Duane Shank has written an important article for Sojourners entitled, 'Shadow Wars'
"A series of recent news stories, largely based on anonymous sources, reveals an emerging new U.S. military strategy. After more than 10 years of long, bloody ground wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, the Obama administration is turning to what one report called “shadow wars.”Read more here
Rather than large numbers of troops on the ground, these wars involve covert intelligence and action, special forces units, cyberwar against computers, and a greatly expanded use of unmanned drones. They are undeclared, still largely secret, and unaccountable.
Beginning under President George W. Bush and dramatically escalating under President Barack Obama, the U. S. is now using drones in four countries (Afghanistan, Pakistan, Yemen, and Somalia), and has used them in two others (Iraq and Libya). Going by the names Reaper and Predator, firing missiles named Hellfire, the drones are responsible for thousands of deaths, including hundreds of women and children.
A lengthy report in The New York Times described a ritual by which people’s names are nominated to be killed. A group gathered from the national security agencies meets every week or so to add new names to “an expanding ‘kill list,’ poring over terrorist suspects’ biographies on what one official calls the macabre ‘baseball cards’ of an unconventional war.” The list then goes to the White House, where the president approves the names.
In Pakistan and more recently in Yemen, drone strikes are moving to what are called “signature” attacks, not aimed at specific individuals but at what are considered suspicious behavior “signatures” of al-Qaeda activity based on vehicles, facilities, communications equipment, and patterns of behavior. And the president has adopted a new method of counting civilian deaths – all military-age males in the area of a strike are considered militants, unless there is posthumous evidence they were civilians."
Shank concludes, "It is a time when, as Dr. Martin Luther King said about the war in Vietnam, “Every [person] of humane convictions must decide on the protest that best suits [their] convictions, but we must all protest.”"