(Credit: Creative Commons)

Heather Linebaugh’s personal account of her work on the US drone program gives one set of reasons for why that program should be stopped immediately:

The US and British militaries insist that this is such an expert program, but it’s curious that they feel the need to deliver faulty information, few or no statistics about civilian deaths and twisted technology reports on the capabilities of our UAVs. These specific incidents are not isolated, and the civilian casualty rate has not changed, despite what our defense representatives might like to tell us….We always wonder if we killed the right people, if we endangered the wrong people, if we destroyed an innocent civilian’s life all because of a bad image or angle.

She goes on to describe how it’s not only those who are physically harmed by the drones who are victims:

…here’s the thing: I may not have been on the ground in Afghanistan, but I watched parts of the conflict in great detail on a screen for days on end. I know the feeling you experience when you see someone die. Horrifying barely covers it. And when you are exposed to it over and over again it becomes like a small video, embedded in your head, forever on repeat, causing psychological pain and suffering that many people will hopefully never experience. UAV troops are victim to not only the haunting memories of this work that they carry with them, but also the guilt of always being a little unsure of how accurate their confirmations of weapons or identification of hostile individuals were.

Of course, we are trained to not experience these feelings, and we fight it, and become bitter. Some troops seek help in mental health clinics provided by the military, but we are limited on who we can talk to and where, because of the secrecy of our missions. I find it interesting that the suicide statistics in this career field aren’t reported, nor are the data on how many troops working in UAV positions are heavily medicated for depression, sleep disorders and anxiety.

Another reason was given by the Prime Minister of Pakistan two days ago: the use of drones in Pakistan violates the national sovereignty of that country and is protested by almost everyone there who learn to hate Americans for doing this to their country.

A third reason: unless drones are banned by an international treaty with the same seriousness that chemical warfare was banned, we may live to see the day when powers hostile to the U.S. launch drones that kill or main you, your neighbors, your children, and your friends.

It could happen here–and sophisticated drones could be much harder to head off than other forms of attack. And the source of drone attacks may be hard to identify as drones start to become an accepted weapon by many countries, including small dictatorships that will eventually be overthrown, some by people who wish to strike back at the US for supporting their repressive governments. For example, the Egyptian Muslims watching as the US refuses to call the recent coup a coup so that we can still fund the military dictatorship which is every day proclaiming some new assault on freedom and democracy of the Egyptian people.

Stopping Drone Warfare is just one of the campaigns sponsored by Tikkun and the Network of Spiritual Progressives. But we are one voice that is not just against! Unlike many voices in the progressive world that know what they are against but rarely put forward what they are for, we have a positive vision, spelled out in Rabbi Lerner’s books Sprit Matters,The Politics of Meaning, andThe Left Hand of God, and summarized in our Spiritual Covenant with America.

And like dozens of other non-profits, we are asking you to donate to make a tax-deductible contribution to Tikkun and/or our education and communal arm The Network of Spiritual Progressives. You can do so by mailing a check to Tikkun at 2342 Shattuck Ave, #1200, Berkeley, Ca. 94704 OR by donating on line at www.tikkun.org/nextgen/donate.

We really would appreciate your help–at any level. Stretch yourself a little to keep our unique voice alive!!!

P.S. It’s not too late to sign up for our training of spiritual activists to become involved in the existing world of American social change.


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