I came across an article that I just couldn’t believe. It talked about a drone strike by a foreign military that accidentally killed 30 US citizens and injured 40 others. The foreign military stated they were targeting terrorist groups in the region. The US citizens involved were farm workers who were resting from picking pine nuts that day.
Truthfully, what I just said didn’t happen – at least not to us.
See, Reuters recently came out with an article describing how the US was actually responsible for unintentionally killing 30 farm workers during a drone strike in Afghanistan. The strike was intended “to hit an Islamic State (IS) hideout”, but kind of missed the mark on that one.
I wanted to put what happened in the context of it happening to us, because I think it’s important to feel what the local population feels when something like this happens.
I mean just imagine it – some foreign power occupying your hometown and one of their drone strikes accidentally kills 30 people you’ve known all your life. How angered would you be at that government? What would you like to do to their soldiers? And why should we expect the people of Afghanistan to act any differently?
I must admit, I’m not a military man. The closest I’ve been to the military is talking to a Navy recruiter in college. But I feel like that’s got to be the first lesson in Occupation 101 – don’t piss off the local population.
It’s already a tragedy that innocent civilians were killed, but we’ve really got to consider the consequences of these tragedies beyond the lives lost.
Not just that it makes the local populace more hostile to our soldiers. Not just that it makes them less likely to work with us. Most importantly, accidents like this can actually create more terrorists. And there we hit the greatest irony – in fighting terrorists, we can actually be creating them.
Because things like this are a gold mine for IS recruitment. They can so easily say, “Look at what the US is doing to your families and friends. Look at how they kill innocent people. Don’t you want revenge?” And wouldn’t you want revenge?
The strongest case a terrorist group can have against the United States is what happened to those farm workers. And we’ve got to understand the larger consequences when innocents are accidentally killed in the war on terror. When it happens, they’re not just casualties – they’re the world’s greatest recruitment poster.