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Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Drone Strikes Put Obama Admin Officials At Risk

How long before arrest warrants are issued by politically motivated judges in Europe for high level U.S. politicians and military officials because drone strikes in Pakistan kill civilians?

Don't think it could happen? How about this story from Britain, Israel fury over British war crimes warrant for Tzipi Livni:

Israel’s Government issued an angry warning today that its ties with Britain were in jeopardy over a UK arrest warrant briefly issued against the Jewish state’s Opposition leader and former Foreign Minister.

It has emerged that a London court issued a warrant at the weekend, for alleged war crimes committed in last winter's Gaza offensive, and then rescinded it when it became clear that Tzipi Livni was not on British soil...

The warrant was just the latest attempt by pro-Palestinian groups to use British courts to seek the arrest of Israeli leaders whom they accuse of war crimes in the West Bank and Gaza Strip.

In October, Moshe Yaalon, the deputy Prime Minister, was forced to cancel a fundraising trip to London after lawyers warned he could be arrested in connection with a deadly attack he authorised as chief of staff. It killed a wanted Hamas militant chief, his wife and nine children in the Gaza Strip in 2002.

That incident came shortly after activists tried and failed to obtain a British warrant against Ehud Barak, the Defence Minister during the Gaza war who has retained his post under new the right-wing government.

The outsourcing of legal proceedings to European countries by the coalition of left-wing and Islamist groups will not stop with Israeli officials. As I have noted before, American officials have been targeted in Spanish courts.

The drone strikes, particularly the strike several months ago on a Taliban funeral, will raise similar calls for court action again Obama administration officials. The seeds already are out there, as in this post by a blogger at HuffPo who finds no justification for drone strikes in the cities where al-Qaeda and the Taliban operate:

Imagine targeting a person or group with a drone-borne, 500-lbs., roughly 125,600-square-foot-effective-kill-area [pi x (effective kill radius of 200 ft., squared)] bomb in San Francisco's Union Square, and you get some idea of the civilian death and injury we're talking about. (Actually, this kill area is larger than Union Square...)

And if you think that the U.S. would never use a drone to drop that kind of weapon on a mass of noncombatants that might also contain Taliban heavies, you'd be wrong.

And the U.N. already is on the case:

US drone strikes against suspected terrorists in Afghanistan and Pakistan could be breaking international laws against summary executions, the UN's top investigator of such crimes said.

"The problem with the United States is that it is making an increased use of drones/Predators (which are) particularly prominently used now in relation to Pakistan and Afghanistan," UN Special Rapporteur on Extrajudicial Executions Philip Alston told a press conference.

"My concern is that drones/Predators are being operated in a framework which may well violate international humanitarian law and international human rights law," he said.

The likelihood of an arrest warrant in the near term for an Obama administration official is small, given the popularity of Obama with the European left. But as the Afghan surge heats up, and attacks from drones increase, expect the situation to change.

Update: Soccer Dad points to this interesting analysis of how the anti-Israel NGOs and UN agencies routinely exaggerate civilian losses for the purpose of asserting war crimes which can then be used to seek arrest warrants. This is reminiscent of the Paliwood fauxtography routinely used for propaganda purposes.

Related Posts:
The American Left Outsources The Spanish Inquisition
Did Obama Just Commit A War Crime?

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  1. Have any cases been fully tried and precedent set? I know the Tzipi Livini matter was dropped because whe had left the country or something like that.

    What IS the difference between a bomb from a drone and one from a manned craft? It is no different than a Tomahawk missile launch is it? Weapons are weapons. This is not a tea party. Innocent civilians have been killed in all wars. I am not endorsing this. I am speaking to a reality.

  2. You also have to keep in mind that these "civilians" are not always what they seem, especially in the Gaza strip.

    If the wives and children are in the hideout, then the wives are complicit in the wrongdoing of the Taliban and Al Qaeda operatives.

    In the Gaza strip it can be a little bit more complex, but we have to face the fact that the mothers of suicide bombers are normally aware of their sons' crimes. The Hamas operatives also have a habit of hiding amongst the civilian population.

    Do you remember the big kerfuffle in the last Lebanon strikes? Well, you have to keep in mind that the occupants of the house knew exactly what was going on, and that those people were indeed part of Hezbollah. At that time Israel was at war with Hezbollah and the deaths of any civilians was due to the fact that Hezbollah had the habit of hiding amongst the civilians to cause collateral damage.

    The USA needs to be less squeamish and stand up to the leftists who are constantly running the show with their made up holier than thou attitudes. The Spanish for example are not what I would call a good example over such matters.

  3. William:

    I'm the blogger who wrote the piece quoted above re: drone strikes in Quetta.

    I want to clarify something about the way you've used my quote above. I've not called for foreign court action against any U.S. official, to my knowledge. I don't think such moves would be particularly effective in any case. The points made in the post you quoted were a) bombing Quetta includes a very high risk of civilian casualties and b) is tantamount to a declaration of war against the Pakistani military, and c) drones have been used in such an indiscriminate way re: civilian safety that they should be grounded.

    Legal action by Europeans against the administration don't enter into my world of workable remedies to this situation.

  4. Just a very, very, small point here, and it concerns Gettysberg. We visited there in 1984-85.

    One of the things that made a lasting impression upon me about Gettysberg itself was an eerie silence. We did the usual tour thing and it was quite useful. In the town itself you can still see the bullet holes in the buildings. Two civilians were shot, one was a young woman who was in an upper room in her house at the time.....

    Stray bullets and civilian deaths are a fact of any war. My question will be: since civilians were killed at Gettysberg, does that mean that the one who fired the shot is a war criminal?