The recent article, “Attacks highlight reach of Iran allied militias” (Jan. 4), highlights the danger of drones. On the death anniversary of Iranian Maj. Gen. Qasem Soleimani, armed drones targeted Baghdad’s international airport. Two armed drones were sent from Iran to Baghdad, and although both were shot down, it is clear that drone technology is now in the hands of Iranian militia groups and poses a real threat to the world.
Drone warfare has been deployed by the United States in Iraq, Pakistan and Afghanistan to fight the Taliban and ISIS, but investigative reporting has shown that the benefits derived were few, and unintended civilians executed were many. When the U.S. kills civilians by this long distance technology, it reaps many enemies and gives the upper hand to extremists to find new recruits for their various unsavory causes by painting the U.S. as a ruthless and indiscriminate killer.
America is also setting off an arms race in the Middle East of local enemy-on-enemy drone attacks and our own drone attacks are coming back to haunt us when militants react to them with retaliatory drone attacks.
I listened to a retired drone operator recently on National Public Radio. He spoke eloquently of the psychological damage that his job had inflicted on him. He said that guilt overwhelmed him at night, that he had killed so many people and destroyed lives, inadvertently or wittingly, by following orders. He deplored the errors inherent in drone warfare and he spoke of a recurrent nightmare he had where the people he killed, people he didn’t even know by face or by name, seemed to appear and taunt him. Long distance war leaves its trauma and scars on those who wage it.
Drone warfare is dangerous. America’s indulgence in it provides the excuses global extremists need to justify their own misadventures with armed drones. Our targeted drones have gone astray and killed folks we didn’t need to or intend to kill because drone warfare is only as good as the intelligence the drone operators receive from the ground or from aerial surveillance and often the intelligence that drives the drone attacks can be inaccurate. The Pentagon should rethink drone warfare and put an end to this cruel modality of killing people.
Usha Nellore, Bel Air
Add your voice: Respond to this piece or other Sun content by submitting your own letter.