Tuesday, September 25, 2012

US Drones terrorize communities, murder civilians

by Richard Mellor

I remember my mother telling me what it was like during WW 11.  She was 20 years old and lived in London.  They would sleep in the subway and sometimes have to rush in to shelters.  She used to always tell me the joke about some neighbors running alongside them toward the shelter as the bombs fell:

"Hang on" says the husband, "I've got to go back to the the house, I left me damn teeth.

"What the hell do you thing they're chucking down here"
says the wife, "....sandwiches?"

My mother later on went to work in a spitfire factory in Grantham, assembling the guns that were installed on them.  She also used to tell me about the doodlebugs. The doodlebug was a VI rocket the German scientists developed that was a predecessor of the cruise missile apparently.  "It was terrifying" she said, because you would hear it come over then its engine would cut out and you knew it was going to hit but were never quite sure where. "I just hoped it wasn't our house" she would say.  There were thousands of these rockets sent over to England and London in particular.

I am reminded of this type of horror (The Germans experienced their own horror as their cities were rained with bombs also) by the continued use of unmanned drones by the Pentagon as part of its so-called war on terror. These drones are seen as acts of cowardice by most people in the world, and are overwhelmingly opposed by the people whose homes and communities they destroy.  The attacks always take out "alleged" "militants" "insurgents" "terrorists" "al Qaeda" we are told by our government and politicians that most Americans don't trust as far as they can throw them when it comes to domestic matters.

But we know this is not true.  The vast majority of people that are killed by the drones are innocent men, women and children.  Not only do the innocents get the first blast, but the Pentagon in all it's creative glory has introduced a new tactic intent on killing as many people as possible.  It's called the "Double Tap" strike.  It's simple, the drone, possibly operated by some 25 year old at a computer in Aimes Iowa (thinking it's a video game)  fires a first Hellfire missile at the target, then waits a few minutes, and hits again.  What this has ensured is not only do a family and anyone standing near the residence get wiped out, so do those who rush in to help the wounded or remove the dead.  Jerome Tailor writing in the Independent describes a June 6th drone attack:

"The buzz emitted by America's fleet of Predators and Reapers are a familiar sound for the inhabitants of the dusty hamlet, which lies next to a riverbed close to Pakistan's border with Afghanistan and is a stronghold for the Taliban commander Hafiz Gul Bahadur.
As the drone circled it let off the first of its Hellfire missiles, slamming into a small house and reducing it to rubble. When residents rushed to the scene of the attack to see if they could help they were struck again.
According to reports at the time, three local rescuers were killed by a second missile whilst a further strike killed another three people five minutes later. In all, somewhere between 17 and 24 people are thought to have been killed in the attack.
The Datta Khel assault was just one of the more than 345 strikes that have hit Pakistan's tribal areas in the past eight years but it reveals an increasingly common tactic now being used in America's covert drone wars – the "double-tap" strike."This is the source of what the western media calls "terrorism" and yet it is terrorism in the most extreme and cowardly form. It is a recruiter for groups that want to fight back in one way or another. And internet pundits over here who've seen too many Rambo movies talk all macho about how tough we are and what cowards are those that strap explosives to their chest.  Yes, the drone is a heroic beast.  And how does one fight back against such an adversary?

I do not subscribe to the United We Stand mantra.  We do not "unite" with the bosses in a strike, we take sides.  As an American I reject any unity with the authorities that construct and order such mass murder, they are war criminals----they are not "my" Americans, I do  not support but condemn them.  These actions also cost Americans dearly.  Our young people in the military, most of them driven to it through the lack of options are also dying or returning home disfigured, permanently damaged physically and mentally.  The rich don't fight wars, our children do.  The suicide rate among veterans is extremely high----war ain't like Hollywood tells it.

