Syracuse, New York. At an everyday upper New York state airport, a 737 boeing airliner landed. Then a United plane followed. But the next aircraft looked different. It was a bit smaller and had no markings or taillights. A propeller whirled at the back. And instead of the high-pitched screech of a jet, the sound was more like … a drone, the weapon of choice in killing civilians worldwide by American push button warriors was taking off on a journey to a land far away.
The US Defense Department has been using the runway and airspace at the Syracuse Hancock International Airport to train drone operators, who work at the adjoining Air National Guard base. Officials say it’s the first time that the federal government has allowed military drones to utilize a commercial airport.
The takeoffs and landings of military drones at the Syracuse airport get little attention in New York’s fifth-largest city. Already routine, the operations are hardly noticed. In an elevator at a hotel near the airport, a reporter mentioned the Reaper drone exercises to an American Airlines flight attendant who had just landed on the same runway as the drones. “I had no idea,” she said.
American officials claim that drone strikes rarely hit civilians, some evidence says otherwise. For example, leaked classified documents, shed light on a series of US airstrikes codenamed Operation Haymaker. From January 2012 to February 2013, those Obama ordered drone attacks in northeast Afghanistan killed more than 200 people, but only about one-sixth of them were the intended targets.
Civic leaders in Syracuse and elsewhere embrace the expanding domestic involvement in American drone warfare. The clear mention of the human toll far away is almost taboo. Elected officials join with business groups and public-relations officers from the military in extolling the benefits and virtues. Rarely does anyone acknowledge that civilians are maimed and killed as a result of the extolled activities, or that in the name of a “war on terror,” people in foreign lands are subjected to the airborne presence of drones killing their children is never mentioned.
But as America gears up for four years of Donald Trump blank check allowing his military to kill globally, Americans need to look at the price locally. We are becomming accessory to murder internationally before and after the fact, with each drone taking off from our airports, in search of other humans far away.