Tag Archives: collateral damage

The empathy gap: from the Iraq war to drone warfare

The empathy gap: from the Iraq war to drone warfare

“What is striking to me about the drone debate and the consideration of civilian casualties in Iraq is the pattern of attention. The infamous line of General Tommie Franks, “we don’t do body counts” (regarding, in that instance, Afghanistan, but equally applicable to Iraq), signaled a stubborn resistance on the part of the military to provide an account of the human cost of the war. The U.S. government was opaque, not only with regard to individual incidents, like the Haditha massacre, but about the overall picture of human insecurity in Iraq. When violence against civilians was discussed, it was typically attributed to Iraqis themselves, a ‘blaming-the-victim’ convenience. No statistical account was pursued by the government. The same has been true of drones, in which the program remains unacknowledged or at least not discussed officially, civilian ‘collateral damage’ denied, and an implicit attribution of blame to the ‘terrorists’ being targeted.”

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Blowback: The Costs and Consequences of American Empire

Understanding Empire: Technology, Power, Politics

“There is a logic to empire that differs from the logic of a nation, and acts committed in service to an empire but never acknowledged as such have a tendency to haunt the future” (p.8).

BlowbackThe first of an “unlikely” trilogy, Blowback documents the foreign policies and practices of successive U.S. administrations that have sown the seeds for future blowback. “In its narrowest sense, ‘blowback’ means the unintended and unexpected negative consequences of covert special operations that have been kept secret from the American people and, in most cases, from their elected representatives” (p.xi). Written before the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, and subsequently republished following its prescience, the book lays the groundwork for understanding the past, often hidden roots of contemporary violence. As an expert on Japan, the book’s focus is on U.S. policy in East Asia, particularly the garrisoning of Okinawa, Japan, and the “neo-colonial” economic policies…

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