The blanket of near silence cast over the Middle East “peace process” extends south and east, to the United States’ most active current “shooting war”—the undeclared and seemingly permanent covert war being fought mostly with unmanned drones in South Asia and, increasingly, the Horn of Africa. Every day, twenty-four hours a day, American airmen serving their shifts at bases in Nevada, upstate New York, and elsewhere in the United States are “piloting” these lethal flying robots, gazing at computer screens through which they track from above the movements of men on the other side of the world.
Sometimes the men they shadow in Pakistan and Yemen and Somalia are known militant suspects (targets of so-called “personality strikes”), sometimes they are “military-aged” men behaving in ways deemed to fit with known terrorist “profiles” (so-called “signature strikes”). In either case the land-borne pilots, whether working for the Central Intelligence Agency or the United States military, spend their hours and days observing them—and often pulling the trigger that launches the missile that streaks down and kills them. These pilots working quietly on US bases have so far killed several thousand people — credible estimates range as high as 3,500 — and perhaps as many as one in four have been noncombatants. At least four executed in this manner have been American citizens.
This quiet war, President Obama’s “focused” version of George W. Bush’s Global War on Terror, shows no sign of coming to an end. No doubt some of those killed pose an imminent threat to American citizens—though the definition of what exactly that means, what criteria must be satisfied for our government to order someone’s death, remain classified and unmentioned. But there is much evidence to suggest that many, at least by any reasonable definition of “threat,” do not—indeed, that in as many as 94 percent of the cases the targets are “mere foot soldiers” about whom, according to terrorism expert Peter Bergen, “it’s hard to make the case that [they] threaten the United States in some way.” What is not in dispute is that these killings of thousands of Muslims, conducted by remote control by a distant superpower, have caused enormous resentment and hatred of the United States in Pakistan and throughout the Islamic world, a consequence that helps revivify and perpetuate the political sentiments at the root of the war on terror.
"I'm gonna share with you a vision that I had, 'cause I love you. And you feel it. Take all that money that we spend on weapons and defense each year, and instead spend it feeding, clothing and educating the poor of the world - which it would cover many times over, not one human being excluded - and we could explore space, together - both inner and outer - forever, in peace."
~ Bill Hicks