Af-Pak between two poles of terrorism

We don’t share the right-wing “libertarian” politics of Reason magazine, and we generally don’t like atrocity pornography. But in a stroke of grim genius on Dec. 22, Reason juxtaposes photos of two disfigured survivors from the Af-Pak theater. The first you probably haven’t seen before: a girl named only as Shakira, who was one year old in 2009 when her village in Pakistan’s Swat Valley was targeted for a drone strike. Two other infants were killed in the attack; she survived, her face burned almost to the skull. A Pakistani emigre in Houston has managed to fly her there for special surgery, but a CNN account tells us: “She will never look fully normal.” Can you guess what comes next…?

Yes, the famous photo that was on the cover of Time magazine in August 2010 of an Afghan woman whose nose was cut off by the Taliban. Comments Reason:

The story made the explicit case that U.S. troops were necessary for protecting women from the Taliban. How things have changed since then! “Look, the Taliban per se is not our enemy. That’s critical,” Vice President Joe Biden recently told Newsweek.

Perhaps TIME should plaster Shakira on its cover—alongside sixteen-year-old Muhammad Tariq, the Pakistani anti-war protester who was killed in a US drone strike in late October—for a story about Pakistani children and the horrors of murder-drones. Or does that not fit the liberation narrative?

We disagree with Reason mag about much, but they are making exactly the same point here as the secular left forces in the region—the peoples of Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iraq, Yemen, etc. are caught between two poles of terrorism: that of political Islam and that of US imperialism.

See our last posts on the Af-Pak theater and the politics of drones.

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