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Settling Scores in the Theater of Endless Wars


I know vengeance personally, the anger that drives a fantasy to action. I admit that it feels too good to be good. I also admit my own complicity in being taken advantage of, but I lied only to myself.

My saga is nothing compared to what’s being done in our names, a cycle of war violence by the government, although the two people against whom my malice was directed would disagree. They’re that self-absorbed.

So where am I going with this? Here: an article about Pakistan’s announcement that on Wednesday a CIA drone killed the Pakistan Taliban’s 2nd in command, Wali ur-Rehman. This just days after Barack Obama spoke of a “new direction” for the secret drone wars, the “sweeping changes” to the drone program, and a shift to transparency about the secret killings.

American “officials” are talking about the exception to the new rules. And I’m wondering just how many exceptions there are. Or if the new standards are just like the old ones—that as long as US troops are in Afghanistan, the CIA will drone the bejesus out of anyone in Pakistan suspected of nefarious thoughts without so much as a care about legality and/or who’s nearby to be collaterally cremated.

And the transparency? Washington, thus far, is closed-lipped about the latest murder, despite the Pakistan statement that Mr. Rehman is dead—and was one among five people killed.

Who are the others? Any children?

During the period of old rules at least 350 drones have been joysticked to Pakistan. And according to, again, “officials,” many Pakistanis are grateful for the CIA dronings. Because they rid the country of so many bad men. But they often obliterate the unintended, a human being holding not a rifle but instead something harmless, like a farming tool, or a child.

On Wednesday, Pakistan’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs expressed concern over the drone strikes that violate national sovereignty and international law. His alarm is trumped by American exceptionalism. Always.

It’s reported that Mr. Rehman had ties with several religious parties that worked to mediate with the Taliban. Mualana Syed Yusuf Shah, deputy leader of one of the religious parties, said Mr. Rehman’s death would make it difficult to negotiate peace. “Now the Taliban will avenge his killing, resulting in more bloodshed and violence across the country,” he continued.

We might consider that this was the US Empire’s intent. And we know that each time we drone one of the biggies, several more are ready to ascend. In fact, the Pakistan Taliban has purportedly chosen Rehman’s replacement, Khan Sayed.

Supposedly, vengeance doesn’t belong to us. I claimed it as mine briefly, writing, exposing deception, and sunbathing in retribution. It’s the wanting more that’s disturbing, the tension between a choice—either reprisal or taking the moral high ground. Like those in Washington who refer to certain drone attacks as “good-will kills,” I had a purpose to defend my gender. That settling of the score is a microcosm of what we view at the theater of endless war. I can’t promise I’m finished. I want to be, but I know my offenders continue the insanity, hurting so many others and really we must stop the hurting of others.

Missy Beattie can be reached at

Missy Beattie has written for National Public Radio and Nashville Life Magazine. She was an instructor of memoirs writing at Johns Hopkins’ Osher Lifelong Learning Institute in BaltimoreEmail:

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