There’s an old saying that someone who kills a man is a murderer but one who kills a million is a conqueror and killing them all makes you god. If you add the words “unintentionally” and add loaded terminology that is supposed to passively excuse murder, then you get the current US foreign policy.
In one of the most egregious displays of that in some time, a US air strike killed around 60 civilians (including several children) in Syria recently. There are disputes over the numbers given the lack of transparency the US government tends to maintain. For example while The Guardian reported around 60 civilians the International Business Times says it’s closer to 85.
The rationale is the usual suspect: wrong place at the wrong time.
“The UK-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said the strikes appeared to have been carried out in error, with the civilians mistaken for Islamist militants” reports The Guardian.
The war on terror continues to be waged through the very thing the US empire says it’s against: terror. And as many people have already pointed out, these are the exact kinds of tactics that will only motivate more people to join the Islamist militants. Why would you join the Syria Democratic Forces when they’re backed by a regime that just bombed your entire family?
These bombings whether accidental or not do nothing but create animosity between people and different cultures. To the extent that they actually hit the correct targets they are usually insufficient to end the war. It needs to be joined by larger efforts to end the terrorists’ recreation and propaganda, but this becomes harder when you have an outside force constantly bellowing orders from the back seat.
In his classic essay The Use of Knowledge in Society economist Friedrich Hayek talked about the benefits of deferring to localized knowledge. The drone bombings are just one example of foreign policy officials taking charge and ignoring the particulars of the region for their own grand plan of “freeing” the Syrians.
The US isn’t alone in this sort of bombing with The Guardian also reporting that, “Rebels and many residents say Russia’s bombing campaign has been even more indiscriminate and accuse the Russians of deliberately hitting hospitals, schools and infrastructure in opposition-held areas, something Moscow denies.”
Whether it’s the US or the Russian empire, the basic fact is that they’re designed to kill. When you take an organization that can subsidize many of its costs for war through involuntary funds and overly bloated corporations who can profit off of it, you’ve got a procedure to standardize endless warfare.
And if the 21st century has shown us anything it’s that the government can get its hands on the technologies that make warfare easier, even if that doesn’t need to be it’s primary purpose. For example Amazon.com, while surely not being part of a free market at least doesn’t use any of its drones to drop bombs on people suspected of defrauding other customers.
The egoist Max Stirner remarked that, ‘The state calls its own violence law, but that of the individual, crime”, and this applies perfectly to the practice of war. Drone bombings are just acts of terrorism, that is to say, political acts that are designed to create terror to further certain political goals. The political goal here is unsurprisingly showing the dominance of the US empire.
And as long as the US empire wants to flex its muscle and the taxpayers either see nothing wrong with it or don’t have the powers to challenge it, these cycles of violence will continue. Just like the police shootings invite violence, so do these drone bombs and so does the government at the heart of things. Because government itself is the violence and is the facilitator of these violent acts.
It’s just that sometimes the violence is more visible than other times.