Why the U.S. is Losing its War on
By Ian Davis
Global Beat Syndicate
London—Relations between Islamabad and Washington have
deteriorated since the January 13 attack that killed at least 13
civilians in Damadola, a remote Pakistani village in the Bajaur
district near the Afghan border. Anti-American rallies in Pakistan
air strike targeted al-Qaida's deputy leader, Ayman al-Zawahiri, but it
seems he was probably not in the area at the time. The high-tech
mistake is widely blamed on the C.I.A., which used the same type of
remote-controlled drone aircraft and Hellfire missiles that killed six
suspected Islamic militants in Yemen in November 2002.
of people have protested against the Bajaur attack at rallies across
Pakistan, where they are also demanding the resignation of Washington's
ally, President Pervez Musharraf. The White House cannot possibly
continue to think that it can win the "global war on terror" with these
kinds of tactics; it is feeding terrorist propaganda machines it with
unlawful, unjustified murder.
Predator aircraft is believed to have fired missiles at houses in the
village where Zawahiri was believed to be invited to dinner; instead,
women and children were among the victims, and there are still
conflicting reports as to whether any militants were killed.
Nevertheless, Senator John McCain (R-AZ), defended the action in an
interview on CBS television saying, "We have to go where these people
are, and we have to take them out," adding, "I can't tell you that we
wouldn't do the same thing again."
Bush administration's adoption of Israel's strategy of "targeted
assassination" is the latest worrying trend in its misguided "war on
terror". In March 2001, an ardent supporter of this strategy, former
Israeli Tourism Minister Rehavam Zeevi said, "It's not murder to get
rid of potential terrorists, or those who have blood on their hands.
Each one eliminated is one less terrorist for us to fight." Seven
months later, he became the first Israeli politician felled by a
Palestinian assassin since the Jewish state was created in 1948.
beg to differ with Zeevi, McCain and others who attempt to justify this
loathsome practice. It is murder, plain and simple. Such extra-judicial
killings are in direct contravention of international law, and this
would still be the case had Zawahiri, rather than innocent women and
children been the victims. Such acts have no place in any
counter-terrorism strategy carried out by "freedom loving peoples," and
should be roundly condemned by democrats of whatever political hue or
course, the United States has a right to protect its citizens from
terrorist attacks, but actions of this type are not only unlawful, they
escalate hatred and violence and are losing the hearts and minds of
millions, especially among Muslims. The war on terror is being lost as
a result. According to the Oklahoma City National Memorial Institute
for the Prevention of Terrorism database, religious-inspired terrorist
incidents show a year on year growth from 38 incidents in 2000 to 423
in 2004. The "collateral damage" or killing of innocent people—from
Damadola to Falluja—simply leads to the recruitment of others to the
Bush administration does not take kindly to advice from others as to
how to conduct itself. But this must be said: measures to prevent and
combat terrorism must be fully compatible with democratic values, the
rule of law and the protection of human rights. We should not mistake
the democratic approach to combating terrorism as a policy of weakness.
The reverse is the case.
we undermine our hard-earned liberties and rights in the name of
security and terrorism we are handing a propaganda victory to al-Qaida.
We also need to live up to our declarations and ideals in practice:
revelations about the abuse of prisoners in Abu Ghraib prison and
Guantanamo Bay have done untold harm to the reputation of the United
States. Present allegations of torture camps in third countries and the
practice of "extraordinary rendition," coupled with this latest botched
"targeted assassination," further damage the standing of American
values in the eyes of Muslims everywhere.