[tweetmeme] There are many who think that the ‘secret’ American drone program – that uses remotely controlled drone air craft to bomb suspected militants in remote parts of Pakistan – is ineffective in that it kills more than an acceptable number of civilians included in the handful of militants. The New America Foundation released a study showing that 30% of the casualties from these drone strikes are civilians. COIN specialists Andrew Exum and Peter Kilcullen believe that the civilian deaths from the drone probably create more militants than are killed and Obama counter-terrorism expert John Brennen even fears the drones are a strategic failure.
However Spencer Ackerman at the Washington Independent speaks of a new study led by Brian Glyn Williams positing that the strikes kill far less civilians than is portrayed by the media. Williams found that
According to our database, as of 1 April 2010, there have been a total of 127 confirmed CIA drone strikes in Pakistan, killing a total of 1,247 people. Of those killed only 44 (or 3.53%) could be confirmed as civilians, while 963 (or 77.23%) were reported to be “militants” or “suspected militants.”
Peter Bergen, one of the authors of the New America Foundation study, believes that the actual rate of civilian deaths now is somewhere around 20% and that the accuracy and efficacy of the drones has increased dramatically since the programs inception in 2007. If Williams’ study is correct, it will certainly heap allay fears like those of Exum and Kilcullen. Though the fact that Faisal Shahzad – the thrwarted Time Square bomber – reportedly acted to revenge the deaths of Pakistani civilians from drones still leaves many COINistas a little nauseous over the program.
H/T to Andrew Sullivan
Photo from Express India