I’m still reeling from news of the San Bernadino massacre, but what gets me is all this news about it. It’s still coming in: Is there a third killer? Victims in critical condition. What happened? What didn’t happen? Was it ISIL? Will we implement gun control?
I’m thinking about drone strikes. We don’t get much news about those. But drone strikes kill, by far, more civilians than rampage killers in the US do.
To be fair, I can’t be sure. Those that want to count can only take probable figures from several sources and create estimations based on sorties. The Obama administration doesn’t like to think about drone strike casualties. And it doesn’t like you thinking about them either. Obama’s issued executive orders to not permanently record casualties from drone strikes. And the eyes afield are ordered to not look very hard. We attack from maximum range, so all the people are little dots and we don’t get any closer to see if they’re good dots are bad dots.
And then, when we do get numbers, anyone who is not clearly a child or obviously infirm is a militant. That provides a jot of information there, though. If we get official counts of civilians, all those people are absolutely fer-sure civilians. Those are the toddlers and grandmothers that the PR guys couldn’t imagine might pick up a rifle. Everyone else who can walk upright, they assume, is just a draftee not-quite-yet-conscripted. Militants.
The official term by the official chain of command is officially bugsplat. Seriously. That’s what they call ’em. Bugsplat. As in It’ll be hard to see the bugsplats in the rubble.
Rolls right off the tongue, yes?
Bugsplat. That’s dronespeak for a recently-dead human being. Someone’s brother. Someone’s grandmother. Someone’s daughter. Someone’s boy. Bugsplats, the lot of them.
That’s right. There were fourteen Americans massacred in San Bernadino in a rampage shooting today (so far! Seventeen more injured last count I read). We’re wailing and gnashing our teeth over these people. And in Afghanistan, ordinary people who mean us no ill will get their ordinary lives cut short every day, because officials in our government want that. And those officials call them bugsplats.
In Afghanistan alone (i.e. not including the Pakistan theater) we fly about five-hundred drone assault-sorties a year. And these drones are really good. Per mission, drone strikes kill ten times the numbers that piloted air-strikes kill. They even have software that computes how the blast is going to unfold so they can plant it just so for maximum damage. We don’t know who we just massacred but we know we splatted them real good. We don’t even know if the bad guys were actually there. They’re not now! The folks at the CIA send these sorties on minimum intel (e.g. there’s people at this spot) because they just seem to like making bugsplats.
Do we really care about human lives? Is it not completely grotesque to everyone that the US delivers to Afghanistan, a continuous hyperloop of San-Bernadino-Christmas-Party-Massacre-style-bugsplatting? If we really want to save human lives, we could cut off that delivery service tonight. That one is in fact, a point-source of death and tragedy and sadness that is probably not doing anyone any good.
Obama could decide tonight No, man, this was such a dumb idea. Let’s put the pinpoint back in pinpoint bombing. He could call the CIA and just shut that pipeline down. And real human beings with real lives would have a much better day tomorrow, on account that they’d actually have a day.
And you know, I don’t buy into the karma thing, but I do know that storms and butterflies sometimes interact, and some people in the United States might be slightly less motivated to go amuck and shoot up a public place. I even bet a lot of people would just be that much happier that their nation has chosen to show a modicum of mercy on the grounds that people everywhere, even ones in adversarial territories, are worth not indiscriminately killing.
I don’t know. Maybe this is a total Code-Pink blue-sky idea, but I do think that our nation’s officers and administrators could choose to lead by example, and if they show humanity and mercy and humility that people will follow.
And if they don’t, well, I bet the people will follow.