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Drones and Apologies

By Robert Fantina | Aletho News | April 28, 2015

The United States government seems extremely proud of its ability to kill people without endangering the lives of the killers. Today they can sit in a comfortable office and, videogame-like, assassinate people thousands of miles away, without the risk of being shot down. In the past, pilots would at least see the explosion, and possibly see burned victims running from the scene, but such unpleasantness is no longer a necessary part of the mass murder called war.

At least 5,000 people have been killed by U.S. drone strikes in the last ten years or so. Estimates of the number of ‘terrorists’ (whatever that means) who have been killed range from a few hundred to a few thousand. The rest are what is commonly known as ‘collateral damage’. Such a pleasant, innocuous term! Objects get damaged in a variety of ways; one might drop a dish when washing it, or perhaps dent their car when getting into a tight parking spot. Collateral damage, to be sure, but really nothing more than an inconvenience.

In U.S. parlance, ‘collateral damage’ means innocent people being killed when the U.S. wanted to kill some intended victim; the others, the ‘collateral damage’, were merely in the wrong place at the wrong time. But, U.S. government officials claim, every effort is made to reduce such ‘damage’. This is probably not all that comforting to the loved ones of innocent people who were merely trying to go to work, school or the store, and who were blown to bits as the U.S. targeted some ‘terrorist’.

As long as we’re discussing the elusive concept of terrorism, let’s try to determine what it means. One definition that is occasionally bandied about is anyone who threatens the national security of the United States. So, someone in Pakistan who, perhaps, has been the victim of U.S. oppression, and has very limited resources to cause any damage whatsoever, is targeted, possibly by some CIA (Central Intelligence Agency; now if one wants to discuss international terrorism, that would be a good place to start) informant. So, once identified and placed on President Barack Obama’s kill list, the drone strike is ready. The victim may be assassinated, and if others happen to die also, well, what’s a little collateral damage among friends?

Mr. Obama broke precedent on April 23, when he admitted that two hostages, Dr. Warren Weinstein and Mr. Giovanni Lo Porto were killed in a drone strike, and issued an apology. Said Mr. Obama: “I take full responsibility for our counter-terrorism operations. In the fog of war… mistakes, sometimes deadly mistakes, can occur… I profoundly regret what happened. On behalf of the US government, I offer our deepest apologies to the families.”

Now, Dr. Weinstein was from the U.S., and Mr. Lo Porto from Italy. Mr. Obama ‘profoundly’ regrets their deaths. Their deaths were the result of a ‘deadly mistake’, which can, he says, occur in the ‘fog of war’.

Let us take just a moment to look at some components of the president’s statement. What war, one wants to know, is being waged? An ill-defined ‘war on terror’ does not answer the question. Fighting so-called terror with genuine terror does not constitute a war; it constitutes terrorism.

More importantly, why has Mr. Obama been mainly silent when at least hundreds, and probably thousands of innocent men, women and children have been killed by drone strikes? Does he not ‘profoundly regret’ those horrific deaths, and the abject suffering their deaths inflicted on their loved ones?

Mr. Obama wasted no time once he became president to start killing people. In 2009, in what is thought to be his first authorized drone strike in Yemen, 14 women and 21 children were killed. Of these thirty-five people, one was suspected of having some connection to al-Qaeda. Where were the sympathetic comments of U.S. spokespeople regarding the other thirty-four? Or were they, perhaps, not considered, because they were probably Muslim, and certainly Yemeni, and therefore not of the same intrinsic value as an Italian citizen, and certainly not on a par with a citizen of that most superior society, the U.S.

The U.S. deems as ‘terrorist’ any individual or group that doesn’t toe its racist, imperial line. And it assigns that designation somewhat arbitrarily. In March, the Obama administration said that Venezuela represented an “unusual and extraordinary threat to the national security and foreign policy of the United States”. This occurred six days after Venezuela put the names of former U.S. president George Bush and his vice-president, Dick Cheney, on a list of U.S. citizens ineligible to visit Venezuela. President Nicolas Maduro said that “We will prohibit visas for individuals who want to come to Venezuela who have violated human rights….” What ‘unusual and extraordinary threat to the national security and foreign policy of the United States’ this move represented was never clarified.

This complex web of circumstances constitutes a significant part of U.S. foreign policy. The U.S. can designate any individual, group or country a terrorist, simply because it wishes to do so. It assigns itself the roles of judge, jury and, with drone strikes, executioner. Those who get in the way are mourned if they are from the West, but dismissed as collateral damage if from the East. And then the U.S. accuses other nations of violating international law, as if it is somehow exempt from such trivialities.

The U.S. uses drones to perpetrate unspeakable terror on Third World countries, all in the sacred name of protecting U.S. interests. That those interests always have more to do with corporate profits than with human rights is a given, proven by history and reinforced by all credible documentation today. The myth of the U.S. as a beacon of peace and liberty, supporting the basic human dignity of the downtrodden, is a fairy tale believed in few places beyond U.S. borders. And innocent people around the world continue to pay with their lives for the violence that is so much a part of U.S. imperialism.

April 28, 2015 - Posted by | War Crimes | , , ,

2 Comments »

  1. Reblogged this on SHAREverything.com and commented:
    “The United States government seems extremely proud of its ability to kill people without endangering the lives of the killers. Today they can sit in a comfortable office and, videogame-like, assassinate people thousands of miles away, without the risk of being shot down. In the past, pilots would at least see the explosion, and possibly see burned victims running from the scene, but such unpleasantness is no longer a necessary part of the mass murder called war.”

    Like

    Comment by Rasha B. Foda | April 28, 2015 | Reply

  2. We the people… that all men are created equal…

    Like

    Comment by Jerry "Peacemaker" | April 29, 2015 | Reply


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