Last week residents and tourists in Hawaii were turned upside down when an ominous, statewide emergency alert message was delivered to their phones reading, “BALLISTIC MISSILE THREAT INBOUND TO HAWAII. SEEK IMMEDIATE SHELTER. THIS IS NOT A DRILL.”
According to CNN, the human error turned this island of paradise into chaos. People were hiding under tables in cafés, herded like cows into military hangars and huddled around televisions watching the news for the latest information.
This panic that shook, just part of, the United States is just a taste of what certain countries in the Middle East endure daily due to United States drone strikes.
The military refer to them as Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) or Remotely Piloted Aerial Systems (RPAS), however they are commonly known as drones. These drones are used by the military in situations considered to be too risky or difficult and provide a 24-hour surveillance, seven days a week.
The use of drones began under President George W. Bush but the use of these unmanned aircrafts doubled during the Obama administration.
According to reports logged by the Bureau, during President Barack Obama’s two terms 563 strikes targeted Pakistan, Somalia and Yemen, compared to just under 60 strikes during Bush’s administration. Between 384 and 807 civilians were killed in those countries.
Obama confirmed the United States’ use of these drones to target suspected militants in areas of Pakistan. According to BBC News, he defended the attacks stating they were kept on a “tight leash” and made precision strikes.
BBC News continued to state, “Hundreds of people have been killed by the strikes in Pakistan - civilians as well as militants, causing outrage. One of the deadliest attacks was in March 2011 when 40 were killed, many believed to be civilians at a tribal meeting.”
President Trump inherited the policy of targeted killing by drone outside declared battlefields causing an increase in areas in the Middle East. As of recently, the Bureau of Investigative Journalism reported, U.S. drone strikes doubled in Somalia and tripled in Yemen since President Trump took office.
The Middle East Monitor reported that, from January to December 2017 there were 129 executed drone strikes in Yemen, which reportedly killed 233 people and in Somalia there have been 38 drone strikes killing 228 people.
In no way is this criticizing the fear and terror individuals faced in Hawaii last Sunday; however, it is a reminder that some innocent civilians face that fear, of being attacked by another country’s military, for no reason 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.