In what one website is calling the “the most disgusting piece of agitprop you’ll read for a while,” a senior U.S. military official was quoted in The Washington Post as saying that the damage to Afghan land and property from bombings accompanying the escalation of military operations to the highest levels in the history of the U.S. war in that country will have a benefit for the local population:
By making people travel to the district governor's office to submit a claim for damaged property, “in effect, you're connecting the government to the people,” the senior officer said.
Well, that’s one way to look at it, I suppose. But here’s another that comes from retired Air Force lieutenant colonel William Astore via TomDispatch:
Or how about the attitudes of those living in parts of Pakistan and Afghanistan subject to the recent upsurge of U.S. drone strikes? Given the way our robotic wars are written about here, could most Americans imagine what it feels like to be on the receiving end of Zeus-like lightning bolts?
Here’s what one farmer in North Waziristan in the Pakistani tribal borderlands had to say: “I blame the government of Pakistan and the USA… they are responsible for destroying my family. We were living a happy life and I didn’t have any links with the Taliban. My family members were innocent… I wonder, why was I victimized?”
Would an American farmer wonder anything different? Would he not seek vengeance if errant missiles obliterated his family? It’s hard, however, for Americans to grasp the nature of the wars being fought in their name, no less to express sympathy for their victims when they are kept in a state of striking isolation from war’s horrors.
So, there you have it. Differing opinions on the state of things. One that suggests when you blow up someone’s property you are really giving them an opportunity and one that suggests that someone might actually be pissed off if their house were blown up.
Hearts and minds. Hearts and minds.