This video is called PROTEST AGAINST DRONE ATTACKS – Pakistan Students Movement.
In protest against this NATO attack, Pakistan has stopped NATO supplies to the Afghanistan war: here.
Pakistan tells USA/NATO to leave CIA drone airbase: here.
This video is called PROTEST AGAINST DRONE ATTACKS – Pakistan Students Movement.
In protest against this NATO attack, Pakistan has stopped NATO supplies to the Afghanistan war: here.
Pakistan tells USA/NATO to leave CIA drone airbase: here.
This video from Britain says about itself:
Spy cable revealed: How telecoms firm worked with GCHQ | Channel 4 News
21 November 2014
An unprecedented grab of personal data: this programme reveals that a communications firm not only handed over its own information to GCHQ, but also allowed access to the internet traffic of another telecoms company.
From daily The Guardian in Britain:
GCHQ documents raise fresh questions over UK complicity in US drone strikes
Alice Ross and James Ball
Wednesday 24 June 2015 15.01 BST
British intelligence agency GCHQ is facing fresh calls to reveal the extent of its involvement in the US targeted killing programme after details of a fatal drone strike in Yemen were included in a top secret memo circulated to agency staff.
A leading barrister asked by the Guardian to review a number of classified GCHQ documents said they raised questions about British complicity in US strikes outside recognised war zones and demonstrated the need for the government to come clean about the UK’s role.
The documents, provided to the Guardian by NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden and reported in partnership with the New York Times, discuss how a joint US, UK and Australian programme codenamed Overhead supported the strike in Yemen in 2012.
The files also show GCHQ and Overhead developed their ability to track the location of individuals – essential for the targeted killing programme – in both Yemen and Pakistan. The legality of the US’s lethal operations in both countries has been questioned by international lawyers and human rights groups.
Jemima Stratford QC, who reviewed the Snowden documents for the Guardian, said: “Assuming that the documents which I have seen are genuine, in my view they raise questions about the extent to which UK officials may have had knowledge of, or helped to facilitate, certain US drone strikes which were not carried out in the context of an international armed conflict,” she said.
“These documents underline why greater transparency as to UK official policies would help to ensure legality from a domestic and international law perspective.”
Stratford published a legal opinion last year warning that UK intelligence support for lethal strikes outside traditional battlefields – such as Iraq and Afghanistan – was likely to be illegal. “In our view, if GCHQ transferred data to the NSA in the knowledge that it would or might be used for targeting drone strikes that transfer is probably unlawful,” she wrote.
British officials and ministers follow a strict policy of refusing to confirm or deny any support to the targeted killing programme, and evidence has been so scant that legal challenges have been launched on the basis of single paragraphs in news stories.
Commenting on the new information, Conservative MP David Davis said: “It’s no good the government hiding behind its standard security line that they never comment on security matters. The phrase extra-judicial killing is a euphemism. What we are talking about here is murder. It may be that you are murdering terrorists and the people are villains, but it is still murder. We don’t countenance murdering criminals in Britain. Why should we countenance murdering them in Yemen or anywhere else?
“It is important the government makes plain: what are the limitations it puts on the use of its intelligence, and under what statutes and on whose approval this information is shared?”
Even a former head of GCHQ has objected to Britain’s continuing secrecy over the issue. David Omand joined Davis and fellow MP Tom Watson in signing a letter last November calling on the government to disclose its guidance on intelligence-sharing where individuals may be targeted by covert strikes.
The release of the information, they wrote, would “underline the distinction between Reaper strikes by our armed forces in Afghanistan, and now Iraq, and those of other states elsewhere”.
Watson told the Guardian: “The government has always maintained we are not complicit in targeted extra-judicial killings. Any note of ambiguity identified by these documents has to be thoroughly investigated.”
The new documents include a regular series of newsletters – titled Comet News – which are used to update GCHQ personnel on the work of Overhead, an operation based on satellite, radio and some phone collection of intelligence. Overhead began as a US operation but has operated for decades as a partnership with GCHQ and, more recently, Australian intelligence.
The GCHQ memos, which span a two-year period, set out how Yemen became a surveillance priority for Overhead in 2010, in part at the urging of the NSA, shortly after the failed 2009 Christmas Day bomb plot in which Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab attempted to detonate explosives hidden in his underpants on a transatlantic flight.
