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U.S. avenges Times Square bombing by killing more Pakistani civilians

U.S. predator drone

U.S. predator drone

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?

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  • Elaine

    Hello again
    Sorry I was wrong, there is an article about possible unilateral military action in Pakistan, in the Dawn Newspaper. But I noticed something very intersting. The Huffington Post left this little bit out:

    “The newspaper said senior US military officials stressed a possible strike would only be considered under extreme circumstances such as a catastrophic attack that convinced President Barack Obama that the campaign using CIA drone strikes is not working.”

    This a pretty important statement that the Huffington post just happened to leave out.

  • Elaine

    The article says:
    “The military would focus on air and missile strikes but also could use small teams of U.S. Special Operations troops currently along the border with Afghanistan, the Post said.”

    They already use air and missile strikes and in the statement I notice they use the word “could” use small teams of US special operations troops. First of all it wouldn’t totally surprise me if they already do that. What I was talking about was an open full-blown presence like is in Afghanistan. But secondly I wonder if it is just pressure. The US will float around threatening statements about possible military action against Iran, but nothing has happened. Funny I don’t see anything about this in the Dawn newspaper. I’ll keep looking and we will have to wait and see.

    In an ideal world here’s what should have happened. Since Muslims around the world rightly get quite upset about the oppression the Palestinians face under the Israelis, I wonder why there is not similar outrage and support for the Afghan people as they have suffered so much oppression under the Taliban ? So when the US went in to (initially) get rid of the Taliban, (whether right or wrong) their neighbors should have said “oh you want to get rid of those guys, how can we help ?”

  • Danios

    Elaine:

    “Well they can certainly cause a lot of damage in Peshawar, and they already have. People I know there have wanted to leave since 2007, but cannot sell their homes for any reasonable price.”

    Agreed.

    “And I really don’t think that is on the table.”

    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2010/05/29/us-army-developing-pakist_n_594235.html

    Sincerely,
    Danios.

  • Elaine

    “At most they can run some backwards province in the Pashtun dominated areas, but no way can they ever take over the entire country”

    Well they can certainly cause a lot of damage in Peshawar, and they already have. People I know there have wanted to leave since 2007, but cannot sell their homes for any reasonable price.

    “It is certainly Western intervention, especially the Soviet invasion and subsequent militarization of the area”

    Yes and don’t forget the Pakistani support for the Taliban that they still cannot seem to resist.

    “So yes, an American invasion of Pakistan could indeed cause a Taliban-like force to become very powerful”

    And I really don’t think that is on the table. The Pakistanis will have to get rid of the Taliban, and if they had recognized the importance of that a long time ago things would be in a better place. So I hope you are willing to acknowledge blame in more than one place.

  • Danios

    Hey Elaine,

    Thanks for your comment. At this point in time (in the absence of any evidence to the contrary), we must consider David Rhodes statement anecdotal. Beyond the poll I referred to (and others I have seen that confirm this), there is something else. Those who know the Muslim community well know that everyone knows that the Muslims detest these foreign interventions. It is an overwhelming feeling in the Muslim masses that makes Western pontification to the contrary highly ignorant.

    As I said before, the TTP never attacked the United States prior to us attacking them. I don’t see how your point about Talibanization in the region can justify the missile strikes. Usually, under normal conditions (unless of course you are the U.S. or Israel), you are only allowed to attack in self-defense.

    With regard to Pakistan, it is simply impossible for the Taliban to ever take over there, for a variety of reasons. At most they can run some backwards province in the Pashtun dominated areas, but no way can they ever take over the entire country.

    I agree with your sentiment about not wanting Pakistan to descend into the chaos that afflicted Afghanistan. Well, what made Afghanistan what it is? It is certainly Western intervention, especially the Soviet invasion and subsequent militarization of the area. So yes, an American invasion of Pakistan could indeed cause a Taliban-like force to become very powerful. Foreign intervention is a great way to cause a surge in radical recruitment.

    Sincerely,
    Danios.

  • Elaine

    Hello Danios,
    I don’t think David Rhodes statement was necessarily anecdotal evidence. The first interview I heard was on NPR and then again on CNN. I remember that he specifically stated (but to paraphrase) that “according to a recent poll a majority of people in the tribal areas support the drone attacks.” He did not state where he got this information from, so I suppose he could just be making it up. But I also never sensed that he had any bias. He’s covered the area as a reporter for a long time and seen the horrible things that the Taliban have done. He also sees that bombing them will never work long term. What evidence do you have that he is biased and what is he biased about ?

