News Release

Obama with Yemeni President, Kerry in Pakistan, and the Drones that “Threaten U.S. National Security”

President Obama is meeting today with Yemeni president Abdu Rabbu Mansour Hadi at the White House.

ROBERT NAIMAN, naiman at justforeignpolicy.org
Policy director of Just Foreign Policy, Naiman recently wrote the articles, “In Yemen, Let’s Redeem President Obama’s War on Terror Reform Speech” and “Yemen’s ‘Schoolhouse Rock’ vs. the ‘War on Terror’: A Conversation With Baraa Shiban.”

Said Naiman: “In his speech at National Defense University, President Obama pledged to reform the ‘Global War on Terror’ and bring it within the rule of law. But since his speech, no detainees have been sent home from Guantanamo to Yemen, even though 56 of the 86 detainees who have been cleared for transfer or release are Yemeni. President Obama promised that the Administration would be more transparent about drone strikes and that drone strikes wouldn’t happen unless there were virtual certainty of avoiding civilian casualties, but on June 9 an apparent U.S. drone strike killed a ten-year-old boy in Yemen and the Obama administration’s response was, ‘no comment.’”

The Pakistani newspaper Dawn reports from Islamabad: “U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and his Pakistani counterpart, Sartaj Aziz, said Thursday that the two countries will resume high-level negotiations over security issues.

“Kerry also said he had invited Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif to come to Washington to meet with President Barack Obama. …

“He said the talks will cover ‘all of the key issues between us, from border management to counterterrorism to promoting U.S. private investment and to Pakistan’s own journey to economic revitalisation.’”

On June 6, 2011 John Kerry, then Chair of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee stated that “in many ways, the Afghanistan war is a sideshow to the main event, if you will, that is next door,” i.e. in Pakistan.

FRED BRANFMAN, fredbranfman at aol.com
Branfman wrote the recently-published piece “America’s Most Anti-Democratic Institution: How The U.S. Executive Branch Threatens U.S. National Security,” which includes includes a list of quotes from numerous officials including General Stanley McChrystal (“for every innocent person you kill, you create 10 new enemies”) critical of the U.S. policy of killing with drones. See also “Even the Warriors Say the Wars Make Us Less Safe.”

Branfman said today: “U.S. leaders can only name 77 ‘senior al-Qaeda and Taliban officials’ that they have killed by their drone strikes, out of total kills of 3-5,000 civilians and low-level militants that they cannot even name. This amounts to a military pinprick, which must be weighed against the long-term strategic catastrophe of turning nuclear-armed Pakistan against the U.S. U.S. drone policy toward Pakistan has caused over 75 percent of the Pakistani people – over 130 million people — to regard the U.S. as their ‘enemy,’ strengthened the Pakistani Taliban, weakened the Pakistani government, and reduced effective action against al-Qaeda. Most significantly, former U.S. Ambassador Anne Patterson reported in the WikiLeaks cables that anti-U.S. hatred has made it impossible for the Pakistani government to cooperate with the U.S. in keeping nuclear materials out of potential terrorist hands, and limiting nuclear proliferation.

“The main impetus for U.S. drone strikes in Pakistan has been the assertion that they are necessary to protect U.S. troops in Afghanistan.

“But Mr. Kerry himself recognized two years ago that this rationale makes no long-term strategic sense, since ‘main event’ Pakistan is so much more important than ‘sideshow’ Afghanistan.

“He will best serve America’s strategic interests, as well as the rule of law and common human decency, by agreeing to the Pakistani government’s demand that the U.S. halt its drone strikes there. America badly needs to make Pakistan an ally, not an enemy. Bringing desperately needed electricity to Pakistan, rather than drone and ground assassinations, would do far more to strengthen U.S. national security.”