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Defenders of Drones: Is this Child Dead Enough?

Dead Afghan Boy

Drone victim: Naeemullah, Afghan child.

“The death of one man is a tragedy, the death of millions is a statistic.”

The above quote is often attributed to Joseph Stalin, and though there is some doubt about its origin, in this simple statement is a clue to the curious nature of human empathy. It isn’t so hard to ignore the pain and death, even on a colossal scale, of those who are faceless and nameless, out of sight in faraway lands.

Who among us cries for little Naeemullah? Who remembers him when debating the cold calculus of the so-called “War on Terror”?

Drones are heartless, and the much-touted myths of magic “surgical strikes” comprise nothing more than a soothing lie. Drones unleash hell, blasting chunks of burning metal into the flesh of other people’s children. Drone strikes are terrorism, rationally defined.

That’s the undeniable reality, and we in the US should not look away from the horrors that are perpetrated in our name.

Dead Enough: The Reality of the “Lesser Evil”

by Chris Floyd, Empire Burlesque

To all those now hailing the re-election of Barack Obama as a triumph of decent, humane, liberal values over the oozing-postule perfidy of the Republicans, a simple question:

Is this child dead enough for you?

This little boy was named Naeemullah. He was in his house — maybe playing, maybe sleeping, maybe having a meal — when an American drone missile was fired into the residential area where he lived and blew up the house next door.

As we all know, these drone missiles are, like the president who wields them, super-smart, a triumph of technology and technocratic expertise. We know, for the president and his aides have repeatedly told us, that these weapons — launched only after careful consultation of the just-war strictures of St. Augustine and St. Thomas Aquinas — strike nothing but their intended targets and kill no one but “bad guys.” Indeed, the president’s top aides have testified under oath that not a single innocent person has been among the thousands of Pakistani civilians — that is, civilians of a sovereign nation that is not at war with the United States — who have been killed by the drone missile campaign of the Nobel Peace Prize Laureate.

Yet somehow, by some miracle, the missile that roared into the residential area where Naeemullah lived did not confine itself neatly to the house it struck. Somehow, inexplicably, the hunk of metal and wire and computer processors failed — in this one instance — to look into the souls of all the people in the village and ascertain, by magic, which ones were “bad guys” and then kill only them. Somehow — perhaps the missile had been infected with Romney cooties? — this supercharged hunk of high explosives simply, well, exploded with tremendous destructive power when it struck the residential area, blowing the neighborhood to smithereens.

As Wired reports, shrapnel and debris went flying through the walls of Naeemullah’s house and ripped through his small body. When the attack was over — when the buzzing drone sent with Augustinian wisdom by the Peace Laureate was no longer lurking over the village, shadowing the lives of every defenseless inhabitant with the terrorist threat of imminent death, Naeemullah was taken to the hospital in a nearby town.

This is where the picture of above was taken by Noor Behram, a resident of North Waziristan who has been chronicling the effects of the Peace Laureate’s drone war. When the picture was taken, Naeemullah was dying. He died an hour later.

He died.

Is he dead enough for you?

Dead enough not to disturb your victory dance in any way? Dead enough not to trouble the inauguration parties yet to come? Dead enough not to diminish, even a little bit, your exultant glee at the fact that this great man, a figure of integrity, decency, honor and compassion, will be able to continue his noble leadership of the best nation in the history of the world?

Do you have children? Do they sit your house playing happily? Do they sleep sweetly scrunched up in their warm beds at night? Do they chatter and prattle like funny little birds as you eat with them at the family table? Do you love them? Do you treasure them? Do you consider them fully-fledged human beings, beloved souls of infinite worth?

How would you feel if you saw them ripped to shreds by flying shrapnel, in your own house? How would you feel as you rushed them to the hospital, praying every step of the way that another missile won’t hurl down on you from the sky? Your child was innocent, you had done nothing, were simply living your life in your own house — and someone thousands of miles away, in a country you had never seen, had no dealings with, had never harmed in any way, pushed a button and sent chunks of burning metal into your child’s body. How would you feel as you watched him die, watched all your hopes and dreams for him, all the hours and days and years you would have to love him, fade away into oblivion, lost forever?

What would you think about the one who did this to your child? Would you say: “What a noble man of integrity and decency! I’m sure he is acting for the best.”

Would you say: “Well, this is a bit unfortunate, but it’s perfectly understandable. The Chinese government (or Iran or al Qaeda or North Korea or Russia, etc. etc.) believed there was someone next door to me who might possibly at some point in time pose some kind of threat in some unspecified way to their people or their political agenda — or maybe it was just that my next-door neighbor behaved in a certain arbitrarily chosen way that indicated to people watching him on a computer screen thousands of miles away that he might possibly be the sort of person who might conceivably at some point in time pose some kind of unspecified threat to the Chinese (Iranians/Russians, etc.), even though they had no earthly idea who my neighbour is or what he does or believes or intends. I think the person in charge of such a program is a good, wise, decent man that any person would be proud to support. Why, I think I’ll ask him to come speak at my little boy’s funeral!”

