainees, caught in the wrong place at the wrong time, picked up for allegedly having information, held when they didn’t possess any for lack of us knowing what to do with them. They are not low level participants in a terror plot who really had no idea what they were doing or changed their minds once they saw how far the group they joined was willing to go. These are the very people actively declaring Jihad on the western world, predominantly America, these are people who plan terror act after terror act simultaneously convincing others to carry them out, these are no different than the sleeper cells found consisting of US citizens, the soccer mom turned terrorist, persons who were tried in court chiefly because we were able to detain them, had enough evidence to hold them in jail, proceed with a trial. Many of whom have laughed at our court system, refused to recognize it as an authority, proudly admitted their guilt showing zero remorse, pontificating about ahalla and blatantly demonstrating they would gladly do it again or worse, if they could.
Anwar al-Aulaqi is held up as an example of a US citizen formerly of New Mexico who was taken out by a drone strike for being a suspectedAl–Qaeda member, executed without formal charges, seeing a judge or participating in a trial. Yet Anwar al-Aulaqi is a prime example of something else as well; he is a perfect example of a US citizen who has for all intents and purposes forfeited his US citizenship by his actions. While Mr. Aulaqi is one of the few whom that is his given name not his name post conversion to Islam, despite being born here he returned to the country of his heritage not to visit family, not to learn about who he is, but to recruit terrorists, to propagandize Al–Qaeda, terrorist organizations, activities. Then there is what was alleged in regards to his behavior, what he did forAl–Qaeda; he was not just a cog in the terrorist machine he was a chief motivational mastermind and recruiter instrumental in some of the most devastating, known terrorist attacks throughout recent, modern history including while being in New York preaching to the 9-11 hijackers at a Masque there, he was reportedly in contact with the man who became known as the Fort Hood shooter prior to his rampage and apparently planned the Christmas day attack on a US airliner by the underwear bomber. Not mentioned in the ABC news piece by the human rights spokesperson, but available on Wikipedia, is the fact the Yemeni government, with which he shares duel citizenship, at the time of his death was in the process of trying him in their courts ordering him captured dead or alive for being a member ofAl–Qaeda, plotting to kill foreigners. Adding credence to the allegations against Aulaqi is, his is a name repeatedly in the news affiliated with the war on terror; glaring truth is this man was a walking human rights violation in and of himself considering his Facebook page, his endless stream of You Tube videos, appearances on Arab television promoting death to the west, death to America. And we’re supposed to be losing sleep over his civil rights; somehow the answer seems to be an emphatic no.
One message needing to be absorbed by citizens in Arab, predominately Muslim, countries pertaining to American drones, America’s war on terror is, be angry at your own governments that are not only apathetic about handling terrorist threats, handing over suspected terrorists for whom there is ample evidence of their guilt, to face trial in some sort of international tribunal, in the country which they perpetrated their crimes against, but are openly, unabashedly providing a safe haven for terrorists. Where was Osama Bin Laden found and killed, a major city in the contentious US allied country of Pakistan; why was the incursion done in secret to take down the 9-11 plotter, because there is limited to no cooperation between the US and Pakistan. Bin Laden was hiding in plain sight, living it up by living standards of the area, facts that should have easily come to the attention of the Pakistani government, yet did not. At the same time when that drone strike hits your neighborhood, flies over and you can’t sleep, it’s time for you to plead with your government in whatever way is allowed to cooperate with Americans in finding the people they seek, something that would diminish or eliminate the need for drone strikes all together; if dealing with Americans is that reprehensible, then perhaps the British, a European Union country or a member of NATO. It is time, long past time for ordinary Arab, whatever distinction of citizens, to wake up, see reality, think rationally then blame the terrorists who violently misrepresent the religion of Islam, who see the world in terms of Muslims and non-Muslims, and if you happen to be the latter, then you don’t count as a human being, as a potential casualty to their plan. It is time to be angry with neighboring countries governments, if not your own who instead of attempting to create solid economic opportunities are more interested in keeping the people under their thumb, who will instead hand out stipends to surviving family members of those who become suicide bombers. The other half of that message is the war on terror, whether conducted by Americans, other westernized nations, benefits you too; just as it has the potential to create more terrorists, it has the same potential to remove larger terror threats, dismantle forming networks; translation, your country can simply go about being a country, meaning you can have a better opportunity to make a good life for you and yours.
Were the shoe on the other foot, as the saying goes, and it was Americans who had plotted to kill people in any of these areas, in a terroristic fashion, for religious or other reasons then fled home, elsewhere for sanctuary, their governments would crying the US was interfering with their right to seek justice for their people. What makes this any different; additionally people residing in these corners of the world know the why of using drone strikes, the stated goal in using them, so again the outrage is clearly misdirected. And if they had the same drone technology we did they would not hesitate to use it to kill identical types of targets if they could not apprehend them to prosecute under their own laws; perhaps even to kill indiscriminately as payback, revenge. In fact, if Americans were ever to form their own terrorist group, war would be the quick and likely result. Like it or not the face of war has changed; it is no longer two opposing armies meeting on a battle field. It has even gone beyond the guerrilla warfare tactics first seen in combat zones like Vietnam to sleeper cells corrupting people in their home countries to carry out terror acts for a group based a world away, practicing a religion originating a world away with wholly different values. Next to that there is no reasoning, negotiating or surrender when dealing with a religious fanatic for whom nothing else matters but their religion, not their friends, family children, not their own life. There is no reasoning, negotiating or surrender with someone who thinks he has god on his side to the point of being rewarded with 72 virgins in heaven for killing infidels. So again the question becomes what else are we supposed to do, because even if we stopped all attempts to change the dynamics in places such as Iraq, Afghanistan, released all the Guantanamo detainees, did nothing in regards to the war on terror, we would still be dealing with the fallout of right now for decades to come, and endless feud for which there is no truce.