Since coming to office, the Obama administration has greatly expanded the use of drone strikes in Pakistan, from 35 in 2008 to 53 in 2009 to 118 last year. In mid-March a Predator strike killed more than 40 civilians in the remote tribal areas of northwest Pakistan, according to Pakistani officials. The day before the first drone strike against Libya, at least 26 people, including civilians, were killed by a CIA drone attack in Pakistans North Waziristan tribal region.
Now the White House plans to use drones to attempt to identify and kill supporters of Moammar Gadhafi mixed among the civilian population in densely populated urban areas.
The drones are uniquely suited for urban areas where its very difficult to pick friend from foe, said Marine Gen. James Cartwright, vice chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff.
Cartwright said this step was being taken because the Libyan military has altered its tactics. You are seeing a much more dispersed fight, people that are digging in or nestling up against crowded areas, he said.
Cartwright, often described as Obamas most favored general, is considered a likely replacement for Adm. Michael Mullen as chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff later this year.
Cartwright and Vice President Joseph Biden argued in 2009 that instead of sending an additional 30,000 U.S. troops to Afghanistan, the U.S. military should instead increase drone attacks and send 10,000 special forces. The idea was that rather than sitting there protecting people these troops would engage and kill the enemy, wrote Bob Woodward in Obamas Wars. We can sort of use [the Talibans] tactics against them, Cartwright is quoted as saying in the book.
The Pentagon has been deploying drones for spying missions over Libya since the civil war between opposition forces and Gadhafis troops began in mid-March, said Defense Secretary Robert Gates April 21, but this is the first time theyll be used for airstrikes. At least two Predator drones will be patrolling Libya at all times.
Acknowledging that the imperialists military intervention in Libya is likely to take awhile, Gates downplayed the drone airstrikes, saying they provide a very limited additional role and should not be considered mission creep.
Drone attacks have become an addictive tool of U.S. national security policy, wrote David Ignatius, an associate editor of the Washington Post. It brings a weapon that has become for many Muslims a symbol of the arrogance of U.S. power into a theater next door to the Egyptian and Tunisian revolutions.
On Sunday talk shows some capitalist politicians embraced the goal of targeting Gadhafi for assassination. Republican senator Lindsey Graham, a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, called for using U.S. airstrikes in Tripoli to cut the head of the snake off.
Sen. John McCain, who recently visited Benghazi, Libya, backed targeting Gadhafi and called on Washington to recognize the opposition Transitional National Council as Libyas official government. Washington has got to play a greater role on the air power side, he said, as our NATO allies neither have the assets, nor frankly the will.
Britains former prime minister, Anthony Blair, expressed apprehensions about alternatives to Gadhafis rule. I know quite a lot about what makes up the different compositions of the rebel groupssome will be people we would want fully to support, others would have a somewhat different view as to how Libya develops, he told Danish TV.
London, Paris, and Rome announced in mid-April that theyre sending military advisers into Libya to train rebel forces.
Syria rebellion spreads despite govt repression
UK: Bahrain govt yanks scholarships of protesters
California demonstration condemns Syrian regime
Front page (for this issue) | Home | Text-version home