Number of UAV Strikes soars under Obama
by Jeremy Griffith
The first casualty of American wars seems to be our 5-minute attention span. As we sleepily drift back to our regular lives and mass media entertainment consumption, President Obama ramps up the War on Terror while quietly reneging on his campaign promise to disentangle us from foreign wars. The President should own up and tell us the truth, that he really is a warrior Commander-in-Chief.
During the campaign, candidate Obama promised the American people he would not be engaging in wasteful wars and nation-building. That promise was so similar to the promises of George W. Bush during his first campaign that it is painful to watch.
Both presidents have ditched their campaign promises to pursue war overseas. With Bush in those early days after 9/11, Americans were caught up in patriotic fervor and needed both consolation and revenge. Bush obliged with two land campaigns in Afghanistan and Iraq and a decade’s long occupation of both.
Obama promised to disengage from foreign wars as a candidate but stressed the need to provide civilian aid to failing countries. A campaign position paper put out by the Obama campaign illustrates his position, stating, “Barack Obama believes that strengthening weak states at risk of collapse, economic meltdown or public health crises strengthens America’s security. Obama will double U.S. spending on foreign aid to $50 billion a year by 2012.”
Obama the candidate de-emphasized the role of the military in nation building, choosing instead to concentrate on civilian aid and diplomacy. While he has increased aid to foreign countries, he has also engaged the military more. While he has come through on his promise to redeploy troops from Iraq, Obama has increased the field of battle by one theater, committing the Navy and Naval Air assets and intelligence in the conflict to oust Qaddafi in Lybia, without the approval of congress. He has also committed to a different but no less lethal strategy of increasing the number of Unmanned Ariel Vehicle strikes on high level Al Qaeda and Taliban forces in Pakistan and Afghanistan.
The Bureau of Investigative Journalism has produced a number of telling graphics that illustrate the numbers of UAV strikes on civilian and military targets that contrasts the weapon’s usage of presidents Bush and Obama. Clearly the UAV numbers rise significantly under President Obama’s leadership. The key graphic in the series is included below.
As seen in the numbers, Bush certainly began the campaign of striking with UAVs, but the campaign was vastly expanded after Obama became president.
Not only has the deaths and critical injury of top terrorists increased, but the number of unwanted civilian non-combatant deaths have also increased, according to the Bureau of Investigative Journalism. Obama’s strategy seems to be to actively engage known terrorists and terror camps around the world while reducing the number of US military casualties that are so abhorrent to us at home. But the civilian casualties are just as abhorrent, but still the Obama administration and the CIA drone campaign, which the spy bureau won’t officially admit exist, plods on. While pursuing this new course of action, the President runs the risk of alienating allies like Pakistan and Afghanistan whose sovereignty is often violated by these strikes. The President should also acknowledge the risks that civilian non-combatants may be and are often caught in the cross fire. With the Taliban and Al Qaeda being what they are, it is difficult to tell in the aftermath what body part belonged to a terrorist and which belonged to an innocent civilian. But, the risk of civilian causalities exists and the POTUS should acknowledge it.
While it is laudable for the President to go after terrorists like Osama Bin Laden and others, it is beneath the dignity of the office of the President to continually blame others, i.e. George W. Bush for mistakes of the past and then double down on the same or similar tactics adopted by them. The President should own up to the consequences of his choices. He should tell the American People straight out what he is doing and give a little credit where credit is due. President Obama is a warrior head of state, no different the George W.