Since Nato invaded Afghanistan in 2001, unmanned drones have gone from being an untried technology to a primary means of warfare.
The US now operates 7,500 drones, and 40 other countries are buying or developing similar vehicles.
British pilots have operated thousands of missions over Afghanistan and Libya from US bases, and now Britain’s first homegrown drone base has become operational, with pilots at RAF Waddington in Lincoln flying armed Reaper drone missions over Afghanistan.
As a mass hunger strike by inmates brings Guantánamo back into the media spotlight once again, it is instructive to note that the imperialists’ chosen method of terror and intimidation has shifted since the advent of Obama and Cameron from seizing and locking up men of military age to murdering them (and often their families, too) instead.
A new kind of terrorism
Imperialist politicians claim that drone strikes can ‘surgically remove’ ‘high-value’ ‘al-Qaeda operatives’ from the ‘field of battle’.
In reality, while resistance fighters may sometimes be hit, anyone seems to be considered ‘fair game’ by the joystick-wielding mercenaries who operate the guns from the safety of their suburban bases.
These terrorist attacks kill at least 10 civilians for every resistance fighter. Just 1.5 percent of known Pakistani drone victims have been identified as ‘high-profile’ targets by the US. So much for ‘precision warfare’.
Although establishment critics are said to be upset at losing opportunities to ‘interrogate’ victims, Obama has clearly learned one lesson from his predecessor: the longer you keep innocent men locked up, the more likely it is that your lies about them being ‘dangerous terrorists’ will be exposed.
It is so much easier for the imperialists to order a kill, then slander their victims and move on. Particularly when they know that western journalists are trained to regurgitate their press releases as proven fact.
So who will listen to the protestations of a poor Pakistani, Afghan or Yemeni community that the latest ‘targeted killing’ of ‘militants’ has in fact massacred farmers, village elders, school children or wedding guests?
Far from being a ‘humane’ alternative to ground troops, remote-control operation simply allows imperialist soldiers to kill with total impunity – without having to take the risk of being hit back.
Meanwhile, the people who live under the shadow of these weapons are subject to daily terror, never knowing when a Reaper or Predator drone will stop overhead or where it will fire next.
Preparation for this kind of warfare starts with the pornographically violent computer games and Hollywood blockbusters that glorify war, dehumanise imperialism’s ‘enemies’ and prepare our young people to slaughter without mercy.
This was perfectly illustrated by Prince Harry’s revealing admission that he saw killing Afghans from his helicopter as being similar to playing video games. Indeed, the prince even went so far as to call it “a joy” to have his finger on the trigger, since he was “one of those people that loves playing PlayStation ... with my thumbs, I like to think that I’m quite useful”.
Full marks for honesty, if not for tact and diplomacy. But while it may be in the interest of Harry and his parasitic family to inflict collective punishment on peoples who are resisting imperialist aggression, it is not in the interest of most British workers, who have been sold a pack of lies about the ‘dangers’ that our Afghan (or Pakistani, Iraqi, Libyan, etc) brothers and sisters pose to ‘us’.
Using drones against our own
The consequences of this new warfare are far-reaching indeed. As the imperialists continue to use drones to target anyone who they see as a threat, they are turning our whole world into a battlefield where nothing and no-one is off-limits.
Indeed, imperialist governments have already started using armed drones to wipe out their own citizens without recourse to any judicial processes.
The US has butchered at least three of its citizens in Yemen, and has not ruled out the possibility of a military drone strike against a US citizen on American soil.
Meanwhile, the ConDems have ramped up a secret programme, initiated by Labour, under which British ‘terror suspects’ are being quietly stripped of their citizenship before they are captured or assassinated abroad. At least two British men are known to have been murdered by US drones in this way.
Where the US nazis lead, their British counterparts are not shy to follow. In the States, use of both surveillance and armed drones by police and other agencies is set to rise exponentially as the technology becomes cheaper and more reliable.
Here at home, having tested out their use during the Olympic games, it is not difficult to believe that police might soon be using armed drones to control demonstrators or strikers, while the cheapness of surveillance drones is bound to make them ubiquitous among police, secret services, and all the ‘security’ contractors who do our rulers’ dirty work.
It is clear that we need to free ourselves from the disabling influence of the capitalists’ propaganda and realise where our real interests lie. The billionaires who order these incessant wars to be launched are not doing so to protect us, but to protect their profits.
They are the same billionaires who are dismantling education and health services here in Britain and kicking us out of our homes. They want to save their rotten system by making us pay for the capitalist crisis – and they want to trick us into blaming each other for the problems their beloved capitalist system creates.
But if we continue to accept the assassination of those deemed to be ‘enemies’ abroad, how long will it be before British leaders are asked to accept drone strikes against working-class leaders at home as being necessary for our ‘security’?
Instead of falling for the capitalists’ lies, we need to unite with all those who are standing up against British imperialism in Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya, Syria and elsewhere. We need to launch a mass campaign of non-cooperation with British imperialism’s war crimes. Together, we have the power to ground the drones and stop imperialism’s dirty wars, for it is workers who ultimately have to carry out these anti-worker actions.
If we refuse to fight in imperialist wars for profit or help with their logistics; if we refuse to broadcast imperialist propaganda in support of such wars; if we refuse to make or transport munitions or supplies, then the British war effort will collapse.
Moreover, taking such action would give workers a much-needed morale boost in the fight against capitalism here at home, helping us to see in practice that we really are on the same side as those fighting abroad, and that together we can defeat the bloodsuckers and build a new society!