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Opinion

Protect innocent Pakistani children from Obama’s drone war

Kevin JensenA mother holds her child close in the morning, squeezing him tight and whispering “I love you” before watching anxiously as his grubby little face disappears down the street on his way to school.

She’s uneasy. She still replays that horrible day in her life over and over in her head, when her eldest son left for school, never to return home again.

Is this ever-looming fear the new reality? Every morning met with the terror of possibly never seeing her child again? She feels frightened and utterly helpless.

Protesters demonstrate in the street, seeking to end the violence — to end the slaughter of innocent civilians.

She’s well aware the protests won’t change anything; Washington D.C. isn’t listening, so hundreds more innocents will be killed.

Obama’s drone war continues on, with no end in sight.

According to data by The Bureau of Investigative Journalism, Obama has overseen more than six times the amount of CIA drone strikes in Pakistan than under Bush, with over 300 strikes in that region alone.

While the Obama administration has often claimed minimal civilians are killed during targeted UAV strikes, a report conducted by experts at the Stanford and New York University law schools concluded, “even the most conservative nongovernmental civilian casualty estimates … contradict the administration’s claims.”

Part of the discrepancy between accounts of the number of civilians killed may be due to Obama’s classification of “all military-age males in a strike zone as combatants,” as The New York Times revealed, but where is the Obama administration’s explanation for the murders of women and non-military aged civilians?

TBIJ reveals there have been 176 children reported killed by American drones in Pakistan since we began anti-terror operations there in 2004. Most of the Pakistani children’s blood on the hands of the Obama administration are a result of changes in how our drone attacks are executed and the frequency with which they’re used.

The Stanford/NYU study, “Living Under Drones,” highlights the switch from Bush’s practice of targeting high-profile al-Qaeda leaders to the Obama administration’s targeting of “groups or men who bear certain signatures, or defining characteristics associated with terrorist activity, but whose identities aren’t known.”

The report reveals that drone “strikes in Pakistan’s northwestern tribal belt are terrorizing civilians 24 hours a day and breeding bitter anti-American sentiment. (They) have killed thousands of people … even stopping their children going to school for fear of being targeted.”

In that region, families are afraid to even attend funerals to mourn the deaths of their loved ones for fear of being targeted by US ground operators who misinterpret them as gatherings of al-Qaeda or Taliban militants.

These attacks on Pakistan’s tribal areas have been justified under the pretext of Haqqani militants who have been blamed for numerous assaults on US and NATO bases in Afghanistan.

But how effective has Obama’s drone war been?

The Stanford and NYU law schools study cites publicly available evidence that reveals that claims that drone strikes “have made the US safer overall is ambiguous at best. The number of ‘high-level’ militants killed as a percentage of total casualties is extremely low — estimated at just 2% (of deaths).”

In America we’re happy to believe that the drone war we are waging in Pakistan, in violation of their national sovereignty, is done with surgical precision. We don’t experience the destruction every day in our own streets. We’re completely disconnected from the wars our government wages.

We pretend like our policies aren’t really hurting anybody but the terrorists that deserve it, deceiving ourselves into believing the collateral damage occurring from striking unidentified targets isn’t happening.

America may be able to pretend like our policies don’t have consequences, but in Pakistan — and increasingly in Yemen — the terror of another US drone strike never ceases, breeding anti-U.S. sentiments among the people and giving greater incentive to extremist factions in the region.

With the deaths of 176 Pakistani children (and counting) at the hands of the American people, funded by our taxes and decisions made by the people we elect into office, can we blame the civilian population for increasingly seeing the US as an enemy?

Those who slaughter the innocent are rarely hailed as the good guys.

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About Kevin Reilly Jensen

Content Managing Editor Kevin Reilly Jensen is a senior English major and Business Administration minor. Kevin is currently employed as a Communications and Public Relations Assistant for Colorado State University College of Applied Human Sciences and was formerly a Communications Intern for E-470 Public Highway Authority. Kevin can be reached at kjensen@collegian.com or on Twitter @kevinrjensen.