GCHQ noted in the memos that the NSA’s focus on Yemen was a “great opportunity” for UK agents to focus on any leads they had in the country. Given the domestic terror threat to the UK as well as internal conflicts in the country, GCHQ has multiple reasons to be monitoring individuals in the country.
One Comet News update reveals how Overhead’s surveillance networks supported an air strike in Yemen that killed two men on 30 March 2012. The men are both described as AQAP members.
In the memo, one of the dead men is identified as Khalid Usama – who has never before been publicly named – a “doctor who pioneered using surgically implanted explosives”. The other is not identified.
In the two years of memos seen by the Guardian, this was the only specific strike detailed, raising questions as to why GCHQ’s team decided to notify staff about this particular strike among hundreds.
The Guardian asked GCHQ whether this was because UK personnel or bases were involved in the operation. The agency declined to comment, and offered no explanation as to why British staff were briefed on this particular strike.
US officials confirmed to Reuters in 2012 that there had been a single drone strike in Yemen on 30 March of that year. According to a database of drone strikes maintained by the not-for-profit Bureau of Investigative Journalism, the only incident in Yemen on that date targeted AQAP militants, causing between six and nine civilian casualties, including six children wounded by shrapnel.
Asked whether the strike described in the GCHQ documents was the same one as recorded in the Bureau’s database, GCHQ declined to comment.
The incident is one of more than 500 covert drone strikes and other attacks launched by the CIA and US special forces since 2002 in Pakistan, Yemen and Somalia – which are not internationally recognised battlefields.
The GCHQ documents also suggest the UK was working to build similar location-tracking capabilities in Pakistan, the country that has seen the majority of covert strikes, to support military operations “in-theatre”.
A June 2009 document indicates that GCHQ appeared to accept the expanded US definition of combat zones, referring to the agency’s ability to provide “tactical and strategic SIGINT [signals intelligence] support to military operations in-theatre, notably Iraq and Afghanistan, but increasingly Pakistan”. The document adds that in Pakistan, “new requirements are yet to be confirmed, but are both imminent and high priority”.
The note was written months after Barack Obama entered the White House and escalated the use of drones in Pakistan, conducting more strikes in his first year in office than George W Bush had in the previous four years.
By this point NSA and GCHQ staff working within the UK had already prioritised surveillance of Pakistan’s tribal areas, where the majority of US covert drone strikes have been carried out. A 2008 memo lists surveillance of two specific sites and an overview of satellite-phone communications of the Federally Administered Tribal Areas, in which nearly all Pakistan drone strikes have taken place, among its key projects.
British intelligence-gathering in Pakistan is likely to have taken place for a number of reasons, not least because UK troops in Afghanistan were based in Helmand, on the Pakistani border.
One of the teams involved in the geo-location of surveillance targets was codenamed “Widowmaker”, whose task was to “discover communications intelligence gaps in support of the global war on terror”, a note explains.
Illustrating the close links between the UK, US and Australian intelligence services, Widowmaker personnel are based at Menwith Hill in the north of England, in Denver, Colorado, and in Alice Springs in Australia’s Northern Territory.
Other Snowden documents discuss the difficult legal issues raised by intelligence sharing with the US.
A secret 2009 legal briefing suggests that British military lawyers believe that some US operations beyond traditional battlefields may be unlawful – a document that also highlights GCHQ’s efforts to operate within the bounds of the law in a complex and challenging environment.
The briefing prepared for GCHQ personnel sharing target intelligence in Afghanistan instructed them to refer to senior compliance staff before sharing information with the US if they believed it may be used for a “detention or cross-border operation”.
This, the documents states, was because the US forces were operating under Operation Enduring Freedom rules, which are less restrictive than the Nato-led International Security Assistance Force rules governing UK personnel. As a result, sharing intelligence “may result in unlawful activity” by GCHQ staff.
The Guardian contacted GCHQ with the information contained in this article, and asked a series of questions on the extent of intelligence sharing with the US in connection with targeted killing, and the legal framework for any such activities. The agency declined to comment on specifics.
The Guardian asked Downing Street why it refused to clarify any UK role in US drone strikes. A government spokesperson said: “It is the longstanding policy of successive UK governments not to comment on intelligence operations. We expect all states concerned to act in accordance with international law and take all feasible precautions to avoid civilian casualties when conducting any form of military or counter-terrorist operations.”
Asked last year about the Britain’s role in US operations outside traditional war zones, defence minister Mark Francois told parliament that “strikes against terrorist targets in Yemen are a matter for the Yemeni and US governments”. Ministers including Sayeeda Warsi have used similar language when discussing drone strikes in Pakistan.
