Jim Brock: Time to call off the drones, Mr. President

Jim Brock More Content Now

Have you ever considered what life would be like if attack drones were visible over New York, Omaha, Nashville, Chicago, New Orleans, Denver and San Francisco?

If our government were to deploy drones over American cities with the intent of targeting terrorists, what would our lives be like?

Would we be comfortable with robot death machines flying through the sky like in a Ray Bradbury novel?

Of course we wouldn’t.

But according to a segment from “Last Week Tonight” with John Oliver on Sept. 28, this is everyday life for many.

Oliver showed an interview clip of 13-year-old Zubair Rehman of Pakistan, whose grandmother had been killed during a drone strike. Rehman said he doesn’t love blue skies anymore, because “the drones do not fly when the skies are gray.”

Oliver has gained popularity in recent months with his 30-minute satirical news show, similar to Jon Stewart’s “The Daily Show.”

“Drone strikes are one of those things that it’s really convenient not to think about that much. Like the daily life of a circus elephant or that Beck is a Scientologist,” Oliver quipped.

“When children from other countries are telling us that we’ve made them fear the sky, it might be time to ask some hard questions.”

Hard questions, indeed.

No one ever said ridding the world of terrorism would be easy, but we would have more luck with a mission to rid the world of roaches and fruit flies.

We aren’t fighting regimes and their indoctrinated armies; we are fighting ideas. We are fighting gangs of extremists around the world who cling to the idea that Western civilization is the physical embodiment of evil.

When we kill three, five rise up in their place. And when innocent parents and grandparents are collateral damage in these drone strikes, we run the risk of creating more Jihadists fueled by vengeance.

Here are some sobering statistics.

According to the UK-based Bureau of Investigative Journalism, there have been 392 CIA drone strikes in Pakistan since 2004, 341 under the Obama administration.

An estimated 2,354 to 3,806 were killed in said strikes, 416 to 957 of whom were civilians, 168 to 202 of whom were children.

Since 2002, there have been between 66 and 78 U.S. covert action drone strikes in Yemen, resulting in an estimated 343 to 499 deaths, 64 to 83 of whom were civilians, seven of whom were children.

Since 2007, an estimated six to nine U.S. covert action drone strikes have been conducted in Somalia, resulting in an estimated 16 to 30 deaths.

Other “other covert operations” and “possible extra drone strikes” were also listed, resulting in hundreds of deaths.

And we wonder why they hate us.

It’s time to call off the drones and get back to work. And maybe, just maybe, that won’t require putting American troops in harm’s way.

I think President George W. Bush was on the right track when he told the world you’re either with us or with the terrorists.

I understand now more than ever that the President was taking a stand, as he understood that a worldwide display of unity is vital to the survival of the human race.

Our invasion of Iraq notwithstanding, I believe Bush did the best he could with what he had at the time.

Globalization has made the world much smaller than it was prior to the Cold War, and the Internet has made it even smaller.

If we are going to fight evil – whether it’s terrorism, genocide or human trafficking – there has to be a consistent international message: The murder and exploitation of innocent people is unacceptable.

So yes, I believe the world must stand together to protect its brothers and sisters from terrorism.

And I don’t believe asking other nations to choose a side while men, women and children are dying in droves is too much to ask.

We can kill the fundamentalists’ ideas by creating one of our own – you mess with ANY of us, there will be consequences you can’t even fathom.

It’s time to let the flags wave side-by-side, and put away our differences, because after spending billions of dollars on two wars, we have only seen terrorists groups like ISIS get stronger and more resolved.

Our soldiers are exhausted, our citizens are jaded, and the rest of the world ridicules our lack of unity.

Until we realize we can’t do it alone, we will continue on this precarious path. It’s time to end the vicious cycle and try something different.

Or we could just until we’re watching the skies on our lunch breaks, counting drones and hoping a suspected terrorist isn’t nearby.

Ponder that!

Jim Brock is managing editor of the Nebraska City News-Press. He can be reached at