    Actually I think you are right that if we attack the Taliban they will attack us. I think I did not read your article well enough. But I also don’t think that at this point if we were to leave Afghanistan and Pakistan everything would be ok. In Ahmed Rashid’s book “The Taliban” which he wrote it prior to 9/11 he cited a lot of evidence that even at that time the Taliban was destablizing the entire region. The increase in smuggling that occured under them, for example, was depriving Pakistan of a lot (sorry I can’t quote you numbers) of money in tariff revenue. He also gave examples of how the drug trade into Pakistan increased the corruption in their government. Drug money had never inflitrated government prior to that time. Also, he mentioned how the increase in drug trade into Iran increased many social ills.

    He also spoke of the “Talibanization” of Pakistan even at that time, which I’m sure has increased at a quicker pace because of the war in Afghanistan.

    I just don’t want to see Pakistan descend into the chaos that has aflicted Afghanistan. I would like to return there again with my husband and family and I want his family to be safe there. That’s all.

  • Danios

    Hi Elaine,

    Thanks for your comment.

    However, we cannot rely on some guy’s anecdotal experience to arrive at a conclusion. In fact, according to a recent poll, only 9% of Pakistanis (and only 6% of Pashtuns) support the drone strikes. (Source: http://english.aljazeera.net/focus/2009/08/2009888238994769.html ) This, even though they dislike the Taliban. The reason is obvious: (1) Civilians are being killed, and (2) They view it as a foreign attack, just as we would. The guy you cited, David Rohde, was kidnapped by the Taliban and hence would have a bias. And Westerners from occupying powers have a tendency to find the minority group who supports the invasion, and this is a pattern we’ve seen from the beginning of imperialism and colonialism.

    Secondly, Durenderal is an Islamophobe and incorrect in his claim that these attacks started before the drone attacks. This is the first time that the TTP has attacked on our soil, and the bomber said very clearly that it was in retaliation for the drone attacks. See: http://www.loonwatch.com/2010/05/times-square-bombing-in-retaliation-for-us-drone-attacks/

    So I disagree with you. I think it’s very simple and straightforward: we attack them, they will attack us. The desire to make it “complex” is a tactic of occupiers to obfuscate the causes behind resistance.

    Sincerely,
    Danios.

  • Elaine

    I just found this blog, which I think is very interesting and informative. But on this subject I think there is something important that you are leaving out. I just heard an interview with David Rhode; a reporter for the New York Times who was captured by the Taliban. He did say that while drone attacks are effective in the short term they will never solve the problems long term. But a very interesting point he made was that there is actually a high amount of support for these drone attacks in the tribal areas, because the ordinary people there can’t stand the Taliban.
    So, it is just not as simple as you are trying to make it seem.

    And like Durendal says these attacks were going on before the Times Square bombing attempt so these attacks were not a response to the bombing attempt.

  • http://googlemail lawrence

    i sherif:I support Palin”s point of view.The societies based on the TEN COMMANDMENTS can only produce a Just and Humane societies.WE have seen the Muslim countries based on Sharia Laws.Those laws are the reflection of 7th century Arabian society controlled by barbaric inhumane laws still practiced in countries like Saudi-Arabia where people have minimum human rights and freedom of choice,thought and expression.That is a nice prison!!!

  • iSherif

    PALIN WANTS BIBLE AS BASIS FOR US LAW:

    http://www.losangeleschronicle.com/articles/view/155143

  • iSherif
  • http://blog.yellow-stars.com eslaporte

    @Imad – 2006 Gallop survey “Islam and Democracy” most Muslims admire democracy and “freedom of speech” the most – and most Muslims hate extremism.

    QUOTE:
    A recent in-depth Gallup survey in 10 predominantly Muslim countries, representing more than 80% of the global Muslim population, shows that when asked what they admire most about the West, Muslims frequently mention political freedom, liberty, fair judicial systems, and freedom of speech. When asked to critique their own societies, extremism and inadequate adherence to Islamic teachings were their top grievances.
    However, while Muslims say they admire freedom and an open political system, Gallup surveys suggest that they do not believe they must choose between Islam and democracy, but rather, that the two can co-exist inside one functional government.

