The Authoritarian Mind

Yet another Afghan family (and a bakery in Pakistan) is extinguished by an airstrike: unleash the justifications

Topics:

The Authoritarian MindMore than 1,500 Afghans block the highway between Kabul and Kandahar in Seed Abad, Wardak province, Afghanistan, Saturday, May 26, 2012. (Credit: AP/Rahmatullah Nikzad)

(updated below – Update II)

Yesterday, I wrote about the rotted workings of the Imperial Mind, but today presents a tragic occasion to examine its close, indispensable cousin: the Authoritarian Mind. From CNN today:

A suspected NATO airstrike killed eight civilians — including six children — in eastern Afghanistan, a provincial spokesman said.

The airstrike took place Saturday night in Paktia province, said Rohullah Samoon, spokesman for the governor of Paktia. He said an entire family was killed in the strike.

The LA Times identified the victims as “Mohammed Shafi, his wife and his six children,” and cited the statements from the spokesman for the Paktia governor’s office that “there is no evidence that Shafi was a Taliban insurgent or linked with Al Qaeda.” The Afghan spokesman blamed the incident on the refusal of NATO to coordinate strikes with Afghan forces to ensure civilians are not targeted (“If they had shared this with us, this wouldn’t have happened”). Also yesterday:

An American drone fired two missiles at a bakery in northwest Pakistan Saturday, killing four suspected militants, officials said, as the U.S. pushed ahead with its drone campaign despite Pakistani demands to stop. This was the third such strike in the country in less than a week. . . .

The officials said the victims were buying goods from a bakery when the missiles hit. Residents were still removing the debris, officials said. All of the dead were foreigners, but the officials did not have any information on their identities or nationalities.

All of this is so widely tolerated, even cheered, among large factions of the American citizenry due to three premises:

(1) I have absolutely no idea who my government is continuously bombing to death by drone, but I assume they deserve it;

(2) when my government extinguishes the lives of entire families, including small children, as it often does, I know it’s all for a just and important cause even if I can’t identify it; and,

(3) we have to stop the Terrorists, because they keep killing innocent civilians.

That’s the Authoritarian Mind, and it appears everywhere the Imperial Mind does.

* * * * *

The Washington Post yesterday reported that “on the periphery of Bagram Airfield, farmers, scrap-metal collectors and sheep herders have been crippled, blinded and burned by U.S. military ammunition on an unfenced and poorly marked training ground.” Because “there is no barrier between nearby villages and the range — it is unclear where the dusty townships end and the vast military training area begins,” Afghan villagers routinely stumble into unexploded ordnance and are severely injured or even killed, all because the U.S. military never bothered to demarcate the base. In 2009, its Commander-in-Chief, President Barack Obama, was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize.

You Might Also Like

 

UPDATE: This contrast from MSNBC’s home page, as it appears right now, speaks volumes about the mindset of the American government and its establishment media:

For why this is exactly the reverse of what a responsible U.S. media outlet would do, see here.

 

UPDATE II: ABC News‘ Jake Tapper this morning interviewed Defense Secretary Leon Panetta and asked him about civilian deaths caused by U.S. drones: specifically, whether the U.S.’s relentless air strikes in multiple Muslim countries are exacerbating rather than containing the problem of anti-American Terrorism:

TAPPER:  President Obama recently said that — recently told John Brennan, his counterterrorism adviser at the White House that he wanted a little bit more transparency when it comes to drones, which are the – is one of the approaches that you’re alluding to in Yemen.

And “The Times of London” reported last week that the civilian casualties in Yemen as a result of drone strikes have, quote, “emboldened Al Qaeda.”

Is there not a serious risk that this approach to counterterrorism, because of its imprecision, because of its civilian casualties, is creating more enemy than it is killing?

PANETTA:  First and foremost, I think this is one of the most precise weapons that we have in our arsenal.  Number two, what is our responsibility here?  Our responsibility is to defend and protect the United States of America.

And using the operations that we have, using the systems that we have, using the weapons that we have, is absolutely essential to our ability to defend Americans. That’s what counts, and that’s what we’re doing.

Note that Panetta studiously ignored, rather than addressed, the question of whether the U.S. — by continuously killing Muslim civilians and thus intensifying anti-American animus — is creating more Terrorists than it is killing and thus making the U.S. less safe. That’s because there is no answer. Continuously bombing Muslim countries and killing civilians ostensibly as a means of combating anti-American Terrorism is exactly like smoking six packs of cigarettes a day to treat emphysema: one would do it only if one wanted to make the problem worse, or, at best, was recklessly indifferent to the outcome.

