Some days ago, a man of Pakistani descent by the name of Faisal Shahzad tried to detonate a bomb in Times Square. Shahzad was arrested, and confessed to the crime, saying that he did it in retaliation for U.S. drone attacks against Pakistan. These U.S. led drone attacks are illegal under international law and constitute an act of war against Pakistan. In fact, they have killed hundreds of Pakistani civilians and have created widespread anti-American sentiment in the country.
I analyzed the Times Square bombing here, and explained how the only way to truly stop the recruitment of terrorists against the U.S. is for us to stop bombing them over there. Unfortunately, the U.S. government decided to take another route…
Shahzad’s plot failed. Nobody was hurt; nobody was killed. But the United States decided to react in an Israeli manner, and sought to avenge the zero dead by dropping more bombs on Pakistani heads, killing civilians in the process. There’s nothing bombs can’t solve, right? Sounds like we’ve taken a page out of the terrorists’ playbook.
Here is BBC News’ heavily biased report:
US drone ‘kills 24 suspected militants’ in Pakistan
At least six unmanned drone aircraft, believed to be operated by the CIA, were in the air when the missile strikes took place early on Tuesday, a local official told the BBC.
In the first attack, they fired at least 11 missiles – two hit a vehicle, killing four, while nine landed on a compound located in a ravine, he said…
Some days ago, a drone strike on a compound in the same area killed five people and injured four.
The US has stepped up pressure on Pakistan’s government since linking a failed car bombing in New York to the Pakistani Taliban.
Drone attacks have focused on North and South Waziristan, where US officials believe many al-Qaeda and Taliban fighters find shelter.
Pakistan publicly criticises drone attacks, saying they fuel support for militants…
It is not known how many civilians have also been killed.
Is it not interesting that we know exactly how many militants died–twenty-four (not twenty or twenty-five)–but are somehow dumbstruck when it comes to how many civilians have been killed? Why can’t we report at least a roundabout number of how many civilians were killed?
By leaving out a number, the government and the mainstream media attempt to dehumanize the victims; they are a faceless, even numberless lot…not worthy of more than one line dug deep in the text of the article. Had civilians died in the Times Square bombing, the mainstream media would tell us their names, their life stories, and the families they left behind. Meanwhile, the victims of the U.S. drone attacks not only don’t get faces, they don’t even get numbers. This is truly a Herculean achievement! It used to be that they would be reported as faceless numbers; now they are both faceless and numberless. Effectively, it’s as if they never existed, effaced from the pages of time.
It may interest you to know that–as a matter of policy–the United States does not count how many civilians have been killed by the U.S. military–neither in Pakistan, Afghanistan, or Iraq. General Tommy Franks declared: “We don’t do body counts.” That’s strange. If you invaded these countries to liberate its people, wouldn’t you want to know how many of them you have killed, so you can evaluate whether or not your “liberation” is really benefiting them?
If we use previous estimates, at least one-third of those killed in these recent drone attacks were civilians, meaning at least eight people. Can you imagine the rage in American eyes if the Times Square bomber had successfully killed eight New Yorkers? We’d have bombed Pakistan “back to the Stone Ages.” But when our drones slaughter Pakistani civilians in these illegal drone attacks, we somehow expect the Pakistanis to thank us for it. And by the way, eight is based on conservative estimates. According to Pakistani sources, the number of civilians killed by U.S. drones far outnumbers the number of militants.
We must stop this back-and-forth, this tit-for-tat. We can’t retaliate by killing civilians. We simply can’t, not only if we want to stop the recruitment of terrorists, but also if we want to live up to the very ideals that this country was founded upon.
Most importantly, the question is: how many drone attacks on militants and civilians alike will quench our thirst for blood, our desire for revenge?