The latest update from Ditz captures many of the main features of Barack Obama’s ruthless robot war on Pakistan: mass killings, murky motives and missed targets: "Pakistan’s remote tribal agencies of North and South Waziristan are in a state of virtual panic tonight as US drones continue to loom in the air and three attacks against separate towns across the region killed at least 28 people and wounded an unknown number of others."
The Daily Times story that Ditz links to goes on to describe the “great panic among the locals” as the American drones continued to hover over the defenseless towns even after the attack. No one could be sure when or if the robots would fire again. There was no way to stop the machines; they were impervious, implacable, just floating there, groaning in the sky, their “pilots” sitting safely and comfortably before computer screens thousands of miles away. You couldn’t get away, you couldn’t hide, you couldn’t protect your children.
This is raw terrorism, pure and simple, nothing but terrorism, terrorism on the grandest of scales, terrorism without end – no one-time “spectacle,” but a grim, steady, relentless, mechanical process. It is also the terrorism of cowards, murdering at a vast distance, by remote control, in sneak attacks against defenseless people. Ditz's story also includes what has become a familiar motif in the American way of Terror War: attacking communal gathering of civilians – weddings, funerals – and slaughtering the participants. Officials have so far failed to identify any of the targets of the attacks, but reports from the ground suggest that one of the US drones attacked a funeral procession that was carried out for people killed in a previous attack.
Nor was this the only Standard Operating Procedure at play in the latest raid. There was also the familiar “provocative attacks which destroy local peace-making efforts and ensure the continuation of violent conflict” scenario, coupled with one of the overarching themes of the entire Terror War: missing the ostensible targets of a raid and killing civilians instead. Reports suggested that the targets hit were related to one of the militant factions which has an existing ceasefire with the Pakistani government, and it does not appear that any of the victims of the attacks were “high value” targets.
This is in so many ways a portrait in miniature of the entire bloody and misbegotten enterprise in Central Asia. For viewed in this light – that is, by the declared aims of the American-led coalition of occupation - what is the entire “Af-Pak” war but a gargantuan failure to capture or kill a handful of “high value” targets, who somehow, miraculously, always manage to escape, while civilians are killed by the thousands? But of course these “high value targets” are not the true aim of the war. The war itself is the aim of the war: the continuation of perpetual – and profitable – conflict, and the expansion of the power and privilege and corrupted wealth that accrues to the bipartisan operators (and lickspittle apologists) of a militarist empire.
Even the perpetrators of these war crimes no longer pretend that these conflicts have any real purpose; the War Machine’s own “intelligence analysts” regularly report that the wars are exacerbating the very problems they are ostensibly designed to quell: violent extremism, divisive tribalism, ignorance and poverty, repression of women, political instability in strategic regions, fear and insecurity at home, etc. But none of this matters – not to the Peace Laureate and his party of spineless corporate servitors, nor to the Republicans and their cretinous Tea Partiers, nor, it seems, to the vast majority of the American public who follow these blood-soaked factions of ruthless, third-rate gangsters, bagmen, morons and courtiers.
And now another election season is upon us. The massive acts of state terrorism committed by the United States will fall even further beneath the media radar (if that’s possible). “Progressive” forces will furiously debate the best way to rouse the “base” to support their admittedly disappointing champion, if only to keep the drooling hordes of zealous Know-Nothings at bay. They will put aside the daily murder of innocent people by their champion in order to play a few “savvy” hands of partisan politics – as if they were living in some kind of ordinary, open political system, instead of a phantasmagorical Grand Guignol of state terror, state murder and corporate rapine, a rigged game where the only outcome is more and more and more of the same.
As for me, I am long past caring about the political fortunes of murderers and cowards – and of those who want to take their places and be murderers and cowards too. I can only repeat – for the nth time – the words of Henry David Thoreau: "How does it become a man to behave toward this American government today? I answer that he cannot without disgrace be associated with it."