The UK has faced previous legal challenges over the issue. In 2012, the family of a tribal elder killed in Pakistan, Noor Khan, launched a court case in England in which barristers claimed GCHQ agents who shared targeting intelligence for covert strikes could be “accessory to murder”. Judges twice refused to rule on the issue on the grounds it could harm the UK’s international relations.
Alice Ross formerly worked on The Bureau of Investigative Journalism’s drones team.
GCHQ monitored own staff excessively. Eavesdropping agency collected bulk personal data without authorisation ‘due to technical error’ finds intelligence services watchdog: here.
PEACE protesters targeted a US spy base in Yorkshire on Saturday to demand its closure as the United States marked Independence Day. Menwith Hill base is run by the US National Security Agency (NSA), and staffed by more than 1,000 US military and civilian personnel: here.
This video from the USA says about itself:
The Spirit Level [aka The Divide] Documentary Trailer
By Kate Clark in Britain:
Documenting inconvenient truths
Tuesday 16th June 2015
KATE CLARK reports on some new films which illuminate topics that the powers-that-be would prefer us not to know about
SINCE the 1980s, the rich have become ever richer and they are giving a lot of money to right-wing political parties to ensure the system continues.
Greed has been made into a virtue and if a bank fails the state will bail it out — with our money.
Inspired by the book The Spirit Level by Richard Wilkinson and Kate Pickett, it depicts people living under guard in gated communities to avoid crime but who have to work every hour God sends and who are unable to be ill even for one day if they’re to meet their mortgage repayments.
A brilliant film and of particular interest to anyone concerned with inequality.
This video is called Tonje Hessen Schei ‘Drone’ trailer.
Drone by Norwegian film-maker Tonje Hessen Schei shines a light on the little-known human impact of US killer drones over Pakistan’s tribal areas.
Reprieve’s Clive Stafford Smith had the idea of putting enlarged photos of child drone-strike victims on the flat roofs of Waziristan’s village huts to try to make US drone operators, sitting in darkened booths 7,500 miles away, think about who they are killing when they “point and click” the button to release the drone’s missile.
Brandon Bryant, a young drone operator now suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder, chillingly tells how his superior shouted: “Splash!” after Bryant had pressed the button killing a group of villagers. The others in the booth all laughed.
The film shows how video games are being used as recruiting tools for those who are “murderers for the state,” as one former operator puts it.
But US Colonel Lawrence Wilkerson questions the so-called war on terrorism when he asks: “How are we winning, if every time we kill four terrorists, we create 10?”
It’s a chilling but hugely important film and one’s faith in humanity is only restored by the courage of people like the young Bryant, organisations such as Reprieve and the Pakistani lawyer who is bringing victims’ cases to the High Court in an effort to get drone strikes stopped.
Sunu is a masterpiece by Mexico’s Sofia Marquez. Beautifully filmed, with huge empathy for the small and medium farmers she shows working their maize fields, it reveals the strong resistance to US transnational giant Monsanto’s genetically modified (GM) seed programme being foisted on them.
Mexico’s indigenous farmers produce 65 different kinds of maize and they are scornful of the poor-quality GM yellow corn the US produces.
“We want them to respect our maize!” one farmer says, pointing out that their problem is not seeds but the Mexican government’s lack of support for small farmers.
This video says about itself:
17 July 2013
US drones strikes in Yemen nearly tripled last year compared to the year before, from 18 to 53, according to the New America Foundation, a Washington-based think tank. According to the Bureau of Investigative Journalism, there have been up to 154 strikes by US drones in Yemen since 2002, that has killed almost 800 people. But it is mostly civilians who are often injured or killed in these attacks. Al Jazeera’s Mohammed Adow reports from the village of Subul in Northern Yemen.
By James Tweedie:
Wednesday 10th June 2015
Bereaved man seeks apology
A YEMENI man whose nephew and brother-in-law were killed in a US drone strike in 2012 has asked a Washington court to declare their deaths unlawful.
Faisal bin Ali Jaber filed a lawsuit on Monday over the killing of his brother-in-law Salem bin Ali Jaber and nephew Waleed bin Ali Jaber.
Reprieve pointed out that the two victims had no links to terrorism.
Waleed was a 26-year-old police officer with a wife and infant child of his own.
