When the New York Times and others published the story that China had decided against using an armed drone over Myanmar’s territory to kill an infamous drug lord wanted in the horrific murders of 13 Chinese sailors, but instead captured the man alive and brought him to trial in China, it was acclaimed by some who oppose the use of drones by the U.S. to target terrorists as a magnanimous act of justice, morality and respect for international law.

Some credited the Chinese regime with greater moral conscience and respect for international law than the United States.

This credit to a country that according to Human Rights Watch, “continues to be an authoritarian one-party state that imposes sharp curbs on freedom of expression, association, and religion; openly rejects judicial independence and press freedom; and arbitrarily restricts and suppresses human rights defenders and organizations, often through extra-judicial measures.”

Have we already forgotten Tiananmen Square, Tibet, Xinjiang, etc.?

Dennis M. Gormley, an expert on unmanned aircraft at the University of Pittsburgh, after expressing little surprise at China’s original plan to use an armed drone to go after the drug lord — “Given the gruesome nature of the 2011 killings and the Chinese public’s outcry for action” — brazenly blames the United States for allegedly providing a bad example to China — a country that has violated just about every human right and which is guilty of using the most loathsome and brutal tools of warfare, torture and oppression against its own people and other countries. He says, “And [the Chinese] surely will have America’s armed drone practice as a convenient cover for legitimating their own practice,” according to the Times.

Liu Yuejin, the director of the Ministry of Public Security’s anti-drug bureau told the Global Times, “One plan was to use an unmanned aircraft to carry 20 kilograms of TNT to bomb the area, but the plan was rejected, because the order was to catch him alive.”

One certainly has to wonder whether such order was eventually given for legal or humanitarian reasons, or perhaps because of the information Chinese officials were anxious to extract from the drug lord, Naw Kham, and his gang members.

Again, Human Rights Watch: “Weak courts and tight limits on the rights of the defense mean that forced confessions under torture remain prevalent and miscarriages of justice frequent.”

“Naw Kham and three members of his gang were sentenced to death on November 6 last year for killing 13 Chinese sailors, according to a verdict from the Intermediate People’s Court of Kunming. On December 26, the Provincial Higher People’s Court of Yunnan maintained the sentences, rejecting appeals.” says the Global Times.

Kham and his gang members probably deserve such severe sentences and will join the other 5,000 to 8,000 men and women who Human Rights Watch believes — the exact number is a state secret — are executed every year in China, making it a world leader in executions.

The same drone expert who claims that America’s armed drone practice will give China a convenient cover for legitimizing their own practice also suggests that the decision not to carry out a drone strike might reflect a lack of confidence in untested Chinese craft, control systems or drone pilots, according to the Times.

Could that perhaps have been one of the reasons for abandoning the armed drone plan, instead of China’s thirst for due process?

I do not have the answers to such questions, but given China’s abominable human rights record and the nature of its justice system and the character of its military and security forces, I would not be throwing bouquets at this incident solely to prove a point on the use of drones for anti-terrorist or military purposes.

Image: www.shutterstock.com

Dorian de Wind, Military Affairs Columnist
Sort by:   newest | oldest
KP
Guest
KP
3 years 7 months ago

Thanks for another fine article, DDW! I have enjoyed your insightfiul and fair coverage of the drone issues. I continue to look forward to your regular contributions here at TMV. Keep On Truckin’ …

DR. CLARISSA PINKOLA ESTÉS, Managing Editor of TMV, and Columnist
Editor

Hello there: Please stay with the topic, not what one thinks of writer or commenter or commenterS. Then all is well and will be well. Thanks.

archangel/ dr.e

DR. CLARISSA PINKOLA ESTÉS, Managing Editor of TMV, and Columnist
Editor
More than one person on this thread contacted us in admin. with conflicting opinions about various goings on. If you want to have a discussion about commenters, off topic subjects, please take it offline between yourselves. If you want to clarify commenting rules for yourself, please –they are at the top of masthead on the home page. The rules for commenters here are very few and hold firmly to civility. We keep a comment field here on TMV as a courtesy for our commenters who stay to the topic of the post, not each other, not triangulating with personal opinions… Read more »
ordinarysparrow
Guest
ordinarysparrow
3 years 7 months ago
Watched an interesting documentary last evening called Surviving Progress. It is recent and relevant to the discussing we have shared on drones.. Found it on instant view Netflix and it is recent. Definitely worth a watch if it is accessible… This bracing documentary considers whether human “progress” stemming from the Industrial Age could be paving the way for civilization’s collapse. The film asks a range of thinkers whether the modern world might be headed for a “progress trap.” Stephen Hawking David Suzuki Jane Goodall Margaret Atwood Colin Beavan Simon Johnson Thanks Dorian…and Tidbits… and KP….
dduck
Guest
dduck
3 years 7 months ago
Who knows why China did what they did. The fact is they did it whether they have a lousy record or not. No one has to praise them for one act or condemn them for their prior stuff. After all, some, including me, feel that dropping A-bombs on Japan and other acts of war put the U.S. in history’s worst actors category. So, back to the present. Here we are with this drone thing and again I don’t feel anyone is being vilified, but I do believe there are strong feelings given that we are murdering U.S. citizens and justifying,… Read more »
dduck
Guest
dduck
3 years 7 months ago

I’m laughing because when it suits its purposes, the U.S. China, and other countries just ignore “international law”. There is so much hypocrisy around you have to wear wading boots.

