Wednesday, May 23, 2012

US still no apology to Pakistan for killing 24 troops

Pakistani's protest US killing of 24 Pakistani troops
Last November, the US "accidentally" killed 24 Pakistani troops in a mistaken barrage of weaponry.  Since then there has been a lot of time and money spent by the politicians of the 1% trying to figure out how to handle this.

Killing innocent people or the wrong people is not new of course.  US capitalism has killed hundreds of civilians in Afghanistan and Pakistan through the use of its unmanned drones. This violation of a country's sovereignty in the case of an ally like Pakistan is one of the main causes of anti-American feeling and a great recruitment tool for the Islamic fundamentalist groups.  The US normally hands over a few bucks to the remaining family members that weren't killed by the "accidental" activity of its drones, an activity that it refuses to recognize.

The Pakistani troop deaths were a result of US helicopter gunfire after a commando team came under fire and called in air support.  Accounts of what happened vary just like they did  when Pat Tillman was murdered but the gist of it is that the US killed a couple dozen of an ally's troops.

Tension between these allies has increased over the months since the incident as the US refuses to apologize for the its actions. A month or so after the incident, that trusted and most holy of institutions, the Pentagon, released its findings that both US and Pakistani troops "erred". Obviously, the Pakistani troops must have erred more than the US ones as they are the only dead guys.

Pakistan is pretty upset because the US won't apologize for "accidentally" killing 24 of its soldiers. The US has considered apologizing but has retreated each time  The WSJ reports that the night before the Pentagon study was released there was an agreement at a meeting of "top US policy makers" that the US would apologize. The Pentagon press secretary was to issue the apology stating, "We mourn the loss of life and and apologize for the weaknesses in our border coordination processes which contributed to this tragic incident" one early draft read.  Since the deaths, the Pakistani's have closed vital border crossings through which US capitalism in its efforts to bring peace and justice to the world, transports goods and supplies, and no doubt some weapons useful as a means of persuasion when people refuse peace.  The crossing closures mean increased expenses from an already strapped US.

Within a few hours of the meeting, the US reversed course with opponents of an apology urging that the word "apology" be removed and be replaced by, "deepest regret" and "Sincere condolences". There was much discussion about this with others, mostly diplomat types, arguing that "apology" would make a "critical difference with Pakistan and wasn't much difference from 'regret'", the WSJ adds. Hilary Clinton's chief policy aide apparently felt that the US admitting its mistakes would strengthen the US's hand when it came  negotiations with Pakistan.

Debates over to apologize or not went on through the spring and in to summer of this year.  Pakistan is already hot about the US bombing its territory without permission don't forget and then comes the "accidental" strike on its soldiers. By February 21, the White House decided that a top US general would apologize "by phone" to a top Pakistani general the following day.  This was to be followed up by Hilary Clinton who was flying to London the next day also to meet a top Pakistani diplomat. She would second the apology and a statement was prepared for her stating: "As chairman Dempsey conveyed to Gen Kayani, we apologize for our part in the accidental tragedy." But before her plane reached London, the Afghan violence broke out over the burning of the Koran and other religious books incident by US soldiers which meant Obama had to apologize to the Afghanis.  Two apologies in one day was out of the question so Clinton never got to apologize to Pakistan and the phone apology was also called off.  "Two apologies would make it look like everything's unraveling" said one US official.

The main point is this.  The reason for not apologizing throughout these six months has been that to apologize for a wrongdoing, an error, accident or unintentional action, is a sign of weakness. To express "regret" the WSJ points out, was considered safe, "But whether to apologize at the risk of appearing weak to Pakistan or American voters, was argued in dozens of video conference calls....White House meetings and ...confidential e mails."

As far as I know, they're still arguing over it.  When I read all this I couldn't help thinking that this behavior contradicts everything the average person teaches our children.  We teach them that to apologize and accept responsibility for our actions is the right thing to do and a sign of strength.  Of course, when you are illegally bombing a country, killing its civilians, invading  their neighbors etc. honesty and integrity doesn't enter in to the equation. US capitalism doesn't care about US workers so why would it's representatives care about Pakistani's or any other third world people?

It is no wonder that millions of Muslims see the west, represented primarily by US imperialism as antagonistic and militaristic.  "What gives them that idea?" writes Chris Williams, "With the US military occupying Iraq and Afghanistan, feeding high-tech weaponry to Israel to maintain the brutal occupation of Palestine, regularly bombing Pakistan, Yemen and Somalia, facilitating the government onslaught against insurgent groups in Indonesia, helping to ensure that the Mubarak (since gone) and Saudi dictatorships cling to power with gargantuan arms shipments and military training and saber-rattling against Iran and Syria...."  it seems quite reasonable that people in these countries would consider the west violent, militaristic and antagonistic.*

The roots of terrorism and hatred of the US lie in US foreign policy, its unconditional support of Israel and bias against Palestinians and the Arab world and in its response to events like these.  There is a general and correct feeling that US lives matter, others don't. Not to mention the fact that the US has a presence in these countries as an occupier and in particular Islamic countries in the first place.  When we think of the sacrifices that are being forced on the US population in the name of fiscal discipline, the cost of these murderous ventures are staggering.  This fiasco over the Pakistani deaths is hard to believe.  One wonders how long we will put up with being governed by such a bunch of murderous thugs.

* Chris Williams: Ecology and Socialism

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