Sunday, November 23, 2008

Talk of War

Reports of the latest US drone attack in Pakistan in the Washington Post read considerably more definitively than the at the BBC. Both sources identify the primary target but the BBC is more circumspect on the status of the remaining dead. The WP reports them as extremist fighters, no doubt simply repeating the Pentagon press release.

Of course extremist fighters and enemy dead can often mean civilians. Civilian dead from air strikes has a long and infamous history, of which this war is only the latest episode. For a truly grim account of US attacks on civilians in Vietnam and the subsequent cover-ups, I recommend Nick Turse's article about Operation Speedy Express in The Nation

The drone war on the Pakistan-Afghanistan border is the "bloodless war" for the United States. No American human beings are at risk, a luxury not afforded to anyone down range from the drones' gun sights. No pilots will be shot down and subjected to the unspeakable retribution of these primitive people. No, the pilots guide their craft via remote control from Nevada. A while back I read an article about the pilots working in a war zone and living in Nevada that raised questions about the kind of post-traumatic stress reactions likely from this kind of duty.

Which brings me back to my on post traumatic stress, my constant urge to scream at my fellow Americans, "DON'T YOU KNOW THERE'S A FUCKING WAR GOING ON!" The urge seems to be growing these days, probably a combination of the new administration and the likelihood of little real change in American policy. Late November and early December are also the dates that recall my own transition into Vietnam so I'm probably that much more aware of war and its consequences these days.

Of local note, the 81st Brigade of the Washington National Guard is now deployed in Iraq (second tour) and one of the 2nd Infantry's Stryker Brigades is preparing to deploy from Fort Lewis for its second tour.

Yeah, there's a fucking war on. And it's not all bloodless drones.

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