by Brian Irving
Just the other day, Defense Secretary Leon Panetta said the U.S. war in Afghanistan is “succeeding” and “has turned an important corner.”
Chicago Tribute columnist Steve Chapman had the same reaction I did, “Where have I heard that before?”
Oh yes, could it have been in 2003, when Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld boasted, “We clearly have moved from major combat activity to a period of stability. … The bulk of this country today is permissive, it’s secure.”
Chapman notes that four years later, Rummy pronounced Afghanistan “a big success,” and then in 2011, Defense Secretary Robert Gates assured us the U.S. effort was “succeeding.”
“There is a term for a war that is always ’succeeding’ but never concluding: a failure. But Barack Obama has followed the custom of George W. Bush in pretending otherwise,” Chapman writes.
Another myth being perpetrated by the Obama Administration is the narrative that the use of drones is a “surgically precise and effective tool” that kills bad guys with minimal “collateral impacts,” meaning killing innocents.
A joint report Living Under Drones by the New York University School of Law’s Global Justice Clinic and Stanford Law School’s International Human Rights and Conflict Resolution Clinic exposes this lie.
The use of drones to kill suspected terrorists in Pakistan is by definition itself an act of terrorism.
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.
Sheldon Richman of the Future of Freedom Foundation notes that the report also finds that the drone strikes killed 2,563-3,325 people in Pakistan from June 2004 through mid-September 2012, of whom 474-881 were civilians, including 176 children.
Incredibly, President Obama continues to deny the strikes kill civilians, even in the light of the U.S. tactic to make multiple drone strikes in one area that result in rescuers being killed.
Terrorist suicide bombers do the same thing, and we’re outraged by it. Why are we not outraged by this misuse of American military might?
“The Obama administration denies that it has killed civilians, but bear in mind that it considers any male of military age a ‘militant,’ Richman writes.
This is also an eerily and disturbingly familiar assertion, like the “body counts” of the Viet Nam war.