Robert C. Koehler
"Complaints about civilian casualties have also stirred concern among human rights advocates."
The problem is that a sentence like this -- arguably a dead sentence, with a few quasi-facts entombed in an inert moral sensibility -- parades as serious news. I mean, it's lifted straight from the
As an archeological find, it's worth examining in closer detail, but first let me put it in context. The use of pilotless aircraft in
This is where my moral consternation begins, and immediately radiates in several directions:
A) In the context of the nearly eight-year-old war on terror (with the Afghan war the longest-running in U.S. history), with uncounted thousands or hundreds of thousands of civilians slaughtered in the hostilities, millions more displaced, and the toxic leftovers of battle sending cancer and birth-defect rates soaring in
B) Why is al-Awlaki on the hit list? According to
C) Murder by drone. The use of robot aircraft and target takeout by missile fire is modestly controversial in and of itself, perhaps, though the controversy seems to be counterweighted, at least in mainstream reportage, by the military's enthusiasm for drones. When a potential target is an American who isn't situated in either
The fact that we often rely on preposterously bad intelligence and wind up killing large numbers of civilians with our missiles strikes me, quaintly, as wrong. And by "wrong" I mean insane, stupid, counterproductive, criminal -- a means of murder guaranteed to inflame hatred toward us, complicate our "mission" and prolong the war. But then again, this is a war against evil, so we already know that it's endless.
All of which brings me back to the
Toward the end of the story, statistics about collateral damage are cited from two sources.
The fact that it won't is due in no small part to the tepid, morally inert reportage of the mainstream media, as typified by that sentence, which entombs the humanity of all who read it: "Complaints about civilian casualties have also stirred concern among human rights advocates."
When we bomb children, we garner "complaints," same as we would if we trample on someone's flowerbed. These complaints then "stir concern" -- you know, like when the milk goes sour -- not among people in general, but specifically among professional do-gooders, "human rights advocates," who monitor and fuss over dead civilians anyway.
Nothing in this language presses on the conscience or interrupts America's daily business. There is no hint of the value of the lives we destroy, no laying of those lives in our laps. There is only fog and numbness, and the war drones on.
Available at Amazon.com:
- The Real Reason Why Afghanistan Is a Lost Cause
- The War Drones On
- When the 'Right War' Goes Wrong
- The Afghanistan Paradox
- Pakistan's Gambit in Afghanistan
- Obama Wasting Opportunities in Latin America
- Stopping Nuclear Proliferation Before It Starts
- Veiled Truths: The Rise of Political Islam in the West
- Steps to Stop Iran From Getting a Nuclear Bomb
- Iran: The Nuclear Containment Conundrum
- Iran: The Right Kind Of Containment
- China Is the Key to Handling Nuclear North Korea
- Coping With China's Financial Power
- What China's Currency Reform Means For Investors
- Russian-American Obstacles Overshadow Obama-Medvedev Meeting
- Russia's Courtship of Silicon Valley
- Ukrainian Blues: Viktor Yanukovych's Rise and Democracy's Fall
- Russia: Prisoners of the Caucasus
- The Afghan Challenge Is Far Tougher
- New Guard, Old Policy on Afghanistan
- Fear and Uncertainty in Afghanistan
- Afghanistan: Bribing the Enemy
- Afghanistan Poses Difficult Challenges
- Defining Success in Afghanistan
- Sad Stan, Famous Petraeus
- The Challenge of Reconciliation in Kenya
- The Tyranny of Unity in Zimbabwe
- Mexico: The New Cocaine Cowboys
- Under Santos Colombia Could Rise to the Next Level
- Autocrats' Latest Weapon: Indirect Censorship
- Latin America's Rich Should Be More Generous
- Castrocare in Crisis
(C) 2010 Robert C. Koehler