It’s Official: David Cameron is now Barack Obama’s Poodle

By ordering drone strikes against British nationals, Prime Minister David Cameron has followed in the ignominious footsteps of Tony Blair by effectively becoming the “poodle” of the current US president. Blair notoriously went along with the Bush administration scheme to wage a preemptive war against a sovereign nation at peace in 2003, violating international law, directly causing the deaths of hundreds of thousands of people, the exodus of millions of others, and wrecking Iraq, which remains in shambles still today.

Self-styled “drone warrior” Obama’s signature policy, “Kill don’t capture”, was implemented when he found it politically difficult to house detainees suspected of complicity in terrorism. Never troubled by the high proportion of innocent suspects found among the men imprisoned at Guantánamo Bay, Obama decided to deal with the problem of suspects “lawyering up”—as former Secretary of Defense Rumsfeld and Vice President Cheney used to say—by killing them all, and inverting the burden of proof.

Terrorist suspects, in the Obama administration world view, are guilty until proven innocent, which no one is able to do pre-posthumously because targets are not informed that their names have been placed on secret kill lists. The Obama approach is slick, simple and politically satisfying: light them up with a Hellfire missile! No more embarrassing human rights issues arise over detainees mistreated and held without charges. No more nagging lawyers, no more hunger strikes.

Not content with simply “taking out” suspected militants/insurgents/terrorists (all of which have been conflated for years, following Bush) in countries such as Yemen, Pakistan, Somalia, and Libya, where war was never formally waged, Obama went one step further. He authorized the extrajudicial execution of Anwar al-Awlaki and other US nationals, including Al-Awlaki’s sixteen-year-old son, Abdulrahman, who was assassinated two weeks after his father. According to bureaucratically crafted rules of engagement (ROE), Abdulrahman was a “military-age male” and therefore fair game for slaughter in any territory labeled “hostile” by the “kill committee”. Painting himself as “strong on defense,” Obama proudly revealed himself to be a member of that committee during his 2012 election campaign.

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British Prime Minister David Cameron has consistently stood by Obama during his various bellicose initiatives. Cameron was ready and willing to support Obama when he called for war on the Syrian government in 2013, and then again on the Syrian government’s worst enemies (ISIS) in 2014.

DavidCameronPoodleHowever, Cameron no longer simply applauds the Obama administration’s calls for war, including the drone strikes used to dispatch suspects who might possibly pose an imminent danger (though it need not be immediate). Now Cameron, too, selects British citizens for summary execution according to unknown criteria determined in secret proceedings, all said to be necessary for state security. Cameron, who authorized the drone killing by the RAF of Ruhul Amin and Reyaad Khan, is now a card-carrying member of the “kill committee”.

And, yes, Barack Obama’s poodle.

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For more information and related criticism, see We Kill Because We Can: From Soldiering to Assassination in the Drone Age, Chapter 4: Lethal Creep; Chapter 5: Strike First, Ask Questions Later; Chapter 6: The New Banality of Killing; Chapter 9: Death and Politics; and Chapter 12: Tyrants are as Tyrants Do

Pakistan “Kill Committee” Office Now Open for Business on “Terror Tuesdays”

The US government has been dispatching people in Pakistan for years now, both in JSOC raids—as in May 2011, when Osama bin Laden was killed—and in drone strikes. Now the Pakistan government has decided to form its own “Kill Committee” and execute suspects without trial, following its role model, the US government.

Is it war? That’s supposed to be the pretext for drone strikes. “This is war.” It starts to look much closer to extrajudicial execution when citizens are “taken out” by their very own government, as were Anwar al-Awlaki and Samir Khan (and Al-Awlaki’s son, Abdulrahman, two weeks later) on Yemeni soil during the fall of 2011. The claim by government officials is that killing becomes permissible when capture is not possible.

When a home government such as Pakistan opts to eliminate people on sovereign soil using drones, what can the rationalization be? How can it be the case that capture is impossible? The security forces, the army, the police, all a part of the Pakistan government, are there, ready and willing to be deployed. Under such circumstances, to call a drone strike “necessary” on domestic soil becomes even less plausible than when the US government opted to kill rather than capture citizens located abroad.

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And so the ugly legacy of Barack Obama continues to unfold. Not long ago, the Nigerian government was reported to be using lethal drones in Nigeria to take out whoever their “Kill Committee” deemed fair game. Now the Pakistan government is doing the same. All of this was entirely predictable to anyone with a modicum of an understanding of history and, in particular, the precedent set by the United States in matters military. The peace and security of the people of more and more countries are being undermined by weaponized drones flying over their heads and threatening death from above.

What’s more, in the Drone Age, the people in the corners of the world in most need of political change will be the least likely ever to achieve it. How can democratic reform of a country possibly succeed, when the reigning regime possesses the power and the blessing of the US government to follow in its stead by summarily executing anyone it deems to have stepped out of line?

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For more information and related criticism, see We Kill Because We Can, Chapter 4: Lethal Creep; Chapter 6: The New Banality of Killing; Chapter 12: Tyrants are as Tyrants Do

Swedish and German Nationals Watch “Kill TV” and Vote in Roundtable Nomination Proceedings during “Terror Tuesday” Meetings in Afghanistan

“If you see any women or children, raise your hand.” This is the instruction given to members of the Afghanistan version of the current “kill committee”, with both Germans and Swedes now sitting at the table. US military and intelligence personnel have been summarily executing suspected militants/insurgents/terrorists (which are all conflated) for years, both in countries where there are “US boots on the ground” and in places where no formal war was ever waged.

“How about innocent brown-skinned men?” That question is not being asked by anyone during these meetings. The very concept appears to be oxymoronic to US military and CIA personnel, long inured to the “crowd killing” of military-age males in so-called hostile areas, who have been defined as guilty until proven innocent. No matter that, given the secrecy surrounding drone strikes, it is impossible for a suspect to prove his innocence before being liquidated. Only a carping crank would bother to point out that for others to demonstrate a target’s innocence post mortem is, shall we say, “too little, too late”.

Somehow all of the people involved in the drone killing of suspects missed (or have forgotten) the statistics on the detainees held at Guantánamo Bay. Most of them were mistakenly imprisoned, nearly always on the basis of intelligence provided by bribed locals, precisely the primary basis used in adding targets to “kill lists” to be dispatched by Hellfire missiles launched from Predator drones as the “opportunity” arises.

The recent report of German and Swedish participation in the US drone program is deeply disappointing, for such complicity significantly decreases the chance that the perpetrators will ever be brought to justice—or even that the practice will be curtailed. As the web of corruption continues to ensnare more people and nations, luring them to collaborate with the US killing machine, it will become ever more difficult to press human rights claims and reassert the authority of the United Nations in calling a halt to the summary execution of brown-skinned males regarded as suspicious by whoever the sitting “kill committee” members happen to be, using criteria to which only they are privy.

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For more information and related criticism, see We Kill Because We Can, Chapter 4: Lethal Creep and Chapter 6: The New Banality of Killing