Monday, February 8, 2010

Taliban and Air Strikes

Read this BBC article.

In Pakistan an account of life with the Taliban has emerged from a 13-year-old girl called Meena, who says her own family tried to turn her into a suicide bomber.

If I copied and quoted all of the important parts and quotes, I would end up copying the whole thing.  You really need to read this.  It is an amazing inside look at the senseless brutality and warped thinking of radical Islamic terrorists.

I would like to comment of several things.  First, note that this is Pakistan, not Afghanistan.  I missed that at first.

My main point of discussion is the air strike that killed the militants. Except for a chance of fate, the person being interviewed would have been killed as well.  It seems that the attack was by helicopter gunship, which means that it was a Pakistani army operation and not an American drone strike.  But this scenario has surely been repeated many times with an American finger on the trigger. 

We have killed hundreds of innocent civilians, just like Meena, in our attacks on Taliban militants.  This is an undisputed fact.  The question we need to be asking is: "Is it worth the cost?"  I think that it is, but I also think that we do not need to be the ones doing the shooting.  Instead of launching the drones ourselves, we should be lending them to Pakistan and then giving the Pakistani government whatever intel we manage to collect.  Then they can be the ones who make the choice about how many Meenas to kill in order to stop the suicide bombings.


NotanEster said...

meh. My first thought is that by lending our weapons, we are still indirectly endorsing/enabling civilian deaths. We still have to accept some responsibility for those deaths.

I am in favor of Pakistani sovereignty, yes, esp. in decisions involving collateral damage. But let's not forget who has the fingers on the purse and keys to the armory.

Alleged Wisdom said...

There is an acceptable number of civilian casualties in warfare, and that number is greater than zero. Exactly how high it is depends on how many other innocent lives you can save with the operation. I know that this sounds cold-hearted, but killing Meena is a small price to pay for wiping out a nest of militants that routinely send out suicide bombers to kill dozens of civilians.

The good news is that we are constantly developing better and better weapons technology that reduces the number of innocents killed per target. By letting our allies use this technology, we can actually reduce the number of innocents that get killed. They are going to attack terrorists anyway, and were probably planning on doing so in a way that involved collateral damage. We can help them reduce this damage.