It seems like I can never get through to people why I am not willing to join them in their opposition to drone warfare in Pakistan. It’s not surprising that I’m not getting through to some people, who derail any discussion of the matter with specious appeals about purported mounds of dead children. (As I’ve pointed out before, drone warfare is a good deal more accurate than most of its critics are willing to admit – even the harshest numbers floated by some more disreputable sources indicate that far more of the terrorists are killed by the drone attacks than civilians.) A recent post to my blog attracted the usual response from the firebagger crowd – more specious appeals about dead children.
Nevertheless, I persist in trying to get people to see the point. What I am presuming is that, if people are really concerned about the loss of innocent life in all circumstances (which is the suggestion the firebaggers seem to want to make here), then they will be beside themselves about the Taliban in Pakistan publicly threatening the life of a Pakistani politician who went out of his way to _organise protests against US drone warfare_.
Yes, you read right. A Pakistani politician wants to stop the Americans from dropping bombs on Taliban and al-Qaeda installations in Pakistan, and the response of the Taliban is to call him a “liberal” and threaten to kill _him_.
Not so much as a thank you. Just promises of more death and destruction. Let me assure you, that’s as much as you’re going to get from them, too. Peacemakers, even those trying to stop the people who are bombing _them_, are not worth a bucket of warm spit to the Taliban or al-Qaeda. (Also, remember this is not an idle threat – Islamists tried to kill Pakistani politician Benazir Bhutto the minute she set foot in the country in 2007, and succeeded two months after that.)
Liberals of Mr. Khan’s stripe (and this is a guy that’s been called “the Ron Paul of Pakistan”, just so we’re clear what stripe that is) seem over and over again to forget who their real friends are. On one side, you have thugs who want to kill you for speaking your own opinions. On the other, you have people with whom you disagree but with whom you can reason. I’m not even saying you have to choose simply between those two sides. But which one do you treat more seriously? If you choose the ones who want to kill you just for being you, I can’t say I have anything but pity for your intellectual capacities.
The drones-and-dead-kiddies firebagger propagandists know that if the debate ever gets around to the question of “what is going to stop the Taliban and al-Qaeda from murdering those who disagree with their view of religion”, that’s not going to be a comfortable time for them, because at some point people are going to reach the conclusion that what might be necessary would be to stop those groups from using northern Pakistan as a staging ground for world terrorism…in other words, to do what the drone campaign is all about doing.
I consider myself a pacifist, but one of a pragmatic bent. I don’t believe I can stop all the world’s wars, because I can’t stop warmongers in foreign lands from starting them. Even if I can dissuade them from making war on a country I live in, or on some allied country, I can’t stop them from making war on their own people, because there are simply too many countries where the people are sufficiently disempowered, and somewhere, some ass is going to try it. What I can do, and what I think we should do, is resist the world’s warmongers in the way that saves the most people from dying in those wars that will happen. We shouldn’t go in guns blazing when that would result in more dead, but we shouldn’t ignore things and allow them to go on when _that would_ result in more dead.
I believe the US should be pulling out of Afghanistan, because I have not seen a decent rationale for why American soldiers should stay there. When soldiers sacrifice themselves but no additional protections from being killed are obtained, such a sacrifice profanes the memories of the soldiers who died.
It is possible that drone warfare (which at least risks none of the US soldiers) achieves no additional protections from being killed for those whom one wishes to protect. But the attitude of the Taliban suggests otherwise to me. These are not people suing for peace. These are people deliberately playing with the lives of Pakistanis, and trying to lay the blame for it at the foot of America’s president.
If you want to stop the drones, tell me what else will stop the Taliban and al-Qaeda. If you act like they don’t need to be stopped, assume that our conversation might as well end right there. But, if you have a credible method of stopping them that doesn’t involve drones and possibly would save more innocent lives (and even more guilty lives, for that matter, so long as Taliban and al-Qaeda power is broken), I am listening.
Are you? Or are we just going to hear the mounds-of-dead-children song-and-dance again?