The prospect of Hillary Clinton being President of the United States of America is one to fill our minds with dread concerning the likely posture of Washington in foreign affairs should she ever attain the Oval Office. There is no doubt she would continue or even increase the intensity of Washington’s military confrontations with China and Russia – and enjoy smacking the wrists of smaller countries whose actions might displease her. Indeed her castigation might go further, even to the extent of rejoicing in the murder of national leaders such as President Gaddafi of Libya, about whom she laughed «We came. We saw. He died».
There is no doubt that under her reign the US military presence around the world would expand and that there would not be closure of any of the armed forces’ bases surrounding China and Russia, or the slightest decrease in size or aggressive posture of the US nuclear-armed fleets that roam the seas and oceans.
Drone assassinations will continue and more innocent people like that poor taxi driver in Pakistan will be killed by US Hellfire missiles guided by gleeful techno-cretins who move control sticks and prod buttons to play barbaric video games from their comfortable killing couches in drone-control bases.
To remind you: on May 21 a taxi driver called Mohammad Azam was earning his tiny daily wage by picking up passengers who crossed the Iranian border into Pakistan. Sometimes he would take them only to nearby villages, but that day he picked up a client who wanted to go to the city of Quetta, eight hours drive away. He drove off in his Toyota Corolla, and a few hours later, when he stopped for a rest, the Pentagon’s Hellfires struck and blasted the car to twisted shards of metal – and reduced Azam and his customer to smoking corpses.
Another case of «We came. We saw. They died».
Azam’s passenger was the brutal Taliban leader Mullah Akhtar Mansoor, travelling under a false identity. His sought-for anonymity didn’t do him much good, however, because while he was in Iran or – more likely – when he was going through border crossing examination on the Pakistan side, a US-paid agent planted a chip on him that could be tracked by the missile-shooting video-gamers.
Azam didn’t know Mullah Mansour and was not associated with the Taliban or any other such organisation. He was an entirely innocent man trying to earn enough money to feed his family – his wife, four children and a crippled brother who stayed with them.
But Azam was killed by the same US Hellfire missiles that killed Mullah Mansoor.
The Pentagon stated that «Mansur has been an obstacle to peace and reconciliation between the Government of Afghanistan and the Taliban, prohibiting Taliban leaders from participating in peace talks with the Afghan government that could lead to an end to the conflict». So they killed him. And they also killed the taxi driver Mohammad Azam.
If a person in a foreign country that can’t retaliate to drone strikes is declared an enemy of the United States there is no question of arrest, charge and trial. They are killed by a drone missile strike, personally authorised by the President.
In 2013 President Obama announced that «the United States will use lethal force only against a target that poses a continuing, imminent threat to US persons». He stressed that there must be «near certainty that non-combatants will not be injured or killed», and that «the United States respects national sovereignty and international law».
But the US president officially assassinated two people in a country whose prime minister said bluntly that the drone attack was a gross violation of national sovereignty. The White House and the Pentagon might – just might – be able to convince a War Crimes Tribunal that their killing of Mullah Mansur was a boon and a blessing to men. But how could they claim that their murder of the taxi driver Azam was justified? When did it become «respectful of international law» to deliberately slaughter a taxi driver?
The US Secretary of State, John Kerry, declared that the assassination of Mansoor «sends a clear message to the world that we will continue to stand with our Afghan partners as they work to build a more stable, united, secure and prosperous Afghanistan». Which was no doubt solace to the widow and three children of driver Azam when his hideously charred fragmented corpse was delivered next day.
Three weeks after the drone murder of Azam the taxi driver there was a massacre of 49 people in the US city of Orlando. It was horrible. Much (but far from all) of the world was aghast, and there was emotion displayed in Europe and North America, with candle-lit vigils, solemn silences of respect in parliaments and other demonstrations of sympathy and solidarity.People like Obama and Kerry and Clinton and countless millions of others could not care less about the smashing, flashing, hideously agonising death of the innocent taxi driver Azam. The video-gamers had killed yet another totally innocent non-combatant, but no doubt they slept soundly on the night that Azam’s children began to realise their terrible loss.
The day before the Orlando killings it was reported that «at least 30 people were killed after Islamic State militants fired at civilians trying to flee the Iraqi city of Fallujah. Most of the casualties were women and children who were trying to escape to reach the Amiriyat Al-Fallujah refugee camp». The slaughter of innocent human beings also continues in Libya and Syria and Afghanistan. Countless thousands have died – and there hasn’t been a western candle lit in sorrowful commemoration of one single Iraqi, Libyan, Syrian or Afghan in wars that are entirely the fault of Western powers.
Western governments are highly selective in displaying disapproval and grief following killings, be they mass or individual. It could hardly be expected that the US assassination of a Pakistani taxi driver would attract the slightest sympathy or censure.
The murder-by-drone of taxi driver Azam by the Pentagon’s video-game missile managers could be well summed up by Hillary Clinton’s happy rejoicing about the murder of President Gaddafi during the US-NATO blitz on Libya, when she laughingly declared that «We came. We saw. He died».
And thinking about the future… Would you be surprised if in twenty years or so one of the children of taxi driver Azam were to take up a gun and kill Americans?
This report prepared by BRIAN CLOUGHLEY for Strategic Culture Foundation.