Salem was an anti-al-Qaida imam who is survived by a widow and seven young children. He had preached against extremism just days before he and Waleed were killed.
Mr bin Ali Jaber is not seeking damages for his relatives’ deaths, although he alleges that the US government offered his family an unofficial compensation payment.
He said that in July 2014 the family were offered a bag containing $100,000 (£65,000) at a meeting with the Yemeni National Security Bureau.
The bureau official told a family representative that the money had come from the US and that he had been asked to pass it on.
In November 2013, Mr bin Ali Jaber travelled to Washington DC to discuss the drone attack with senators and White House officials, many of whom offered personal regrets for the deaths of his relatives.
However, the US government has refused to publicly acknowledge or apologise for the attack.
Mr bin Ali Jaber said: “No-one will say publicly that an American drone killed Salem and Waleed, even though we all know it. This is unjust.”
“If the US was willing to pay off my family in secret cash, why can’t they simply make a public acknowledgement that my relatives were wrongly killed?”
This video by Mark Fiore from the USA says about itself:
7 May 2015
Remember a couple years ago, when Obama said we’d shape up his drone program and achieve “near certainty” that civilians wouldn’t be killed and signature strikes would basically end? Turns out that’s not quite true. There were some pretty huge asterisks that were attached to his proclamation. You can read more here.
This video from the USA says about itself:
Turning a Wedding Into a Funeral: U.S. Drone Strike in Yemen Killed as Many as 12 Civilians
21 February 2014
Human Rights Watch has revealed as many as 12 civilians were killed in December when a U.S. drone targeted vehicles that were part of a wedding procession going towards the groom’s village outside the central Yemeni city of Rad’a. According to HRW, “some, if not all those killed and wounded were civilians” and not members of the armed group al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, as U.S. and Yemeni government officials initially claimed.
The report concluded that the attack killed 12 men, between the ages of 20 and 65, and wounded 15 others. It cites accounts from survivors, relatives of the dead, local officials and news media reports. We speak to Human Rights Watch researcher Letta Tayler, who wrote the report, “A Wedding That Became a Funeral: U.S. Drone Attack on Marriage Procession in Yemen” and Jeremy Scahill, co-founder of the TheIntercept.org, a new digital magazine published by First Look Media. He is the producer and writer of the documentary film, “Dirty Wars: The World is a Battlefield,” which is nominated for an Academy Award.
By Niles Williamson in the USA:
Report documents carnage of US drone war in Yemen
17 June 2015
A report released this week by the Open Society Justice Initiative (OSJI), titled “Death by Drone: Civilian Harm Caused by U.S. Targeted Killings in Yemen,” documents the deadly carnage inflicted by Hellfire missile strikes in US President Barack Obama’s criminal drone war in Yemen.
Drone and other airstrikes have been launched under the authority of either the CIA or the Pentagon’s Joint Special Operations Command against suspected members of Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) throughout the country since 2002.
These strikes were permitted by former dictator Ali Abduallah Saleh and the recently ousted Abd Rabbuh Mansour Hadi, who was installed as president by the US and Saudi Arabia.
Hadi used to be dictator Saleh’s vice president, and a senior officer in Saleh’s army. He was ‘elected’ in an election in which he was the only candidate.
The Yemeni government often claimed responsibility for attacks as a cover for the American government’s actions.
While the US supports Saudi Arabia in its campaign of daily airstrikes against Houthi rebels, who oppose AQAP, it has continued its own air campaign in Yemen. The latest American drone strike hit the city of Mukalla on Sunday, killing as many as seven people.
The first known airstrikes carried out by the Obama administration came on December 17, 2009, when a cruise missile loaded with cluster bombs slammed into the village of Al Majala in Abyan province. While purportedly targeted at an AQAP training camp, it killed at least 44 civilians, including five pregnant women and 21 children. A separate strike the same day killed four people in Arhab.
Since then, there have been at least 121 drone and other airstrikes that have taken the lives of as many as 1,100 people, most of them officially classified as combatants. As a means of limiting the official civilian casualty count in any particular attack, President Obama approved the redefinition of a “combatant” as any male of military service age killed or injured by a drone strike.
In addition to strikes targeted at specific individuals, in 2012 Obama authorized the CIA to use “signature” strikes against targets in Yemen. The decision to launch a signature strike is based purely on patterns of behaviors that the CIA has determined mark a terrorist, meaning many attacks have launched against unknown persons based purely on movements observed from afar by surveillance drones, including their carrying of firearms, which is common in Yemeni tribal society.
