Human Life: Another Dispersed Cost

Article by David D’Amato.

In what has become a sustained echo through the span of the war, BBC News reports that “Western forces have accidentally killed seven civilians in an air attack in” Afghanistan. Among those killed in the attack, which was ordered by NATO on March 25, were three children, this on the heels of a raid that resulted in the deaths of nine children just a few weeks ago.

Civilian deaths in Afghanistan, though the American Empire does its very best to conceal them, have become almost quotidian in the news cycle, to the point where we hardly pay them any mind. Where the statist, corporate media does attend to these tragedies, they’re quick to point out that they are inadvertent mishaps in what are legitimate pursuits.

This most recent instance of wanton murder came as a result of intelligence that indicated “a Taliban leader and several of his subordinates were travelling in two vehicles” in Helmand province. But a mouthpiece for the euphemistically-named International Security Assistance Force — the UN-mandated group of military thugs supposedly “invited” by the Afghan people — admitted that he “could not confirm” the location of that Taliban boss.

The truth is that whether the Taliban is ever fully exterminated, whether the United States “wins” in Afghanistan, is much less important than that the Empire continues to have something to nourish it. In limning his dystopia in Nineteen Eighty-Four, Orwell explained that “the only genuine danger” to the state’s ruling class was “educational,” that skepticism toward power might imperil their continued dominance over productive society; the problem, he said, was solved, or at least combated, in large part by “the device of continuous warfare,” necessary for “keying up public morale to the necessary pitch.”

For the novel’s superpower Oceania, then, as for the United States, defeat of an enemy that is “unconquerable” by design is neither possible nor even desired. Since Afghanistan, in and of itself, is not the true object of the war in Afghanistan, the focus actually being the preservation of a particular political-economic system, the lives both of Americans and Afghans don’t matter.

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