Local Views: Urge Washington to stop drone attacks
What would you do if you witnessed someone killing innocent people? Would you be brave enough to do something to make them stop? We all hope we would be that brave. But if that “someone” is our government and the weapons are missiles and unmanned aerial drones, it seems that our answer is different.
Such killings date back to August 1998, when President Clinton ordered a cruise missile strike against the Al-Shifa pharmaceutical factory in Sudan. The U.S. claimed the factory was making chemical weapons for Osama bin Laden. The attack killed one person and wounded 10. The United States later acknowledged our “intelligence” was flawed.
On Nov. 3, 2002, a U.S. drone fired a Hellfire missile at a car in Yemen. Six people died. Newsweek showed the photo of the hole in the pavement where the car vaporized. Apparently our CIA decided it could be judge, jury and executioner operating outside the rule of law.
Such strikes have escalated in number; G.W. Bush authorized 49 drone attacks. President Obama has authorized almost 400. More than 3,000 people have been been killed in such attacks, including 176 children. To address those who will say, “This is all justified as part of War on Terror,” all we can say is, really? The Sudan factory attack occurred in 1998, three years before 9/11. Of the more than 3,000 people killed in drone attacks since that first strike, only 2 percent were considered to be high profile al-Qaida terrorists.
A drone attack Oct. 30, 2006, killed 69 children in Pakistan. A drone attack in December 2013 in Yemen hit a wedding party, killing more than 10 people. On Oct. 24, 2012, a U.S. drone strike killed Rafiq ur Rehman’s mother while she was picking okra in a field in Pakistan. Rafiq traveled to Washington to testify about the strike at a House of Representatives hearing. Only five of 435 representatives attended. Obviously, not many in Congress cared to know.
We believe the American people do care. We believe the American people want to know what is done in their names. Members of the Rock Valley Fellowship of Reconciliation delivered two letters to Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Wis., expressing our concern about the killings and asking what he could do to help stop them. In each case, Congressman Ryan failed to address the moral implications of drone attacks.
When President Obama threatened to bomb Syria over the issue of chemical weapons, a collective shout of “stop” came from the American public. Obama stopped. So why do these drone killings continue? Not enough people are shouting “stop!” We believe the American people do care. We believe most people simply don’t know much about our use of drones. This op-ed and further information on our website tells that story.
Three thousand people were killed on 9/11. Three thousand people have been killed in drone attacks. Violence only begets more violence. Please lend your voices to ours, demanding that our country stop the killing.
Tell Washington to stop.
Kathy Holcombe and Norman Aulabaugh wrote this for the Rock Valley Fellowship of Reconciliation. Readers can contact firstname.lastname@example.org. Read the fellowship’s letters to Rep. Ryan and his responses at RockValleyFOR.org.