Glenn Greenwald
Follow Glenn Greenwald on Twitter: @ggreenwald.

More Related Stories

Featured Slide Shows

  • Share on Twitter
  • Share on Facebook
  • 1 of 13
  • Close
  • Fullscreen
  • Thumbnails

    The 12 most incredible pint-size look-alikes in "Orange Is the New Black" season 3

    DAYA  
    Young Daya has yet to become entirely jaded, but she has the character's trademark skeptical pout down pat. And with a piece-of-work mother like Aleida -- who oscillates between jealousy and scorn for her creatively gifted daughter, chucking out the artwork she brings home from summer camp -- who can blame her?

    The 12 most incredible pint-size look-alikes in "Orange Is the New Black" season 3

    MORELLO   
    With her marriage to prison penpal Vince Muccio, Lorna finally got to wear the white veil she has fantasized about since childhood (even if it was made of toilet paper).

    The 12 most incredible pint-size look-alikes in "Orange Is the New Black" season 3

    CINDY   
    Cindy's embrace of Judaism makes sense when we see her childhood, lived under the fist of a terrifying father who preached a fire-and-brimstone version of Christianity. As she put it: "I was raised in a church where I was told to believe and pray. And if I was bad, I’d go to hell."

    The 12 most incredible pint-size look-alikes in "Orange Is the New Black" season 3

    CAPUTO   
    Joey Caputo has always tried to be a good guy, whether it's offering to fight a disabled wrestler at a high school wrestling event or giving up his musical ambitions to raise another man's child. But trying to be a nice guy never exactly worked out for him -- which might explain why he decides to take the selfish route in the Season 3 finale.

    The 12 most incredible pint-size look-alikes in "Orange Is the New Black" season 3

    BOO   
    In one of the season's more moving flashbacks, we see a young Boo -- who rejected the traditional trappings of femininity from a young age -- clashing with her mother over what to wear. Later, she makes the decision not to visit her mother on her deathbed if it means pretending to be something she's not. As she puts it, "I refuse to be invisible, Daddy. Not for you, not for Mom, not for anybody.”

    The 12 most incredible pint-size look-alikes in "Orange Is the New Black" season 3

    SOSO
    We still don't know what landed Brooke Soso in the slammer, but a late-season flashback suggests that some seriously overbearing parenting may have been the impetus for her downward spiral.

    The 12 most incredible pint-size look-alikes in "Orange Is the New Black" season 3

    POUSSEY
    We already know a little about Poussey's relationship with her military father, but this season we saw a softer side of the spunky fan-favorite, who still pines for the loving mom that she lost too young.

    The 12 most incredible pint-size look-alikes in "Orange Is the New Black" season 3

    PENNSATUCKY
    Pennsatucky had something of a redemption arc this season, and glimpses of her childhood only serve to increase viewer sympathy for the character, whose mother forced her to chug Mountain Dew outside the Social Security Administration office and stripped her of her sexual agency before she was even old enough to comprehend it.

    The 12 most incredible pint-size look-alikes in "Orange Is the New Black" season 3

    CHANG
    This season, we got an intense look at the teenage life of one of Litchfield's most isolated and underexplored inmates. Rebuffed and scorned by her suitor at an arranged marriage, the young Chinese immigrant stored up a grudge, and ultimately exacted a merciless revenge.

    The 12 most incredible pint-size look-alikes in "Orange Is the New Black" season 3

    HEALY
    It's difficult to sympathize with the racist, misogynist CO Sam Healy, but the snippets we get of his childhood -- raised by a mentally ill mother, vomited on by a homeless man he mistakes for Jesus when he runs to the church for help -- certainly help us understand him better.

    The 12 most incredible pint-size look-alikes in "Orange Is the New Black" season 3

    NORMA
    This season, we learned a lot about one of Litchfield's biggest enigmas, as we saw the roots of Norma's silence (a childhood stutter) and the reason for her incarceration (killing the oppressive cult leader she followed for decades).

    The 12 most incredible pint-size look-alikes in "Orange Is the New Black" season 3

    NICKI
    While Nicki's mother certainly isn't entirely to blame for her daughter's struggles with addiction, an early childhood flashback -- of an adorable young Nicki being rebuffed on Mother's Day -- certainly helps us understand the roots of Nicki's scarred psyche.

  • Recent Slide Shows

Comments

0 Comments

Comment Preview

Your name will appear as username ( settings | log out )

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href=""> <b> <em> <strong> <i> <blockquote>