This is the kind of thing I expected to read this morning.
How much longer will the world permit the brutality of ISIS? Why can’t we go after them harder?
— David Gergen (@David_Gergen) February 4, 2015
I also expected this from Glenn Greenwald. I happen to agree there is value in describing the horror and brutality, on a much larger scale, of the grotesque (intended) effects of our superior body-charring and -exploding technology. (Fire and/or ice, we have it covered.) First surprise was that the conversation surrounding Greenwald’s linking tweet was, as of 9:23 a.m. ET, surprisingly civil. There were the predictable howls of “false equivalence” but all in all a mild substantive conversation. This is not a twitter I recognize. (But the day is young.)
I will paste in a brief excerpt from the Greenwald piece, itself an excerpt from the Stanford/NYU “Living Under Drones” report.
The most immediate consequence of drone strikes is, of course, death and injury to those targeted or near a strike. The missiles fired from drones kill or injure in several ways, including through incineration, shrapnel, and the release of powerful blast waves capable of crushing internal organs. Those who do survive drone strikes often suffer disfiguring burns and shrapnel wounds, limb amputations, as well as vision and hearing loss. . . .
In addition, because the Hellfire missiles fired from drones often incinerate the victims’ bodies, and leave them in pieces and unidentifiable, traditional burial processes are rendered impossible. As Firoz Ali Khan, a shopkeeper whose father-in-law’s home was struck, graphically described, “These missiles are very powerful. They destroy human beings . . .There is nobody left and small pieces left behind. Pieces. Whatever is left is just little pieces of bodies and cloth.” A doctor who has treated drone victims described how “[s]kin is burned so that you can’t tell cattle from human.” When another interviewee came upon the site of the strike that killed his father, “[t]he entire place looked as if it was burned completely, so much so that even [the victims’] own clothes had burnt. All the stones in the vicinity had become black.”
Also read with a deep sigh that King Abdullah puffed up his feathers, quoted a Clint Eastwood movie (not specified), and said “The only problem we’re going to have is running out of fuel and bullets.” Apparently “nobody” Sajida al-Rishawi, has already been hanged.
“She was seen as a dupe, even if she showed no remorse, it’s not like she exuded a lot of ideological energy, none at all, in fact,” said Joost Hiltermann, who is in charge of the Middle East for the International Crisis Group. “People see her as a very lesser person.”
The cycle of executions and reprisals is just getting started, it would appear. Last night I read, for the umpteenth time, Frank O’Connor’s short story, “Guests of the Nation,” in which a small group of rebels in a rural backwater hold a pair of British prisoners during the Irish Civil War. The rebels and the prisoners get along famously, play cards and argue religion, and then word comes down the prisoners are to be shot. The narrator Bonaparte does the deed. The final paragraphs destroy me every time I read them: