What kind of example is the US setting?

According to a UN human right official, a very bad one. He and others have been looking closely at the recent spate of drone attacks conducted by the US, which have killed a whole lot of civilians. These drone attacks are occurring both in the areas where the US is conducting war (i.e., state-sponsored terrorism) and in Pakistan, a country with which it is not at war, although it has awarded itself the privilege of killing people there anyway because, well, it wants to.

Is it alright to go around killing people across the globe, in other peoples’ countries, because you consider them bad guys? The US has by now killed dozens of civilians in Paksistan. A recent US military review was scathing in its assessments of how these are being carried out: with no accountability, and little evidence that they are actually gonna kill the right guy. So someone somewhere suspects for whatever reason that there might be bad guys in that house or in that vehicle – hit them with a drone, from a thousand miles up, with massive firepower sponsored by the US taxpayers. Oops, they were civilians, well, better luck next time. Good thing it’s only Pakistan, which has no political clout to retaliate. Carte blanche, right?

The UN human rights guy made his comment in Geneva at a human rights meeting.

“I’m particularly concerned that the United States seems oblivious to this fact when it asserts an ever-expanding entitlement for itself to target individuals across the globe,” he told the 47-member council.

Speaking on Wednesday Alston said the use of drone strikes carried a risk of developing a “Playstation” mentality to killing, “because operators are based thousands of miles away from the battlefield, and undertake operations entirely through computer screens and remote audio-feed”.

One of the major problems is accountability. Its alright to kill civilians if they belong to one of those politically weak countries like Afghanistan, Iraq, or Pakistan. If it were a politically strong country like Iran, Israel, Turkey, France, or Great Britain, of course one would need to be careful. There would need to be accountability. Hence, Pakistani civilians are only kind of human, whereas Frenchmen are fully human, meaning we would be careful not to accidentally kill them if they weren’t terrorists.


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