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Thanksgiving of the Drones


Just before I arrived in Vietnam in 1970, as a young, gung-ho, kill-a-commie-for-freedom, Australian army captain, President Richard Nixon of the United States ordered the invasion of a neighboring nation.  Not a neighbor of America, of course,  but a place that was neighbor to the country that had been taken over by America.

During the ten years’ war in Vietnam US Presidents and their foolish and supposedly ‘patriotic’  patsies in the House and Senate sent 58,267 of their fellow citizens to their deaths. The Vietnam Memorial in Washington is a wonderful tribute, but it’s also a dire monument to the everlasting condemnation of wicked morons who imagined they were supporting ‘Freedom’ by sending so many of their country’s soldiers to be killed.

Just like in the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

And in the course of this appalling slaughter in Vietnam it was decided that it was vital to bomb neighboring countries, such as Laos and Cambodia, because Vietnamese forces opposed to the US-installed puppet government of South Vietnam were making use of their territory.

US bombers killed countless numbers of innocent people in North Vietnam, South Vietnam and their neighbors, but in 1970 Nixon decided that this wasn’t enough,  so he decided to commit both South Vietnamese and US troops to invade Cambodia.  And they went in, and Nixon called it “the most successful military operation of the entire war,”  which was the absurd  “Mission Accomplished” braggart-boy statement of its day, because the operation had little effect on the war against America in Vietnam, which resulted in defeat of US and South Vietnamese forces, and hastened the collapse of Cambodia into anarchy and vicious genocide.

So what’s the parallel with current events?  – It’s simple, and just as potentially catastrophic, because the US is fighting an unwinnable war in Afghanistan and is now bombing a neighboring country, Pakistan, killing lotsa people.  There have also been cross-border incursions that are kept very quiet except when they are so incompetent as to be impossible to disguise, as when US helicopters killed three Pakistan Frontier Corps soldiers a few weeks ago in a missile-spraying spree that was based on incorrect information from a deliberately misleading Afghan source.

The military public relations machines tell us that US Special Forces night raids are wonderfully effective.  The New York Times reported that “in a 90-day period that ended Nov 11, Special Operations forces were averaging 17 missions a night, conducting 1,572 operations over three months that resulted in 368 insurgent leaders killed or captured, and 968 lower-level insurgents killed and 2,477 captured, according to NATO statistics.”

But of course there are no details given about these operations. According to official sources, not one of them caused the death of any innocent person.  We are told that every single raid has been successful and has resulted only in the killing and capturing of ‘bad guys’.

But then we come to the one and only special forces operation that has received publicity – because it couldn’t be kept quiet  –  and there is a great big doubt planted in our minds about official declarations that all these wonderfully expert midnight forays result in the death of nobody but bad guys.

Everyone seems to have forgotten October’s US Special Forces shambles of an attempt to rescue a western female hostage held prisoner by a bunch of raggy baggy militants.   It resulted in the death of the captive.

When she was killed there was immediate propaganda explanation.  It was reported all round the world that she died because one of her captors detonated a suicide vest. The reporting was precise in British papers :  “Linda Norgrove, 36, died from serious injuries suffered in the blast – almost certainly caused by a suicide vest held near her by one of her captors.”

Then there was the New York Times, which said that “As American forces closed in, her captors killed her. A suicide vest was found nearby, but it was not clear if it had been detonated or if other explosives had been used to kill Ms Norgrove, according to Western officials in Kabul.”  The BBC was fed the line that “officials had confirmed Ms Norgrove was killed by an explosion, almost certainly a suicide vest, detonated by one of her captors.”


And lies.

She was killed by a high explosive grenade thrown by one of the assault team. According to one report,  “The use of a fragmentation grenade was first discovered when the taskforce commander in charge of the mission reassessed surveillance video of the attack and saw the Seal toss the grenade into the compound four seconds before the blast.”

So much for the precision of Special Forces attacks. (You don’t use HE grenades in such a situation :  Line One, Page One of the Manual.) And we are expected to believe that this was the only flash bang crash raid  that has gone wrong.

Then there are the illegal drone strikes inside Pakistan.   For example :   “A suspected US drone strike in Pakistan’s tribal region killed 20 suspected militants Tuesday . . .  Two Pakistani intelligence officials said the drone fired four missiles – two at a vehicle and two at a suspected militant compound the vehicle had just left. . . .  [the] suspected drone strike was the 92nd this year, compared to 52 strikes in all of 2009.”

So we in the West are now complicit in killing “suspects” within a sovereign country with whom we are not at war.

America, supposedly the wonderful bastion of freedom, has unilaterally and finally destroyed what passed for international law.

Just as soon as a military video game player in the US considers someone is a “suspect” in Pakistan’s border areas, a missile wipes him out.  The amazing video cams zoom in, and the targets are supposedly identified. The expression on the face of the ‘target’ can be seen. The techno-killer sees the twitches of his beard,  the wrinkles and crinkles at the corners of his eyes, the apprehensive look skywards as the unseen killing machine floats,  inviolate and deadly – and the final obliteration.

We now see video gamers as judge, jury and executioner.   They play God, courtesy of a video link.  The world has been brought some curious and sometimes evil wonders by modern technology, but the techno-killers who slaughter with the click of a mouse represent the ultimate degradation of what we like to call civilization.

Some little techno-dweeb, looking at a screen in an air conditioned office, is the final assessor of life or death for hundreds of people in Pakistan.  Then, having killed them,  the assassin goes off duty and has supper and sleeps well at night.  Thanksgiving of the Drones.

And none of these strikes ever kill women and children. Of course they don’t – because we are told they do not by the same people who told us that the recent killing of a woman hostage was “almost certainly caused by a suicide vest held near her by one of her captors.”

These liars are the same as those who told us only a few years ago that “We know that Saddam Hussein is determined to keep his weapons of mass destruction; he’s determined to make more.”   They have a policy of lying until they’re found out and hoping, almost always correctly, that when their deceit is detected, then everyone will have forgotten the incident about which they lied deeply, deliberately and totally dishonorably.

It’s all a rerun of the Johnson and Nixon Presidential  bombing and lying to save America from destruction by evil communists.

The Bush bomber handed over to the Obama bomber,  to win the ‘War on Terror’ to save America from destruction by evil Islamists.

Johnson and Nixon ordered mega-deaths by bombing, and lied about their illegal barbarity, and didn’t care how many people died in their ferocious onslaughts. Half a century later, the bombs continue to hail down, killing at the whim of those who command their carnage. Cambodia collapsed into bloody revolution and genocide.  Presumably that’s what Obama wants for Pakistan.

BRIAN CLOUGHLEY’s website is


Brian Cloughley writes about foreign policy and military affairs. He lives in Voutenay sur Cure, France.

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