Amidst the bellicosity and vengefulness of Republican presidential candidates in their shared resolve to eradicate “radical Islam,” we learn that roughly nine our of every 10 people killed by U.S.-launched drone strikes in Afghanistan, and perhaps a similar number elsewhere, are civilians. Among the dead are children.
Imagine that you are a grieving Afghan parent of a dead child. Neither you nor any member of your family was involved in hostilities. You just wanted to be left alone to live under precarious circumstances. But you are also angry that an errant missile struck your child and perhaps dozens of others.
In America, the Administration regrets the “inadvertent” casualties, suggesting that the deaths were “collateral damage” as part of the U.S. effort to prosecute its “war on terror,” an otherwise noble and necessary cause.
You, the Afghan parent, find no solace whatsoever in such words, deeming them feeble excuses. Besides, it is obvious to you that your life and the lives of your family simply don’t matter.
In America, Islamic “radicals” mow down innocents celebrating the holidays. We Americans are outraged. Some of us condemn Islam itself. Others would ban all Muslim immigrants. A few would obliterate entire Islamic countries, converting “collateral” into “intentional” damage.
Implicit in such reactions is the belief that America can kill innocents abroad but that no one should be allowed to kill Americans at home. We count. They don’t. Asymmetry.
Such is empire.