After nearly a decade of war by drones on the tribal regions of Pakistan, an ally of the US government, that country has now had enough.
This week Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif visited Washington, D.C. calling the drone bombings a violation of Pakistan’s sovereignty. At nearly the same time, reports from Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch are showing the federal government is lying about who exactly is dying in drone wars.
These attacks began with President Bush but have, as many national security policies, swelled under President Obama. An interactive display (which can be viewed here) of recorded drone strikes that has been passed around for months illustrates the evolution of this undeclared war on Pakistan’s innocent men, women, and children. Cries of war crimes and violations of international law are mounting, yet still there is that familiar silence regarding Constitutionality.
How the Founding generation defined “war” is of the utmost importance for understanding how such power was delegated in the Constitution. Samuel Johnson’s 1755 dictionary read “war may be defined as the exercise of violence under sovereign command.”
A war is a war is a war.
So-called limited strikes or police actions are not special exemptions to the Constitutional rule that the war power resides in the Congress. Seeing as Congress has never declared war on Pakistan, this is unconstitutional in the most fundamental sense.
Over 3,500 Pakistanis have died because the Constitution is neglected for the aspirations of both Republican and Democratic administrations. Why should anyone expect those people to react any differently than Americans after 9/11? Just as Americans enlisted in the Armed Forces to fight terrorism, Pakistanis are enlisting to fight US drone terrorism. The same happens in Somalia and Yemen.
The Constitution is viewed as just another enemy by the national security state in Washington, D.C. but can’t an official ally like Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif get the US to listen and stop its illegal bombing?