DRONES DURING OBAMA'S ADMINISTRATION
In January 2009, when Barack Obama succeeded George W. Bush as the President of the U.S., he inherited a controversial covert counterterrorism program. This involved using drones to kill terrorists outside the traditional battlefields. On January 23, 2009 President Obama affirmed his resolve to continue the controversial program when the CIA conducted the first drone strikes of his Presidency in Northwest Pakistan, killing an estimated 14 civilians (including 4-5 children), a suspected militant, and leaving many people injured.
Ever since then, the Obama's Presidency has not looked back in the use of drone strikes in fighting terrorism in areas afflicted by Al-Qaeda and Taliban (Pakistan, Yemen, Somalia, and Afghanistan). The use of the drone by the CIA and U.S. military has helped provide the country's war managers with Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance (ISR) in its fierce counterinsurgency and counterterrorism battles. The Pentagon plans to spend around $3 billion on drones this year, an indication of how the drone has being the focal point of the US National Security Strategy in the President Obama's administration.
Even though the Obama's drone strikes have recorded considerable success in some of its target objectives, it has notwithstanding received its share of criticisms over what is perceived to be possible incidence of international war crimes due to the high number of innocent civilians and children killed during the strikes. According to statistics from the Bureau of Investigative Journalism, the Obama's administration has overseen a total of 373 drone strikes in Pakistan only, with an estimated 4001 persons killed. Of these figure, 966 civilians (including 207 children) were meet their untimely end and 1,744 people were injured.
However, it is important to note that there has been progressive decrease in the number of drone strikes in the country from 2010 to 2016 with only three drone strikes carried out so far this year, compared to a prolific 128 strikes in 2010. Another instance is in Afghanistan, a country where the CIA has conducted a total of 381 strikes within the last one year with an estimated 2,477 death recorded. Of these strikes, 121 civilians died, including 18 children and 197 people sustained injuries.
The Amnesty International and a UN Special Report have warned that the drone warfare has the potential of undermining global stability. They gave instances of violations of human rights as a result of leaked military documents that revealed the vast majority of people killed in the target countries have not being intended targets. The Obama administration has argued that the methods used in the attacks have been precise and effective and has not in any way violated international laws. The drone warfare is acclaimed to be widely supported by the Congress and the vast majority of Americans.
During Obama Presidency, the use of drones (micro and Nano-drones) have been injected into the U.S. Police Force to help secure the economic insecurities of contemporary urban landscape. This has helped complement the popular use of helicopters for surveillance. The drones were incorporated with the aim of transforming the very logics of state power, with the micro drone being used having the capabilities to swarm in the streets of densely packed Urban areas and the potentials for more intimate and invasive forms of state power. For instance, Grand Forks Sherriff’s department in North Dakota owns four drones, which has vastly improved the policing of the locality.
The Obama Administration has ensured that the U.S. continues in her position as the frontrunner in the war against terrorism through the continuous use of remote targeted strikes started by his immediate predecessor. It is no brainer that the program has been effective so far, even though there are still reasonable concerns over the possibility of undermining the stability of target countries.
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