Anwar Al Awlaki became the first US citizen to be deliberately targeted and killed by a drone strike on September 30, 2011. Last year, the Obama administration released a legal memo authored by the Justice Department to justify the killing. It asserts that the US President has the power to kill a US citizen, without charges or trial.
President Obama gave a speech at the National Defense University in 2013 in which he outlined supposed guidelines and limits on drone killings. He stated that “before any strike is taken, there must be near-certainty that no civilians will be killed or injured.”
The OSJI review of nine separate drone strikes carried our between 2012 and 2014 reveals this statement to be a blatant lie. The report found that 26 civilians had been killed and 13 injured in this handful of attacks. Investigators traveled to the areas where the strikes occurred and interviewed survivors and the families of those killed.
A drone strike on April 19, 2014 in the Al Sawmaah district of Al Bayda province killed four workers and wounded five others. The men were traveling together in a car when a missile fired from a CIA drone hit a vehicle allegedly carrying AQAP militants approximately thirty meters behind them, blowing up their car as well.
Hussein Nasser Abu Bakr al-Khushm, a father of one of the victims, told investigators that he was devastated by the death of his son, Sanad Hussein, who had just gotten a visa to work in Saudi Arabia.
“The news fell on our ears like thunderbolt,” he said. “I got motionless. Even when his body was brought to the village for burial I could not go to have a last look at him. Until this moment, I’m still unable to figure out what happened to my son. They were killed by an American drone.”
Investigators spoke to Musa Ahmed Ali Al Jarraah a 15-year-old boy who survived a strike by two Hellfire missiles on a home in the village of Silat Al Jaarrah on the night of January 23, 2013.
“It was a US drone,” Al Jaraah said. “I saw it while I was on my way home. It flew so low I could view it easily. It had long wings in the rear, its size was not large and it had a head that looked like a camel’s head.”
A crowd of approximately 30 people had gathered outside the home to watch the village’s only television when the missiles struck. The strike injured five civilians including Al Jaraah, who suffered shrapnel wound to his abdomen. A ten-year-old girl, Iftikar Abdoh Mohammed, sustained minor injuries when she was hit in the head with shrapnel.
On September 2, 2012, a Hellfire missile launched by an American drone blew up a truck carrying a group of qat merchants and several others who were returning home from a day at the market in the city of Radaa. The strike killed 12 out of the 14 passengers in the truck, including Rasilah Ali Al Faqih, who was pregnant, and her 10-year-old daughter Dawlah Nasser Salah.
The truck’s driver, Nasser Mabkhout, who survived despite being severely burned, described the attack and its aftermath to the investigators:
“Before we arrived at the junction that leads to the unpaved road of the village, two aircraft approached the front of the car, one white and the other black, as far as I can remember. They approached us more closely, and we started to exchange humor that they would attack us, and we laughed. Our laughter was cut off by two shells…I saw the dead bodies scattered in and around the car, some of them beheaded. I couldn’t differentiate between the bodies of the dead.”
The Yemeni government paid $4,654 for burial expenses to each victim’s family, and eventually paid out a paltry restitution to the families: $32,578 for each individual killed and $13,962 for each person wounded.
As with other drone strikes, the attack on the merchants continues to terrorize civilians long after the victims’ bodies have been buried and restitution paid out to the families. “Since the incident, my family and I as well as the villagers live in constant fear,” one of the victims’ uncles told investigators. “The horror increases with the constant over-flights of the US aircrafts. We go to our farms in fear, our children are afraid to go to school, and at bedtime, women remain in constant fear.”
The White House disclosed yesterday that a counterterrorism drone operation earlier this year killed two hostages, one of whom was American. Meet the American aid worker with a passion for Pakistan, as well as his Italian counterpart. President Obama took to the briefing room to apologize to the hostages’ families. And here’s how intelligence forces discovered their grisly mistake, which has reignited the drone debate. [Jason Linkins and Ryan Grim, HuffPost]
Perhaps the most extraordinary aspect of President Obama’s announcement Thursday that two hostages of Al Qaeda, an American and an Italian, were killed in a US drone missile strike in Pakistan is the lack of any significant reaction from official political circles or the media. There was a certain amount of tut-tutting in the press and expressions of sympathy for the family of Dr. Warren Weinstein, the longtime aid worker in Pakistan who was kidnapped by Al Qaeda in 2011 and killed by the US government in January 2015. But there was no challenge to the basic premise of the drone missile program: that the CIA and Pentagon have the right to kill any individual, in any country, on the mere say-so of the president. Drone murder by the US government has become routine and is accepted as normal and legitimate by the official shapers of public opinion: here.
