To End the Tragedies, America Must Change!

Critical View
By Syed Sujeel Ahmed
Software Engineer - India

Was the Newton speech meant only for a select set of children of the US community?

The greatest crime on the face of earth is a crime committed on children, for they are the most innocent, harmless, casual and lovable of all.

The dearness attached to any child can be gauged from the fact that even the small ones of pets find special care in the hands of a human being.

The shooting spree in a Newton school in Connecticut is undoubtedly a very upsetting and disturbing incidence. This was the second only case after 9/11 where in a human being has killed fellow human beings on the land of the US in such a number (about 26). The US President Barak Obama termed it a “tragedy”.

In a speech to the community of Newton and in similar briefings elsewhere in the US, ever since this incidence took place, Barak Obama has shown several traits of his personality: A believer in the scripture (the Bible), a concerned father, a somber human being and a committed president.

Obama expressed, “In your grief, that our world, too, has been torn apart, that all across this land of ours, we have wept with you. We've pulled our children tight.” He further added, “Mere words cannot match the depths of your sorrow, nor can they heal your wounded hearts”.

The grief and sorrow expressed by Obama is a true reflection of thoughts and sufferings parents go through when they are stricken with such an enormous tragedy of losing their beloved children. But did Obama ever bothered to check what calamities his frequent drone strikes and consequences of Persian Gulf War have been inflicting on the innocent children of Pakistan, Afghanistan and Iraq?

The catastrophe which Obama’s drone strikes unleash are heart-wrenching and unbearable for a sensitive human being, they can be felt in the crying and moaning of innocent children, chest beating and whaling of mothers and running insanely helter-skelter of fathers with bleeding babies lying in their hands. These tragedies, unlike Newton, school are not one time incidence, but they are inflicted again and again tearing apart the world of innocent and poor people.

A look on the ground realities of Pakistan, Afghanistan and Iraq demands much, much more condemnation, grief, sorrow and tears than the Newton incidence. Just a high level review of the tragedies befalling on the innocent citizens of these countries brings loads of despair to even a reader. In Pakistan alone, not just 15 or 20 but, more than 174 children have been killed by the undetectable drone strikes ordered by the Obama administration since 2004 reports the Bureau of Investigative Journalism. Whereas the law schools at Stanford and New York universities put the death toll of these children to 67 in just last three years.

The question which remains unanswered from the Obama administration is: America values only her children, non-American children are less valuable?

The Earth’s Hellfire…

The drone strike is unleashed through a laser-guided missile named “Hellfire”; it carries 100 pounds of yield and kills the innocent souls most brutally one could imagine. “Yet there are no presidential speeches or presidential tears for them, no pictures on the front pages of the world's newspapers, no interviews with grieving relatives, no minute analysis of what happened and why?” thus expressed author and writer George Monbiot in an article in The Guardian.

These deaths are mocked by Obama’s men in most inhumane way, according to the Rollingstone magazine, these innocent victims are referred to as "bug splats", "since viewing the body through a grainy-green video image gives the sense of an insect being crushed" expressed an officer in the US army. According to the Spiegel magazine they are just referred to as “dogs”.

Moreover, the Newton speech was meant only for a select set of children of the US community. The same speech was not applied to a young boy of Obama’s own country. Abdul Rahman al-Awlaki, 16, a US citizen, son of Anwar al-Awlaki, a suspected Al-Qaeda operative, had gone on search of his father to Yemen but ended up in finding his father’s dead body, a victim of a drone strike.

The boy called back home to pass on the terrible news. But a few days after, his grandparents got another call and this time it was their grandson, Abdul Rahman al-Awlaki who had gone for an evening stroll, killed by the drone strike on October 14, 2011 in Yemen itself. The Obama administration tried to wash-off their hands by claiming that the boy was not 16 but 20, until the family of Abdul Rahman al-Awlaki refuted the claim and threw the birth certificate of the boy on the face of the Obama administration.

If the logic of Obama was like father like son in eliminating Abdul Rahman al-Awlaki, then the father of Adam Lanza would also be obliterated for the grave crime his son has committed, as the DNA is passed from parents to child?

There are scores of stories of innocent children getting killed and maimed by the bloody drone strikes unleashed at times when the innocent kids would be playing in fields, flying kites, playing with buddies and playing in verandas.

Watch “Fallujah: the Hidden Massacre” by clicking here.

The facts about Irag are worst than any other war in the recent past. A documentary film produced by the Italian TV RAI, and released in November, 2005 entitled “Fallujah: the Hidden Massacre” revealed some very disturbing facts about the second Persian Gulf War.

