Who’s the Enemy?January 11th, 2010

The Jordanian physician who blew himself to smithereens while meeting with a team of US intelligence agents in Afghanistan probably thought he was doing a good thing. As best we can determine, the dead agents were engaged in selecting targets for unmanned bombers in remote areas of Pakistan and Afghanistan, attacks that would certainly kill many innocent people, as such attacks have done time and time again. The tactic itself would be reckoned cowardly by just about anyone, since it evaporates so many noncombatants. Its victims are people who might well have survived a conventional military engagement, in which soldiers shoot at other soldiers, always trying to avoid hurting innocents. They die because we have superior technology that removes the soldier and his conscience from the field of battle, valor being the first casualty of this updated, US-brand of warfare. Unless you’re one of us, it’s got to be hard to take our side.

I’m one of us–I wore a uniform every day for four years–but when I try to put myself in the shoes of those intelligence agents, I can’t seem to manage it. In my book, their job was a war crime, and that must have taken a toll on them, too. There are videos on YouTube of people being killed by American remote-controllers, and they are chilling, stomach-turning. Being at the controls has to leave permanent scars on any normal person, and choosing targets for this sort of mayhem seems a prescription for suicide. Unless the Air Force and CIA are recruiting psychos for this campaign, they’re destroying the attackers as certainly as they’re blowing up hapless Afghans and Pakistanis.

The commander-in-chief who orders these remote-controlled raids gave two speeches in which he tried to justify the attacks–one, ironically, as he accepted the Nobel “Peace Prize.” His rationale was all but unintelligible. He babbled about amorphous dangers threatening the USA from remote parts, as if these unmanned bombing raids could possibly reduce them in any conceivable way. Fortunately for the commander-in-chief, the embedded mass media have decided not to discuss these attacks at all except to say that they are killing some bad guys. The deaths of innocents–a few foreign news services have published pictures of the little coffins with dead children in them–are covered not at all in our media.

The Jordanian may have hoped that his act would get our attention, maybe expose just what we’re doing that pissed him off so thoroughly. A vain hope, given the state of our media. Even so, the bomber probably saw his martyrdom as a win-win proposition. Unlike the Detroit underpants bomber, he would be killing people who were actually guilty of something, and he might also save some lives if he could slow down or put a stop to the aerial attacks, even temporarily. Wouldn’t it be ironic if his act led to retaliation that led to the expulsion of the foreign occupiers that led to peace for our soldiers and possible redemption for us? The suicide bomber that saved America. One brave, lethal Arab.