Quiet Riot

June 4, 2012

Jeremy Scahill, noted national security correspondent for The Nation, spoke this past weekend on the bottom line for the US drone wars:

It’s murder — it’s mass murder — when you say, ‘We are going to bomb this area’ because we believe a terrorist is there, and you know that women and children are in the area.
The United States has an obligation to not bomb that area if they believe that women and children are there.
I’m sorry, that’s murder.”

And we’re sorry, too.

(Illustration found here).

In the latest of at least 20 drone strikes already this year in northwest Pakistan, 16 people were reported killed this morning and four others injured in two attacks by unmanned aircraft: The strike came at about 5:20 a.m. local time and according to media reports four drones are still hovering over the area creating panic among the residents.
The second incident killed at least eight suspected militants in the south: At the time of the attack, suspected militants were gathered to offer condolences to the brother of a militant commander killed during another drone strike Saturday.
And beyond drone warfare’s ethics and morals, Pakistani journalist Ihsan Ullah Tipu Mehsud is resigned to them: “Drones are the newest addition to into modern day mechanised warfare where one can take out the enemy without incurring any human loss. Though it is illegal and unjustified, it is ruthlessly accurate and precise, giving the enemy little chance to evade it.”

However, this morning a defense of drone attacks from Pakistan’s Daily Times and Muhammad Zubair, assistant professor of Law at the University of Peshawar, Pakistan, and currently a PhD scholar at the Maurer School of Law at Indiana University.
Money bit:

Quite contrary to the media’s unverifiable reports, the IDPs of South Waziristan and people of North Waziristan tell a different story about such attacks, albeit in whispers due to fear.
The IDPs claim that drones did not disrupt their social life or cause infrastructural damage or killed innocent civilians because of the precise and targeted nature of their attacks.
An old woman in the IDPs camp in D I Khan told me last year, “Son, bangbangane (local name for drones) go after the gunehgar (sinner) and not the innocent.”
They recalled the dreaded, heavy and indiscriminate bombing of civilian populations and infrastructure by the heavy artillery of the Pakistan army and PAF jets and compared it with the targeted and precise attacks on individual militants by drones.
They held the army/PAF responsible for turning thousands of their houses and hundreds of villages into rubble.
Maybe, the use of Google Earth imagery by the PAF is responsible for that!

Zubair is an exception.
And there’s a reason.
From the UK’s Guardian on Saturday:

Last week officials in the Obama administration talked to the New York Times about the “Secret Kill List” drawn up for drone assassinations.
Democratic strategists in an election year calculate that the article will prove a vote-winner, dispelling any notion that Barack Obama is soft on terror.
The administration voices wanted to leave the impression of an involved and committed president who reads Thomas Aquinas’s theory of the “just war” in between personally vetting the kill list.
Mitt Romney dubbed Obama “Dr Strangelove” back in 2007.
It may have been a rare, perceptive insight.
A decision by the smartest man in the room is only as good as the information that he receives, and no matter how accurate the shiny new missile, if it’s aimed at the wrong person it will hit the wrong target.

The New York Times reports that Obama first embraced a policy of taking no prisoners in order to avoid the embarrassing sore of Guantánamo.
Then he accepted a method for assessing casualties that “counts all military-age males in a strike zone as combatants” unless there is explicit posthumous proof of their innocence — because they are probably “up to no good.”

The dearth of US domestic criticism is astounding.
The last time a president indulged in an illegal bombing campaign in the sovereign territory of allies (Richard Nixon in 1969, in Cambodia and Laos), the policy nearly got included in the articles of impeachment.
We should remember that history, as the Vietnamese capitalised on the backlash, helping to impose the genocidal Khmer Rouge on Cambodia, and a single-party regime that endures 40 years later in Laos.
Ultimately, Mitt Romney faces a dilemma: what must a Republican candidate do to outflank the extremism of his Democratic opponent?
The rest of us must be concerned as well: we are sleepwalking into the Drone Age, and few people are debating the dire consequences.

Outside just a few minutes ago smoking a cigarette, the faint light of the approaching day came slowly from the east,  and since it rained last night into this morning, all is a soft quiet — the birds aren’t out as yet.
The horror of the drone wars in faraway lands has a much-bigger impact here in the good-old US of A just as its citizens sleep soundly without any understanding of what these unmanned aircraft will eventually mean to them and what the future will hold.
Police enforcement has already gone over to the dark side — now normal cops are geared like a SWAT team of just a decade ago and soon these police-state antics will take a much more ominous tone when way above a drone circles watching everything and everybody.
Just remember this notion that’s tagged along with a list of ‘national security‘ laws to supposedly protect US peoples: Indeed, the US government’s dramatic increase in suspicion and contempt toward others over the last decade, combined with its accelerated violent and criminal aggression toward innocents at home and abroad, indicates a potential onset of what might even be deemed paranoid schizophrenia.

The quiet riot of the 1 percent.

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