The Predator Drone Strike Program is a military policy of the United States Government consisting of precision airstrikes upon targeted individuals and groups from Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAV’s). Although this policy was started under George W. Bush, almost all of the drone strikes have been carried out during President Obama’s tenure. Though these drone strikes are touted by the military and President Obama as efficient ways to weaken militia organizations and bring stability to Middle Eastern regions, the reality speaks differently. At the very least, the Drone War fails to halt the prevalence of violent militia organizations. At the worst, continued drone strikes may actually fuel instability in the nations where these bombings take place.
The two countries that have been bombed the most in this campaign are Pakistan and Yemen. According to the New America Foundation, there have been 396 total drone strikes in Pakistan, killing between 1,770 and 2,971 militants, and 258 and 307 civilians. There have been 105 drone strikes and 15 air strikes in Yemen, killing 717 to 955 militants and 81 to 87 civilians. Looking at the high number of militants killed through this program in both countries, one may think that the militant organizations must be weakened, and that these areas might have a chance to become more stable. However, recent events in both Pakistan and Yemen suggest that these two nations are far from stable.
“The Washington Post” reported that on Jan. 30, a group of militants affiliated with the Taliban bombed a Shiite Mosque in Shikarpur, Pakistan, which killed over 60 people. And on Feb. 3, the Taliban itself claimed responsibility for a series of roadside bombs that killed six policemen in the northwestern city of Peshawar, Pakistan.
In Yemen, after forcing the existing government to resign last month, rebels known as the Houthis have officially dissolved parliament and taken power as of Feb. 6. The new Houthi assembly will elect a five-member interim presidential council to manage the country’s affairs in a transitional period of up to two years, according to a televised statement. However, as “BBC” reports, the Houthis are a minority cultural group in Yemen, so the majority cultural groups and regions will most likely not recognize this government, potentially opening the door for violent strife between the competing groups.
If there is still significant instability and violence between cultural groups in Pakistan and Yemen despite the Drone War, it may be beneficial to take a hard look at this policy. What if, instead of crushing these militant organizations, the Drone War has only angered these organizations and allowed them to organize more? Often, many are tempted to ask who the U.S. should bomb, or what method of bombing the U.S. should use on targeted groups. Instead, maybe people should ask whether or not bombing a region accomplishes anything in the first place. If stability in the Middle East is an expressed goal, and if several years of continued drone strikes under the Obama Administration may have in fact generated more instability and violence in the region, perhaps it is best to take the bombing out of the equation and just leave these regions alone. The U.S. military has been meddling into Middle Eastern affairs for long enough as it is.