Acts of terror that strikes fear in the hearts and minds of people, such as unexpected and secretive deadly drone strikes, are always wars against hope. But not only are they wars against hope, they are acts of aggression against domestic and international rules of law and the civilities of life.
Just hours after President Barack Obama learned that he had four more years as the executive leader of the United States of America, he ordered another drone strike against in Yemen and against the Yemenis. It was reported that three “suspected” terrorists were killed on the outskirts of Yemen’s capital, Sanaa.
Thousands of Pakistanis continue to protest against President Obama’s and the Pentagon’s drone-strike policies, including America’s heavy-handedness. With banners, reading: “Stop Drone Attacks…Drone Attacks Are The Reason Of Terrorism in Pakistan!”, some claimed they should have voted in America’s recent national election.
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Tired of suffering under years of U.S.-led drone strikes, cross-border and night raids, and even assassinations by special forces, many Pakistanis are embarrassed and humiliated, believing they have lost their own sovereignty, their dignity stolen. Iftikhar Kahn, a 24 year-old student, remarked: “We must accept we are undeclared slaves of the U.S.”(1)
Due to more than 300 deadly drone strikes that have killed over 3,000 Pakistanis, Warshameen Jaan HajI, who lost his wife and children in a drone attack, speaks for thousands of survivors and family members who have had loved ones killed in erroneous drone strikes. He declared, “Any American, whether Obama or Mitt Romney, is cruel.”(1)
Hannah Arendt, a German-born political philosopher, wrote how politics was a way humans continually defined and redefined themselves in the public arena, where they can be judged from a plurality of perspectives. She also believed atrocities stemmed not from calculated cruelties but from the bureaucratic mind-set.
This bureaucratic and anomie mindset establishes rules and routines that overcome the capacity to reflect on one’s thinking and actions, thus leading to either direct or indirect mass killings. “The sad truth is,” wrote Arendt, “that most evil is done by people who never make up their minds to be either good or evil.
For Pakistan and Pakistanis, President Obama’s audacity of hope has become the audacity of terror. These fearful, terrorist, secretive and deadly drone attacks also reveal how Americans define and redefine themselves in the public arena. Just like mass killings have become another bureaucratic necessity, so too has voting and the electorate.
Like Iftikar Khan mentioned, America rules directly or indirectly in Pakistan and many other nations. The bullet or ballot has actually become the bomb and ballot, or in this case, the drone and ballot. America’s bureaucratic voting system routinely, and indirectly, enables atrocities to continue.
For many Americans the concept of casting a transcendent, ethical and reflective vote stops, and ends, at the voting booth. What political leaders do with these “short-lived” consent-of-the-governed ballots is of no matter. The audacity of hope for some turns into the audacity of terror for others. The bureaucracy of voting itself becomes an act of terror.
Since terrorism is a war against hope, maybe Pakistanis, along with other people in regions where U.S. terrorist drone attacks exist and thrive, should vote in American elections after all.
(1) Koster, Suzanna. “If Pakistan could vote, Obama would not fare well.” Global Post-International News, November 3, 2012.
(2) “Obama victory infuriates Pakistani drone victims.” INDOlink.com.