LETTER: Drone attacks create more terrorists than they eliminate

Friday, June 25, 2010 | 11:54 a.m. CDT

Missouri Sens. Kit Bond and Claire McCaskill recently issued a joint news release which praised the planned deployment of MQ-1 Predator unmanned aircraft systems at Whiteman Air Force Base, in Knob Noster.

Both lawmakers emphasized the Predator's killing effectiveness in carrying out strikes on terrorists, with McCaskill noting their usefulness in Iraq and Afghanistan. No mention was made of the drone war in Pakistan, which has destroyed up to 1,000 people. Among those were an estimated 320 innocents.

Somehow, both senators believe that the use of the Whiteman-based aircraft will significantly undercut the insurgency in these war zones. Between Jan. 14, 2006, and April 8, 2009, 60 cross-border Predator strikes carried out by Afghanistan-based American drones were able to hit only 10 percent of their intended targets. The strikes killed 14 wanted al-Qaeda leaders along with 687 innocent Pakistani civilians. Needless to say, those strikes and similar attacks have caused widespread public anger in all the countries in which they have been used, and they have served to severely damage the campaign against the Taliban. Such attacks which indiscriminately kill and injure civilians simply add insult to injury in all three of the aforementioned conflicts, which serious analysts know cannot be "won." The drone attacks unquestionably create more terrorists than they eliminate.

One has only to consider the outrage and militancy that would be created if another country attacked a public gathering or civic celebration in Columbia. Unfortunately, Bond and McCaskill fail to understand this most basic human response. Shame on them both.

Bill Wickersham of Columbia is an adjunct professor of peace studies at MU.

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G Cole June 25, 2010 | 7:51 p.m.

The statistics are nice and say a lot about the effectiveness of drone attacks as a means of conducting war - but the connection between regrettable collateral damage on the part of US forces in the AfPak theater to the radicalization and recruitment of terrorists in the same locale is left remarkably unexplored.

The nature of that relationship, I would think, would be a more novel and necessary view to present here - and, I would have hoped, a view that a professor of peace studies would have been more likely to discuss.

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Ellis Smith June 26, 2010 | 5:07 a.m.

Why don't we invite the terrorists for tea and scones? As devout Muslims they wouldn't dream of ingesting alcohol. We should definitely use our best silver service.

If they turn surly and brandish their AK47s and trash the place we will just have to write it off to the cost of forming a lasting friendship.

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