ELIJAH SWEETE
Member
3 years 7 months ago
Thanks, Duck. For what its worth, it is not easy taking unpopular positions. Sparrow linked an article the other day that nearly 90% of Americans supported our drone policy. I keep thinking back that it was about the same percentage who supported the “Use of Force” provision that led to the Iraq invasion. My wife and I had friends, neighbors and even relatives who questioned our patriotism because we wouldn’t believe the WMD claims in the face UN weapons inspectors who said it wasn’t true and we wouldn’t believe the Iraq-is-AlQaeda’s-best-buddy claim when most objective reports had bin Laden hating… Read more »
brcarthey
Guest
brcarthey
3 years 7 months ago
This is the problem I’ve had with both the US government’s attitude that has trickled down to our citizens. So many of the things we’ve done over the past 50 years where we have all but bullied weaker nations into what we want/need from them is hypocrisy at its finest. There are so many things our nation has done that had it been done to us, we’d (politicians and the public, alike) have pitched such a loud fit it probably would’ve blown out a few eardrums. When US citizens get detained in foreign countries, many times we expect a certain… Read more »
brcarthey
Guest
brcarthey
3 years 7 months ago

DDW,

Thank you for your kind response. You were not droning on, quite the contrary. So many of my posts have been long (winded?) because I write like I would as if I’m having a face-to-face conversation. Unfortunately, that’s a short-coming of mine as I feel I may lose people some times while I’m trying to elucidate my thoughts and feelings in my response(s). You, however (as well as other writers here), seem to be able to say quite a bit while using fewer words. Hopefully, one day, I will be able to do the same. Cheers!

KP
Guest
KP
3 years 7 months ago

Great thread. It’s hopeful for me to see how much DDW, brcarthey and ES have in common.

dduck
Guest
dduck
3 years 7 months ago
ES, what you consider unpopular positions are very popular with those that are skeptical, and that is my unpopular position. I think because of your zeal and past “unpopular” positions, that you are rightfully over sensitive to new ones such as this drone issue. Talk to the rabbits more often and be well. BTW, holding a view that is against whatever crowd you are in, for instance in a more liberal one like TMV, means you take heat, just as I would on a conservative blog because I am pro-life, anti campaign money power, pro gun control, VERY skeptical on… Read more »
ELIJAH SWEETE
Member
3 years 7 months ago

Duck,

You made me laught. …
Either I’m really good at calling the shots as in my prior comment or I really am an arrogant self pitying so-and-so. Hmmm, there’s some food for thought. :)

At least I still have a sense of humor. Enjoy avoiding church this Sunday morning my athiest friend.

brcarthey
Guest
brcarthey
3 years 7 months ago
we need people like you to keep the preaching to the choir to a minimum and less tag-team wrestling tactics. I agree dduck. As one of the most “liberal” in a family of moderated conservatives to “rabid righties” it’s made me be less knee-jerky and combative/agitative in my own comments (not that ES has been IMO). Speaking with them as well as my conservative friends or posters like yourself has made me: 1. more respectful of my tone, and 2. try to consider both sides of the debate. That’s not to say you won’t see me on other blogs or… Read more »
dduck
Guest
dduck
3 years 7 months ago

ES, I said, not to quibble, “rightfully over sensitive” and justified by you being absolutely right on WMD, where the rest of us including a majority of congress were wrong. Fighting against that tide with stupid people can only do damage to one.
Above all, keep that sense of humor, and yes, I do enjoy avoiding church on Sunday or any day. :-)

brcarthey
Guest
brcarthey
3 years 7 months ago
it’s available on itunes and at amazon for download/streaming or if you want to go the theater, here’s a list of screenings around the country: http://www.notinvisible.org/screenings I had heard something about Lackland a few months ago, but just as quickly as it made news, it was quickly buried in the national media. I honestly wonder what the general public believes happens to our military vets after they come home from battle. Between this and the underfunded medical and psychiatric care vets receive, I sometimes believe the public thinks y’all must have it made and the same perks and pay as… Read more »
dduck
Guest
dduck
3 years 7 months ago

Thanks, dr.e.

wpDiscuz