Friday, May 16, 2008

It's Like Shooting Fish In A Barrel

Please hold your applause. The success of my recent prediction is not worthy of being celebrated.

Late last month when discussing the seemingly brightening prospects for peace in Pakistan, I wrote:
If ever there were a situation where a drone needed to drop a bomb to kick-restart a nasty little war, this would seem to be it.
Making the prediction was simplicity in itself -- like shooting fish in a barrel. Unfortunately that's just about how hard it is for long-range Americans with remote-controlled drones to bomb defenseless Pakistani people.

As Chris Floyd reports:
On Wednesday, missiles from an American drone destroyed a house in the Pakistani village of Damadola, killing at least 15 people, with women and children reportedly among the dead.
Think about that for a moment. How extraordinary! If a Pakistani plane dropped a bomb on an American home, we would consider it an act of war, even if fewer than 15 people were killed, and even if the Pakistanis claimed that every one of the victims was a bona fide Bad Guy.

So: How big a story is this? The United States has committed an act of war against its number one Asian ally in the Global War On Terror! It's a crime of monumental proportions, isn't it?

Ha! Unfortunately, and typically, it's even worse than it first appears. Chris Floyd again:
The ostensible target was a gathering of Taliban fighters, who control the surrounding area in this border region with Afghanistan.

But the real target of the attack, no doubt, was the peace process now underway between the local militants and the new Pakistani government. As AP notes:
The explosions came as Pakistani authorities and Taliban militants exchanged dozens of prisoners in the latest step in a peace process that is stirring growing alarm in the West. NATO claims [that] militant incursions into Afghanistan have increased.
This is a familiar pattern of the worldwide Terror War launched by the Bush Administration. We saw it a few weeks ago in Somalia, when national unity talks between the government and insurgents were disrupted at a delicate stage by the "targeted assassination" of a rebel leader (and the usual assorted civilians) by U.S. missiles.
If a Pakistani plane dropped a bomb on an American residence -- just once -- ever -- our pundits would be clamoring for endless retribution -- against Pakistan, or maybe against the entire Muslim world. Dozens of fat former generals would be showing up on television talking about how easily we could pulverize Pakistan, and how fun and interesting it would be to do so, and how Pakistan's most recent actions were so provocative that a war against Pakistan was now almost certainly inevitable. Within weeks Islamabad would be a pile of smoking, bleeding rubble. Just because of one attack.

But the shoe is on the other foot and it's not just one attack, but part of a pattern. A pattern with a long, broad, deep pedigree: America doesn't like foreigners very much, but it likes 'em better when they're at war -- with one another!

The border area between Pakistan and Afghanistan has been unstable -- in the midst of largely undeclared warfare -- for nearly 30 years, ever since America's foreign policy establishment thought it would be a good idea to get some Islamic terrorism going in Afghanistan in the hopes of luring the Soviets into invading.

More recently, American drones have bombed "the tribal areas" of Pakistan prior to this assault, and the Pakistani government has looked away. It's no wonder they're considered such good allies: they don't know anything about it. Just like the American media.

And when we find Muslims (including Pakistanis) who are angry at the USA, or who mean our country harm, what do we say then?

It seems to me we have two choices:

We can say they hate us for our freedoms, and then we might get on TV.

Or else we can say they hate us for our foreign policy, which is why they attacked us on 9/11, and then even though we won't be on TV, we might get some play on the internet.

Or ... or ... if we're completely something or other, we can take the third choice, the one not listed, none of the above: we can say they hate us for our foreign policy, and that's why the official story of 9/11 is somewhat plausible, or at least it would have been plausible if not for the mountains of evidence contradicting it ... but then we won't be taken seriously anywhere.

Ahhh, the national discourse. It's a good thing not to be part of.

I wish we could say the same about this endless, borderless, pointless war. But we can't. We're all in it. We're complicit in waging it, and we're victims of it too -- all at the same time. Every day that it goes on, it drains away our future, and our children's future. Even if we haven't lost friends or family to the military effort, we are still big losers, because our mute acceptance of this monstrous crime makes us all criminals, and every day that it continues, we all move a little farther along the road to Hell.

And even now, with this stupid omnivorous thing raging for more than six years, simply wanting to talk about it is considered impolite.

But is it considered impolite to remotely drop a bomb on a house thousands of miles away and kill 15 people?

Of course not! It's just like shooting fish in a barrel!