Adonis Diaries

Plutonium depleted bombs effects? Ask the Iraqis, Palestinians, and Afghanistanis

Posted on: March 16, 2012

Plutonium depleted bombs effects? Ask the Iraqis, Palestinians, and Afghanistanis

Last week a US “rogue soldier” massacred in Afghanistan 16 civilian victims, nine of whom were childrenThis soldier is to face trial and defense minsiter Paneta think that the soldier will ultimately be sent to death row

Ross Caputi wondered in March 13: “Why aren’t Westerners equally outraged when drone attacks kill entire families?”

Caputi wrote (with slight editing and sentences in parenthesis mine):
“This incident has elicited rage among Afghans and westerners alike. But why are westerners not equally outraged when drone attacks kill entire families?

Drone attacks that kill civilians usually fall into our category of “collateral damage”, because the dead civilians weren’t specifically targeted, and we treat this category as an unfortunate consequence of war, not murder.

Afghans see little difference : their loved ones are dead because of the conscious actions of NATO forces. Is the distinction between collateral damage and murder come down to the question of intent?

 Thomas Aquinas was one of the first to hone in on this distinction with his doctrine of double effect, which is still used today to justify collateral damage. It is believed in the west that some innocent death is excusable in war, as long as the deaths are not intended, and even if those deaths are foreseeable.

But if civilian deaths are foreseeable in a course of action, and we take that action anyway, did we not intend them? (They were surely intended to die!)  I doubt Afghans would feel much consolation knowing that their family members were not directly targeted, an unfortunate side-effect of war?

Yet, western audiences feel reassured knowing that most of the civilian deaths in Afghanistan were not intended; and they only become outraged when marines and soldiers clearly target civilians and kill women and childrenurinate on their bodies, and plunder their body parts as trophies.

From Abu Ghraib, to Fallujah, to Haditha, and now to Panjwai, US forces have committed massacres against civilians. These incidents stand out in the western mind, but to Afghans and Iraqis, they are no different from the daily slaughter of civilians by drones, air strikes, depleted uranium and stray bullets.

Tell a mother from Fallujah whose children have been horribly deformed by uranium weapons that her childrens’ suffering was unintended, even though the health effects of uranium-based weapons are well-known. (Are you aware of the effects of phosphorous bomb?  Kids re-igniting after fire is supposedly put down?)

Tell the survivors of drone attacks that their dead family members were not targeted, and that their deaths were an unfortunate consequence of war. Is their pain any different from the father whose entire family was murdered in this most recent atrocity?

If collateral damage is foreseeable, if it is really a fact of war (do you believe it?), is it not a crime to engage in war when it will inevitably kill innocents?

Is there really a morally significant difference between murder and collateral damage?

The “consequentialist” will argue that the good results outweigh the bad, that democracy, freedom and the liberation of Afghan women will improve the lives of Afghans so much that the deaths of a few are justified.

This is an easy judgment for westerners to make from the comforts of their own homes; but it stinks of the same patriarchy and arrogance of the white man’s burden that justified colonialism for so many years.

Has anyone consulted Afghans and asked them if they think the good that the west has promised will come of this occupation is worth the lives of their family members?

The occupation of Afghanistan is an “atrocity-producing situation”, as was the occupation of Iraq, and we have signed Afghans and Iraqis up for this against their will.

The nature of these occupations fosters atrocity. The invented enemy, the lack of a battlefield void of civilians, the supposed moral superiority of the occupiers, the obscure goals of the mission, the methods of training that prepare soldiers for occupation, and the methods of warfare all make the murder of civilians unavoidable.

In modern warfare, 90% of the casualties are civilian, but this is a reality that the West civilization likes to ignore.

(Drone attacks reminds me of the saying of an officers: “Kill them all. God will knows who was the innocent…”) 

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March 2012

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