Thursday, December 24, 2009

A Christmas horror story

And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the fields, keeping watch over their flocks by night. ... Luke 2:8

We had heard a strange buzzing. Where was that sound coming from? One cold night Uncle Youseff came to visit. He was trekking to the city with his new wife. As they got into the back of the pick up truck to continue their journey, there was a flash of light and a blast knocked over family members waving goodbye . When the smoke cleared, the truck was a burning twisted hulk. There wasn't much left of Uncle, or the girl, or the driver.

"It created havoc," he said. "There was smoke and dust everywhere. Injured people were crying and asking for help." Then a third missile hit. "I fell to the ground," he said.

People who have seen an air strike live on a monitor described it as both awe-inspiring and horrifying. "You could see these little figures scurrying, and the explosion going off, and when the smoke cleared there was just rubble and charred stuff," a former C.I.A. officer who was based in Afghanistan after September 11th says of one attack. (He watched the carnage on a small monitor in the field.) Human beings running for cover are such a common sight that they have inspired a slang term: "squirters."


We didn't know why someone was shooting at us. We scattered away into the hills with the flocks, because we were afraid soldiers might come.

We sent a boy to ask the elders in town what was going on.. He came back with a strange tale: the local governor was afraid someone might try to overthrow him. He was very proud of holding his office and besides, it made him very rich. So he had begged the Empire to kill his enemies. Maybe the Empire was shooting at us?

...the U.S. government keeps broadening the definition of acceptable high-value targets. Last March, the Obama Administration made an unannounced decision to win support for the drone program inside Pakistan by giving President Asif Ali Zardari more control over whom to target. "A lot of the targets are nominated by the Pakistanis -- it's part of the bargain of getting Pakistani cooperation," says Bruce Riedel, a former C.I.A. officer who has served as an adviser to the Obama Administration on Afghanistan and Pakistan.

If it is true that the district governor brought this down on us, he should rot in hell and we will slit the throats of his children. We will blow up his palaces and dance on the rubble.

David Kilcullen, a counter-insurgency warfare expert who has advised General David Petraeus in Iraq, ... argues, "Every one of these dead non-combatants represents an alienated family, a new revenge feud, and more recruits for a militant movement that has grown exponentially even as drone strikes have increased."

It's hard to know what will happen now, but I am afraid.

And there shall be signs in the sun, and in the moon, and in the stars; and upon the earth distress of nations, with perplexity; the sea and the waves roaring; Men's hearts failing them for fear, and for looking after those things which are coming on the earth: for the powers of heaven shall be shaken.
Luke 21:25-6
(All quotations not from the Bible (KJV) are from Jane Mayer's New Yorker article, The Predator War. As I hope is obvious, the words of the imagined narrator are mine.)

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