Obama’s Brutal Drone Legacy Will Haunt the Biden Administration

Obama’s Brutal Drone Legacy Will Haunt the Biden Administration

In his memoirs, the former U.S. president seems uninterested in a critical appraisal of his drone policies. Considering the human suffering caused by America’s drone wars, Joe Biden should not make the same mistake.

In 2017, I met Kabir Aluzai, a tall man with big hands and facial features that reminded me of the late Sean Connery. Aluzai described how his brother, Kareem, was killed in a U.S. drone strike in 2013 while on his way to sell watermelons in Afghanistan’s Wardak province, near Kabul. “Nothing was left of him. Even most of his bones were gone,” Aluzai recalled.

Aluzai introduced some of the village children around him and added that all of them knew the sound of Predator drones. “They can distinguish between drones, helicopters, and fighter jets. They know when to play outside and when not. They are traumatized—we all are,” he added. Like many other rural parts of Afghanistan, Aluzai’s home district was controlled by the Taliban. Most of the drones, however, did not kill the insurgents, but civilians: farmers, merchants, miners, or—most disturbingly—children.

Under the Obama administration, Afghanistan became the world’s most drone-bombed country. President Barack Obama also expanded clandestine wars in countries where the United States was not officially at war, such as Pakistan, Yemen, and Somalia. In most of these countries, Obama’s drone wars fueled more extremism, militancy, and anti-American sentiment.