History of Obama’s Support for US Special Forces Operations and Drone Strikes. Massive Civilian Deaths Categorized as “Collateral Damage”

By Shane Quinn Global Research, November 14, 2022

In 2007 and 2008 Barack Obama had altogether raised more than 3 times as much money from financial institutions and bankers, in comparison to his Republican Party rival John McCain. Obama’s election campaign was furnished with millions of dollars from America’s major banks like Goldman Sachs, JPMorgan Chase, Citigroup and Merrill Lynch.

Obama’s election victory in November 2008 was not chiefly due to promises that he made but, as is the case with all US presidential elections in recent decades, was because of the amount of cash that he acquired. Former president Jimmy Carter (1977-81) said 10 years ago, “We have one of the worst election processes in the world right in the United States of America, and it’s almost entirely because of the excessive influx of money”.

Overall, it could be argued reasonably enough that Obama did not prove as aggressive as his predecessor, George W. Bush. Two European states joined the US-led NATO military organisation during the Obama era, compared to 7 during the Bush years. Regarding the 2 countries which did accede to NATO in the Obama presidency, Albania and Croatia in April 2009, the groundwork for that had been laid by Bush. Yet the White House’s goal under Obama was to maintain and if possible increase US hegemony, through armed force if necessary.

In one regard Obama chose more harmful actions than Bush, relating to the field of drone warfare and their deployment in different countries to kill people. Between 2004 and the start of 2015, the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) executed 413 drone strikes against Islamic militants, along with targeting those who were mere suspects; some of the victims were innocent bystanders, “collateral damage” Washington would say. Of the 413 drone strikes launched by the CIA in the above decade, 362 of them were carried out under the Obama administration (Obama became president in January 2009, ending in January 2017).

A Washington-based think tank, the New America Foundation, reported that Bush ordered between 45 to 50 drone attacks in his 8 year tenure (2001-09), which killed 477 people. About half way through the Obama presidency, his administration had ordered 316 drone strikes by then which killed at least 2,363 people.

The New America Foundation admits these figures are most likely an underestimation. Rather than the number being 2,363, it may amount to more than 3,400 dead, including 307 civilians, with the victims present in nations like Afghanistan, Pakistan, Libya, Yemen and Somalia. It should be mentioned that – as opposed to the Americans – Russia has deployed drones on a smaller scale, for surveillance purposes and to undermine critical infrastructure and military equipment in the Ukraine war.

Republican Senator Lindsey Graham said in February 2013 that the real death toll from US drone strikes is higher again. “We’ve killed 4,700”, Graham was quoted as saying, despite him having supported the use of drones to target humans. At the beginning of 2012 the Americans had in operation over 7,000 drones. In Pakistan alone, from 2004 to 2011, between 2,347 and 2,956 people were killed in US drone attacks which was reported by the Bureau of Investigative Journalism, headquartered in London. The majority of the drone assaults in that 7 year period in Pakistan occurred from 2009, when Obama entered office.

According to historian Moniz Bandeira,

“Barack Obama took charge of the selection process, picking targets from a top secret ‘kill list’ drafted by the intelligence services (NSA, CIA, etc.), including the names of terrorists or suspected terrorists (capture was only theoretical), using unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), drones, or Navy SEAL Team 6 (ST6)”.

Many of those killed in Pakistan by US drones in the above years were militants; but, as elsewhere, there were hundreds of civilian casualties including serious loss of life inflicted upon children. The Bureau of Investigative Journalism reported that from 2004 to 2011 at least 393 civilians in Pakistan were killed in US drone attacks, including around 175 children.

The US military invasions and drone assaults, rather than leading to a reduction of terrorism worldwide, resulted in a significant increase. More than a decade after president Bush had announced his “war on terror”, in 2014 no less than 13,463 terrorist attacks occurred that year globally. In 2015, there were 11,002 casualties from terrorism in just one nation, Afghanistan.