COPENHAGEN - Danish lawmakers are levelling unprecedented criticism at US President Barack Obama for his use of remote-controlled attack drones in Pakistan, Somalia and Yemen.
Rasmus Helveg Petersen, Radikale foreign policy spokesperson, told Politiken newspaper that Obama’s actions mirror those of the terrorists he professes to be fighting against. “It’s terrible,” said Petersen. “The United States has no right to carry out these types of executions of suspected political adversaries. It contravenes international law.”
Petersen added that executing political adversaries within another country’s borders was tantamount to terrorism. The comments came after Soren Pind, of the opposition party Venstre, in an interview with the magazine Ræson, likened the drone attacks to ‘assassination’. “I criticised George Bush for allowing torture during his presidency,” Pind told Politiken. “But what he is doing is much worse and violates the principles of the Western world.” Representatives from the far-left Enhedslisten joined in bashing the US president and said it would raise the issue with parliament’s foreign policy committee. The attack drone issue has arisen following the disclosure of Obama’s involvement in some 261 drone raids against suspected terrorists in Pakistan alone. During his eight years in office, President George W Bush approved a total of 45 drone attacks.
Critics of drone operations say that the US is killing its opponents without due process while at the same time putting civilians at risk.
Some 1,000 civilians had been killed by drone attacks so far, according to the Bureau of Investigative Journalism in London, The US Embassy was unavailable for a response to the criticism.
The foreign minister, Villy Sovndal (Socialistisk Folkeparti), was reluctant to wade into the fray. “I am not prepared to comment further than saying that we do not use drones ourselves and that international rules must be adhered to,” said Sovndal
Ole Wæver, who teaches political science at the University of Copenhagen, said that drone attacks exist in a kind of legal vacuum, but added that the criticism should be viewed as marking a new chapter in Denmark’s relationship with the US.
“There has been until now broad political agreement that we stood shoulder to shoulder with the US, but people are slowly realising that the world order is changing,” Wæver told Politiken.
Wæver added that many in Denmark feel that Obama has not lived up to their expectations. “A lot of Danes have felt themselves allied with Obama, but that is not a permanent show of support. He has used up his goodwill account.”