On Sunday, the New York Times published a lead article devoted to the Obama administration’s drone assassination program. The article describes a mechanism for state-sanctioned assassination that has become thoroughly bureaucratized and institutionalized: here.
This 1 April 2015 video from the USA is called Unmanned: America’s Drone Wars • FULL DOCUMENTARY FILM • BRAVE NEW FILMS.
By Johannes Stern in Germany:
16 April 2015
About two weeks after the German and French governments decided at a joint cabinet meeting to manufacture combat drones in Europe, Humboldt University Professor Herfried Münkler praised such drones as “humane” weapons in a long interview in the Frankfurter Allgemeinen Zeitung (FAZ). He drew a historical parallel to poison gas, which was used for the first time in the First World War, describing it also as “humane.”
When the FAZ noted that poison gas is perceived “as especially terrible,” Münkler replied, “There is this striking paradox. Between three or four percent die in poison gas attacks, while the death toll from artillery wounds is around fifty percent, and the rate of mortality from rifle or machine gun fire thirty percent. That means that you could actually say that gas is a rather ‘humane’ weapon, because it has a relatively low death toll.”
Münkler added that in drone attacks the operators “have much more time for observation than the pilot of a fighter bomber,” and “the collateral damage of drone attacks” is “clearly lower than that from fighter bombers.”
This video says about itself:
Deadly Battles of World War I – Ypres the Gas Inferno
7 November 2014
Poison gas killed 80,000 soldiers in World War I. Nearly a million more were victims who suffered its lingering effects. Initially the wind distributed chlorine gas across the battlefields of the western front but an arms race quickly developed until one in three shells contained some form of toxic gas.
It’s not the statistics, however, that make this a successful documentary. A surprising amount of black-and-white footage and interviews with survivors and relatives of key players tell a compelling tale of motivations and consequences. For those who adhere to the maxim that history repeats itself, it’s worth noting that despite an international convention banning chemical weapons, both sides of the Great War deployed poison gases with few reservations. As one interviewee puts it, patriotism defeated morality.
The Johannes Stern article continues:
The hundredth anniversary of the first use of poison gas as a weapon of mass extermination is just under a week away. On April 22, 1915, German troops used chlorine gas in the battle at Ypres.
The Deutsche Welle published an article a year ago that described how a yellowish cloud of 180 tons of chlorine gas wafted out of the German trenches to the enemy lines: “There began the horror. The enveloped soldiers stumbled around, turning red, blind and coughing. Three thousand of them suffocated and an additional seven thousand soldiers, who were badly burned, survived.”
In an escalating gas war, in which more and more effective chemical weapons were put into use, “about 120 thousand tons of 38 types of warfare agents were deployed, about 100 thousand soldiers [died] and 1.2 million men were wounded,” according to a paper published by the Federal Agency of Civic Education.
Science historian Ernst Peter Fischer commented on the first poison gas attack in Ypres in the Deutsche Welle account. “At that moment, science lost its innocence,” he said. Until then, the goal of science consisted of easing the conditions of life of human beings. “Now science provided the conditions for killing human life,” Fischer said.
Fischer cited the example of the Berlin chemist Fritz Haber, who founded and headed the Kaiser Wilhelm Institute for Physical Chemistry and Electro-chemistry. Haber placed his entire scientific ability in the service of mass extermination. This proved no hindrance to his career. After the end of the war, the “father of gas warfare” won the Nobel Prize for chemistry and sat on the supervisory board of the chemistry giant I.G. Farben, which later produced the poison gas Zyklon B for the gas chambers in Auschwitz. Haber, who was himself Jewish, emigrated in 1933 and died shortly thereafter.
The use of poison gas, which Münkler praises as a “humane weapon,” was not just a new method for slaughtering millions of soldiers. Its use was then and remains today a war crime. It contravenes the Hague Convention of 1907 and was once again explicitly forbidden in the Geneva Protocol of 1925. In the war in Iraq and as part of the war threats against Syria, imperialist propaganda used the actual or alleged use of poison gas in these countries as sufficient grounds for war.
