The U.S. refuses to acknowledge the drone strikes publicly, but officials have said privately that they have killed several senior Taliban and al-Qaida leaders.
Yes, unnamed American officials have said "privately" -- to every dutiful, genuflecting media outlet in the Western world -- that the drone attacks have "killed several senior Taliban and al-Qaida leaders." That's what they say -- so that is all that the story says. There is not one word about the many studies and reports by international observers, top American officials and independent organizations in Pakistan about the vast number of civilians who have been killed in Obama's drone war. As Tariq Ali notes in his latest piece about Pakistan's current death spiral into extremism and chaos:
Can it get worse? Yes. And on every front. Take the Af-Pak war. Few now would dispute that its escalation has further destabilised Pakistan, increasing the flow of recruits to suicide bomber command. The CIA's New Year message to Pakistan consisted of three drone attacks in North Waziristan, killing 19 people. There were 116 drone strikes in 2010, double the number ordered in the first year of the Obama presidency. Serious Pakistani newspapers, Dawn and the News, claim that 98 per cent of those killed in the strikes over the last five years " the number of deaths is estimated to be between two and three thousand " were civilians, a percentage endorsed by David Kilcullen, a former senior adviser to General Petraeus. The Brookings Institution gives a grim ratio of one militant killed for every ten civilians. The drones are operated by the CIA, which isn't subject to military rules of engagement, with the result that drones are often used for revenge attacks, notably after the sensational Khost bombing of a CIA post in December 2009.
That's right: even a "senior adviser" to the sainted General David Petraeus admits that 98 percent of
the people being killed by Obama's drones are civilians. Two to three
thousand innocent people murdered -- in cold blood, in an instant,
without warning, without any defense, not shriving time allowed, sent
down into death and darkness at the order of the man evoking those "rain
puddles in heaven" as he exhorts us to "be worthy" of those killed in
And still the story is not finished pushing the imperial line. It ends with yet more savvy analysis of the big picture, the grand strategic games that are so much more important than the stolen lives and mangled bodies of unidentified villagers:
Washington has pushed Pakistan to launch an operation in North Waziristan, but the government has so far refused. The Pakistani army says its soldiers are stretched too thin by military operations against Islamist militias in other tribal area.But many analysts believe the army is reluctant to cross militant groups with which it has historical ties, such as the Haqqani network, who could be useful allies in Afghanistan after foreign troops withdraw.
Terrible, isn't it? Those treacherous Pakistanis are truculently
refusing to launch a massive war on their own people to ease the
pressure on America's interminable war-profiteering operation in
neighboring Afghanistan. And this ungrateful refusal of great Caesar's
reasonable request stems not from any concern on the part of Pakistani
officials that launching a vicious civil war would tear their fraying
country -- still recovering from one of the greatest natural disasters
in modern history -- to pieces, or even from a simple reluctance to
slaughter tens of thousands of their fellow citizens. No; according to
AP -- or rather, according to the anonymous "many analysts" who provide
the sole, unsourced, unsupported viewpoint given voice on the matter --
the only reason that Pakistan is reluctant to destroy itself on
Washington's orders is a desire to play games in a post-war
In fact, even as Obama was making "one of the greatest speeches ever given by any sitting president" and "calling all of us to realize a larger purpose," his vice president, Joe Biden, was touring the imperial frontier, warning the Pakistanis that America's patience is growing thin over their continuing failure to instigate a civil war, and hinting darkly the Empire "would not wait indefinitely" for this act of national suicide, but may be 'forced' to start carving up the country itself.
Biden then moved on to Iraq, to discuss "the issue of whether to keep some U.S. forces in Iraq beyond the Dec. 31 deadline" for withdrawing all American forces from Iraq. (Except for the thousands and thousands of soldiers and mercenaries needed to guard the American fortress city in the midst of Baghdad, of course.) The Americans say they will stay only if the Iraqis need them; and Iraq's top military commander recently said that the American military guests should stay at least until 2020.
Four people murdered. A civil war -- with with the genuine potential for national dissolution and even nuclear war behind it -- fomented, encouraged, demanded. The extension of one of the greatest war crimes since WWII -- the senseless slaugher of a million innocent people and the destruction of an entire society -- "discussed" with toadies who owe their power to the aggressor. All this, while Obama asks us to "sharpen our instincts for empathy."
"Sharpen your instincts for empathy." That is what the words say. But the actions say something else altogether: "Close your hearts to pity."
NOTE: While finishing this piece, I ran across Arthur Silber's latest essay, which deals more deeply, broadly and eloquently with this same theme. I urge you to read it in full right away.
UPDATE (Jan 14): The indefatigable Jason Ditz at Antiwar.com brings word of yet another murder spree in the border areas of Pakistan. Even as the warm glow of Obama's Tucson speech spread over the political establishment (see Arthur Silber's scathing assessment of this development), mortar fire from American-occupied Afghanistan killed eight more human beings: five men and three women. As Ditz reports:
Pakistani officials report that a barrage of mortars was fired from across the Afghan border, likely from either NATO troops or Afghan military forces, and destroyed a home in the North Waziristan Agency, killing eight people.
The attack comes just a day after Vice President Joe Biden's visit to Pakistan, during which he warned that his patience was "wearing thin" with the government for not having invaded North Waziristan yet. NATO has yet to confirm that it was their attack, but promised an investigation.
As with the mystery of who launched the attack, the identities of the victims are unclear as well, with Pakistani officials describing them only as five men and three women and reporting no indications of any militant connections, beyond living in a tribal area that the US wants attacked for being a militant hotbed.