A War By Any Other Name

Charles PierceI’ve always thought of the drone war in terms of the melon vendor and the guy in the goat cart on the other side of the road. There’s an al Qaeda operative buying a melon from a vendor. Meanwhile, a guy with a goat cart comes up the other side of the road. Suddenly, here comes death from above. The terrorist is dead. So is the melon vendor. So is the guy in the goat cart on the other side of the road. They’re all blown into equally tiny bits. How do we think the families of the melon vendor and the guy with the goat cart are going to take this? We create a desire for retribution with which our grandchildren may have to cope. And we may never know the names of the melon dealer or the guy with the goat cart, the way we now know the names of Warren Weinstein and Giovanni Lo Porto. We may never know the name of the melon dealer until his grandchild blows up an airplane. And none of that should be surprising because that’s also what happens when you make war, any kind of war, in a place.

—Charlie Pierce
Drone Wars: Oops, They Did It Again

14 thoughts on “A War By Any Other Name

    • Paul Bibeau, if I remember right, is the guy who wrote that series of articles about L Ron Hubbard and Ayn Rand and Tom Cruise having been alive back in the 1940s and being immortal. Those were really great.

      I like that one, but I’m surprised there were no comments. Didn’t the conservatives realize he was supporting terrorism?!

      • Terrorism, that’s the word.
        Not “supporting” but plain terrorism.
        Let everyone feel that they might be dead by the end of every day just ’cause they live in the wrong place (nobody in WTC had any fault other than being there), and what you’re doing is exactly spreading terror among people: terrorism that is.

        • What are you talking about? I was talking about a series of comedic articles about Ayn Rand and L Ron Hubbard. But if you mean the comment in a broader sense, you are just spouting the usual authoritarian line: no one can ever disagree because it’s terrorism. I’d be contemptuous of you, but you are too silly to take that seriously.

          • EG might have meant that goons pimping the “Terrorism” meme are themselves terrorists, spreading fear.

            Going Key & Peele, that’s how I chose to read it.

          • Jmf got that right.
            I didn’t mean You: it was an impersonal ‘you’ subject (although I could have spelt it ‘conservative-warlords’).
            Sorry about the misunderstanding.
            I was stressing the tragedy in the hirony.

  1. @JMF – You think so? I kind of doubt it. The phrase “nobody in WTC had any fault other than being there” seems to typically paleoconservative — as though anyone is saying that they did. And he did say that I was the one practicing terrorism. But I don’t know the Key & Peele bit you are referring to.

    Speaking of Key & Peele, did you see Key at the WHCD? I hate the whole idea of the event, but the comedy is usually good. Key was great. And I thought that Cecily Strong was a lot better than the “journalists” gave her credit for. Although I don’t understand why she didn’t drop the jokes that were already made by Obama.

    • I will have to check out that WHCD. I fondly remember Al Franken making Newt Gingrich’s face explode.

      The Key & Peele bit is one you introduced me to, on text messaging — when in doubt, assume the best intentions from electronic shorthand communication.

      You’re probably right. But subject/verb agreement (I failed grammar in college, it’s the only course I ever failed): “Let everyone feel that they might be dead by the end of every day” “and what you’re doing is exactly spreading terror among people.”

      So it could be taken as “you” meaning the jerks who make Americans feel scared every day, not you.

      I assume you don’t delete posts like this in order to give posters the opportunity to explain further. What a dick I am for butting in! But I failed grammar.

      • Of course! You may be right. I don’t know.

        I allow all comments as long as they are real. I try to answer all comments, as long as they aren’t clearly crazy. And by “crazy” I mean literally mentally ill, which I get a fair amount. They usually have no paragraph breaks.

        You took grammar in college? That would be a hard class — much like mathematics, I assume. I’ve gotten much worse at grammar over the years. If it weren’t for my having decent instincts at this point, I would have a much harder time.

        • The virtues of testing children. In eight grade we were supposed to learn grammar. We took a test to asses our level of reading comprehension. Naturally, as a sad kid who lived in books, I aced the test. So for that entire school year, while my classmates had assignments about predicates and subjunctives and such, I had made-up work from the teacher to keep me busy.

          Fast-forward to college. I took grammar, it was required for my major, and giant words/terms flew at my face I’d never heard before. Apparently, English has rules — and woe betide anyone who breaks them. It’s a big stinking giant “F” on my transcript.

          Math was easy! Like science. Memorize a few equations, beat the test, forget it all five days later. (I wish I hadn’t forgotten, now.)

          The requisite classes in a foreign language were hard, since they involve all those “present pluperfect participle” terms I didn’t understand. You can wing through those classes by having a good ear, though.

          • I was just figuring that a college level course in grammar would be difficult. Grammar in eighth grade wasn’t much. Of course, I didn’t learn anything from it. I just had a knack for it: I knew what sounded right. It wasn’t until I took Spanish in high school that I woke up to the fact that English was a really cool thing. And the sad thing is that I was a terrible student and I’m sure that teacher never knew just how profound an effect she had on my life. (Given the state of my life, maybe it’s best she not know!)

            Well, the fact that you could do that in your math and science courses is an indictment of how we teach those subjects. And probably an indication that you are smart. But I think it is important that students not get away with being smart. I know that I wasted a lot of my education just finessing my way through.

            But I would disagree that English has “rules” except in the sense that “asses” is a word but isn’t “assess.” ;-) The rules of grammar are imperfect tendencies derived from the way that English is used. And I hate teachers who claim otherwise! On the other hand, it’s important to talk rightly.

  2. Yeah, it’s a damn shame college math/science courses let me test “A” without making me fall in love with math/science. (I am in love with science now. Math, that’s harder, since mean people in high school used to make fun of me for getting lower test scores than them. Science, too, but I’ve had nice people like Sagan and Tyson to lead me back to the fold.)

    I think teachers know they have profound effects on students, and that’s largely what motivates them to do a low-paying job. Teachers know kids have their own issues. Some kids are 100% well-balanced. Most have problems. Kids can come from abusive homes, be struggling with sexual orientation, racial discrimination, poverty. The list goes on and on. You can’t save every kid. What you can do is be nice to every kid. And sometimes that niceness makes more of a difference than you can ever know, or the kids themselves realize until they are much older.

    Teachers know this. Some teachers are petty tyrants, of course. But the good ones are actual heroes, and I don’t use that word lightly.

    • There are some really great books on math for a general audience. I’ll see if I can hunt down some titles.

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