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Stop the Killing! Ground the Drones!
By Louie De Benedette
Drones are unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) used by the military for surveillance, targeted assassinations, and bombings. Drones are usually controlled by a human operator on the ground, though they can also be programmed to fly fully autonomous missions - with no pilot at all. The operator who makes the decision to launch a missile from the drone can be located thousands of miles away from their victims. The United States has used armed drones in Iraq, Yemen, Afghanistan and Pakistan. A drone's selling point is that no pilot or crew is at risk of being killed or captured if the drone crashes or is shot down.
Louie De Benedette (center) participates in
local and regional marches and
protests as far away as Syracuse.
Drones used in Afghanistan, Pakistan and other countries have killed hundreds of innocent civilans, violating just war principles. Drones violate international and American law on political assassinations and intelligence used in drone target selection is notoriously unreliable. Killing an unknown person 3000 miles away is morally reprehensible. Such killings, especially of innocent civilians, fuel revenge and eventually terrorism.
Drone training at Hancock Airfield, in De Witt, NY which is less than an hour away from Ithaca poses a risk for civilian aircraft, and technical failures that can lead to rogue drones crashing are a risk to all people in this region. Only certain war-profiteering corporations benefit from war. We certainly don't. Wars and military spending take precious resources away from our domestic needs; education, housing, healthcare, infrastructure repair, and development of nontoxic energy.
Killing by using drones must be seen in the larger context that war is not the answer to human disagreements. Drones make killing more abstract, impersonal, and make killing more convenient and war more likely.
People must realize that a drone arms race is well underway with more than 40 countries developing these weapons. According to the Fellowship of Reconciliation armed drones have been used by the US military in Afghanistan, lraq and Yemen, by the CIA in Pakistan, by the UK military in Afghanistan, and by Israel in Gaza.
Louie De Benedette is a long time anti-war activist and a VVAW Contact in Ithaca, New York.