Build Schools, Not Drones

By Danish Khan

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Most economists would describe contemporary times as an epoch of austerity. Whether it is public education or healthcare, enormous pressure has been exerted by the right wing to cut government spending in order to reduce the budget deficit. But interestingly, advocates of austerity always pick those social programs for spending cuts which are directly related to the lives of working people in America, e.g. unemployment insurance, food stamps, subsidized student loans, etc.. The supporters of the austerity try to portray themselves as sincere in ensuring the reduction in government spending but the reality is they are only interested in waging class war against working people of America.Pro-austerity economists and politicians never bother to tell the American public that the United States government has spent $23 billion on spy planes commonly known as drones in the last couple of years. Each drone (Global Hawk drone planes) that the federal government purchases costs taxpayers $218 million. If that money would have been spent on subsidized student loans, then these austerians would have declared it a crime against humanity. The obvious contradictions evident in the politics of the right-wing can be summed up in the following manner: when it comes to rebuilding the crumbling local infrastructure or investing in public education, green energy and transportation, right-wing politicians tell the American public that the government does not have money to spend on these programs— but the same politicians cheer when huge sums of cash are advanced to purchase drones.

The economic aspects of drones are only one issue but the political and human tragedy that is associated with drones is unspeakable. Apparently, the Obama administration is so busy in droning other nations that it has completely forgotten its promises of bringing change and rebuilding America. The bad PR of Obama’s administration’s foreign policy has gotten worse.  Just a couple weeks ago, on February 27, the majority (534 to 49) of the members of the European Parliament voted in favor of a resolution that stated the following:

“…drone strikes by a State on the territory of another State without the consent of the latter constitute a violation of international law and of the territorial integrity and sovereignty of that country.”

The resolution also demanded European Union Member States not “perpetrate unlawful targeted killings or facilitate such killings by other states” and called on them to “oppose and ban practices of extra judicial targeted killings.”  The resolution also reported that “thousands of civilians have reportedly been killed or seriously injured by drone strikes [but] these figures are difficult to estimate, owing to lack of transparency and obstacles to effective investigation.” Moreover, it was explicitly stated in the report that “drone strike policies have been documented as causing considerable harm to the daily lives of ordinary civilians in the countries concerned, including deep anxiety and psychological trauma, disruption of economic and social activities and reduced access to education among affected communities.”

It is time that we demand that the current administration stop drone attacks on sovereign countries and redirect that money to public education to improve our schools and colleges. We would like to remind President Obama that he is in the Oval Office because he promised to end wars and rebuild America; it is time to follow through on that promise.