The London-based Bureau of Investigative Journalism estimates roughly 500 to 800 innocents have been blown up by our drones in the Middle East. If this happened on U.S. soil, it would certainly be considered a “huge number” by any reasonable person. No one would be calmed by the fact that the intent was to be “precise.” Obama’s statement also ignores the psychological impact of living in constant fear of being killed because you might happen to be standing near a suspected terrorist. This fear is certainly exacerbated by the fact that the Obama administration incredibly told The New York Times that it “in effect counts all military-age males in a strike zone as combatants.”
What makes these civilian deaths even more tragic is the fact that the drone war isn’t even making America safer. Dennis C. Blair, Obama’s former director of national intelligence, wrote in 2011, “Qaeda officials who are killed by drones will be replaced. The group’s structure will survive and it will still be able to inspire, finance and train individuals and teams to kill Americans. Drone strikes hinder Qaeda fighters while they move and hide, but they can endure the attacks and continue to function.”
Blair echoed a widely held belief by foreign-policy experts that “as the drone campaign wears on, hatred of America is increasing in Pakistan.” It shouldn’t be that hard to figure out that killing civilians and writing them off as “collateral damage” just creates more terrorists. This is Psychology 101.