Myth 2: U.S. drones cause terrorism because the Taliban are fighting to avenge those killed by the strikes. False. Many Taliban appeasers often use this myth to justify the group’s brutality against innocent civilians, but there is no evidence to suggest that militant recruitment has increased due to U.S. drone strikes in Afghanistan and Pakistan. If anything, the data seems to suggest a negative correlation between drone strikes and militant activities.
That is because the Taliban’s brutality started for entirely different reasons about a decade before the first drone strike took place. A 2013 study by Patrick,Johnston at the RAND Corporation and Anoop K. Sarbahi at Stanford University analyzed the impact of U.S. drones strikes on terrorism in Afghanistan and Pakistan.
Relying on data from 2004-2011 to test whether drone strikes angered the population to the point where it incited terrorism, the study found that the strikes did not incite terrorism. On the contrary, drone strikes were found to have a negative correlation with various measures of militant violence. Specifically the study found that: (a) drone strikes were associated with fewer terrorist attacks; (b) drone strikes were also associated with fewer people killed as a result of terrorist attacks; (c) drone strikes were linked to decreases in the use of particularly lethal and intimidating tactics, including suicide and IED attacks; and (d) the reduction in terrorism due to drone strikes was not the result of militants leaving unsafe areas and conducting attacks elsewhere in the region. The findings are not surprising when one considers the stated goal of the Taliban: to establish a “pure Islamic state” where there is no role for technology, modernity, or democracy.
In their pure state, women too have no role outside the house. The Taliban’s motivation to fight is a twisted view of religion — not drone strikes. Indeed, the rationale behind the Taliban as avengers of drone strikes fails further when one looks at the group’s targets and victims. They have largely targeted innocent worshippers going to their mosques and churches. Their victims are either non-Muslims or the “wrong kinds” of Muslims.
They have attacked innocent girls going to school because they believe women’s education promotes promiscuity. They have displaced millions of innocent people from their homes and villages because those victims refused to live under the Taliban’s tyranny. They have targeted the shrines of legendary Pashto poets and local musicians because, according to them, music and poetry cause society to become morally corrupt.