n Pakistan in October of 2012, my group of peace activists met Malik Jalal, who spoke to us about the effect of drones on his community in Waziristan and later accompanied our caravan up to Tank, a town on the edge of Waziristan, where we joined a lively anti-war rally. I specifically remember Malik Jalal as a handsome man in the prime of life, accustomed to having authority. He had a full beard and wore the garb of a Tribal leader, and spoke about the suffering of his people living under drones. There was humor in his expression and I remember that he laughed and his eyes twinkled when members of our delegation told of being arrested for sitting outside a military base demanding an end to drone wars. Only in response to a direct question did he talk about his own experience. He said that he sometimes slept in the mountains so as not to put his family at risk.
Last summer, in 2016, saw a photo of a man visiting London to share his experience with living under drones and demand that the drones stop flying over Waziristan. His name was Malik Jalal. I thought I recognized the man I had met in Pakistan, but an organizer with my group dismissed the possibility out of hand. I waited a little, then went to my photos and took out a photo to compare with the one in the British news article. ** I was then certain it was the same man.
I just watched this press conference on “The US Military Role in Syria” with Norman Solomon, David Swanson, John Kiriakou, Mathew Hoh and Christy Edwards, a legal authority on International Law as it pertains to war. The Press Conference, hosted by Normon Solomon on behalf of RootsAction.org, grows out of a campaign called “No US Warplanes Over Syria“, co-sponsored by RootsAction.org, Veterans for Peace, The Nation Magazine, The Daily Kos, World Beyond War and Watchdog.net. They speakers have different slants on the issue but all agree that the US needs to get out of Syria AND the Middle East, and stop threatening North Korea.
People do need to understand how challenging the current environment is for everyone. I was talking yesterday to a friend about how the background information is becoming more and more difficult to access. Even alternative news sites have a cycle of sorts related to what information they focus on. Drone information in particular has been under attack for some time.
As the peak for drone news collapsed, a site that regularly published my work rejected a major research piece on military drones and the ways in which drone news was distorted and covered up in mainstream sources. The main editor wrote me thank you for the piece, but the person actually posting articles chose to ignore it. Drones didn’t interest him or her.
Currently I rarely, if ever, see an article focused on a drone strike in Afghanistan, Yemen, Syria, Iraq, Somalia or any of the other countries where drone strikes have significantly increased since the beginning of this year. Today my aggregator turned up several articles claiming that Chinese, Iranian and Russian drones are getting in the way of US business as usual. But, my feed no longer reports any US drone strikes despite the fact that they have significantly increased since Trump came into office. If you look at it, you would think that military drones, targeted killing and spying are on an asymptotic approach to zero. You would never dream that military drone strikes have doubled under President Trump.