Posted on 12 November 2019
The UK’s Royal Air Force began using Reaper drones in Afghanistan in October 2007.
The first British drone strike took place at the end of May 2008. While the drones themselves are located overseas, they are operated by RAF air crew from Creech Air Force Base in Nevada and, from April 2013, RAF Waddington in Lincolnshire.
Drone strikes may decapitate terrorist organizations, but they do not solve our terrorist problem. In fact, drone use may prolong it. Even though there is no immediate retaliation, in the long run the contributions to radicalization through drone use may put more lives at risk.
The use of armed drones is already undermining the laws of war and eroding the human rights protections put in place to safeguard both combatants and civilians alike.
There is also a real fear that the ‘risk free’ nature of these weapons is lowering the threshold for using lethal force, meaning that we are likely to see more warfare in the future.
The growing use of armed drones and the concept of remote, risk free war is a serious military escalation. In short, armed drones are simply making the world a more dangerous place.
And the most dangerous place is Afghanistan. Since the Russian-Afghan war that started in 1979 the country has continually witnessed wars within its borders ever since and is currently designated the most violent place on earth.
Drones are supposed to make pinpoint air strikes to kill enemies without hurting ordinary civilians. But “civilians” and “militants” often get mixed up. Can you tell from up in the sky who’s who?
The UK and the USA do not give out all the information about whom they have killed, where, when or why. In countries like Afghanistan, people feel angry and afraid about drones. The use of drones in the skies of Afghanistan is the number one recruiting tool for the Taliban.
Drones can stay up for hours, never getting tired. A strike could come at any time. For the children and adults going about their lives, this threat is always in the back of their minds. Clear blue skies are particularly feared as that is when drone strikes are most likely.
And what about the operators of the Armed Drones? You may think that because of the great physical distance there’s also a great emotional distance – and that’s the paradox of armed drones, it’s actually the exact opposite.
The distance is huge but the visual distance – the emotional, psychological distance – brings them back into the range roughly of a World War I pilot, above the trenches, looking down at a 100 yards distance.
Like nuclear weapons, armed drones offer both no defense and no deterrence in combatting terrorism.
It’s time to ground the drones.
Image from www.thenational.ae/