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article image‘Call off the Drones’ Expert Tells Congressional Committee

By Christopher Szabo     May 3, 2009 in World
One of the architects of the successful ‘surge’ in Iraq, Dr. David Kilcullen, has called on the U.S. House Armed Services Committee to stop ‘drone’ attacks over Pakistan, saying they are counterproductive.
Kilcullen, a former Lieutenant Colonel of the Australian Army, served in Iraq as a top advisor to General David Petraeus and was one of the theorists of the successful ‘surge’ there. According to the Los Angeles Times, when a congressman asked him what the U.S. government should do to win in Pakistan, the experienced counterinsurgency man simply said:
We need to call off the drones.
The former Australian soldier also said to the House Armed Services Committee:
I realize that they do damage to the Al Qaeda leadership. Since 2006, we've killed 14 senior Al Qaeda leaders using drone strikes; in the same time period, we've killed 700 Pakistani civilians in the same area. The drone strikes are highly unpopular. They are deeply aggravating to the population. And they've given rise to a feeling of anger that coalesces the population around the extremists and leads to spikes of extremism. ... The current path that we are on is leading us to loss of Pakistani government control over its own population.
Kilcullen, who is also an anthropologist, referred to the culture of the tribesmen in the Afghanistan-Pakistan border area: "Using robots from the air ... looks both cowardly and weak," to the Pashtun people who have kept at bay or defeated all comers from Alexander the Great to the Soviet Union in their mountainous homeland.
Pakistanis from government officials to journalists have long demanded the U.S. stop the drone attacks. They have argued that it violates Pakistani sovereignty that it is strange to kill civilians of a country who is your ally, and that it doesn’t work.
In an interview with a U.S. newspaper quoted by the Pakistani website Dawn.com, Pakistan’s Ambassador to the U.S., Husain Haqqani, made the same point. He argued that the continuing drone attacks were causing anger among locals, thus ”creating more Taliban.”
Haqqani called for drones to be brought under Islamabad’s control.
More about Counterinsurgency, Drones, Expert, Pakistan
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