By John Lawrence
Many people cannot understand why radical Islamists are killing innocent people as happened in Brussels recently. What did these people ever do to them to justify their being ruthlessly terminated as they were just going about their everyday lives in a peaceful manner?
It’s not as though many innocent civilians in the Middle East have not had their lives terminated as they were simply going about their business. As many as 12 civilians were killed in December 2013 in Yemen when a US drone targeted vehicles that were part of a wedding procession going toward the groom’s village. Since 2002, drones piloted by the US Central Intelligence Agency and the Pentagon have killed hundreds of people in the country, mostly members of al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, but also dozens of civilians, including children. The deadliest attack killed more than 40 people – including 22 children and 12 women – when a Tomahawk cruise missile fired from a naval vessel hit the village of al-Majala on December 17, 2009.
What could be more innocent than a wedding party? What I wonder is – were the victims of these and other attacks that killed innocent women and children ever compensated for their losses? I think the answer is no. US attacks in the Middle East that have destroyed real estate and many peoples’ lives go uncompensated by US authorities. Not only do they not apologize, they don’t compensate financially the people involved for their losses. Compensation for the grandchildren that the bride and groom will never have? Hardly.
Hulk Hogan won a $115 million settlement because someone publicized a sex tape he had made. Erin Andrews was awarded $55 million for a lawsuit over a nude video. But victims of US violence in the Middle East. Nada. They get nothing but smoldering resentment for the loss of their loved ones. Why are they resentful and whom is the resentment directed at? Guess.
“Between a Drone and Al-Qaeda” – a report published in October 2013 by Human Rights Watch – found the US has carried out 80 targeted operations in Yemen since 2009, including strikes from drones, warplanes and naval vessels stationed in the Gulf of Aden, killing at least 473 people.
Observers say attacks such as these are helping push Yemenis into the arms of al-Qaeda.
“It is far from the only instance of the US indirectly assisting al-Qaeda’s PR machine – and even its human resources department,” wrote Yemeni activist Farea al-Muslimi recently about the Radaa strike.
The West including the US and Europe has to come to the realization that they are responsible for the radicalization of people who have been victimized by their policy which has resulted in innocent civilians being killed throughout the world. In the minds of radicalized Islamists who commit atrocious acts and take the lives of innocent civilians in the west, these acts are balanced by the Western nations, mainly the US, which have taken innocent lives in the Middle East. It is tit for tat with not much tit comparatively doled out for a whole lot of tat. There is no comparison when you measure the number of innocent lives lost on both sides.
Republican Presidential candidate John Kasich has said:
We must also redouble our efforts with our allies to identify, root out and destroy the perpetrators of such acts of evil. We must strengthen our alliances as our way of life and the international system that has been built on our common values since the end of the Second World War comes under challenge from these and other actors of evil.
Tell me, Mr Kasich, how this is an Act of Evil, but the destroying of innocent lives in the Middle East is not an Act of Evil? Tell me how the hundreds of thousands if not millions of lives destroyed in the Middle East is not an Act of Evil perpetrated by George W Bush who lied the American people into a war in Iraq. Tell me how this is not the result of that war that led directly to the rise of ISIS or ISIL or whatever you want to call it. Real estate destroyed with no compensation. Lives and families destroyed without even an apology. The wonder is why there are not even more terrorists than there are. They must figure two can play that game: the game of destruction of innocents with no remorse.
The strike on a Doctors Without Borders hospital in Kunduz, Afghanistan, which killed 32 people, including three children, was an accident. Did the US compensate Doctors without Borders including paying money to the families of the victims? I don’t think so. Did the US military rebuild the hospital? That’s not what the US military does. It destroys with no apologies. It does not rebuild.
The US has a history of aerial military mistakes not only in Afghanistan, but in other countries including Libya and Syria. These countries have become wastelands which have undergone the most thorough destruction which has precipitated the overwhelming European refugee crisis. Is the US offering compensation to the refugees? I don’t think so. There is no compensation in war.
In 1991, during the Gulf War, the US bombed a complex in the Amiriyah neighborhood of Baghdad. The bombs, which were laser precision-guided, hit the complex and killed 408 civilians. At the time of the bombing, US officials said they hit the complex because they thought it was being used as a command center and accused Saddam Hussein of using civilians as human shields. Has the US rebuilt the neighborhood or offered financial compensation to the victims? No, let’s blame Saddam who lost his life and his country because of US lies. Saddam had kept a lid on the seething ethnic tensions and was no threat to the US.
A Defense Department official who spoke on condition of anonymity said, “Under a well-established principle of international law, nations are not liable to provide compensation for injuries or damage occurring during combat operations.” Thank you for that clarification.
“In any conflict there are unintended casualties. But we are working to make all of Iraq a better place to live.” Really. Really? Is Iraq a better place to live now than it was before the US invasion led by George W Bush who said that his father had not gone far enough in his invasion? Who said that if he got a chance to invade, he’d go all the way to Baghdad and surround himself with glory as a wartime President and get all his agenda passed? “If I have a chance to invade…if I had that much capital, I’m not going to waste it. I’m going to get everything passed that I want to get passed and I’m going to have a successful presidency.”
The Guardian reported:
The drones came for Ayman Zawahiri on 13 January 2006, hovering over a village in Pakistan called Damadola. Ten months later, they came again for the man who would become al-Qaida’s leader, this time in Bajaur.
Eight years later, Zawahiri is still alive. Seventy-six children and 29 adults, according to reports after the two strikes, are not.
However many Americans know who Zawahiri is, far fewer are familiar with Qari Hussain. Hussain was a deputy commander of the Pakistani Taliban, a militant group aligned with al-Qaida that trained the would-be Times Square bomber, Faisal Shahzad, before his unsuccessful 2010 attack. The drones first came for Hussain years before, on 29 January 2008. Then they came on 23 June 2009, 15 January 2010, 2 October 2010 and 7 October 2010.
Finally, on 15 October 2010, Hellfire missiles fired from a Predator or Reaper drone killed Hussain, the Pakistani Taliban later confirmed. For the death of a man whom practically no American can name, the US killed 128 people, 13 of them children, none of whom it meant to harm. …
Some 24 men specifically targeted in Pakistan resulted in the death of 874 people. All were reported in the press as “killed” on multiple occasions, meaning that numerous strikes were aimed at each of them. The vast majority of those strikes were unsuccessful. An estimated 142 children were killed in the course of pursuing those 24 men, only six of whom died in the course of drone strikes that killed their intended targets.
In Yemen, 17 named men were targeted multiple times. Strikes on them killed 273 people, at least seven of them children. At least four of the targets are still alive.
The U.S. government has implemented targeted killings since the Sept. 11 attacks as a counter terrorism measure and as retribution against al Qaeda and the Taliban. Under the Obama administration, many of these targeted killings have been carried out using unmanned drones. Despite the high number of civilian casualties, President Barack Obama has repeatedly defended the strikes. To paraphrase, the only way, it seems, to get a bad guy with a gun is to take out a whole bunch of good guys without guns.
Targeted killings? That’s exactly what the attacks in Brussels, Paris, Turkey and elsewhere were. Targeted killings exactly as were those killings that targeted relatives of those radical Islamists. The resentment engendered by the targeted killings of civilians in the Middle East has come home to haunt those of us living in the West. It’s tit for targeted killing tat, and killing civilians is what it’s about on both sides. The chickens always do come home to roost.
Hulk Hogan and Erin Andrews can get millions for an illegally made or publicized sex tape. Victims of US and western violence don’t get as much as an “I’m sorry for your loss.”