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U.S. Drone Strike Kills 14 in Wedding Party – Now What?

U.S. Drone Strike Kills 14 in Wedding Party – Now What?

Will a United States drone strike that killed 14 Yemenis traveling in a wedding caravan Thursday finally change the conversation on drones? The tragic incident that everyone – save maybe the U.S. government – is calling a mistake is calling the ethics of drone warfare into question.

In recent years, the United States has done a good job of downplaying the errors and civilian casualties inherent in drone warfare. Not only has the current administration underreported the number of children killed in drone attacks, but also the mainstream media has underreported the details in general.

However, this week’s massive drone blunder is not escaping international attention as it typically does. In addition to the 14 fatalities, the missile attack injured 22 more, with nine of the wedding-goers still in critical condition.

“This was a tragic mistake and comes at a very critical time,” said a senior national security official in Yemen. “None of the killed was a wanted suspect by the Yemeni government.”

Although the United States has largely remained expectedly mum on the strike, two of the statements released by military officials are already at odds with each other. In the first statement, an official seemed to acknowledge that the U.S. had mistaken a wedding caravan for an al-Qaeda caravan. Later, however, a second official stated that al-Qaeda suspects may have been part of the wedding party.

After all, nothing says “I’m sorry” quite like “but there’s a chance we actually killed a couple bad guys in there, too!” Given all other reports, the follow-up statement comes across as an attempt to avoid accepting responsibility.

The United States has increased its drone offensives after militants killed 52 people in Yemen’s Defense Ministry last week. Al-Qaeda claimed responsibility for the attack, citing it as revenge for the Yemeni government condoning drone warfare in the country. Though that may be an excuse, it does lead credence to the theory that the U.S.’s careless drone usage ultimately creates more enemies than it eliminates.

After all, it’s not just terror groups who have turned against the United States. Civilians who see their harmless friends and neighbors murdered by drones become radicalized. Nabeel Khoury, former State Department official in Yemen, estimates that “the U.S. generates roughly 40 to 60 new enemies for every… operative killed by drones.”

Case in point, Abdullah al-Kabra, a resident of Radda, the town where the wedding caravan was traveling, agreed to speak to the press after witnessing the most recent attack. “More than 50 innocent civilians in our town have been killed by drones,” said al-Kabra. “All those who were killed were supportive of the government’s anti-terror campaign. That will surely not be the case of their tribes and families if the government does not strongly intervene.”

It’ll be interesting to see whether this wedding catastrophe is the last straw that sparks the international community into doing more than passively condemning drone warfare. One thing is for certain: if the Yemeni government were to have “accidentally” killed 14 American civilians, we would have invaded their country by now. The double standard where the American military can play fast and loose with the lives of innocent people abroad and face no repercussions needs to be addressed.

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Photo Credit: Rick McCharles

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11:28AM PST on Jan 5, 2014

Andrew P just FYI the repeated entry to get points which are limited to 200 also prove your such a lazy ass you can't hit a button to move around so the butterfly system is not abused and lost for others.

Armchair activism do as little as possible till you ruin it for others. look I really do not care if you do 10 hits per article as I agree they go o a good cause, but when your so blatant and foolish you do not get it is the ad exposure that pays the 1/ 10 of cent per click (yea 200 butterflies is 2 cents) it just does not seem worth pissing off the people that can pull adds for 2 cents when 23 million others do it to try to help

I did it on a story joking with a friend when the flies first came out and Care2 on her C2 news; Care2 took all my buttery flies back.

Not asking you to be some saint just smarter..

12:08PM PST on Dec 28, 2013

These twenty points will help plant a tree!

12:07PM PST on Dec 28, 2013

These twenty points will help plant a tree!

12:07PM PST on Dec 28, 2013

These twenty points will help plant a tree!

12:07PM PST on Dec 28, 2013

These twenty points will help plant a tree!

12:06PM PST on Dec 28, 2013

These twenty points will help plant a tree!

12:06PM PST on Dec 28, 2013

These twenty points will help plant a tree!

12:06PM PST on Dec 28, 2013

These twenty points will help plant a tree!

12:05PM PST on Dec 28, 2013

These twenty points will help plant a tree!

12:05PM PST on Dec 28, 2013

These twenty points will help plant a tree!

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