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Thursday, April 17, 2003

Terrorist until proven otherwise!

For years paramilitary forces across numerous nations have been fighting acts of violence against the government and its citizenry. The instigators of the violence go by different names - anti-social elements, terrorists, freedom fighters... - depending on who is referring to them. And in the face of suicide attacks and ambush, most always the forces have maintained their composure and given approaching civilians a fair chance to identify themselves. Some have paid for their patience and misplaced trust with their lives, some others have been handicapped for life. But in all these years, the number of incidents of preventive firing resulting in fatalities have not reached the scale that it has in Iraq. Be it in UK where the government fought the IRA for long or during Spain's fight against the Basque seperatists or in Sri Lanka's fight against the LTTE - the suicide attack specialists or in Israel's war against the Palestinians fighters or in the Indian forces fight against seperatists in Kashmir.

Why then cannot the American forces exercise similar restraint and maturity? With their state-of-the-art technology and weaponry, they still are unable to identify friend from foe, either from the ground or their telescopic sights in the sky. As recently as a couple weeks ago, some British soldiers have gone on record accusing the Americans of being trigger-happy cowboys. The Canadians have said it in the past too. I winced when I saw on TV a soldier on a military truck somewhere in Iraq fire a full machine gun round into a car that was fast approaching it. Hasn't anyone taught these kids to first shoot warning shots and if there is no response then to shoot the wheels and then the engine and in the worst case scenario taking out the driver? We saw the massacare in Somalia - thousands of Somalians died to America's 18. We saw it in Afghanistan. We see it in Iraq.

Are we to trust the citizenry of one of the oldest civilisations in the hands of these kids bred on reality shows and exaggeration?


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