Friday, December 14, 2012

Left Side of the Aisle #86 - Part 5

Outrage of the Week: Children are military targets

This one is a little hard for me to stomach but I'll do it.

Back in October, there was an "incident" in Afghanistan.

"Incident" - what a wonderfully vague, anesthetizing word. I think of how my wife, who is a heart attack survivor, finds it so amusing that among the community of women who have survived heart attacks, the current vogue is to insist on calling each other "champions." You're not a survivor, you're a "champion." The other thing is referring to the heart attack itself as an "event." You don't ask someone "When did you have your heart attack," you ask "When was your event."

We don't want to use words that actually express what we're really saying. We want to shield ourselves from the reality, to hide behind euphemisms. My wife says "I didn't have an 'event,' I had a heart attack. I almost died." A block party, now that's an event. A movie premiere is an event. A heart attack - is not. It's nothing like those others. We use words to hide ourselves from the harshness of what we're expressing.

So in October, we had an "incident" in Afghanistan. In this "incident," three children, aged 8, 10, and 12, were killed by NATO bombing while gathering dung for fuel, something often done in the area since there aren't a lot of trees around. Reports, as always, conflicted: One said insurgents were bombed as they were digging holes to bury mines and the children were killed by shrapnel from the blast: They were "collateral damage," which is one of the all-time great euphemisms. Another, the only on-the-scene account, said that they went to the site right after the attack and there were no adult bodies there, just the children. The US at first - of course - denied any civilians were killed only to later say yeah, maybe we did kill some innocent people. But we done got us three insurgents and that's what counts - whoo-hoo!

Here's the thing: On December 3, Military Times published a despicable piece by two staff writers arguing in effect that children are legitimate military targets because sometimes insurgents use kids. They quote an unnamed "Marine official" at a Marine base in Afghanistan as suggesting the children were not innocent and in fact they were the three insurgents killed.

A senior Army officer in Afghanistan, one Lt. Col. Marion Carrington, referred to, in one of the more chilling of the euphemisms, "opening the aperture," the "aperture" through which the military looks at the world, so that our "aperture" now is not just looking for military-age males, all of who are assumed to be insurgents, but for in his words "children with potential hostile intent."

But y'know, maybe we shouldn't be surprised: This is not new. Maybe we shouldn't even be outraged - or, that's not true, rather we need to realize that this is not the root outrage.

Back in the early '70s, during the Indochina War, there was an outfit called NARMIC: National Action/Research on the Military-Industrial Complex. It was a project of the American Friends Service Committee, which as you may know is the social action arm of the Quaker church in the US. Well, NAARMIC produced a slide show called The Automated Air War in Indochina. It was about the use of anti-personnel bombs and more particularly for us here, about the use of electronic sensors to detect supposed enemy movements and so to direct bombing. It talked about how even at that time attacks were being directed by people far from the battlefield and about the military's plans to increasingly automate its wars. What we're seeing today, the drones, has been in development for a long time. It's not new, it's just more advanced.

Well, the real reason I bring up this old slide show is that it contained a quote from an Air Force training manual. Now, this was 40 years ago; I don't remember the particular name of the particular manual, but I did manage to locate the quote. This was the definition of a military target contained in that Air Force manual. A military target is:
Any person, thing, idea, entity, or location selected for destruction, inactivation, or rendering non-usable with weapons which will reduce or destroy the will or ability of the enemy to resist.
A military target, that is, is anything you think destroying will help you win your war. Anything you think will hurt "them" is a legitimate military target. So if you think blowing 8-year old children to smithereens with drone strikes and bombing is what will help you win, that is what you will do, because 8-year old children are legitimate military targets.

So if you buy into war, that is what you are buying into. If you buy into the Afghanistan War, if you bought into the Iraq War, if you buy into the bombing and drone attacks on Pakistan, on Yemen, and elsewhere, if you buy into the argument that drone strikes are okay or even a good thing because they are "better than ground forces," that is what you are buying into: You are buying into the idea that it's okay to bomb children because they might have "potential hostile intent."

And that is perhaps the most outrageous thing of all.


No comments:

// I Support The Occupy Movement : banner and script by @jeffcouturer / (v1.2) document.write('
I support the OCCUPY movement
');function occupySwap(whichState){if(whichState==1){document.getElementById('occupyimg').src=""}else{document.getElementById('occupyimg').src=""}} document.write('');