[News] Don't Accept American Exceptionalism - Finally a Drone Report Done Right

Anti-Imperialist News news at freedomarchives.org
Fri Nov 1 11:09:30 EDT 2013

Weekend Edition November 1-3, 2013

Don't Accept American Exceptionalism

  Finally a Drone Report Done Right


The U.N. and Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International recently 
released a flurry of deeply flawed 
<http://davidswanson.org/node/4189> reports on drone murders.  According 
to the U.N.'s special rapporteur, whose day job is as law partner of 
Tony Blair's wife, and according to two major human rights groups deeply 
embedded in U.S. exceptionalism, murdering people with drones is 
sometimes legal and sometimes not legal, but almost always it's too hard 
to tell which is which, unless the White House rewrites the law in 
enough detail and makes its new legal regime public.

When I read these reports I was ignorant of the existence of a human 
rights organization called Alkarama <http://en.alkarama.org/>, and of 
the fact that it had just released a report titled /License to Kill: Why 
the American Drone War on Yemen Violates International Law 
While Human Rights Watch looked at six drone murders in Yemen and found 
two of them illegal and four of them indeterminate, Alkarama looked in 
more detail and with better context at the whole campaign of drone war 
on Yemen, detailing 10 cases.  As you may have guessed from the report's 
title, this group finds the entire practice of murdering people with 
flying robots to be illegal.

Alkarama makes this finding, not out of ignorance of the endless 
intricacies deployed by the likes of Human Rights Watch and Amnesty 
International.  Rather, Alkarama adopts the same dialect and considers 
the same scenarios: Is it legal if it's a war, if it's not a war? Is it 
discriminate, necessary, proportionate? Et cetera.  But the conclusion 
is that the practice is illegal no matter which way you slice it.

This agrees with Pakistan's courts, Yemen's National Dialogue, Yemen's 
Human Rights Ministry, statements by large numbers of well-known figures 
in Yemen, and the popular movement in Yemen protesting the slaughter.  
While the other "human rights" groups ask President Obama to please lay 
out what the law is, whether his killing spree is part of a war or not, 
who counts as a civilian and who doesn't, etc., Alkarama actually 
compares U.S. actions with existing law and points out that the United 
States is violating the law and trying to radically alter the law.  This 
conclusion results in a clear and useful set of recommendations at the 
end of the report, beginning with this recommendation to the U.S. 

    "End extrajudicial executions and the practice of targeted killings
    by drones and other military means."

This recommendation is strengthened by a better informed and more honest 
report that much more usefully conveys the recent history of Yemen 
(including by noting honestly the destructive impact of the IMF and the 
USA), describes the indiscriminate terror inflicted by the buzzing 
drones, and contrasts drone murders to alternatives --- such as 
negotiations. This analysis enriches our understanding of why drone wars 
are counterproductive even from the point of view of a heartless 
sociopath rooting for Team USA, much less someone concerned about human 

It is, then, possible to write a human rights report from a perspective 
concerned with the rights of humans, and not some combination of concern 
with human rights and devotion to U.S. imperialism.  This is good news 
for anyone interested in giving it a try.  The field is fairly wide open.

Some nations' statements at the U.N. debate on drones this month, 
including Brazil's, also challenged the legalization of a new form of 
war.  And all of these groups and individuals 
<http://banweaponizeddrones.org/> have something to say about it as well.

*/David Swanson/*/ is author of //War is a Lie 
<http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/0983083002/counterpunchmaga>. He 
lives in Virginia./

Freedom Archives 522 Valencia Street San Francisco, CA 94110 415 
863.9977 www.freedomarchives.org
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