Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Fighting The Terrorists By Terrorizing The Innocent

Something I read:
In the United States, the dominant narrative about the use of drones in Pakistan is of a surgically precise and effective tool that makes the US safer by enabling “targeted killing” of terrorists, with minimal downsides or collateral impacts.

This narrative is false.
These are the first words of a devastating report I’ve just read, “Living Under Drones: Death, Injury, and Trauma to Civilians from US Drone Practices in Pakistan”.

This thing is required reading.

This isn’t some half-assed, crazed droolings of some hippy-dippy Lefty twerp who ought to get a bath and a haircut: This was written by Stanford and New York University lawyers—and it shows. It’s clearly and devastatingly written, with the facts, testimony and evidence so scrupulously laid out that it’s almost like the brief for the prosecution of the war crimes trial that we can only pray will one day take place.

Consider this:
Drones hover twenty-four hours a day over communities in northwest Pakistan, striking homes, vehicles, and public spaces without warning. Their presence terrorizes men, women, and children, giving rise to anxiety and psychological trauma among civilian communities. Those living under drones have to face the constant worry that a deadly strike may be fired at any moment, and the knowledge that they are powerless to protect themselves. These fears have affected behavior. The US practice of striking one area multiple times, and evidence that it has killed rescuers, makes both community members and humanitarian workers afraid or unwilling to assist injured victims.
The bold emphasis is mine. I highlighted it because it reminded me of a tactic that terrorists are famous for using: Plant a bomb and kill some people, and when the ambulance, police and rescuers arrive, set off a second bomb so as to kill even more people.

I’m still processing this report, but the questions that immediately come to mind—jumbled, confused, unsystematic, irrational, yet crucial just the same—are myriad:

• How much courage does it take to kill innocent people by remote control?

• What can be gained by murdering women and children who have never done anyone any harm?

• What happens to a cause or country that achieves “victory” by terrorizing innocent human beings?

• How can the people who carry out such evil possibly live with themselves?

• How can anyone with any sense of decency follow the leadership of men and women who would knowingly commit such atrocious and despicable acts?

Notice those questions: They are the questions people ask of terrorists who commit murder for the sake of their cause—

—but they are also now the questions any humane, decent person must ask of the United States.

Because the United States is now the greatest terrorist agent in the world.

How do I know that the U.S. is now a terrorist state? Do I know because it has killed more innocent people in the last twelve months than all other “terrorists” in the world combined?

No. Terrorism isn’t a matter of numbers—it’s a matter of fear: Putting terror—blinding, relentless fear—into the hearts and souls of people who have done nothing wrong. As in the words of this Pakistani boy:
“We cannot figure out when a drone will strike—they may strike in two days, three days, ten days, or a month—but they are always there.”
That is how I know that America has become a terrorist state.

The question for any and every American citizen is: Will you stand up and fight a government which—in your name—is terrorizing innocent people?

Or will you acquiesce to this evil.