Saturday, February 27, 2010

Maybe. Maybe Not.

But US drone attacks only kill bad guys and negligible people.
The senior administration official said that the strikes produced few civilian casualties. "If there are Predator operations in Pakistan," the official said, "I would argue that the collateral damage is negligible at most, and that the reports of intensified damage are a myth, and that the Pakistanis would recognize how negligible they are and are very pleased with that precision that is taking place, which then encourages them to allow said Predator operations, if they existed, to continue with even greater momentum and pace."

The evidence for this confidence? The speaker's belief. He "would argue." Based on what? Nothing tells me why I should accept his assertion of precision attack. I can agree that this nation's ability to remotely kill its enemies is quite a technological feat. I know that exaggerating civilian casualties is a propaganda tactic but so is minimizing them. My government has lied and distorted information often about these same topics. Its pronouncements are only as good as the evidence warrants. The quoted statement offers none.

All this is, of course, a luxury. I writing and you reading this are alive with the many options life brings. But the negligible dead are still dead, their lives forfeit simply because they were in the way when the gunfire broke out. In their name, survivors will seek retribution and atonement.

Our "precision" attacks are simply the modern (and far more numerous) version of a gangland hit. Only now the setting is Afghanistan, not the streets of Chicago.


Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Mind Games

"This is all a war of perceptions," McChrystal said. "This is not a physical war in terms of how many people you kill or how much ground you capture, how many bridges you blow up. This is all in the minds of the participants."

General Stanley McChrystal on the nature of war in Afghanistan.

But the mines, bullets and deaths are real and long remembered.