Here are some testimonials from the victims of US capitalism's foreign policy:

"The villagers brought us the news."
Khairullah Jan, whose brother was killed in a drone attack.
Oops! So Sorry
"I was ... going to my house. That's when I heard a drone strike and I felt something in my heart. I thought something had happened, but we didn't get to know until the next day. That's when all the villagers came and brought us news that [my brother] had been [killed]... I was drinking tea when I found out. [My] entire family was there."

"My father's body was scattered in pieces."

Waleed Shiraz, who was studying for a BA before he was injured by a strike.
"My father was asleep … and I was studying near by … [When we got hit], [my] father's body was scattered in pieces and he died immediately, but I was unconscious for three to four days … [Since then], I am disabled. My legs have become so weak and skinny that I am not able to walk."

"Children, women, they are all affected."

Firoz Ali Khan, a shopkeeper in the town of Miranshah.
"I have been seeing drones since the first one appeared about four to five years ago … [We see drones] hovering [24 hours a day but] we don't know when they will strike … People are afraid of dying … Children, women, they are all psychologically affected. They look at the sky to see if there are drones… [They] make such a noise that everyone is scared." (Independent UK)

According to a  report from Stanford and New York University out today barely 2% of the strikes hit "militants".  What militants might well be called of course is freedom fighters opposing occupation of their country. Clive Stafford Smith is the director of an agency that is opposing drone strikes, "An entire region is being terrorised by the constant threat of death from the skies,", he tells the Independent.  "Their way of life is collapsing: kids are too terrified to go to school, adults are afraid to attend weddings, funerals, business meeting or anything that involves gathering in groups."

If this was happening here, our entire family was wiped out, community destroyed, foreign troops everywhere.  Every American knows what we would do, tell our kids to take the candy from the soldier and when his back's turned, kill him.  If we saw no way to defeat such a powerful foe and that all is lost, we just might strap some explosive to ourselves or our kids and take some of them out with us. Suicide killing is not an act of someone who believes there's a future.

Imagine this:  the US doesn't even acknowledge that its drones are killing civilians.  In it's war to control trade and resources, US capitalism refuses to recognize that there are civilians hurt as opposed to fighters who object to being invaded. How mad would that make you?

As these elections come up and Obama threatens Iran like he did today, we need to consider what this all means.  We are all being asked to sacrifice because of difficult economic  times. This is another by-product of US foreign policy, we have to do with less. We can't educate our children, fix our roads.  We can't afford pensions for everyone, pensions that they can live on after 40 years of work but we spend $250 billion a year maintaining the 1000 or so bases the Pentagon has around the world, 160 or so in Iraq alone.  These bases are not for defense, they are to maintain US hegemony.  Capitalism is war.  It is a war for profits and markets, a war for control of the world's resources and the goose that lays the golden egg, surplus value. 

The rise of China and other BRICS will lead to further crisis as global competition intensifies.  US capitalism has increased its presence in Central Asia and has encircled China and Iran with bases. It is attempting to build three more bases in Australia all aimed at containing China and furthering tensions in the region. Its Present war games with Japan aimed at interfering in the dispute between Japan and China over some uninhabited islands will further inflame the situation.  US capitalism's propaganda machine would be working overtime if Russia and Venezuela, or, China and Ecuador were staging war games in the Caribbean. 

Drones are used in Yemen, Somalia and other countries as well as by police forces here at home.  The struggle for domination and control of the world's resources is inherent in the global capitalist economy that consists of separate nation states.  The existence of nuclear weapons has reduced the threat of a major war between the dominant powers but it cannot be ruled out.  Regional wars and conflicts are the norm, the natural outcome of global capitalism; they are dragged in to these conflicts by the laws of their system and offer no way out except more austerity at home to pay for the wars abroad.

It is not acceptable for me for the unelected rulers of US society to carry out these attacks and to maintain this global presence in my name.  It should be unacceptable for all of us.  The events of September 11th 2001 didn't occur in vacuum, those attacks have their roots in US foreign policy.

It's time to turn off the TV and pay attention.

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