Sunday, January 15, 2006

Anti-U.S. Protests In Pakistan Grow

What a mess this Predator drone missle strike in Pakistan has created for us. From the Financial Times:

Leaders of Pakistan’s opposition Islamic alliance were preparing on Sunday to launch a fresh campaign against president Pervez Musharraf’s government, as anti-US anger mounted in the wake of US airstrikes on a remote village in the north.

On Sunday, there were demonstrations in several towns and cities across the country as protestors vented their anger at the US. In Karachi, the southern port city, at least 10 thousand supporters of islamic and mainstream parties joined hands in protest, in a rare expression of solidarity.

“America, stop killing our muslim brothers,” they chanted.

The weekend attack, believed to have been carried out by a CIA-operated unmanned drone aircrafts on Friday, left at least 18 people dead including women and children. But Pakistani officials said Ayman al-Zawahiri, al Qaeda’s second in command believed to have been targeted by the US, was not near the site of the strike.

“Innocent blood has been spilt. This would not go unanswered” shouted a protester at weekend in Bajaur, the remote mountainous region along the Afghan border, where Damadola, a small village was the target of the attack.


On Saturday, Pakistan protested the attack in a rare act of official condemnation of the US. The two countries have closely worked together since Pakistan turned its back on Afghanistan’s former Taliban regime following the New York terrorist attacks in New York in 2001 and extended military and political support to the US cause against terror.

Pakistan’s foreign ministry said: “As a result of this act there has been loss of innocent civilian lives which we condemn”. Sheikh Rashid Ahmed, the information minister told a news conference in Islamabad, the government wanted “to assure the people we will not allow such incidents to reoccur” in future.

After watching the various talking heads on TV this morning, I cannot understand why nobody in either the government or the media can get their pointy little heads around the fact that killing innocent civilians while in the process of trying to assassinate Al Qaeda # 2 man Al-Zawahri might be counterproductive to the War on Terror.

It seems pretty plain to me.

Should we try to kill Al-Zawahri or Bin laden or other known terrorists?

Of course.

But we should be prepared to pay the penalty if we kill innocent civilians in the process.

After listening to Senator John McCain on Face The Nation this morning, I realized that most Americans seem to think killing civilians while in the process of trying to "get the terrorists," though unfortunate, is justified.

McCain seemed to be saying as much on the TV today.

Now this is a legitimate realpolitik point of view, I suppose, and I can understand the rationale for why some Americans may feel this way (i.e., they killed some of ours and anything we do to make sure it doesn't happen again is justified.)

But in terms of practicality, it seems to that having this blase attitude that sometimes innocents will be hurt in war, oh well, undermines the notion that we are better than the terrorists.

And I know the logistics of killing a guy like Al-Zawahri who's hiding in the remote regions between Afganistan and Pakistan is difficult, but nonetheless dropping bombs onto a village that "actionable intelligence" indicates might contain our target seems more often than not to harm innocent civilians without ever hitting the actual target.

Which undermines whatever little credibility we still have left in the Muslim world.

I mean, aren't we trying to both show and tell people in the Muslim world that we're better than the terrorists primarily because we value life?

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