Bombs and Bases over People

That the New York Times prioritizes US military objectives over the lives of people in other countries is on full display this weekend. Here we have exhibit A:

An American military airstrike in eastern Afghanistan near the Pakistan border was reported to have killed 18 people, including at least one senior Taliban commander but also women and children, raising the thorny issue of civilian casualties for the third time in roughly a week.

I am quite certain that if 10 American children were killed in a Taliban attack on a US commander, the Times would not lead with how this raised “the thorny issue of civilian casualties.” To the Times, it’s not a tragedy when Afghan children are slaughtered – merely a “thorny issue” that might get in the way of more American airstrikes.

Civilian casualties have long been a sticking point between President Hamid Karzai and his Western allies. Harsh criticism by Mr. Karzai led to stronger rules on the use of airstrikes by American forces last year…

It seems that adjectives like “harsh” can never apply to US airstrikes – only to criticism of them.

Then, in an editorial, the Times declares: “Prime Minister Shinzo Abe of Japan showed political leadership by agreeing with the United States on a timetable for reducing the size of the American force and returning some land used as a military base.” Apparently it is “leadership” to do what the United States wants.

Three paragraphs later, we learn that the agreement is premised on moving the base from one part of Okinawa to another. The editorial is entitled “Progress on Okinawa,” but few Okinawans are likely to see this as progress. By a large majority, they insist that the base be moved out of the prefecture entirely.

It’s nice that the Times recognizes Okinawans’ “legitimate concerns about living among American bases — jet crashes, crime, environmental degradation and noise….” But at the end, this is revealed as nothing but lip service:

Mr. Abe’s government has tried to address the opposition with offers of generous financial aid and other efforts to court Okinawa’s governor, Hirokazu Nakaima, a member of Mr. Abe’s conservative governing party. Now the pressure is on Mr. Abe to deliver.

In other words, the editorial board urges Abe to show more “leadership” – by attempting to pay off the government of Okinawa. The insulting expectation that the people of Okinawa can be bought is likely to be disappointed.


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