Jeremy Scahill: “no such thing as a clean war”

Yesterday a Senate hearing was held on the Obama administration’s “targeted killing” program, which you can watch here. It resulted in headlines like this. To date, discussions about President Obama’s use of “kill lists” and assassinations of those deemed as threats to US national security have mostly ranged from criticism and reform recommendations to outright support. But operating independently of the constraints associated with Washington think tanks and Congress is award-winning journalist Jeremy Scahill, who remains a sharp throne in the sides of those who claim that drone warfare enables the US to engage in clean wars. Indeed, the shift towards robotic warfare with no oversight, which has also taken the lives of American citizens, may not be that clean at all, explained Scahill to Amy Goodman of Democracy Now! yesterday:

I called it Dirty Wars because, you know, particularly in this administration, in the Obama administration, I think a lot of people are being led to believe that there’s—there is a such thing as a clean war and that the drone and what’s called targeted killing—I mean, I use that term myself, but it’s actually not—if you think about it, it’s actually not a very appropriate term for what’s going on, because it’s—as we know, these strikes are anything but targeted, in many cases, and we don’t know the—we don’t even know the identities of many of the people that we’re killing in intentional strikes. So, I called it Dirty Wars because there is no such thing as a clean war, and drone warfare is not clean, but also as a sort of allusion to how we’ve returned to the kind of 1980s way of waging war, where the U.S. was involved in all these dirty wars in Central and Latin America, in Guatemala, Nicaragua, Honduras, and beyond. And we’re using—you know, we’re in a world right now where the U.S. is using proxies, that effectively are death squads, in Somalia to hunt down people that the U.S. has determined are enemies. We’re using mercenaries. President Obama continues to use mercenary forces in various wars, declared and undeclared, around the world. You also have the aiding of dictatorships and other, you know, right-wing governments around the world and propping them up. It’s very similar to what Reagan and company were doing in Central America.

I’m looking forward to reading Scahill’s book on this important topic, which is shaping how the world perceives the United States and perhaps impacting national security in a way that officials are not paying enough attention to. Scahill and filmmaker Rick Rowley have also made a Sundance-selected documentary on America’s covert wars that’s screening now. You can find out where on their website.

Jasmin Ramsey

Jasmin Ramsey is a journalist based in Washington, DC.