Is that what you would say if shrapnel from a missile blew into your comfortable house and killed your own beloved little boy? You would not only accept, understand, forgive, shrug it off, move on — you would actively support the person who did it, you would cheer his personal triumphs and sneer at all those who questioned his moral worthiness and good intentions? Is that really what you would do?

Well, that is what you are doing when you shrug off the murder of little Naeemullah. You are saying he is not worth as much as your child. You are saying he is not a fully-fledged human being, a beloved soul of infinite worth. You are saying that you support his death, you are happy about it, and you want to see many more like it. You are saying it doesn’t matter if this child — or a hundred like him, or a thousand like him, or, as in the Iraqi sanctions of the old liberal lion, Bill Clinton, five hundred thousand children like Naeemullah — are killed in your name, by leaders you cheer and support. You are saying that the only thing that matters is that someone from your side is in charge of killing these children. This is the reality of “lesser evilism.”

Read the rest here...

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  • Ilisha

    @CriticalDragon

    Thank you for the link. A fascinating thought experiment that I think gets right to the heart of the problem. Partisan double standards.

    It seems a similar dynamic is in play when people see their violence as “good” and other people’s violence as “bad” when in truth, there is little or no difference from a purely rational standpoint.

  • http://www.youtube.com/user/GargamelGold?feature=mhee CriticalDragon1177

    @Ilisha,

    I understand, and I don’t blame you for not voting. I just couldn’t bring myself not to vote against Romney and I had some genuine hope that Obama would be much better in his second term. Looks like I was wrong.

    Thanks for links by the way, and I agree, people won’t stop protesting the drone strikes until they stop accepting the propaganda. Hopefully stuff like that will go a long way towards getting enough people to see the light to make a difference. Unfortunately I have my doubts, look how these Obama supporters condemn Obama’s positions when they thought they were things Mitt Romney advocated and than quickly turned around made excuses once they realized they were things Obama had actually done.

    Political Ignorance and Partisan Thinking
    http://freethoughtblogs.com/dispatches/2012/11/08/political-ignorance-and-partisan-thinking/

  • Ilisha

    @CriticalDragon

    I don’t think people will protest drones until they get past the propaganda that says somehow, by slaughtering people endlessly in other lands, we secure our own safety.

    I don’t vote for either candidate because I don’t want the blood on my hands. Almost half of eligible voters don’t vote. Isn’t that a message in itself? We are disenfranchised, many of us.

    Anyway, those who think drones reduce terrorism and hatred toward the US are ignoring the facts. Everywhere the US intervenes, there is more terror, both by the US itself, and in response. The facts speak for themselves:

    Afghanistan, Pakistan,Iraq lead terrorist attack statistics-report
    http://afpak.foreignpolicy.com/posts/2012/12/04/afghanistan_pakistan_iraq_lead_terrorist_attack_statistics_report

    Arguably, the US has not enjoyed a decisive military victory since WWII, yet the paper tiger still insists militarism is the answer. To me, this is illogical, and should be relentlessly challenged.

    The Hollow Empire
    http://original.antiwar.com/justin/2012/09/23/the-hollow-empire/

  • http://www.youtube.com/user/GargamelGold?feature=mhee CriticalDragon1177

    @Ilisha

    The problem with not voting for either Romney or Obama, was that unfortunately there really wasn’t a viable alternative that was better. Most of the third party candidates, the average American hadn’t even heard of. Plus the fact that many of the third parties combine many of the really unpopular positions of both parties is bound to make them unpopular.

    If only more people were protesting the drone strikes we might be able to get somewhere when it comes to stopping this.

  • Xithurel

    Didn’t Obama say something about Travon Martin? That 16 year old who got shot for wearing a hood and carrying skittles?

    ” If I had a son, chances are he would look like Travon Martin ”

    Well here’s a son you murdered Obama – where’s that conscience of yours for his father?

    I’m still waiting for ONE American with the balls to ask that question right to this mans face.

  • Delberto

    We’d rather not say it but we would rather leave them nameless and faceless. I’m worried these jornos will be treated like AlJazeera was under Dick Rumsfeld Bush.

  • Crow

    Kill them with smsll pox laden blankets, kill them with drones, just the “christian” wests way of killing “others” and feel that blood isnt dripping from their hands. I cant see them, therefore the innocent clearly are not suffering, now leave me alone , Ive got a dinner party to go to.

  • mindy1

    Oh how sad for that baby :’( :( people can debate all day and night, but until there is peace sad things like this will hapen :(

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