View Full Version : Blown to Bits - Shahid Masod - 29th November 2012

29th November 2012, 10:08 AM
Well before the events of 9-11, I drew a cartoon of the Taliban depicted as an illiterate ape. When the cartoon was published, I started receiving threatening letters, which I handed over to the police. At the same time, I also started receiving emails from the Revolutionary Association of the Women in Afghanistan (http://www.google.com.pk/url?sa=t&rct=j&q=&esrc=s&source=web&cd=1&cad=rja&ved=0CC0QFjAA&url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.rawa.org%2F&ei=JVG2UOf5PI-KhQfovoC4DQ&usg=AFQjCNH7Oa4msOPkbehMUMiFC9fb6sTVxA&sig2=_5J19GNybR43BZgTa_cI_g) (RAWA). RAWA is an organisation of Afghani women fighting for basic human rights in Afghanistan. They saw me as an ally and sent dozens of photographs showing the atrocities being carried out by the Taliban. The images haunt me — corpses of young children half buried, swinging lifelessly from trees — executed by ideological drones in the name of fundamentalism.
Last week, a Syrian jet fighter dropped a cluster bomb on a playground. Ten children died and 40 were injured. Town residents uploaded images of the grisly carnage within hours. It was horrific. Under the Geneva Convention (http://www.google.com.pk/url?sa=t&rct=j&q=&esrc=s&source=web&cd=1&cad=rja&ved=0CC8QFjAA&url=http%3A%2F%2Fen.wikipedia.org%2Fwiki%2FGeneva_ Conventions&ei=11G2UNHOE4m5hAfZ8oDYBw&usg=AFQjCNH8T15k86DNGVBUTTO6y1IyG7KuaA&sig2=j8uRPOLzm3NHljTf5wtxJw), only military targets are legitimate. Civilians and civilian buildings such as schools and hospitals are not acceptable targets.
President Barack Obama’s Administration is currently preparing guidelines that will ensure targeted assassination by unmanned drones are justifiable under the proper circumstances. President Obama in a recent interview with Jon Stewart on “The Daily Show (http://www.google.com.pk/url?sa=t&rct=j&q=&esrc=s&source=web&cd=2&cad=rja&ved=0CDMQtwIwAQ&url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.thedailyshow.com%2Fwatch%2Fth u-october-18-2012%2Fbarack-obama-pt--1&ei=O1K2UIPiDIXChAeh74CACQ&usg=AFQjCNFe8Ea2ISp30OLC5SuHkd55-knRqg&sig2=5ShhgslbcvX04JmT8EPaAg)” said: “One of the things we’ve got to do is put legal architecture in place to make sure that not only am I reined in but any president is reined in, in terms of some of the decisions we’re making.” Many Americans are wary, believing the use of drones violates international law (http://tribune.com.pk/story/455840/british-support-for-drones-in-pakistan-may-include-war-crimes-report/). It can be argued that President Obama’s Administration is not preparing guidelines but rather rejecting international convention that has for decades condemned extrajudicial killing.
Joe Scarborough, a talk show host on “MSNBC”, made some incisive comments while interviewing Time Magazine’s columnist Joe Klein. Scarborough remarked how the United States crossed all ethical lines when killing innocent people using drones. He said, “This is offensive to me … because it is done with a joystick in California — and it seems so antiseptic, it seems so clean — and yet, you have four-year-old girls being blown to bits because we have a policy that now says: Instead of trying to go in and take the risk and get the terrorists out of hiding in a Karachi suburb, we’re just going to blow up everyone around them.” Klein’s chilling response was, “The bottom line in the end is: whose four-year-old gets killed? What we’re doing is limiting the possibility that four-year-olds here (in the United States) will get killed by indiscriminate acts of terror.”
Drone strikes killed 112 children during the presidency of George W Bush. Up until this year, over 50 children were killed in drone strikes under the Obama Administration. Drones allow the United States to wage war by limiting its own military casualties. There is no need for horses and bayonets when one’s arsenal has Predators and Hellfires. Since “collateral damage” is no longer a congressional deterrent, there’s less of an incentive to value human life — demonstrating why “push-button warfare” is so deadly. Howard Zinn, an American historian, once said, “There is no flag large enough to cover the shame of killing innocent people.” He is right; war is destructive not only because it kills people but also because it erodes the moral fibre of the people who wage it.
Published in The Express Tribune, November 29th, 2012.