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The overuse of drones could jeopardize U.S. objectives abroad since drone strikes are so universally hated, retired General Stanley McChrystal told Reuters.McChrystal — the former ISAF commander who implemented the U.S. counterinsurgency strategy of “winning hearts and minds” in Afghanistan — said that while drones enabled him to carry out missions with fewer troops, the impact of remotely dropping bombs from the sky has its disadvantages.
“The resentment created by American use of unmanned strikes … is much greater than the average American appreciates,” McChrystal told Reuters. “They are hated on a visceral level, even by people who’ve never seen one or seen the effects of one.”
Andrew Exum, a former Army captain who advised McChrystal in Afghanistan, has also criticised drone warfare as potentially counterproductive because “you can’t kill your way out of these wars” and “you can actually exacerbate the problem in the area you’re trying to affect.”
In May Sudarsan Raghavan of The Washington Post reported that “unintended consequence of the attacks [in Yemen] has been a marked radicalization of the local population,” noting that the number of core al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) members has more than doubled since Barack Obama ordered the first air strike there in 2009.
Yesterday Nick Hopkins of the Guardian reported that former Obama counterterrorism adviser Michael Boyle called drones counter-productive, saying that the Obama administration’s continued reliance on them is having “adverse strategic effects that have not been properly weighed against the tactical gains associated with killing terrorists.”
He added that targeted killings are less effective than the White House claims and civilian casualties are likely to be far higher than had been acknowledged, adding that Americans remained “unaware of the scale of the drone programme … and the destruction it has caused in their name.”
Yesterday Obama nominated top counterterrorism adviser John Brennan — the architect of the president’s ongoing drone campaign — to be the next CIA director.
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