FeatureOpinion ColumnsOpinions & Editorials

The Fourth Estate, part one

I pose a simple question to President Barack Obama, how many innocent lives are you willing to waste in Pakistan?

During his 2008 Presidential campaign, Obama responded to inquiries about expanding the war in Afghanistan to include attacks across the Pakistani border. He stated, if Osama bin Laden was discovered in Pakistan, American forces wouldn’t hesitate to attack.

CIA drone — unmanned aircraft — attacks have continued since Obama took office, but bin Laden hasn’t been seen. The CIA claims these attacks are killing high-level al-Qaida members, who use Pakistan’s  Federally Administered Tribal Areas as a staging point for launching insurgent attacks into Afghanistan.

While this may be true, the unsanctioned expansion of America’s war in the Middle East to include yet another sovereign country carries a gruesome cost.

It’s difficult to pinpoint exactly how many Pakistani civilians have been killed in CIA drone strikes since Obama took office. If the US military’s estimates are accurate, nearly half of those killed are not al-Qaida insurgents. Al-Qaida fighters in the FATA hide amongst the poor, nomadic Pashtun who populate the region.

The Pakistani government voices two legitimate complaints. The first: Pakistan is a sovereign nation that doesn’t need United State’s help to kill its civilians. Secondly, Pakistani officials argue these actions strengthen al-Qaida’s numbers — dead children are a powerful recruiting tool in areas like the FATA, where the population is historically sympathetic to the Taliban.

I’d like to believe my generation has a more global perspective than generations past. This means, I’m less likely to see any difference between a dead American child and a dead Pakistani one. Both are abhorrent; both unacceptable.

It was largely my generation who elected Barack Obama, partially because we hoped he shared our point of view when it came to foreign policy.

It’s an old and tired idea that the president of the United States must be willing to inflict such unjust collateral damage.

Does the office make the man or does the man make the office? My hope for Obama’s presidency was that he could change some of these outdated notions, such as the necessity of civilian deaths overseas to protect my sheltered existence. So far, if the wars in the Middle East are the measurement, we were duped.

Comments are closed.

The Guardsman