Final Project

Posted on December 7, 2012 by

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Final Project: America’s Use of Drones in Pakistan

Introduction

 America’s use of drones against Pakistan has become a very interesting controversy.  That is, are they productive or counterproductive?  There are valuable points are both sides, but how does the media portray this?  Obama supports it, 83% of Americans support it, but the media has recently introduced important side effects that the government tries to cover up.  The main point of the use of drones is to target terrorist suspects overseas.  A drone is remote controlled, so it is a safe effective way to counter terrorist groups.  However, these drone attacks have caused much hatred towards the U.S.  In Pakistan, basically all those who have knowledge about U.S. drone use oppose it.  It has killed many civilians, but it is impossible to establish the number of casualties since independent media can’t travel in tribal areas near the Afghan border.  Is this even legal?

 Productive or Counter-Productive?

 According to Medea Benjamin, cofounder of the human rights group Global Exchange, drone attacks are counter-productive.  She explains this in her article “Americans Take Anti-Drone Stance Directly to Pakistan.”  She brings up the question, “why do the American people support these barbaric and cowardly drone attacks?”  The article consists of many questions in order for the reader to make her own decision rather than relying on the decision of the American government.  She uncovers the hidden details behind drone attacks that typically get covered up by the media.  83% of Americans support Drones, but basically all Pakistan civilians with knowledge of the drone strikes oppose it.  This topic consists of opposing views from two different cultures rather than two different religions, but the Pakistan position is being covered up and ignored.  What do Pakistani civilians think of the United States?  Medea Benjamin concludes that the CIA drone program is not making the U.S. any safer, but actually turning the public of Pakistan against us.  These drone attacks have caused a large number of civilian casualties and are causing locals to join extremist groups for the pursuit of revenge.  An interesting statistic is that about 80% of Pakistanis dislike the United States and about three-in-four people in Pakistan call the United States a threat and an enemy.  This article is filled with statistics from reputable sources including human rights researchers from Stanford and New York Universities.  Their study, “Living Under Drones,” shares the horrible affects caused by drone strikes on locals.  Facts and opinions combine to form a convincing argument.  Medea believes that these drone strikes are counter-productive and in order to help our country we need to show Pakistanis that we do not support this and that we need to apologize. 

 Joshua Foust writes a counter article to Medea Benjamin’s article called “Why The U.S. Still Needs to Use Drones in Pakistan,” explaining how Drones in Pakistan are our only option.  The FATA, Federally Administered Tribal Areas, is a region in northwest Pakistan.  This area is the largest target of drone strikes because it is a militant hot spot.  There is little control in enforcement and politics in this region leaving the U.S. to few options.  Militants are the target to both Washington and Islamabad to protect the innocent civilians, but if we didn’t use drones we would be sending in thousands of soldiers to secure the region.  Unless Islamabad develops a rule of law to maintain this out of control area, drones seem to be the most reliable short-term engagement.  The polls might favor using drones, but the most powerful statistics are being used on the opposite side.  People might respond differently if they have a better understanding that the American government is killing thousands of innocent people in order for us to stay safe.

 Media Strategies

 The media typically only talks about what effects the U.S. civilian population or what’s better for them, but leaves out what effects the opposite side’s civilian population.  The suspiciously high percentage of American support of Drone strikes brings up the question of whether the media is accurately sharing both sides affected by drone strikes.  Do U.S. citizens know that hundreds of Pakistani civilians die from drone attacks?  If not, would more people oppose it?  Articles opposing Drone strikes have a very interesting way to get their point across.  They all have a similar theme.  They put the blame on the president and highlight the fact that America is such a hated country and we are only making it worse.  The article “Drone Attacks in Pakistan are Counterproductive, says report” illustrates the picture below. 

Image

 

The anti-drone media illustrates anti-American photos taken in Pakistan in the hopes of convincing American citizens that drones are only fueling the rage against America.  There is nothing more symbolic than flag burning when showing hate towards another country.

Articles describing the productive use of drones provide a more informational and politically convincing description.  Although these articles make broad generalizations that the Pakistan government doesn’t have a very well developed control system and there is no short-term repairs insight.  It brings up the question, “what else are we going to do?”  We could send thousands of solders risking their lives, do nothing at all and hope that al Qaeda and the Taliban don’t attack with their suspected threats, or use drones.  These articles convince us that it is our only option. 

