It has recently been reported that the US has stepped up the number of drone attacks in Yemen as a method of eradicating the plague of al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula from a severely unstable Yemeni state. Whilst most opinion, treating al-Qaida as the greatest threat to the western world, encourages the US in its global pursuit of terrorists, surely it is time that the UK, as one of America’s closest allies, took a long, hard look at what exactly it is supporting?
Ever since the Second World War, the US (too often accompanied by the UK) has seen itself as a ‘global policeman’; a benevolent superpower fighting threats to western civilisation from Communism in the form of the Soviet Union to Islamism in Iraq, Afghanistan and now Yemen. Accompanied by Britain of the Cold War right up to New Labour, it has become a readily accepted opinion amongst the British public that the US has some kind of divine right to this role, and is pursuing a moral course that only it can pursue by blindly bombing the Middle East and Africa hoping to kill as many al-Qaida members or affiliates as possible, and all too often actually killing innocent civilians.
Whilst it is undeniable that groups such as al-Qaida are evil and a serious threat to targets in the west – and indeed globally – it is important to question how the US goes about defending itself from al-Qaida and why it thinks it has the authority to do so.
Firstly, we cannot ignore the fact that, whilst pursuing al-Qaida and its affiliates across the globe, the US and their allies have brought about the deaths of countless innocent civilians. I believe that this so-called ‘collateral damage’ is not only under-reported in the west, but is also understated. As we read about the deaths of civilians thousands of miles away, we simply cannot comprehend the damage and destruction we inflict on a person, a family, a community and a country. Furthermore, every innocent death inflicted by the west is a huge propaganda coup for al-Qaida, and therefore is increasingly damaging to the west and its links to the Arab world.
The west’s new choice of weapon against Islamists worldwide is unmanned aerial vehicles, or drones. These pilotless planes are often able to fly undetected sorties over foreign lands, seeking and destroying ‘targets’ at the whim of a controller sitting behind a TV screen thousands of miles away. This has been proven to lead to copious mistakes and tragic civilian casualties, which I think have the potential to make the use of drone attacks a potential war crime.
Furthermore, the US, as shown in Yemen, Pakistan and no doubt numerous other countries, have used these drones and their devestating firepower over countries whose governments have not permitted them to violate their national sovereignty and who the US is not at war with. Thus, every use of these drones over these territories is undoubtedly highly illegal and a potential act of war. I would certainly like to see how the US would react were Iranian authorities to use drones to attack anti-Iranian, Zionist Jews in Washington. The principle of a violation of national soverignty is similarly inadmissable and illegal, even if the metaphor isn’t exactly fitting.
In violating the national sovereignty of countries that the US knows cannot possibly stand up to what remains the world’s greatest superpower, the US is displaying an incredible arrogance as well as violating international laws. The US has no authority to act as the world’s policeman and never has done, yet she is allowed to continue to do so with impunity due to the obedience of her allies in the west, including in Britain. These abuses cannot be allowed to continue forever, and US politicians and military commanders who give orders to violate the national sovereignty of recognised nations, and whose actions end in the unlawful killing of civilians must be brought to account.