September 15, 2012
It would be naïve to assume that no country has ever violated the Geneva Convention and it would be suicidal to think that war-time behaviors will change anytime in the near future. But evidence indicates, and witness testimony proves, that the US government is intentionally targeting civilians in Pakistan, including women and children. Is violating the Geneva Convention only morally reprehensible when it happens on your home turf?
Americans typically think of the Geneva Convention in relationship to treatment of prisoners of war. Yet, the articles of the Fourth Geneva Convention (1949) established protections for the wounded, and for civilians in and around a war zone. Special provisions were also included to protect the people responding to the scene who were there to collect and care for the wounded.
A video created by Saad Ali, a contributor at WeAreChange.org, exposes the fact that the US government is currently using unmanned aerial vehicles, or drones, to attack Pakistani civilians, including children and first responders attempting to give aid to victims, a clear violation of the Geneva Convention.
In a recent statement, President Obama says that he wants to make it clear that drone strikes are not responsible for a large number of civilian casualties, but the fact that there are any should start setting of some alarms.
A 2004 FBI report warned that “Terrorists may use secondary explosive devices to kill and injure emergency personnel responding to an initial attack.” Their goal, as the FBI reported, is to incite even more terror.
Since then, the US Justice Department has prosecuted some of the nation’s most notorious domestic terrorists on the grounds that they used this “double tap” tactic to incite additional terror, most notably Eric Rudolph, who was convicted of bombing gay nightclubs and abortion clinics. Rudolph was targeting “federal agents by placing second bombs nearby set to detonate after police arrived to investigate the first explosion.”
So the US government clearly recognized these attacks on responders as a morally reprehensible act. Yet, in 2010, WikiLeaks published the now infamous Collateral Murder video, showing a US Apache helicopter attacking a group of people they claimed were insurgents, and following it up with an attack on the people who tried to pull the “insurgents” to safety.
The WikiLeaks video clearly shows the Apache gunner firing rounds into people who are already dead or seriously wounded, a clear violation of the Geneva Convention. As a van pulls up next to the victims and people emerge to try to pull the wounded to safety, the Apache makes another pass and attacks the rescuers, another clear violation of the Convention.
Killed in the attack were more than a dozen innocent people, including two Reuters employees. Trapped inside the van and seriously injured were two young children. Their father was killed in the attack, as they looked on. Strike three, you’re out.
While Americans understand the rules of the Geneva Convention it’s difficult for some to view them as anything other than an abstract concept because the war on terror is being fought on foreign soil. But Saad Ali gives us a poignant example of what happens to innocent civilians when these rules are ignored.
In his video, Saad Ali states that more than 3,000 Pakistan civilians, 200 of them children, have been killed by drone attacks. “President Barack Obama has authorized 311 drone strikes in Pakistan since he took office in 2009.” The first was ordered just 3 days after his inauguration on January 20, 2009, resulting in the deaths of 19 innocent civilians, including four children.
To illustrate the atrocities, Saad Ali recounts the story of a civilian farmer, Hamid Abdullah, a refugee whose daughter had just been married. The following morning, as he walked to the bazaar for groceries, he witnessed a drone attack on the market. Out of concern for the victims, Abdullah ran to see if he could be of any help. As he approached, another incoming drone attacked and destroyed his home, killing his entire family, including the daughter who had just been married.
During an Q&A with Hilary Clinton that’s shown in Ali’s video, a Pakistani woman asks, “How do you expect the people of Pakistan not to have anti-American sentiments when day in and day out we hear about drone attacks that kill more innocent people than militants?”
Hillary Clinton said, “I do not believe that there is any basis for your comment. There has been a lot of focus on doing what is necessary to protect Pakistan, to protect Afghanistan, and to protect Americans.”
According to Saad Ali, the American people look at the people in Pakistan and wonder why they hate us so much. The deaths of 3,000 innocent civilians might have something to do with it. But the US government is blaming these deaths on Al Qeada and the war on terror and calling them collateral damage. The US government is also refusing to admit they’re doing anything wrong and refuses to release the legal documentation showing justification for the drone strikes.
Dennis Kucinich says that 10 civilians die for every one suspected militant in US drone strikes and out of the 114 drone attacks in Pakistan at least 32% of those killed by the strikes were civilians.
But maybe we’re not really violating the Geneva Convention because, as Ali’s video points out, some of these drone attacks are being carried out by the Blackwater special operations group, a covert private security contractor hired by the US government, operating under the command of the US Joint Special Operations Command.
Blackwater, a.k.a. Xe Services, has been in trouble repeatedly in the past and the leader, Eric Prince, is a Christian extremist who operates his company in a manner that encourages the killing of Muslims. In fact, the members of Blackwater make a game of it. Blackwater is not overseen by Congress, therefore they don’t answer to the Geneva Convention, and the only thing they’re loyal to is a paycheck.
In another drone attack that happened just last weekend 4 missiles were fired, killing at least six militants in North Wasiristan Agency. But in a second, follow-up attack, two more missiles were fired while “militants” were removing the wreckage from the first strike. It’s important to note that the US now defines “militant” as “all military-age males in a strike zone.”
Ali also discusses Project for the New American Century, who state that they want to destabilize Muslim countries in order to create a clash of civilization. Pakistan is a very large country and they have nuclear weapons, so by destabilizing Pakistan internally Obama doesn’t have to declare war, thus avoiding the potential for World War III. Ali calls it a “Proxy War” and it’s purpose is to ruin Pakistan’s alliance with China before Pakistan can become an energy corridor between Iran and China.
The drone attacks ordered by Obama are responsible for killing thousands of innocent civilians and included in that number are more than 200 young children. Read Saad Ali’s article and watch his video to get the full details, but as a reminder of our humanitarian obligations, the following quote comes from Ali:
“It’s a foreign concept to the western world. Imagine a foreign invader with technology you’ve never seen, attack(s) your suburban development. A missile hits your home on your way back from work. You pull up to your wife and children mangled, dead, burning on the lawn. Your immediate response is anguish and pain. Soon after you compose yourself, you consult family, and retrieve you fireproof safe containing a collection of firearms and ammunition.”
Can you really blame them for hating Americans?
Donna Anderson writes for Examiner.com