    http://www.muslimwestfacts.com/mwf/File/109489/Islam_and_Democracy.pdf

  • Durendal

    I don’t think you should see the drone attacks as a response to the Time Square bombing attempt.
    The USA has been carrying out drone attacks for years now on Taliban and Al Qaida targets in Pakistan close to the border with Afghanistan.
    It is because Taliban and Al Qaida fighters have fled Afghanistan to Pakistan and from there attempt to launch attacks in Afghanistan.
    The tribes that live in that area do not even recognize the border which is a British imperial border drawn up in some office somewhere without regard to the actual ethnic makeup on the ground.
    Tribes move across the border freely and often one tribes family members live on the other side of the border.
    What is or could be interesting if it turns out that the Pakistan government has been protecting and supporting senior Taliban and Al Qaida fighters. Certainly elements within Pakistan help the Taliban and Al Qaida forces.Pakistani society suffers from corruption and people work for whomever gives them money.
    Today it’s the Americans tomorrow it’s the Taliban and then whoever else comes along with a big bag of money it is not a trustworthy ally which is probably why you see these drone attacks in the first place.
    It’s because the US doesn’t trust that the Pakistani government will act against the Taliban and Al Qaida forces.
    Otherwise they could just inform the Pakistani’s where they think Al Qaida and Taliban fighters are and they could handle it themselves.

  • Imad

    @ danios:

    thanks for the tip, but that wasn’t my topic. It was America’s role in Afghanistan prior to 911, which is a very interesting subject. My essay (or article, If you will) was fifteen pages and took me weeks to write (the minimum was 2-3 pages). I would love to send it to you; if there is a way I can, tell me.

  • Danios

    You can strengthen your article a lot by citing Gallup poll’s results that showed that most Muslims admire the West’s freedoms, including those who are so outraged by the U.S.’s foreign policy.

  • Imad

    @ Danios:

    I’m just as outraged; I’m not pardoning America for anything. On the contrary, I used your article for a presentation of mine for history (I’m a freshman in HS) as an example of how increased military intervention backfires. My fellow students also did presentations on the war of terror, but they were all containing that “jealous of our freedom” element. I started my presentation by saying how the jealous of our freedom, along with blaming everything
    SOLEY on radical Islam, is a false mentality. I then explained the U.S. role in Afghanistan prior to 911 and
    UNOCAL Taliban relations. I would send u my essay, but
    idk how. Judging from my fellow students’ response, along with the teacher’s, my analysis was dead on.

  • Danios

    This is what I am talking about when I say “indiscriminate killing of civilians”:

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2009/jun/24/us-missile-strike-pakistan

    Bombing funerals??? Is this what we’ve come to in our War of Terror? Just IMAGINE the rage if the Taliban killed soldiers and civilians alike at the funeral of a fallen soldier.

  • Danios

    Imad:

    I addressed the illegality of the drone attacks here:

    http://www.loonwatch.com/2010/05/times-square-bombing-in-retaliation-for-us-drone-attacks/

    As for your second point–that we are not purposefully killing civilians–what difference does that make when more civilians die from our operations than those launched by the terrorists’? This is in fact the same justification that Israel comes up with (even though in their case they *do* target civilians). But even if we concede to the Israelis that they don’t target civilians (just for argument’s sake), the proportionality of civilian deaths is 10 to 1. 10 Palestinians for each Israeli killed. In our case, it’s probably eight civilians or more to zero.

    Aside from proportionality, as far as international law is concerned, indiscriminate killing is basically the same as targeting civilians. Of the dead, our drone attacks kill at least 1/3rd civilians, and probably much more. According to Pakistani sources, we kill far more civilians than militants. And even those who we classify as “militants” can include drug lords, who are NOT legitimate combatants.

    As Noam Chomsky wrote, it is only of academic interest to the victims whether or not there was intent to kill them. The fact is: they are dead. Because of us.

    And if we keep killing them, how can we expect them not to retaliate?

    Here is a good article from the Huffington Post:

    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/chris-rogers/are-drone-strikes-legal-k_b_524115.html

    And something less mild from the ACLU:

    http://www.aclu.org/files/assets/2010-4-28-ACLULettertoPresidentObama.pdf

    Sincerely,
    Danios.

  • Imad

    @ danios:

    as much as I agree with and admire ur smarts, I’m a little confused. Where does it say that these drone attacks are illegal? Not only that, but were not purposely killing civilians. But overall, I agree with u; that drone attacks aren’t going to solve nothing. Continuing these strikes is simply begging for another Faisal shazaud.

  • Ustadh

    Good points Danios. The path that we are taking as a nation in regards to solving the issue in the Frontier provinces of Pakistan and Afghanistan are quixotic. We are killing civilians which is radicalizing the populace far more. I would suggest reading Tariq Ali’s, Duel, very interesting stuff.

    Also the Pakistani government needs to be called out for their covert support of these operations.

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