US officials did something unprecedented last night, formally denying that they were behind a pair of drone strikes in Pakistan’s tribal areas. Officials rarely claim credit in the first place, but to officially deny them is unheard of, especially with the administration claiming the power to launch such strikes with no oversight at any rate.
The overriding incident in this case is the ongoing battle to confirm drone enthusiast John Brennan, and since those strikes came during the hearings an unusual amount of attention was brought to them.
What’s the excuse though? The US is the only nation with drones over Pakistan, and so the officials speculated they might’ve been Pakistani war planes, as though tribesmen haven’t been hit with hundreds of drone strikes and weren’t able to tell the difference. Moreover, the Pakistani government has avoided using air power in North and South Waziristan for fear of riling up militant factions they have non-aggression pacts with. Pakistan is also rejecting the accusation.
Which demonstrates the difficulty of launching drone strikes in a nation where the government isn’t 100% on board and where, perhaps even more importantly, there are actual elections coming up. Such an issue never would’ve happened in the other drone zone, Yemen, where the US-backed rulers have long gone out of their way to cover up US attacks that kill civilians. The ruler, Maj. Gen. Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi, was “elected” last year in an election in which no other candidate was allowed to run, and in which the “no” option wasn’t even put on the ballot. One nation, one candidate, one checkbox. Is it any wonder the US is presenting the Yemen model of “democracy” as something to be emulated throughout the region?