Democrats' hypocrisy in our sick & violent decade -- Harpers: Eye of the Drone

Latest: Drone blitz on Pakistan enters third straight day | World news | guardian.co.uk - up to 27 people dead in strikes that began on Saturday. The US has jeopardized its Afghanistan campaign by refusing to apologize for the November 2011 cross-border 'friendly fire' incident which killed 24 Pakistani soldiers. (Also: Drone wars and state secrecy – how Barack Obama became a hardliner | World news | The Observer)

We are sleepwalking into the Drone Age, unaware of the consequences:

Then, three days later, the CIA announced that it had eliminated "four militants". In truth there were only two victims: Tariq had been driving his 12-year-old cousin to their aunt's house when the Hellfire missile killed them both. This came just 24 hours after the CIA boasted of eliminating six other "militants" – actually, four chromite workers driving home from work. In both cases a local informant apparently tagged the car with a GPS monitor and lied to earn his fee.

Sounds familiar...

Yemen sets sail for fail: U.S. drone targets in Yemen raise questions - The Washington Post -- killing people that have not even a trace of evidence of any plot against the United States. But perhaps in the aftermath their relatives will...

The appalling news of the Obama Kill List -- reminiscent of LBJ's riffling through aerial photographs to select bombing targets in Vietnam, the archetypal example of losing any control over strategy for the addiction to powerful, violent tactics -- has disturbed many but also illustrated the sick hypocrisy of the mainstream 'left' in our country. If Cheney and the gang were up to this, they would be up in arms, but now you don't get a peep. Shocked I tell you.

I sent all kinds of tweets last weekend to press and attendees at the 2012 DFL State Convention to see if I could get any responses about the drone kill list, and none of these jokers had the gumption to even answer me. No one's touching kill lists this year with a ten foot pole. However I did net a few mainstream liberal twitter followers, silent and cowardly on the important issues they may be.

See also a bunch of shilling, summarized: The Media on Obama’s ‘Kill List’ | The Dissenter

As usual, the tactic itself is of course destined to backfire and create generational-scale hatred of our country. This is one of those "doomed to repeat it" things the military-industrial complex is so goddamned good at -- it's almost like their business model depends on perpetual violence. Clever heads are recognizing this: It may seem painless, but drone war in Afghanistan is destroying the West's reputation - Telegraph (UK)

Supporters of drones – and they make up practically the entire respectable political establishment in Britain and the US – argue that they are indispensable in the fight against al-Qaeda. But plenty of very experienced voices have expressed profound qualms. The former army officer David Kilcullen, one of the architects of the 2007 Iraqi surge, has warned that drone attacks create more extremists than they eliminate. Sir Sherard Cowper-Coles, Britain’s former special representative to Afghanistan and Pakistan, is equally adamant that drone attacks are horribly counter-productive because of the hatred they have started to generate: according to a recent poll, more than two thirds of Pakistanis regard the United States as an enemy. Britain used to be popular and respected in this part of the world for our wisdom and decency. Now, thanks to our refusal to challenge American military doctrine, we are hated, too.

Anyway I wanted to share the full text of Eye of the drone (Harper's Magazine) because it's one of those pieces which ought to reach through the shells of indifference to state violence we all build up - it cuts right to the sick nature of the decade we live in.

Thanks to Harper's for getting this piece out there -- for those that died and were deemed terrorists for their proximity to targets, "up to no good" because they gathered in their own communities to work on their problems.

From statements made in February by the families of victims and survivors of a March 17, 2011, drone attack in the village of Datta Khel in the Pakistani region of North Waziristan. The statements were collected by the British human rights group Reprieve and were included in their lawsuit challenging the legal right of the British government to aid the United States in its drone campaign. More than half of all deaths from U.S. drone attacks in Pakistan have occurred in North Waziristan. Translated from the Pashto.

I am approximately forty-six years old, though I do not know the exact date of my birth. I am a malice of my tribe, meaning that I am a man of responsibility among my people. One of my brother’s sons, Din Mohammed, whom I was very fond of, was killed by a drone missile on March 17, 2011. He was one of about forty people who died in this strike. Din Mohammed was twenty-five years old when he died. These men were gathered together for a jirga, a gathering of tribal elders to solve disputes. This particular jirga was to solve a disagreement over chromite, a mineral mined in Waziristan. My nephew was attending the jirga because he was involved in the transport and sale of this mineral. My brother, Din Mohammed’s father, arrived at the scene of the strike shortly following the attack. He saw death all around him, and then he found his own son. My brother had to bring his son back home in pieces. That was all that remained of Din Mohammed.

I saw my father about three hours before the drone strike killed him. News of the strike didn’t reach me until later, and I arrived at the location in the evening. When I got off the bus near the bazaar, I immediately saw flames in and around the station. The fires burned for two days straight. I went to where the jirga had been held. There were still people lying around injured. The tribal elders who had been killed could not be identified because there were body parts strewn about. The smell was awful. I just collected the pieces of flesh that I believed belonged to my father and placed them in a small coffin.

The sudden loss of so many elders and leaders in my community has had a tremendous impact. Everyone is now afraid to gather together to hold jirgas and solve our problems. Even if we want to come together to protest the illegal drone strikes, we fear that meeting to discuss how to peacefully protest will put us at risk of being killed by drones.

The first time I saw a drone in the sky was about eight years ago, when I was thirteen. I have counted six or seven drone strikes in my village since the beginning of 2012. There were sixty or seventy primary schools in and around my village, but only a few remain today. Few children attend school because they fear for their lives walking to and from their homes. I am mostly illiterate. I stopped going to school because we were all very afraid that we would be killed. I am twenty-one years old. My time has passed. I cannot learn how to read or write so that I can better my life. But I very much wish my children to grow up without these killer drones hovering above, so that they may get the education and life I was denied.

The men who died in this strike were our leaders; the ones we turned to for all forms of support. We always knew that drone strikes were wrong, that they encroached on Pakistan’s sovereign territory. We knew that innocent civilians had been killed. However, we did not realize how callous and cruel it could be. The community is now plagued with fear. The tribal elders are afraid to gather together in jirgas, as had been our custom for more than a century. The mothers and wives plead with the men not to congregate together. They do not want to lose any more of their husbands, sons, brothers, and nephews. People in the same family now sleep apart because they do not want their togetherness to be viewed suspiciously through the eye of the drone. They do not want to become the next target.

Bonus points: Steve Clemons: What Happens When They Get Drones?

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