For this reason, Münkler’s parallel between poison gas and drone warfare is particularly significant. The comparison is apt, not because they are both “humane” methods of war, but because both exemplify the development of new stages in imperialist brutality.
The US-led drone wars in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Somalia and Yemen not only violate international law, but have taken the lives of thousands of innocent victims (Münkle’s “collateral damage”) in recent years. According to research carried out by the London based Bureau of Investigative Journalism, the US military has wiped out between 2.4 and 3.9 thousand people in “targeted killings” in Pakistan alone. These victims of combat drones are not infrequently women, children or innocent participants at birthday parties, weddings or funerals.
Münkler’s justification for warfare with poison gas and combat drones is utterly cynical. He accuses the opponents of gas and drone warfare of clinging to the ideal of a long bygone “heroic” age.
“The criticism of gas warfare and the criticism of drone warfare are connected in that they both have to do with the ethos of the fighter. The astounding thing is that drones are criticized in a post-heroic society, but with the arguments of the heroic society, which demands the struggle of man against man,” explained the professor.
By “post-heroic,” Münkler means that war is no longer fought man to man, but rather that soldiers and civilians of less developed states are slaughtered in cold blood by their adversaries—at the mercy of remote-controlled drones or poison gas, which soldiers cannot defend themselves against.
“We are observing the transformation of war into policing,” he said in the FAZ. “Goals are being pursued in a way that can be understood as making investments in the future of the area of intervention by minimizing losses. Hegel called the weapon ‘the essence of the fighter’—drones are the typical weapon of post-heroic society. There is no ethos or aesthetic of war. There is only effectiveness of battlefield management.”
It requires the intellectual degradation of a German professor to try to use Hegel for the purpose of celebrating combat drones as an “effective” category of weapon above any ethical or moral criticism.
Münkler’s argument is an insult to the intelligence of the vast majority of the population which opposes combat drones, but not because of any longing for a “heroic” age or a preference for fighting wars with the sword “man against man.” Rather, drones are hated because no other weapon is more closely associated with imperialist aggression, war crimes and the suffering of civilian populations.
Münkler also introduces social Darwinist arguments to justify drone warfare. The “post-heroic society” is characterized “by two elements,” he said in the FAZ interview: “A low rate of reproduction in the population. There is no longer a surplus of young men for the battlefield. And the idea of self sacrifice at the ‘altar of the fatherland’ is completely foreign to us.”
Two years ago Münkler had already presented an argument against ethical and moral objections to modern weapons of destruction. At the fourteenth annual foreign policy conference of the Green Party affiliated Heinrich Böll Stiftung, he gave a lecture titled: “New fighting systems and the ethics of war.”
At that time Münkler warned: “Post-heroic societies such as ours should be very careful when they talk about the ethics of war. They are playing with fire, especially when they use ethics to demand more from soldiers than they would demand of themselves.”
He then told the politicians and foreign policy experts in attendance: “The ‘citizen in uniform’ is much closer to war drones than the soldier of a classical army, and he prefers their use to the deployment of light infantry in hostile terrain, with the goal of eliminating an actual or supposed threat in direct contact with the enemy. To express it pointedly: in the criticism of drones, the ethics of a pre-bourgeois society is giving voice to heroic ideas in a nostalgic form. This is a critique that has not been thought out to the end.”
Irrespective of how “thought out to the end” is his own overblown pontification, the stance of the professor is very clear—his standpoint is highly militaristic. In a situation in which neither the population nor the majority of soldiers favors being slaughtered in open warfare on the battlefield, he recommends drones to the ruling elite as a suitable means of achieving the ends of German imperialism through military means.
The fact that Münkler now places poison gas in the same category as drones shows that inhumane and militaristic attitudes are once again running rampant in ruling circles in Berlin 70 years after the end of the Second World War. The report of the Böll Stiftung on the conference two years ago concluded that Münkler’s presentation of “controversial combat drones as a positive new stage in weapons technology from an ethical point of view” was seen as a “minor provocation.”
Since then, Münkler’s “minor provocation” has become a dangerous reality. The Böll Stiftung campaigns for a confrontation with Russia, the German government is acquiring combat drones and Münkler himself is giving a seminar at Humboldt University under the title “Theories of war: new wars, humanitarian interventions, drone wars.” In his new book, Macht in der Mitte (Power in the Middle), Münkler demands that Germany once again “play the difficult role of ‘taskmaster’” in Europe. The German government is working on this too!