Kerry and Drones
CNN reported on August 2 that Secretary of State John Kerry made some rather startling remarks regarding drone strikes. A look at a few of these remarks is instructive
Remark 1: “Following talks with the Pakistani government, Secretary of State John Kerry said the United States is making progress in the war on terror, and hopes to end the use of drone strikes ‘very soon.’”
This apparently means that the U.S., which has waged a war of terror for several years now, is making so much progress in doing so that drone strikes will no longer be required to kill and terrorize innocent people.
Remark 2: Regarding ending the strikes, Mr. Kerry said this: “We hope it's going to be very, very soon.” In this statement, he seems to indicate that ending the strikes is something outside of the control of the U.S. government; he ‘hopes’ the strikes will end soon.
Remark 3: “I believe that we're on a good track. I think the program will end as we have eliminated most of the threat and continue to eliminate it.” So, with over 5,000 innocent civilians dead from drone strikes, Mr. Kerry believes the ‘threat’, whatever that is, is mostly eliminated. Ibrahim Mothana, a young Yemeni writer, wrote the following in the New York Times just last year: “Drone strikes are causing more and more Yemenis to hate America and join radical militants; they are not driven by ideology, but rather by a sense of revenge and despair.” It isn’t much of a stretch to think that the situation is any different in Pakistan. So whatever ‘threat’ may have existed prior to the murderous U.S. drone policy, hatred toward the U.S. has hardly decreased.
Later, the State Department clarified Mr. Kerry’s statements. "Now, we're all realistic about the fact that there is a threat that remains and that we have to keep up ... the fight in this and other places around the world," Marie Harf, a State Department spokeswoman, said. "So this was in no way indicating a change in policy. It's really been reinforcing things I think we've said for months on this."
Would someone please advise this writer what the ‘threat’ that we are all so realistic about really consists of? Can someone please clarify how Pakistan, one of the poorest nations in the world, possesses the power to, in some way, threaten the U.S. way of life?
Perhaps we can take a moment to look at the reverse: the U.S. as a threat to Pakistan. This writer has no difficulty in understanding this concept. One of the richest and most technologically advanced countries in the world takes full advantage of its ability to send unmanned airplanes to bomb one of the poorest. Pakistanis, trying to eke out a living or attend school, run in terror as the planes fly overhead, focusing on specific targets with little regard for anything in the surrounding environment. Those who survive the first horrific, deadly strike rush to the aid of the victims, only to be bombed themselves as a second wave of unspeakable, deadly terror rains from the sky.
One remembers President George W. Bush, in reference to the attacks on the U.S. of September 11, 2001, saying that “They hate our freedoms -- our freedom of religion, our freedom of speech, our freedom to vote and assemble and disagree with each other." Is it not more probable, perhaps, that they hate the U.S. because it bombs them? That they hate the U.S. because it supports dictatorial regimes with unspeakable human rights violations over peoples’ movements? Perhaps people around the world hate the U.S. for its blatant hypocrisy, because it demands the granting of human rights out of one side of its mouth, while countenancing their horrific violation out of the other. Is it even remotely possible that people hate the U.S. because it always puts profits over people?
One wonders how many people the U.S. must kill before it considers that there are no more threats against it anywhere in the world.
During his first inaugural address, President Barack Obama said this: “To those who cling to power through corruption and deceit and the silencing of dissent, know that you are on the wrong side of history, but that we will extend a hand if you are willing to unclench your fist.” It appears to this writer that Pakistan has not ‘clenched its fist’ against the U.S., but no hand is extended to it; just death, terror and indiscriminate destruction.
For every bomb that the U.S. drops anywhere in the world, hatred for the U.S. only increases. The number of people wishing to harm the U.S., as the U.S. has harmed their country and possibly their loved ones, grows. Any ‘threat’ to the U.S. doesn’t decrease with continual bombing.
When the French were attempting to hold onto their Vietnamese colony, Ho Chi Minh said this: “You can kill ten of our men for every one we kill of yours. But even at those odds, you will lose and we will win.” This was, perhaps, because killing people does not endear their survivors to the perpetrators. As Mr. Mothana said, it just causes a desire for revenge. The French finally learned the truthfulness of Ho Chi Minh’s statement, and left Vietnam, enabling the U.S. to step in. Not learning from France’s mistake, it took the U.S. years to learn the truth of Ho Chi Minh’s pronouncement. Yet lessons learned by the U.S. after one imperial disaster do not seem to last long.
The so-called war on terror is a self-perpetuating activity: the more the U.S. bombs other nations and kills their people to protect itself from threats – real or imagined – the more those threats have the potential to become real. And then the U.S. can justify more bombings, causing more people to hate the U.S.
If it were ever possible for sanity and a reasonable attitude to hold sway in U.S. foreign policy, real progress might be made toward peace. However, there is no indication that such an attitude is on the horizon, however distant one looks.