In Pakistan recently nine health workers who were administering polio vaccines were killed by the Taliban. For several years now, Pakistanis in general and the Taliban in particular have been skeptical about the honesty of the program, believing that it was a Western base for spying and a conspiracy to make them impotent amongst other evils. As a result of those murders the program was halted.
Pakistan is one of only three countries in which Polio is endemic (Afghanistan and Nigeria are the others) and great progress has been made over recent years bringing down the yearly total of infections from around 20,000 to about 50.
Pakistani suspicions about the program were confirmed when it was revealed that the CIA used a fake vaccination program to try to get information about Bin Laden’s whereabouts. While the doses administered were real enough, immunization only comes with three doses and they only did one so the program was a total scam. It was unconscionable for the CIA to set up the fake program and even worse for the Pakistani doctor they used to run it. The doctor was given a 33-year sentence, which the US strenuously objected to, for collaborating with the CIA. The sentence was well-deserved, since it’s not only the health workers who’ve subsequently paid with their lives, but also the tens, hundreds or thousands of children who may eventually suffer from polio because they were denied access to the vaccine. Polio kills or permanently maims an individual within hours of being infected.
In the end result, they got no useful information from the fake program, but did manage to jeopardize the lives of many innocents. When you come right down to it, America’s action was the equivalent of murder, but since it’s only Pakistani children who’ll die or be crippled, it’s clear they don’t count for much. Whatever it takes to kill Bin Laden, right?
There’s a popular new movie, Zero Dark Thirty, about the capture of Bin Laden which bills itself as based on a true story. However, the major theme of the film, and which takes up the first 45 minutes of action, is the efficacy of torture in gaining useful information on his capture. That was a total lie since no useful information was gained from torture. When confronted by that fact the director of the film said, It’s just a movie. Just a movie which tries to make torture cool, useful and acceptable when it had nothing to do with the capture of Bin Laden.
As I understand it, there’s also a popular TV program in which terrible terrorist acts are thwarted at the last minute by the use of torture. Torture is never justified. As far back as the 18th century, the prohibition of ‘cruel and unusual punishments’ was enshrined in the 8th amendment in the US Bill of Rights. The routine use of torture insures that innocent people will be abused, not to mention that the torturers themselves become dehumanized. No matter, it’s now the American way along with motherhood and apple pie.
Torture is not the only part of the abrogation of basic human rights that has been embraced by the American people and their government. The US now assumes the right to assassinate anyone, anytime in anyplace, including American citizens, it thinks is a bad guy. Forget the right to a fair trial and presenting of evidence; that’s so 18th century. And if innocent civilians get caught in the crossfire, well that’s the price of war.
America’s drone strikes have been a lot more successful lately, since the definition of insurgent/terrorist was changed. It used to be that a person had to be individually identified as a bad guy to be targeted, now every man killed in a drone strike between the ages of 18 and 35 is automatically assumed to be an insurgent.
In the latest killing innovation the CIA has begun signature strikes. Previously, they only targeted known bad guys; now, activity that’s merely suspicious is enough to get blasted to smithereens. That is how 11 girls aged 10 to 17 were murdered in Pakistan recently. They were out before dawn collecting firewood when they were taken out by a drone pilot sitting in a comfortable chair in front of a computer monitor thousands of miles away. Those of you dependent on the mainstream media probably didn’t hear about that incident, they’re only Pakistanis, after all.
Twenty American children killed as a result of a crazed gun culture and it’s the top news for weeks; eleven Pakistani kids killed by US drone strikes and it barely rates a mention in the US media. Well, there’s a war going on and collateral damage is inevitable, so they say. Still, it’s not hard to understand why an overwhelming percentage of Pakistanis hate America. And why Bin Laden couldn’t have asked for a better outcome to his death.