America's Moral Vacuum: Dead Afghans

By Glen Ford 

dead Afghan civilians shoes

On the day that the federal government set aside to celebrate the life of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., the great man of peace, the New York Times featured an article on a major problem the United States is encountering in pursuing its endless, high-tech wars. No, its not money; the U.S. government spares no expense in financing the maintenance and expansion of American empire.
And clearly, the Democratic congressional opposition to America’s wars has collapsed – certainly since a Democrat took on the job as war maker-in-chief. The great obstacle to perfection of the American style of mass killing, it turns out, is “information overload.”
It seems that U.S. troops in the field are getting so much information from so many different sources about targets for obliteration, they’re having trouble figuring how who to kill. Assorted military experts told the Times that information overload is the reason the American military winds up massacring so many civilians in Afghanistan. All those smart bombs and automated, unmanned airplanes and other brilliant gadgets are just, well, too smart for the soldiers to keep up with, inevitably – but not on purpose, of course – causing collateral damage to Afghan women, children, families, wedding parties and other nuisances that clutter up the landscape of the country, getting in the way of the U.S. war machine.
The Times story blames information overload for last February’s drone attack that killed 23 Afghan civilians. There was plenty of information that showed there were children in a civilian convoy of vehicles that was preparing to leave a village, but American personnel, in their zeal to eliminate any potential threats to U.S. troops, disregarded that information and fired their missiles at the civilians. The Times compared the slaughter of innocents to a mistake by an office worker “who loses track of an important e-mail” as his messages pile up.
In this innocuous newspaper story on Martin Luther King Day we see the full scope of the moral rot that has consumed the U.S. military, the New York Times, and American society as a whole. To the Americans, the Afghan civilians were not victims of an occupying foreign war machine that treated them like roaches to be stamped upon in their own homeland. No, they were the equivalent of a mislaid email. The Americans were not engaged in crimes against humanity, against peace, and against the right of all peoples to be sovereign in their own countries. No, it was the Americans who were victims – of too much information. This was not a mass murder of 23 people attempting to go about their lives in their own neighborhood. No, it was a technical problem that is most notable for the difficulties posed to the American war effort by an excess of information.
What Dr. King would say, were he to read the abominable excuse for murder published by the New York Times, is that the United States is suffering, not from an information overload, but an overload of depravity, a barbaric indifference to human suffering. Lost Afghan lives are not the equivalent of lost emails. And any society that thinks that way is a moral vacuum whose denizens have lost their souls.
This article originally appeared as a commentary for Black Agenda Radio, and on the site
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