Easter Drone Strike from America’s Benign Empire
Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid. (John 14:27)
Just because it’s a religious holiday that doesn’t mean America’s benign empire can take a break from killing dangerous foreigners. While Christians celebrate the resurrection of Jesus Christ, drone strikes blow up “militants” in Yemen.
The Obama administration also kills militants during Christmas. After two consecutive years of Christmas drone strikes, it’s almost like an American tradition.
When America is attacked in a similar manner, let’s say in Boston, the outcry never seems to viscerally connect the horror experienced domestically with the horrors visited regularly upon people in places like Yemen and Pakistan.
Sure, there are some who take the opportunity of questioning the effectiveness of drone strikes after domestic blowback happens, but the concern has yet to produce that kind of sustained criticism to actually effect the policy Bush started and Obama escalated.
Acknowledging the impact of drone strikes (Rolling Stone) means obliterating the delusional thinking of politicians like Pat Williams who absurdly describe the US empire as benign. From the link:
Symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder, trauma and anxiety are becoming rampant in the different corners of the country where drones are active. “Drones hover over an area for hours, sometimes days and weeks,” said Rooj Alwazir, a Yemeni-American anti-drone activist and cofounder of Support Yemen, a media collective raising awareness about issues afflicting the country. Yemenis widely describe suffering from constant sleeplessness, anxiety, short-tempers, an inability to concentrate and, unsurprisingly, paranoia.
Alwazir recalled a Yemeni villager telling her that the drones “are looking inside our homes and even at our women.’” She says that, “this feeling of infringement of privacy, combined with civilian casualties and constant fear and anxiety has a profound long time psychological effect on those living under drones.”
Last year, London-based forensic psychologist Peter Schaapveld presented research he’d conducted on the psychological impact of drone strikes in Yemen to a British parliamentary sub-committee. He reported that 92 percent of the population sample he examined was found to be suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder – with children being the demographic most significantly affected. Women, he found, claimed to be miscarrying from their fear of drones. “This is a population that by any figure is hugely suffering,” Schaapveld said. The fear of drones, he added, “is traumatizing an entire generation.”
The continued terrorizing of entire populations in countries like Yemen provides continued justification for jihadists to inflict similar violence on Americans in the states.
Here’s another contrast worth reading, juxtaposing words spoken by Obama with the death he oversees:
On April 18, after the 11 Afghan children and woman were killed and buried, President Obama came to Boston and spoke at an interfaith service following the Marathon bombings. He affirmed Bostonians and their patriotic history, said America was with them, stated everyone’s prayers were with the bombing victims and their loved ones, and lauded the heroic work of the first responders and medical staff. He declared that the “discipline” and “real power” and “love” of all involved was “the message we send to those who carried this act out and anyone who would do harm to our people. Yes, we will find you. And,” he added to applause, “yes, you will face justice.” He condemned “the perpetrators of such senseless violence—these small, stunted individuals who would destroy instead of build, and think somehow that makes them important. . . . what they don’t understand,” he went on, “ [is] our faith in each other, our love for each other, our love for country, our common creed that cuts across whatever superficial differences there may be—that is our power. . . . That’s why,” he said, “a bomb can’t beat us. . . . That’s why we don’t cower in fear. We carry on. . . . We build, and we work, and we love—and we raise our kids to do the same.” He ended with, “Tomorrow, the sun will rise over Boston . . . over this country that we love. This special place. This state of grace.” His final words were met with applause: “May God hold close those who’ve been taken from us too soon. May He comfort their families. And may He continue to watch over these United States of America.” (“Transcript: Obama’s remarks at interfaith service for Boston bombing victims,” New York Daily News, Apr. 18, 2013)
“These small, stunted individuals who would destroy instead of build.” At about the very time President Obama spoke these words in Boston, the sun rose over the village of Wessab in Yemen, and was followed by a U.S. drone strike that killed five people. It was the family village of Farea al-Muslimi, an activist and journalist, who testified about that and other drone strikes before a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing. His words would have provided a reality check for those interfaith worshippers listening to Obama’s speech. Al-Muslimi stated, “This is not an isolated incident. The drone strikes are the face of America to many Yemenis.” He became specific: “I have spoken to many victims of U.S. drone strikes, like a mother in Jaar who had to identify her innocent 18-year-old son’s body through a video in a stranger’s cell phone, or the father in Shaqra who held his four- and six-year-old children as they died in his arms.” He also “spoke with one of the tribal leaders present in 2009 at the place where U.S. cruise missiles targeted the village of al-Majalah in Lawdar, Abyan,” where “more than 40 civilians were killed, including four pregnant women.” (“Yemeni Activist Farea al-Muslimi Urges U.S. to Stop Drone War in His Country,” http://www.democracynow.org, Apr. 25, 2013)
“Discipline” and “real power” and “love,” President Obama told his interfaith audience after the Boston Marathon bombings. Farea al-Muslimi put it this way: “What the violent militants had previously failed to achieve, one drone strike accomplished in an instant. There is now an intense anger against America in Wessab.” (Ibid)
“These small, stunted individuals who would destroy instead of build.” It is about Yemen—and much more. It is about the Obama administration killing children and other civilians with drone strikes in Afghanistan, Pakistan and Somalia. About the Pentagon “’counting all military-age males in a strike zone as militants,’ barring ‘explicit’ posthumous (italics added) intelligence proving their innocence”—to hide, and make more palatable, the number killed by this ongoing war crime. It is about “Obama’s remarkable transformation from anti-war Senator to drone-warrior-in-chief.” (“Report: Obama Redefines ‘Militant’ to Avoid Counting Civilian Drone Deaths,” Yahoo, May 30, 2012) It is about the criminal assassination, without due process, of American cleric Imam Anwar al-Awlaki, and two weeks later the assassination of his 16-year-old American son, Abdulrahman.
If Americans want to be safer, then maybe our benign empire should stop slaughtering people with drone strikes.