Compare and Contrast
Listening to the coverage of the Boston bombings it became harder than ever to remain dispassionate. 3 people killed and over a hundred injured is a significantly bad incident. Significant because it happened in the States. Bad because it was the worst such bombing since 9/11and registered very high in the American media.
As coverage continued tonight on the PM programme, there finally came some email pleas for context. The quoted comment mentioned recent attacks in Iraq and Afghanistan which produced many more deaths yet which received barely a mention.
That is not the full story.
Try these for starters:
2001 Airstrike hits an Afghan wedding -110 guests killed.
2008 July: Airstrike hits an Afghan wedding - 47 guests killed.
2008 August: an estimated 78-92 people killed by an airstrike - mostly children.
2008 November: Airstrike hits another wedding - 37 guests killed.
2009 May: drone attacks a wedding - one count reports 86 guests killed, the Afghan govt. claim 140.
2010 Feb: US Special Forces helicopters attack a convoy of trucks carrying mainly women and children - 27 killed.
2011 Feb: 65 including 50 women and children killed by air attack
2011 March: US helicopter gunship kill 9 Afghan boys aged 7-13 collecting firewood.
2011 May: 75 guests at a wedding killed by air attack according to one source - local source puts figure higher at 120.
2011 May: Helicopter gunship kills 14 civilians - 2 women, 5 girls and 7 boys.
2012 Feb: Airstrike kills 7 children.
2012 May: 8 members of an Afghan family killed by air attack.
Almost all of the airstrikes were carried out by US forces . Those listed above are just some of the incidents which stand out for numbers killed. There are many, many more incidents which have left smaller numbers killed. The US defend their attacks on weddings and funerals because leading figures of the Taliban attend these events. The matter of ‘collateral damage’ seems to be of little consequence. The attempt to win ‘hearts and minds’ has been long abandoned. Drone strikes have also been used in the Yemen, Somalia and Pakistan. The actions of the US inside Pakistan sovereign territory give a whole new meaning to ‘friendly fire.’
Pakistan is supposedly an ally.
2012 US airstrike kills 28 Pakistan soldiers
2013 March: The Pakistan Government says, “At least 400 civilians killed in drone strikes
“The London-based Bureau of Investigative Journalism has estimated that U.S. drone strikes in Pakistan have, over the years, killed at least 168 children.” Socialist Worker.
President Obama has authorised the use of far more drone attacks than his predecessor. He has even taken the extra-ordinary step of seeking to use drones against American citizens, not just in terrorist hot spots around the world, but also within the borders of the United States. Drones (or more accurately the CIA who control them) have become the prosecutor, judge, jury and executioner.
Whatever happened to the Rule of Law? And innocent until proven guilty? And also just how accurate are these weapons? The stated line is that they are highly specific and are as good as the intelligence they depend on. Well that is alright then. We all remember with great pleasure the spectacle Colin Powell made of himself before the UN justifying the Iraq war. That was top intelligence.
More evidence is emerging that drones do go wrong too and occasionally miss their intended target. Hey ho - a few more ‘collaterals’ for the record.
"Any time bombs are used to target innocent civilians, it is an act of terror,"