US ‘Secret’ Drone Base and Ron Paul’s Foreign Policy

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The Washington Post yesterday detailed a secret — and not-so-secret — US base of operations in the Horn of Africa. It is from this massive, 500 acre base run by the Joint Special Operations Command (JSOC), that virtually all the non-Afghan war drones are launched. It is the center of the US drone war against al-Qaeda (except for those al-Qaeda elements in Libya and Syria with which the US administration is allied — think of those as Eastasia).

Appropriately, the base, called Camp Lemonnier, is located on grounds used earlier by the French Foreign Legion — the non-French arm of the French military used to keep the French colonial empire in line. Apparently irony is completely lost on the US administration.

The entire article is well worth reading, chilling as it is. In it the teeth of the US empire are laid bare. And they are ugly. If one considers a recent study of the US drone wars by Stanford University and NYU, which demonstrates a catastrophic failure rate of the drones to hit intended targets (which means that most of the time they kill innocent civilians), one could conclude, using a non-loaded definition of the term, that Lemonnier is the largest terrorist base in the world.

As the Stanford University drone study (PDF) found:

“Drones hover twenty-four hours a day over communities in northwest Pakistan, striking homes, vehicles, and public spaces without warning. Their presence terrorizes men, women, and children, giving rise to anxiety and psychological trauma among civilian communities. Those living under drones have to face the constant worry that a deadly strike may be fired at any moment, and the knowledge that they are powerless to protect themselves… from June 2004 through mid-September 2012, available data indicate that drone strikes killed 2,562–3,325 people in Pakistan, of whom 474-881 were civilians, including 176 children.”

Perhaps most fascinating about this excellent Washington Post investigative report, however, is the following paragraph:

“Other counterterrorism work at Lemonnier is more overt. All told, about 3,200 U.S. troops, civilians and contractors are assigned to the camp, where they train foreign militaries, gather intelligence and dole out humanitarian aid across East Africa as part of a campaign to prevent extremists from taking root.” (emphasis added)

Here we see the Ron Paul critique of US foreign policy plainly demonstrated: The US government does not just send in drones to kill people from Lemonnier — it also “doles out…aid” to those who obey!

Here is Ron Paul from three years ago (not that it matters, as he has been making this point for decades):

“I have often made the point that the way we treat our fellow countries around the world is we tell them what to do, and if they do it we give them money. If they don’t do it, we bomb them… If you want to promote our good values and our democratic process, you can’t antagonize the people by literally killing people over there, because if bombs were falling on this country, we wouldn’t be all that happy with that.”

Perhaps it is due to efficiency efforts, but in Lemonnier we see both under one roof: cash to those who do what they are told and drones for those who do not. But the answer, as Ron Paul repeatedly reminds us, is no aid and no drones. Period.

7:26 am on October 27, 2012