Last year I wrote a series of articles on 'Discrimination, distrust and xenophobia' (listed in the sidebar). I tried to address the non-stop condemnation of all Muslims and the whole of Islam by those who hold the adherents of that religion responsible for everything from terrorism to ingrown toenails. Amongst many other points, in the fourth article in the series, I said this:
Islamic terrorists murdered over 2,900 non-combatant civilian victims on September 11th, 2001. However, since that date, our armed forces have killed vastly more non-combatant Muslim civilians (men, women and children) as part of our military response to 9/11. Estimates vary widely, but the lowest figures I've seen are over 14,000 civilian deaths in Iraq, and over 6,000 in Afghanistan, all directly killed by US forces and their allies. The true totals may be two to three times higher. Those casualties were not, repeat, NOT combatants. Some talk flippantly about 'collateral damage' . . . but that's obscene. Those were living, breathing human beings, just like the victims of 9/11. If the deaths of the latter were an atrocity, why not the deaths of the former as well? Put yourself in the shoes of an average citizen of Iraq or Afghanistan today - particularly one whose relatives and/or friends were among the non-combatant casualties inflicted by our forces. If you were Muslim, how would those numbers make you feel towards the USA? (Yes, I'm well aware that tens of thousands of non-combatant casualties have been inflicted by the Taliban in Afghanistan, and by terrorists in Iraq. Nevertheless, we're supposed to be better than terrorists. 'Collateral damage' makes a mockery of that.)
. . .
Please note that I'm not an apologist for fundamentalist Islamic paranoia. It's misguided, ill-informed and unrealistic. Nevertheless, I try very hard to face the facts. It's no good living in cloud cuckoo land and imagining the world as I want it to be. It is what it is. Reality and the facts of history demonstrate that Muslims do have good reasons to be suspicious of the West. They do have cause to remember how they've been used, then abandoned, by outside powers during wider conflicts such as the Cold War (see Part 2 of this series).
There's more at the link.
Keep that in mind as you read this news report, published today.
Fifteen people on their way to a wedding in Yemen were killed in an air strike after their party was mistaken for an al Qaeda convoy, local security officials said on Thursday.
The officials did not identify the plane in the strike in central al-Bayda province, but tribal and local media sources said that it was a drone.
. . .
The United States has stepped up drone strikes as part of a campaign against Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), regarded by Washington as the most active wing of the militant network.
Yemen, AQAP's main stronghold, is among a handful of countries where the United States acknowledges using drones, although it does not comment on the practice.
Human Rights Watch said in a detailed report in August that U.S. missile strikes, including armed drone attacks, have killed dozens of civilians in Yemen.
Again, more at the link.
The drone was probably operated by the CIA, or by the US Air Force on behalf of the CIA. We'll almost certainly never find out for sure. However, a few things can be predicted with confidence.
- That couple (if both survived the attack) will never forget their wedding.
- They'll bring up their children (if any) to remember how the USA tried to kill their parents before the wedding, and succeeded in killing their relatives and friends.
- The survivors of the attack, and the rest of the guests at the wedding, will go home to tell their loved ones and children about the attack - and they won't do so dispassionately and objectively.
- Right now all those who survived are filled with anger and bitter hatred. After all, those who died were innocent civilians. There was no reason whatsoever to kill them.
- If, in future years, some of the survivors - or the victims' children - turn up as extremist terrorists in Al Qaeda or similar groups . . . guess what will have motivated them to be there?
This sort of attack is simply inexcusable. We, the people of the USA, have innocent blood on our hands this day because we refuse to rein in an Administration that seems blindly convinced it can kill anyone it pleases in Yemen, even when it has not been (and cannot possibly have been) proved that they pose a threat to us.
This wasn't 'collateral damage'.
This wasn't 'a mistake'.
There's no other word for it.
What's more, the survivors of that attack, and the people of Yemen, know that the murderers will never be brought to justice.
Let's leave their (and our) religion out of the equation altogether. Let's consider simple human nature. If you were in their shoes, right now . . . how would you feel about the USA?