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UNDERNEWS

Undernews is the online report of the Progressive Review, edited by Sam Smith, who covered Washington during all or part of ten of America's presidencies and who has edited alternative journals since 1964. The Review, which has been on the web since 1995, is now published from Freeport, Maine. We get over 5 million article visits a year. See prorev.com for full contents of our site

February 16, 2010

OBAMA ORDERS MORE DRONE ATTACKS IN FIRST YEAR THAN BUSH DID IN ENTIRE PRESIDENCY

Sidney Morning Herald, Australia -  Consider: for the first time ever, a civilian intelligence agency is manipulating robots from halfway around the world in a program of extrajudicial executions in a country with which Washington is not at war.

Consider, too: the drone wars were initiated under the presidency of George Bush. But it is the Democrat Barack Obama who has given them flight and stumped up sufficient funding to spark serious debate on the end of the ''Top Gun'' era of the fighter-pilot.

And there is this: despite decades of American disquiet about assassinations abroad and a shrill Republican critique of him as a security wuss, the professorial Obama is the new killer on the block, authorising more drone attacks in the first year of his term in office than Bush did in his entire presidency.

At the White House these days they hold their breath, praying for a turnaround in the war in Afghanistan to vindicate Obama's gamble in dispatching 50,000 more young Americans to a conflict some deem unwinnable.

But confidence in the use of state-sanctioned lethal force in the undeclared American war in neighbouring and nuclear-armed Pakistan borders on the giddy. "The only game in town" was how CIA director Leon Panetta described it last year..

Writing in The New York Times, the counter-insurgency experts David Kilcullen and Andrew Exum decried the toll. Citing a civilian figure of 700, they extrapolated a civilian loss of 98 per cent of deaths or 50 civilians for each militant eliminated.

Bill Roggio, the managing editor of the respected American blog The Long War Journal, goes to the other extreme, claiming only 10 per cent of those killed could be described as civilians.

After a detailed study of media and other reports from the border region, Revenge of the Drones takes a middle course, opting for a civilian toll of about one-third of those killed.



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