Given what a prominent role “Terrorism” plays in our political discourse, it’s striking how little attention is paid to American actions which have the most significant impact on that problem. In addition to our occupation of Iraq, war escalation in Afghanistan, and secret bombings in Pakistan, President Obama late last week ordered cruise missile attacks on two locations in Yemen, which “U.S. officials” say were “suspected Al Qaeda hideouts.” The main target of the attacks, Al Qaeda member Qasim al Rim, was not among those killed, but: “a local Yemeni official said on Sunday that 49 civilians, among them 23 children and 17 women, were killed in air strikes against Al-Qaeda, which he said were carried out ‘indiscriminately’.” Media reports across the Muslim world — though, not of course, within the U.S. — are highlighting the dead civilians from the U.S. strike (one account from an official Iranian outlet began: “U.S. Nobel Peace Prize laureate President Barack Obama has signed the order for a recent military strike on Yemen in which scores of civilians, including children, have been killed, a report says”).
For many people, the mere assertion by anonymous U.S. Government officials that these attacks targeted “suspected al-Qaeda sites” will be sufficient to deem them justified. All credible reports confirm that there is indeed a not insignificant Al Qaeda presence in Southern Yemen, so that claim, at least, seems at least grounded in reality. Yet arguments about justification to the side for the moment, here we have yet another violent attack by the U.S. which — even under the best-case scenario — has killed more Muslim civilians than it did “Al Qaeda fighters,” and failed to kill the main target of the attack. When it comes to undermining Al Qaeda — both in Yemen and generally — isn’t it painfully obvious that the images of dead Muslim women and children which we constantly create — and which we again just created in Yemen — will fuel that movement better than anything else we can do?
[Read more at Salon]