Drone warfare and civilian deaths
Re “Drone warfare: Precise, effective, imperfect” (Review, Feb. 20): Gen. Michael Hayden offers little if any evidence to back up his assertion that the U.S. military’s drone program “works.” As one who has investigated drone strikes and whose own village in Yemen was bombed, I found General Hayden’s views to be completely at odds with the reality in my country.
General Hayden argues that civilian deaths have been both minimal and justified. But the United States has refused to provide evidence to support these statements and left unanswered credible reports of civilian casualties. In my research, I found that many of those killed by the United States were civilians. In my village, residents were unable to rescue strike victims because of their fears that they would be killed in a “double tap” strike.
Years after the so-called targeted-killing program started in Yemen, neither Yemen nor the United States is safer. The ranks of Al Qaeda have grown and the country is in chaos. American intelligence agencies should spend less time gathering evidence for drone strikes and more time understanding the very real harm their policies are causing.
Farea Al-Muslimi, Beirut
The writer is co-founder and chairman of the Sana’a Center for Strategic Studies, and a student of public policy and international affairs at the American University of Beirut.
Australia’s gun control success
Re “The Constitution and guns” (Opinion, Feb. 25): There is a sensible way to implement greater gun control in the United States without undermining Second Amendment guarantees of the right to bear arms that includes weapons registration and comprehensive, no-loophole background checks.
In 1996, Australia adopted this course, limiting the size of magazines and the power of legally available firearms while guaranteeing farmers, ranchers and qualified recreational shooters the right to own powerful guns. This drained the suburbs of semi-automatics and automatics. Although we have plenty of guns in Australia, we’ve had no mass shootings in the country since 1996.
It is time for America’s law-abiding citizens to end the absurd lock the National Rifle Association has on Congress.
Tim Fischer Mudgegonga, Australia
The writer is a former deputy prime minister of Australia.
Fighting corruption in Honduras
Re “A charade in Honduras” (Opinion, Feb. 16): Alexander Main made valid points but neglected to mention important advancements in the fight against corruption by Honduran nongovernmental organizations — advancements that make the success of the initiative by the Organization of American States much more likely.
I lead the Association for a More Just Society, the Honduran chapter of the nonprofit organization Transparency International. In the last two years, our work has resulted in the arrest of 95 individuals involved in major corruption cases. The reforms we’ve pushed for against corruption in public education have nearly doubled the number of days students spend in class. At least 29 major drug traffickers have been arrested, contributing to a 23 percent drop in homicide rates. My country is no longer the most violent in the world.
The O.A.S. initiative offers no silver bullets, but with oversight and support, it presents an opportunity to strengthen our government systems. We have hope that anti-corruption efforts will make a difference — because ours already have.
Carlos Hernández Tegucigalpa, Honduras
Merkel and the migrants
Re “Will Merkel pay for making it right?” (Feb. 14) by Roger Cohen: Chancellor Angela Merkel rushed to welcome refugees and migrants with no plans on how to deal with them, leaving Italy and Greece to deal with the humanitarian emergency. Moreover, she has for years promoted unrealistic austerity measures that are suffocating any possibility of recovery and are creating millions of economic refugees (like me and my family). This is not the Europe I want for my children.
Manuela Mirkos, Abu Dhabi