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Feb 06 2013

The bombing of children

The drone campaigns in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Yemen, Somalia, and who knows where else have resulted in the deaths of many innocent people who just happened to be there and of these many were children. Robert Dreyfuss writes about the remarkably callous attitude some in the military take towards these deaths.

The Military Times, which is not a military paper but part of the Gannett chain that targets the military, had an article that had the following:

When Marines in Helmand province sized up shadowy figures that appeared to be emplacing an improvised explosive device, it looked like a straightforward mission. They got clearance for an airstrike, a Marine official said, and took out the targets.

It wasn’t that simple, however. Three individuals hit were 12, 10 and 8 years old, leading the International Security Assistance Force in Kabul to say it may have “accidentally killed three innocent Afghan civilians.”

But a Marine official here raised questions about whether the children were “innocent.” Before calling for the M142 High Mobility Artillery Rocket System mission in mid-October, Marines observed the children digging a hole in a dirt road in Nawa district, the official said, and the Taliban may have recruited the children to carry out the mission.

“It kind of opens our aperture,” said Army Lt. Col. Marion “Ced” Carrington, whose unit, 1st Battalion, 508th Parachute Infantry Regiment, was assisting the Afghan police. “In addition to looking for military-age males, it’s looking for children with potential hostile intent.”

There are claims that the Taliban sometimes recruit children to act as spotters or even carry out operations. I can well believe that because they are a brutal and ruthless organization that will stoop to almost anything to get its way. But that does not mean that all children should be viewed with suspicion. Young children, especially in poor areas, often play in the sand and dig in the dirt. To say that such activities “open’s our aperture” (i.e., creates another justification for killing them) is another sign of how pernicious this drone policy is and how it often goes tragically awry.

President Obama’s nominee for Secretary of Defense Director of the CIA John Brennan has, while serving as the president’s chief counter-terrorism advisor on national security, been the architect of the drone policy and closely involved in selecting targets. He is expected to face ‘tough questions’ at his confirmation hearings tomorrow but I do not expect many of them to be about the drone program but to mostly center on the Benghazi affair and leaks about classified information, because the deaths of poor foreign children is of little consequence to members of the US congress.

He is expected to be easily confirmed.

13 comments

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  1. 1
    AsqJames

    Minor quibble, but John Brennan is the nominee for CIA Director. Chuck Hagel is the nominee for Sec Def.

  2. 2
    Concerned

    Obama is the President. He is the Commander In Chief.

    They are his wars now.

    Why are the liberals giving him a pass on this?

  3. 3
    Marcus Ranum

    accidentally killed three innocent Afghan civilians.

    It sounds quite deliberate to me.

  4. 4
    Mano Singham

    Thanks for the correction. I revised the post accordingly.

  5. 5
    Marcus Ranum

    Why are the liberals giving him a pass on this?

    Because the alternative is worse.

    A lot of us are not giving him a pass. But because American democracy has been stolen from the people, it’s not as though we have a viable alternative. Even among the democrats, what was the alternative? Hillary Clinton, who never met a war she didn’t like, who ducked sniper fire in Kosovo – or, well, would have if there had been any? And on the other side we are offered a menu of puppets who will put the MICC fully in the driver’s seat. We’re not giving him a pass, we’re having a pass extorted from us.

  6. 6
    baal

    Given recent history and the relevant office holders, the two positions are interchangeable.

  7. 7
    atheist

    A lot of them aren’t.

  8. 8
    atheist

    Joan Walsh, for instance: http://www.salon.com/2013/02/05/when_liberals_ignore_injustice/

  9. 9
    atheist

    The longer this “Global War on Terror” goes on — under whatever name — the more we, its prosecutors, will become brutal, irrational and atavistic in our culture and thoughts. For secularists, there is no upside to prosecuting an enormous, vaguely defined, and neverending war. I wish more of us would see this truth.

  10. 10
    Aliasalpha

    Maybe we should start a charity drive to send stinger missiles to iraqi children.

    Hmm, would a drone have a large enough IR signature to get a lock on?

  11. 11
    smrnda

    I don’t know of any liberals who really give Obama a pass on this, except ones so focused on economic issues alone that they don’t think much about our current military engagements. I don’t see TV too often, but lately I was kind of shocked when I did to realize that, given how we’ve got wars going on, they don’t seem to make the news as much as I thought they should.

    I think it’s possibly that mainstream news just isn’t going to be critical of any US military action, or even honest about the cost.

  12. 12
    Mano Singham

    One person who is guilty of this is Toure.

    But the real problem is not that liberals are vocally supporting it, it is that they are nowhere near as outraged and speaking out against it as they would have been if a Republican president had done this. It is their silence that is damning.

  13. 13
    left0ver1under

    See also:

    * The video released by Bradley Manning, showing the deliberate murder of a cameraman and all unarmed people who tried to help him.

    * The bombing of the Chinese embassy in Belgrade, 1999.

    * The bombing of the Palestinian Hotel in Baghdad, the deliberate attempt to kill journalists who were not “embedded” (read: chose to be censored).

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