The documentary has shown with clinching evidences such as photographs, videos and interviews with the US army officers that the white phosphorus bombs were used on the city of Fallujah. The documentary has also shown accusations of use of incendiary bombs known as Mark 77, a type of napalm. White Phosphorus melts a human body while burning it all the way down to the bones. The documentary has shown many such incidences of the burned bodies of children. The use of White Phosphorus has serious health problems.

There have been reports from independent media houses that there’s an increase in infant mortality, birth defects and childhood cancer rates in Fallujah. And this is because of use of chemical weapons such as depleted uranium. The reports also indicate that the infant mortality, cancer and leukaemia in Fallujah are found to be greater than those reported in the survivors of Hiroshima and Nagasaki in 1945 as a result of the US atomic bomb attacks.

The Lancet, British Medical Association journal, estimated the death toll of Iraqi children to 576,000 and this figure is just till the end of the first Persian Gulf War. These children died due to the sanctions forced on Iraq by the UN and pressed upon by the US. This figure doesn’t include the catastrophe of second Persian Gulf War.

This means almost an entire generation of children has been wiped off without a notice, mention or mourning. And rest, it’s ensured, that must be born defunct and sick. Yet a majority of world population is unaware of these heinous crimes while they are all well aware of the killing of 20 Newton children.

No One Is Safe

Drone strikes have left even pilots agonized and disoriented.

The drones that are operated remotely from different US army bases in the US employs trained persons referred to as drone pilots. They operate the drones from closed oblong containers using multiple computers, screens, joysticks and keyboards under 17 degrees Celsius.  

The sheer insensitivity of the US administration to obliterate unarmed, helpless and innocent children, women and men has devastated even the minds and lives of the drone pilots. Brandon Bryant was one of them until he left his job.  Bryant who operated the drones sitting 10,000 KM (6,250 miles) away in New Mexico from the targets in Afghanistan narrated the atrocities that he was ordered to commit, during his period as a drone pilot to the Spiegel.

He recalls one incident in which he was involved; a predator drone was made to circle in an eight number pattern in the sky above in a village between Baghlan and Mazar-e-Sharif, Afghanistan. The drone zeroed in on to a mud house which has a flat roof and a shed for goats at the corner. As soon as he received the order to fire, he pressed a button and a laser marked the target which was the roof of the mud house. Next turn was of the co-pilot sitting next to him, he pressed the trigger on a joystick, which launched the Hellfire missile from the drone.

The disaster was to unleash within 16 seconds, the moments were seen in slow motion on the screens. When there was still seven second left to go, there was no one near or outside the house. Then it was down to the wire, three seconds left and suddenly a child walked around the corner. Bryant still had time to divert the missile at that point but there were simply no orders. And in next few moments there was a flash on the screen, which meant the world of an innocent had been torn apart. Next scene on Brands monitor was a destroyed home, the child had disappeared from the scene.  The tragedy left Bryant heart rendered.

The Spiegel reported: "Did we just kill a kid?" Bryant inquired from the co-pilot sitting next to him.

"Yeah, I guess that was a kid," replied the co-pilot.

"Was that a kid?" was the next message from them into a chat room.

Then, someone they didn't know, sitting in a military command center somewhere in the world who had observed their operation replied with a message, "No. That was a dog"

They replayed the video to confirm, a dog on two legs? They quizzed!

"I felt disconnected from humanity for almost a week, sometimes getting up to change seats. I can't sit in one place for very long anymore, it makes me nervous.” he said.

He doesn’t find watching TV anymore challenging or stimulating enough. He is having trouble in sleeping and feels remorse for the child and innocent people who got killed in his operations; he ultimately left his job.

If America brings a holistic change in her, it’s for sure that the tragedies on the innocent children of the world along with the incidences like of Newton school will definitely end.

Will America Change?

The questions which remain unanswered from the Obama administration are: America values only her children, non-American children are less valuable? Is it moral, or even possible, to have a heart so cold that someone can kill children so mindlessly and abandon them?

These children are also loved by their parents’ as much as American parents love their children.  They are also as cute, as beautiful, as loving and as childish as American children, then why this discrimination, why this cruelty? Or the fact is this that these children simply do not matter?

President Obama has also emphasized in the address to the Newton community, “These tragedies must end. And to end them, we must change.”

Same words have been coming out day-in and day-out from the hearts of thousands of families suffering across Pakistan, Afghanistan and Iraq. And to end them, it’s true that, America must change.

Could the ‘tragedy’ of Newton be a learning lesson?

If America brings a holistic change in her, it’s for sure that the tragedies on the innocent children of the world along with the incidences like of Newton school will definitely end.

Could this be a triggering point for the change? It remains a question, a question which America knows can seriously ponder upon but deliberately ignores for selfish motives.

Syed Sujeel Ahmed is a Software Engineer for a multinational IT company in Hyderabad, India.

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