7 December 2012
War historians: British drones put our country's image at risk
By Alice Philipson
The Telegraph

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/9728980/War-historians-British-drones-put-our-countrys-image-at-risk.html


A group of eminent historians have warned that the Government is putting Britain's international reputation at risk by deploying military drones that likely cause 'hostility and alienation' in Afghanistan and Pakistan.


People burn a mock US flag as they shout slogans during a protest against US drone attacks, in Multan, Pakistan - Photo: EPA

More than a dozen prominent academics put their names to a letter in the Times urging the Government to reconsider its policy on the use of drone attacks.

They said the strikes are in violation of international law and would "do nothing to improve" the perception of American and British forces working in the regions affected.

Instead of improving the security of the areas in which they are targeted, they are more likely to "engender hostility and alienation", the letter said.

The historians made comparisons to the "imperial air policing" carried out by British planes between the world wars.

The letter said: "Although the claim is made that vanguard 'smart' weapons are accurate and discriminatory, the available evidence suggests that neither of these propositions is remotely possible given the nature of the attacks and the vulnerability of the unprotected neighbourhoods in which they are made.

"Indeed, they seem little different in effect from the 'imperial air policing' carried out in the selfsame areas by small groups of low-flying British aircraft between the world wars.

"They are also likely to be as unproductive as these earlier raids."

The letter was signed by 14 historians including Sir Richard Evans, Regius Professor of Modern History at Cambridge and a prolific scholar of Nazi Germany, who was knighted earlier this year for services to scholarship.

Professor Richard Overy, who has written extensively on World War II and currently teaches at Exeter, also signed the letter along with fellow Exeter history professor Richard Toye.

The letter went on: "[The strikes] will do nothing to improve the population's perception of the American and British forces responsible.

"Above all, the drone strikes are in violation of international law because there is no state of war with the communities involved and insufficient care has been taken to ensure that there is no negligent harm to civilians, there services and amenities."

Drone strikes are thought to have killed hundreds of militants in Yemen and Afghanistan as well as Pakistan, including Senior al-Qaeda and Taliban leaders.

But the use of drones is controversial because of fears that civilians can be killed and injured by them.

It was announced last month that MPs are to conduct an inquiry into Britain’s deployment of drones to target militants.
 


7 December 2012
Change policy on drone attacks
Letters
The Times

http://www.thetimes.co.uk/tto/opinion/letters/article3623065.ece


Drone strikes have injured and killed many civilians, and cause much harm to the daily lives of thousands of others

Sir, As historians of warfare, we are deeply concerned about British and American deployment of military drones over Afghanistan and Pakistan. It is now well established that drone strikes have injured and killed a significant number of civilians, and cause much harm to the daily lives of thousands of others through the fear that they inflict and the unpredictable nature of the attacks.

Although the claim is made that vanguard “smart” weapons are accurate and discriminatory, the available evidence suggests that neither of these propositions is remotely possible given the nature of the attacks and the vulnerability of the unprotected neighbourhoods in which they are made. Indeed, they seem little different in effect from the “imperial air policing” carried out in the selfsame areas by small groups of low-flying British aircraft between the world wars. They are also likely to be as unproductive as these earlier raids.

Rather than enhance the security of the regions in which they occur, they are more likely to engender hostility and alienation, and will do nothing to improve the population’s perception of the American and British forces responsible. Above all, the drone strikes are in violation of international law because there is no state of war with the communities involved and insufficient care has been taken to ensure that there is no negligent harm to civilians, their services and amenities. The Additional Protocols to the Geneva Convention of 1977 make clear that civilian interests must be protected.

We urge the Government to reconsider its policy on using drones and to avoid any operations from the air where damage to civilian lives and milieu is clearly unavoidable.

Professor Sir Richard Evans, University of Cambridge; Professor Richard Overy, University of Exeter; Professor Richard Toye, University of Exeter; Professor Paul Addison, University of Edinburgh; Dr Piers Brendon, Churchill College, Cambridge; Professor Patricia Clavin, University of Oxford; Professor David Edgerton, Imperial College, London; Dr Steve Hewitt, University of Birmingham; Dr Stacey Hynd, University of Exeter; Dr Justin Jones, University of Exeter; Professor Scott Lucas, University of Birmingham; Professor Evan Mawdsley, University of Glasgow; Professor Martin Thomas, University of Exeter; Dr Dan Todman, Queen Mary College, London

 


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