The dramatic increase in the use of surveillance drones and killer drones must be understood within the larger context of the current battles for the control of people and natural resources in the Middle East, Northern Africa and Afghanistan/Pakistan.

The U.S. government does not speak of its ongoing wars as related to struggles for influence and control of people and natural resources, often refered to as “imperial” struggles.  Rather, it maintains that it is fighting “terrorism”, as expressed in a 2013 speech by President Barack Obama at the National Defense University in which he justified drone attacks and other U.S. military incursions as a matter of “self defense” after 9/11.

“What seems most painful to those with any real knowledge of the (Middle East) region is the apparent unwillingness of those in power in Washington to accept that in this vast region of the world the United States is wittingly or unwittingly stepping into the boots of earlier imperial powers,” says Rashid Khalidi, a professor at Columbia University, in his book “Resurrecting Empire”, “and that this cannot under any circumstances be a good thing and cannot possibly be ‘done right’.”

Khalidi also notes:

“As a general rule, people do not want to be ruled by others from far away, even if those rulers are well intentioned.  Americans, whose very independence resulted from a similar sentiment, should be able to appreciate this simple fact.”

In his 1967 speech against the Viet Nam War entitled “Beyond Vietnam”, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. spoke directly about overseas U.S. military intervention as being motivated by the desire to support the profit goals of U.S. corporations and investors:

“In 1957, a sensitive American official overseas said that it seemed to him that our nation was on the wrong side of a world revolution. During the past ten years, we have seen emerge a pattern of suppression which has now justified the presence of U.S. military advisors in Venezuela. This need to maintain social stability for our investments accounts for the counterrevolutionary action of American forces in Guatemala. It tells why American helicopters are being used against guerrillas in Cambodia and why American napalm and Green Beret forces have already been active against rebels in Peru.  It is with such activity in mind that the words of the late John F. Kennedy come back to haunt us. Five years ago he said, "Those who make peaceful revolution impossible will make violent revolution inevitable." Increasingly, by choice or by accident, this is the role our nation has taken, the role of those who make peaceful revolution impossible by refusing to give up the privileges and the pleasures that come from the immense profits of overseas investments.”

The struggle between indigenous and outside forces is related not only to who benefits from natural resources, and how much, but also to who decides if and when the resources will be exploited, This is a set of decisions that is directly related to climate change.  For example a multi-national oil company may want to pump as much oil and natural gas from a country as possible, while an indigenously controlled government might decide to keep the petroleum reserves in the ground or to pump them out at a much slower rate simply to prolong income.

It is important to note also, that while the U.S. military and intelligence agencies are supporting corporate penetration of resource rich nations and ignoring the implications with respect to climate change, they are also preparing to suppress civil unrest inside and outside the U.S. that may result from climate change.

Here is a list of countries in which the U.S. is conducting drone strikes, their primary natural resources and some of the other reasons they are of interest to the U.S.

Afghanistan –  Afghanistan is extremely wealthy in natural resources as well being central to transhipment of oil, gas and electricity.  Natural wealth - $1 trillion in minerals, including: iron, copper, rare earths such as lanthanum, gold, silver, zinc, mercury and lithium.  Oil and natural gas.

Gold miners in Afghanistan near the village of Qara Zaghan.  Source: BBC

Gold miners in Afghanistan near the village of Qara Zaghan. Source: BBC

Yemen – Yemen has oil and natural gas in relatively small amounts compared to Iraq or other major fossil fuels producers, but Yemen is at one side of the 12-mile wide strait of Bab el Mandeb through which tankers carrying 3 million barrels of oil pass each day.  Yemen also has a border with Saudi Arabia, one of the world’s leading oil producers.  The leaders of Saudia Arabia have for years feared rebellion that might be generated from Yemen, and Saudia Arabia is currently conducting a ruthless war, with the aid of the United States, against the Yemeni Houthi movement that is being assisted by Iran, a Saudi rival.

Diagram showing the significance of the oil shipping route through the Bab El-Mandab strait on the coast of Yemen.

Diagram showing the significance of the oil shipping route through the Bab El-Mandab strait on the coast of Yemen.

Syria – Syria is the eastern Mediterranean’s foremost producer of oil and natural gas.

Libya – Libya possess the largest proven crude oil reserves in Africa; and fifth-largest natural gas reserves on the continent.

Distribution of Libya’s oil exports as reported in 2011 in

Distribution of Libya’s oil exports as reported in 2011 in