History = Liberty vs. Power

The Drone War and American CDM

Sunday 1 July 2012 - Filed under Commentary

I recently returned from a 30-day swing through Pakistan, where no one I spoke with was remotely happy that my government was dropping bombs within Pakistan’s “sovereign” territory. It doesn’t matter who the targets are (and I assure the reader that I spoke with several high-profile figures who would be more than happy to see the Pakistani Taliban go down). Because the Pakistanis I spoke with understand, apparently better than the U.S. government, that targeting an individual is virtually impossible with a bomb.

A sniper’s bullet might work. But not a bomb.

Why? Ask a Pakistani. When you drop a bomb, you might [might: an important word in this context!] kill your intended target. But you also kill, maim, or seriously injure everyone else in the vicinity. How is this just? It happens so much we don’t even think about it anymore. Collateral Damage Mentality is murderous, plain and simple. Would I be justified in chucking a grenade into my neighbor’s living room even if I knew he was a bad guy, even if I had proof? Of course not, and for a number of reasons. For one, we are a civilized people, and we value due process of law. But somehow it’s all right if we elect people who get other people with guns and uniforms to do it for us? Especially if they can accomplish the task with a joystick from long-distance? The idea is repugnant.

Same scenario: my bad guy neighbor in his living room. This time his family is there with him, plus a couple friends. Maybe his son’s friends, too, and, say, his wife’s sister’s cousin. Now when I chuck my grenade into the room, it ends the life of the bad guy, sure–but it also kills his innocent family members, their friends, and others. In this scenario we’ve bypassed due process of law again and dabbled in mass murder, to boot.

Welcome to a drone war. No matter what the military publicists say, and despite the rhetoric of the government pulling the strings, this is murder. This is dropping bombs from the sky into inhabited areas. This is dropping bombs from the sky onto houses. And in Pakistan, it’s this in addition to fighting an undeclared (unconstitutional) war.

This afternoon I read the following headline: US DRONE STRIKE KILLS 8 MILITANTS, PAKISTANI OFFICIALS SAY. Good news, right? Eight militants blown away?

Read the article, and read carefully. Here’s what jumps out at me:

1. As usual, these “militants” were actually mere “suspected militants.” There is a profound difference. Thus the very headline of the article is a lie. The U.S. Government (our government, America!) just dropped a bomb on a group of people that might be bad guys. They were suspects. That’s it. Blown away as suspects. And if there were some among them who were completely innocent but happened to be in the room at the time for any one of a million reasons? I’m sure in that case they’d be classified as “suspected militants,” too. Less messy. Even in a CDM world. How long will we stand for this? No wonder the slogan Amrika murdaabaad! (“Die America!”) is spray-painted onto so many walls in Karachi. Ponder that and the tragedy it represents.

2. I see this sentence: “…missiles fired from an unmanned drone struck a house in Dre Nishter village.” Missiles. A house. A village. No sniper’s bullet involved–just a bomb from the sky that landed on a house in a village. I’ve seen many houses and villages in Pakistan, even in the tribal areas. There are women walking by, kids playing, children walking to school. Is it worth it if we get the “suspected” bad guy, though? Of course not. We are better than this.

3. And that’s the other thing I see: the bomb itself. This spells almost assured murder or injury of innocents. Whatever crimes the targeted bad guy is guilty of, according to the non-aggression axiom, the bomb-dropper is now guilty of unjustified aggression, too. The bomb-dropper is no longer innocent, not by a long shot. The bomb-dropper, however innocent he may have been before, is now a criminal.

2012-07-01  »  WillKane

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