The announcement that the current 5 UK Reapers have already flown 39,628 hours and fired 334 hellfire missiles in Afghanistan should worry the British public – doubling our capacity should create serious concern.
The MOD apparently has no idea of how many so called insurgents have died in UK led strikes…then how can they be so sure that only “only four Afghan civilians have been killed “ since 2008?
I for one am disturbed by this trend in UK military policy – the rapid growth and use of unmanned killing machines. Where was the public debate or consultation about drone warfare? It is nonsense to suggest that they allow for targeted, surgically precise strikes when a number of recent reports have condemned the widespread killing of innocent civilians to include hundreds of children by drones.
First we had UK facilities being abused for illegal renditions…now we must brace ourselves for RAF Waddington becoming the new home for such remotely piloted killings. The huge distances involved in remotely piloted operations separating military personnel from the theatre of conflict, cheapens the human impact of these vehicles. Civilian casualties become another statistic in a virtual World of Warcraft game
The increased use of drones by the US, France, Israel and now the UK also begins to throws up new issues around adherence to the Geneva Convention. There is now evidence published by respected charities such as ‘Medac’ which throws light on the physical and psychological implications of drone warfare – the devastating impact of drone warfare on the health of those living in the area of operation
There is no doubt in my mind that this recent decision by the MOD shows complete disregard for international law and innocent lives. As Liberal Democrats, we should be pushing for Government to develop strict policies to minimise adverse impact to innocent civilians in accordance with the Geneva Convention before further proliferation. We must push Parliament to assert proper control over UK drone deployments
We will surely be judged harshly by future generations if we allowed a US cavalier style programme of distance slaughter to be replicated by the MOD under a Lib Dem Coalition Government.