It appears that Drone strikes in the Tribal area of Pakistan have resumed with a vengeance in late September. Sporadic strikes in Yemen throughout the spring and summer did not attract a lot of attention outside of Yemen where frustrated Houthis flooded into Sana’a to show their outrage over being marginalized and under attack from the air, bringing the US backed government to a standstill. But since September 24, the Metadata app on my iPhone has been pining regularly to draw my attention to new strikes in Pakistan.
In 22 days, 12 alerts have arrived, drawing attention to 12 US Drone strikes in Pakistan that took the lives of 55 people and wounded at least 10 wounded. When I spoke with relatives and other representatives of drone victims in Pakistan two years ago, they made it clear that women killed by drones are not reported as it is considered a violation of their privacy, and that the wounded often die because there is no recourse in the Tribal Region to comprehensive, accessible medical care. Hospitals have been closed due to the danger of operating in this region.
On September 29, Ashraf Ghani, a former World Bank executive, was sworn in as President of Afghanistan, and on the 30th, he signed a Status of Forces Agreement with the United States, which gives immunity to US Troops who commit crimes in the region. In June, while we were busy watching ISIS invade Iraq and loop back into Syria with their new American weapons, the Pakistani military launched a an attack on Taliban. I was surprised because when I was there, people told me that the last time they did this, the result was to exacerbate internal divisions, create a lot of refugees, and do a lot of damage to infrastructure, but the Taliban merely moved from one base to another.
In any case, it looks like the Tribal Region in Pakistan is once again becoming a free fire zone for CIA drones. I finally had time to check my Google aggregator on drone strikes, and there was little reflection there of the latest strikes. Google tends to follow your preferences and I was getting really good information, mostly from foreign press outlets in Pakistan and even the international editions of the New York Times and others. But I guess if you don’t follow every link for a couple of months, the aggregator forgets your preferences. It must use some kind of algorithm to integrate your choices with those of the public at large. When you aren’t moving the pointer, they are.
The lesson is, that the Drone Strikes in Pakistan don’t get national coverage. In the articles I have seen recenly, there is no reference to named leaders or specific targets. The term ‘suspected militant’ is a frequent occurrence. This sounds a lot like the specification of recent African American youths killed by local police in Ferguson and elsewhere in this country. What were they doing to invite the death penalty? Usually., running away. Why were they stopped in the first place, well they were ‘suspected troublemakers‘ I guess. Young black me on the street, The me killed driving down the road in Pakistan may have had some sort of prior surveillance. They may have stopped at a suspicious location, or emerged from a suspicious building. They may have been holding a cell phone tagged as ‘terrorist’. They boys killed here may have been suspiciously lively or suspiciously quiet or have suspiciously emerged from a local store. They might be carrying a suspicious candy bar or sandwich. And based on suspicion, they received the death penalty
We have a situation where people are charged, sentenced and executed outside of public oversight. It reaches the point where the criminal acts they might have committed become difficult to address because the larger criminal act of their execution is so fearsome. The level of aggression and fear in our society is clearly reflected in the act of protecting a heavily armed police officer from an unarmed teenager, or in the lack of resistance to a pattern of occult executions of suspects in wars that have little or nothing to do with our experience. If someone falls prey to the predatory gendarme, then he or she must have done something to deserve it, and their fate can be safely ignored.
The drone movement is in a lull of sorts, induced by the lack of current instances of excess to hold up, but that lack is an illusion. There may have been a temporary lull in drone attacks for political reasons. But nothing has changed since a couple of years ago when Human Rights NGOs were producing reports of drone massacres in Pakistan and Yemen and the President was wiggling around for a legal fig leaf to cover his violations of US and International Law. The Corporate Drone business is booming; drone schools are coming on line; drone research is thriving; the military is exploring ways to fill drone pilot jobs with motivate workers.. The military is building new drone bases, and the CIA is opening new drone fields in Syria and Iraq. They have finally got permission to resume their work in Afghanistan, though that’s an Afghan matter as drone strikes in Afghanistan are rarely reported here in any case.
The bright veil of futuristic science is back in place, but behind it a river of blood continues to flow. There are idiots out there saying that drone delivery is a ‘win-win’, whatever that means. One just better hope that drone isn’t delivering a Hellfire missile when it pauses overhead. All eyes on Ferguson today. Yesterday it was the drones. But the real issue is that even massive resistance movements merely block the wheels for a brief moment, but the murderous empire grinds on the minute your attention strays.