By TAYLOR HAWKINS, Staff Columnist
According to a recent BBC poll of over 20,000 people in 21 different countries, the rest of the world, if allowed to vote in the upcoming election, would overwhelmingly elect Barack Obama. Every single country would elect him except for Pakistan.
Every country polled had less than 20% of respondents in favor of Mitt Romney, which probably reflects Obama’s international celebrity more than of a distaste of Romney. But Pakistan responded 15% in favor of Mitt Romney and 11-12% in favor of Barack Obama. Obama’s silent militarism has not put the Nobel Peace Prize winner in good favor with the people of Pakistan.
A report by NYU and Stanford clinic entitled “Living Under Drones” details the extralegal nature and backwards outcomes of the drone attacks. The Obama administration has continued George W. Bush’s practice of using unmanned drone aircrafts to bomb strategic military targets in Pakistan. The report describes in depth the physical, economic, and emotional distress caused by years of bombing.
The government, on the other hand, is incredibly opaque about the number of deaths that actually result – I assume because of the lack of intact bodies remaining after being bombed – and relies on highly questionable data regarding who is on the receiving end of these attacks. It doesn’t help that locals have learned not to approach a site that’s just been attacked for fear of the “double-tap” technique in which a drone attacks the same spot a second time, just to be sure that everyone is dead despite the potential to kill First Responders.
The administration’s policy to determine who is targeted by the drones is twisted and has had serious repercussions. The definition of a “combatant” as any military-aged male in the vicinity of “militant operations,” extensive targeting of said low level “militants” and the numerous resulting civilian deaths has had the effect of “[fomenting] anti-American sentiment” and may increase terrorism, especially given Pakistan’s government’s complicit role. The administration claims that these drone strikes are highly efficient in fighting terrorism and have almost no associated civilian deaths. This is not the case.
According to The Bureau of Investigative Journalism, of the 2000+ people killed in the strikes carried out by the Obama administration, there have been close to 300 civilian deaths and hundreds more injured. This is a far cry from the claims of “single-digit” deaths of civilians by the administration.
Let me be clear. I do not support Obama. I do not support the imperialistic and neoconservative policy that has us “Fighting Terrorism” with nearly a decade of bombings in remote Pakistan.
Unfortunately, there is no solution to be found in the ballot box of the upcoming election. Mitt Romney, with his ear to a small group of radically neoliberal voices, is a slightly more authoritative and monstrously more conservative alternative to Obama.
The third party solution is not a solution but a distraction from the fact that there are vulnerable people that will suffer if Romney wins this election. Romney’s attack (echoed by the GOP as a whole) on women’s rights, voting access, minorities, and the poor as well as his own stake in keeping the wealthy powerful is reason enough not to vote third party.
Much is at stake in this election but, unfortunately, the persistent flexing of military might by the United States is not. I will be very regretfully voting for Obama this coming election.