 A Political Standpoint

 The use of Drones is a major role in the Obama administration’s pursuit of al-Qaeda in the Middle East.  The BBC News article “Obama defends US drone strikes in Pakistan” has a video of President Obama answering the questions that many people have about why he supports drone warfare.  Obama says that the drones target “people who are on the list of active terrorists.”  Drone strikes have increased since Obama has been in office and he says it is a better way to target terrorist suspects in tough terrain and a less intrusive military action than sending troops.  However, he also says that the drones had “not caused a huge number of civilian casualties.”  From a political standpoint, the president is trying to keep America calm and sharing that this is the best alternative.  Relating to the opposing drone articles, it doesn’t quite match up.  He try’s to lessen the side effect of civilian casualties.  Does this make him a bad person?  In the article, they make him seem like the bad person.  After each of his quotes, the article answers back with typical anti-drone generalizations of the side effects including the true amount of killing drones do.  Once again, Obama had to make a choice and he needs to gain support and keep the American citizens at peace.

 Is this Legal?

 In the article “The Drone War May be Popular in the U.S. AND Illegal” itquestions the legality of drones.  First impressions from the headline suggest that the drone attacks used against Pakistan might not all be justified.  Attacking threatening forces we at war with is legal, but we are not at war with Pakistan and yet we are bombing them.  However, the problem is that we don’t know if there is an imminent threat towards the U.S.  This could be self-defense.  While this is a plausible reasoning, the article begs to differ.  The author includes quotes prosecuting the U.S. government in illegal action.  U.S. officials insist the preciseness of the strikes meeting the intended purposes.  Could the U.S. drone program be targeting much broader than they say?  The intended purpose of the article is basically questioning if the government is covering up the details.  The claims by the government are labeled as fiction.

 Conclusion

 The articles of each side represented a similar theme.  Anti-drone articles represent the arguments that the higher usage of drones will cause more hatred towards the United States and will then make us unsafe.  Although this side seems to be the most moral action to take, it lacks a short-term plan that America can do.  The Pro-drone articles say that drones are the only way.  It is the safest short-term action the U.S. can undertake in order to control active terrorist groups that threaten both U.S. and Pakistan civilians.  These articles try to leave out the large number of civilian casualties drones cause.  However, if this side wants support and really believes that this is the best alternative for America then they cannot share these terrible side affects.  Each side has valuable points, but I believe the side that is best for the American people should be considered first.  By looking at the polls, the people have already decided.

 

 Bibliography

 Benjamin, Medea. “Americans Take Anti-Drone Stance Directly to Pakistan.” The Huffington Post. TheHuffingtonPost.com, 30 Sept. 2012. Web. 05 Dec. 2012. <http://www.huffingtonpost.com/medea-benjamin/drones-pakistan_b_1926646.html?utm_hp_ref=world>.

 

Bowcott, Owen. “Drone Attacks in Pakistan Are Counterproductive, Says Report.” The Guardian. Guardian News and Media, 24 Sept. 2012. Web. 06 Dec. 2012. <http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2012/sep/25/drone-attacks-pakistan-counterproductive-report>.

 

“Drone Strikes Kill, Maim and Traumatize Too Many Civilians, U.S. Study Says.” CNN. Cable News Network, 25 Sept. 2012. Web. 07 Dec. 2012. <http://www.cnn.com/2012/09/25/world/asia/pakistan-us-drone-strikes/index.html>.

 

Eviatar, Daphne. “The Drone War May Be Popular in the U.S. AND Illegal.” The Huffington Post. TheHuffingtonPost.com, 26 Sept. 2012. Web. 06 Dec. 2012. <http://www.huffingtonpost.com/daphne-eviatar/the-drone-war-may-be-popu_b_1917292.html>.

 

Foust, Joshua. “Why the U.S. Still Needs to Use Drones in Pakistan.” The Atlantic. 09 Oct. 2012. Web. 06 Dec. 2012. <http://www.theatlantic.com/international/archive/2012/10/why-the-us-still-needs-to-use-drones-in-pakistan/263306/>.

 

Guerin, Orla. “US Drone War in Pakistan Prompts Fear and Anger.” BBC News. BBC, 10 May 2012. Web. 07 Dec. 2012. <http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-asia-19842410>.

 

Hersh, Joshua. “Hina Rabbani Khar, Pakistan Foreign Minister: Drones Are Top Cause Of Anti-Americanism.” The Huffington Post. TheHuffingtonPost.com, 28 Sept. 2012. Web. 07 Dec. 2012. <http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/09/28/hina-rabbani-khar-drones_n_1922637.html>.

 

“Obama Defends US Drone Strikes in Pakistan.” BBC News. BBC, 31 Jan. 2012. Web. 06 Dec. 2012. <http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-us-canada-16804247>.

 

“Pakistan’s Military Turns Away Protest against US Drone Strikes.” Fox News. FOX News Network, 07 Oct. 2012. Web. 07 Dec. 2012. <http://www.foxnews.com/world/2012/10/07/pakistan-military-turns-away-protest-against-us-drone-strikes/>.

 

“U.S. May Expand Drone Attacks in Pakistan.” Fox News. FOX News Network, 22 Sept. 2009. Web. 07 Dec. 2012. <http://www.foxnews.com/politics/2009/09/22/expand-drone-attacks-pakistan/>.

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