Democracy Now reports today that nine more children were reportedly killed on Monday, outside the Syrian city of Tabqa, near Raqqa, as American-led coalition air strikes blew the shit out of their families. Two of the kids were babies, one a toddler, the other six months old, too young to toddle, but that’s the price of freedom, one supposes. Also the price for being born in ISIS’s capital in Syria. It is best if we don’t think of collateral damage as having names, though Amy Goodman recited the names of the two youngest dead and showed photographs of them.
I know the number of dead children in the link to the Minnesota Public Radio article above was less than nine, the mass-media is pretty hard-pressed to keep track of all the civilians reduced to collateral damage over there. In fairness to them, Americans have more pressing things to worry about than dead kids in some far off war-zone, even if we ourselves are killing them. The mass media reports on what people want to know about. Here’s a recent one from the NY Times, which can’t be faulted for not covering every such terrible event.
I am beyond being sickened at the cheer-leading by wealthy mass-media talking heads every time an American president rains down death like a super-virile psychopath winning a video game. Pundits of many political orientations raise their voices in a chorus of awed praise when an American president launches an impressive number of explosives and the explosions look dramatic. “Now this despicable, divisive weasel is finally OUR PRESIDENT!” they gush in unison under the rockets’ red glare.
There are, I assume, rare strategic situations where we have good intelligence that a particular group of very bad actors, bad hombres, you know, are in the final stage of planning some mass murder. A rare strategic situation where we know with virtual certainty that by killing these people, and even any innocents around them, we will prevent mass killing of many more innocent civilians. Not many people, not even a ‘bleeding heart’ like myself, would object to lethal state action under this rare, unambiguous, self-defense scenario, killing a few violent ones to prevent a much worse slaughter.
That said, “killing your way to peace” is generally just a way to kill and spend billions keeping the lucrative killing machine killing. Killing for peace is like fucking for chastity, as the old anti-war t-shirt used to read. The scenario where you drone the actual murderers as they are on their way to commit mass murder might be as rare as the ticking time bomb hypothetical used by patriotic American tough guys to justify America’s use of torture.
You know the one: to save a football stadium full of innocents who are sitting within range of the ticking time bomb you have to torture the bomber til he gives up the location of the bomb and the code to disarm the bomb.
The absurdity of this scenario is underscored when you consider the high-minded, committed type of fanatic who would plant such a bomb and be willing to die to serve his perverted notion of the holy.
The other side of this argument — that we must be as violent as our most violent enemies — of course, is that even though neither of these situations might ever have happened, it doesn’t mean they are not real hypotheticals. This logic is an example of why it is almost always pointless to argue with true believers. They will stop at nothing.
In a case where you could have targeted the nineteen fanatics who were about to blow up the airliners and all the people on 9/11– sure, bombs away, kill them all. Fuck ’em, drone ’em, drown ’em. Bring ’em back to life, kill ’em again, repeat.
Most of the airstrikes being launched by our military are nothing like that, though. The MOAB (“Mother of All Bombs”, tip of the hat to the lynched Saddam Hussein for that great name), that giant American bomb exploding a square mile of Afghanistan a week or two ago — the one that made this shaky, greedy, deliberately ill-informed president suddenly appear so irresistibly presidential to the mass media– nobody knows what that was for, exactly, though we must say, it appears to have served its intended public relations purpose.
I don’t wish anything bad on these talking heads on TV who applaud indiscriminate, dramatic destruction, nor on the career politicians who advocate and applaud unlimited murderous airstrikes. Oh, actually, just one bad thing, a drop of Biblical-style justice. Let their young children be accidentally reduced to chopped meat by missiles launched in American-led coalition airstrikes, you know “friendly fire” collateral damage. Might change the timbre of their fucking hosannas to American presidents who commit these things once quaintly considered war crimes. Might make them slightly more circumspect about beating the war drums and cheering into the megaphone when the president blows things up, or when the going starts getting tough for them.