Dugan: Drones should be an issue for Democrats

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Dugan: Drones should be an issue for Democrats

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Jack Dugan
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Arguably, one of the few blemishes on presidential hopeful and Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders’s run for the presidency is his lack-there-of foreign-policy experience. Perhaps, it can be argued, this can be cushioned with a more than adept presidential cabinet, alleviating the burden of the major role that United States plays in international relations from his ever-hunched shoulders.

It has been argued that his adversary in the Democratic nomination, former Secretary of State Hilary Clinton, is more adept in handling such tasks.

However, the two do meet in one issue on the topic, both amounting to a significant flaw in Democratic rhetoric: the endorsement of the use of targeted drone strikes across the Middle East, predominately in Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Yemen.

The targeted killing program, most often carried out through the use of drone aircraft and expanded in operation under the Obama administration, is the assassination of suspected or confirmed terrorist individuals by the United States outside of judicial procedure or a battlefield.

The thought of strategically and precisely killing individuals whose sole intent is to organize and strike against innocent Americans could be enticing to some, but the reality is quite the contrary.

In a New York Times article published in April 2015, Scott Shane writes, “Every independent investigation of the strikes has found far more civilian casualties than administration officials admit. Gradually, it has become clear, that when operators in Nevada fire missiles into remote tribal territories on the other side of the world, they often do not know who they are killing but are making an imperfect best guess.”

At times, these imperfect best guesses yield abhorrent results. According to the Huffington Post, between, “January 2012 and February 2013, U.S. special-operations air strikes killed more than 200 people. Of those, only 35 were the intended targets.” Defending the program seems to be a tough endeavor to endure.

Michael Crowley, when writing for Time in January 2014, commented on Clinton’s foreign-policy record, which he described as “unapologetically hawkish,” and went further to state that “she backed intervention in Libya, and her State Department helped enable Obama’s expansion of lethal drone strikes. In fact, Clinton may have been the administration’s most reliable advocate for military action.”

Sanders commented in an NBC “Meet the Press” interview, “Look, a drone is a weapon. When it works badly, it is terrible, and it is counterproductive. When you blow up a facility or a building which kills women and children, you know what? … It’s terrible,” but later in the interview stated he would be comfortable utilizing the weapon.

Any president who chooses to perpetuate the embarrassing counterterrorism endeavor that the U.S. targeted killing program has amounted to will undoubtedly become not only an agent of anti-American agitation but an agent of the continued disillusionment of the greater peace-loving American public.

Drone strikes are not a low-fatality alternative to war. Instead, it is a clumsy and lethal program that terrorizes remote villages throughout the Middle East and southern Asia. Sanders and Clinton should take a second look at the implications of their statements on this issue before claiming to be any degree of a progressive presidential candidate.