US drone war threatens to fan instability

(By Deutsche Welle) The Obama administration has stepped up its drone campaign in Pakistan and Yemen in a bid to cripple al Qaeda once and for all. Analysts are concerned that the loss of civilian life could fan political instability.

The United States has stepped up its controversial drone campaign in Yemen’s south and along the Afghan-Pakistan border over the past month, launching 14 confirmed strikes and killing at least 70 suspected militants, according to a tally by DW based on media reports.

The airstrikes make good on US President Barack Obama’s campaign pledge to wage an expanded war against al Qaeda while winding down America’s politically and economically costly land campaigns in the Middle East and South Asia. Although US troops withdrew from Iraq in December 2011 and are officially set to do so in Afghanistan by 2014, Washington’s remote-controlled drone war has jumped precipitously since Obama entered office in January 2009.

Obama’s top counterterrorism advisor, John Brennan, described the administration’s expanded drone campaign at length for the first time in an April 30th speech before the Woodrow Wilson Center for International Scholars, calling such strikes “ethical,” “legal” and “just.” Brennan argued that the right to self defense under international law and the congressional authorization of force against al-Qaeda and the Taliban served as the legal foundations of the campaign.

“It’s hard to imagine a tool that can better minimize the risk to civilians than remotely piloted aircraft,” Brennan said during his speech. “There is absolutely nothing casual about the extraordinary care we take in making the decision to pursue an al Qaeda terrorist, and the lengths to which we go to ensure precision and avoid the loss of innocent life.”

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‘War on Terror’ knocks on American homeland’s door

(By Deutsche Welle) Osama bin Laden is dead, but Washington’s War on Terrorism continues to rage in the hearts and minds of many Americans. New counterterrorism provisions raise the specter of mandatory military detention in the US.

Ten years into America’s self-declared War on Terrorism, the US government is still struggling to clearly delineate the legal and geographic boundaries of its fight against a globalized and ruthless non-state adversary. In the process, it has raised concerns among rights groups that Washington has fallen into a self-defeating thought paradigm, which could lead to the expansion of military law in the very homeland whose democratic institutions the federal government has sworn to defend.

In the latest round of political wrangling over the dimensions of America’s war, Congress passed and President Barack Obama signed the 2012 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) just before the New Year, a law that appropriates $662 billion (519 billion euros) in defense spending.

But it was the NDAA’s counterterrorism provisions regarding the military detention of suspected al Qaeda members that sparked a fury of debate in the US, over whether the conflict abroad must now be fought with the military at home.

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