Drone strikes are often described as “surgical” in their precision. But investigations estimate that civilians are being accidentally killed in large numbers.
A new joint study from New York and Stanford Universities, "Living Under Drones: Death, Injury, and Trauma to Civilians from US Drone Practices in Pakistan," estimates from an analysis of public records that as many as 881 civilians, including 176 children, have been killed since the US covert drone program began.
The report also cites an example from Afghanistan, in which two US troops were killed by drones after being mistaken for insurgents.
Analysts often argue that covert drone strikes create radicals, with an unofficial rule of thumb suggesting that each drone strike produces about 10 more terrorists, Holewinski points out.
While such formulas remain speculation, it’s clear that “You see protests in street with people chanting ‘Death to America,’ ” she says.
“Then there was the Yemeni doctor who tweeted, ‘President Obama, if you kill any children with your drone strikes, we will come after you, and we have nothing to do with Al Qaeda,’ " Holewinski adds. “And that creates the kind of environment sympathetic to terrorists.”