Mark Karlin / Buzzflash @ Truthout – 2018-04-23 23:39:44
Trump Approves Selling Killer Drones to Other Countries
Mark Karlin / Buzzflash @ Truthout
(April 20, 2018) — Obama personally authorized killer drone strikes from a list that was regularly presented to him. With Trump, the decision-making is being deferred to the operational leadership in the CIA, and there is increased disregard for the “collateral damage” of civilians killed and injured.
In fact, Amnesty International is so concerned about the accelerating drone strikes under Trump that it issued a plea to the European nations that are logistically supporting the US drone program:
As the Trump administration prepares to further expand the USA’s lethal drone program, increasing the risk of civilian casualties and unlawful killings, Amnesty International is calling on four European countries to urgently overhaul the crucial operational and intelligence assistance they provide to the program.
Amnesty International and others have documented cases under successive US administrations where US drone strikes have killed people who were not directly participating in hostilities or posed no imminent threat to life, including children.
Indeed a report that surfaced only recently revealed Trump’s willingness to have family members of targets killed. According to an April 6 article in Newsweek:
One day removed from his inauguration, President Donald Trump reportedly asked a CIA official why the agency had waited to conduct a drone strike on a target until his family was out of danger . . . .
The president, who on the campaign trail said one way to deter terrorists would be to kill their families, was reportedly shown a recording of a previous drone strike and asked “Why did you wait?” after the video showed the strike was delayed until the target’s family home was out of range . . . .
Trump famously said during a December 2015 interview with Fox News that taking out the families of terrorists may need to be considered. “The other thing with the terrorists is you have to take out their families when you get these terrorists, you have to take out their families. They care about their lives, don’t kid yourself. When they say they don’t care about their lives, you have to take out their families,” Trump said.
A September 2017 NBC News article reported that when Trump visited the CIA after he became president, he made it clear that he wanted to ramp up drone strikes:
Trump conveyed to incoming CIA Director Mike Pompeo and the assembled agency officers that he wanted them to take a more aggressive posture, according to two current U.S. officials and one former official briefed on the visit.
Soon afterward, multiple sources said, the CIA began carrying out drone strikes that might not have been authorized under the Obama administration, including in Syria, where the military has taken the lead on targeting militant leaders.
On Thursday, April 19, the White House announced in a news release that Trump had signed a National Security Presidential Memorandum authorizing the sale of killer drones to other nations.
The Trump administration rationale is explained in the press release:
The new CAT [Conventional Arms Transfer] policy reflects the priorities set out in the President’s National Security Strategy, and provides a framework under which all United States Government agencies will review and evaluate proposed arms transfers and approve commercial defense sales by American companies.
The Trump Administration’s new UAS [US-manufactured “unmanned aerial systems”] export policy replaces an overly restrictive policy established in 2015 that hindered American companies from delivering a crucial military capability to our allies and partners. These updated policies reflect the President’s commitment to peace through strength.
It is difficult to square the selling of drones to allies and partners with the concept of peace. The United States is the largest arms exporter in the world, helping to fuel many conflicts. The addition of killer drones to the list of armaments sold will not make the world safer.
Furthermore, nations in hostile relationships to the US, such as Iran, are now deploying drone technology. The Trump administration’s decision to sell drones will make the world less safe, not more.
The White House news release concludes:
American industry produces the most sophisticated and effective defense systems in the world. Today’s announcements are key first steps in a series of Government-wide initiatives to strengthen our allies, support the manufacturing and defense industrial base, and drive American job creation and innovation.
In reading this, one has to question whether the US really has the “most sophisticated and effective defense systems” or whether it instead has the most powerful war-making machine.
Moreover, the conclusion ties the sale of drones to further expanding the profits of military contractors and jobs in the US. Is this a valid justification for potentially inflaming conflicts and increasing the deaths of CIA targets, their families and civilians?
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