In his speech on Tuesday night, President Obama made an appeal to a largely skeptical American public to support the use of military force in Syria. And he did so, by evoking images that were sure to tug at all of our hearts — images of the Syrian children who had died in the chemical weapons attack in Damascus on August 21. But as Obama continues to voice his outrage against the plight of the Syrian children (which, by the way, he should) he is neglecting to even acknowledge the plight of the Pakistani and Yemeni children who are being killed, not by chemical weapons, but by America’s very own drones.
For long, proponents of the drone war, including Obama who has authorized over 300 strikes in just Pakistan, have held that the strikes are precise and successful in their goal to attack only those deemed to be a security threat to the U.S. However, just one look at the number of civilians injured or killed by the strikes proves that this narrative is a false one. Between 2004 and 2013, the number of known civilians killed via drone strikes in just Pakistan is said to be up to 900. Of those, close to 200 have been children. In Yemen, American drones are responsible for the deaths of nearly 400 civilians, of which, at least 25 are children.
According to U.N Ambassador Samantha Power, "These weapons kill in the most gruesome possible way. They kill indiscriminately. They are incapable of distinguishing between a child and a rebel." The quote actually refers to chemical weapons, but as documentary film-maker and political activists writes in his article, Pakistan, Yemen And Afghanistan Have Children Too, And They Are Being Killed by Our Drones, “replace "rebel" with "militant" and she could be talking about drones. Whether Syrian or Pakistani, children should not be victims of war.”
In his speech, President Obama said, "Indeed, I would ask every member of Congress and those of you watching at home tonight to view those videos of the attack and then ask, 'What kind of world will we live in if the United States of America sees a dictator brazenly violate international law with poison gas and we choose to look the other way?"
What the president didn’t ask us to do was to view the videos of children killed violently by drones that he himself had authorized. But I will. I will ask everyone who reads this article to watch this video to get just a small idea of the horrific results of drone attacks authorized by our government.
And then think, what kind of world do we live in, where our very own government is responsible for the deaths of hundreds of children yet we simply just turn our cheek and look the other way? The death of a child is painful and harrowing — and that is true for any child. So while it’s important to keep the plight of the Syrian children in mind, it is also equally as important to keep the plight of the Pakistani and Yemeni children in mind, and remember that in their case, instead of a violent dictator, we are the ones wreaking havoc in their lives.