US extrajudicial killings and ‘Western Immorality’

Since the last decade, the US drone strike has caused numerous casualties worldwide, including Pakistan, Afghanistan, Yemen and Somalia 

Ahmad Faraz Oct 12, 2021
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Footage from Drone (Copyright: Shutterstock.com)

On 29 August 2021 just days before the US withdrawal from Afghanistan, a drone strike killed ten civilians of one family. The target was an innocent aid worker and his family members, including seven children. The US merely acknowledged the mistakes, and according to a BBC report, described the strike as a "tragic mistake" only.

Last year, Tariq Aziz, another 16-year-old boy, a soccer player, also died when a drone strike lit up his car in Pakistan. Since the last decade, the US drone strike has caused numerous casualties worldwide, including in Pakistan, Yemen, Somalia and Afghanistan. According to the Bureau of Investigative journalism statistics, since 2004, drone strikes in Yemen have killed at least 174-225 civilians, with total death of 1020-1389. In Pakistan, the number is even worse. According to the Bureau of Investigative journalism statistics, drone strikes killed 2500-4000 people, including 424-969 civilians in Pakistan.
 
The events and unfortunate stories are only a glimpse of the USA's extrajudicial killings, its practice of targeted killings, and violations of human rights internationally. It seems, in the name of national security and war against terror, the "champion of human rights' is continuously violating human rights and bypassing international laws and norms for decades.
 
Targeted Killings
 
According to a Foreign Policy article by American professor Charli Carpenter, targeted killing is a clear violation of human rights. Target listing or making a 'Kill list' is also a violation of basic tenets. There are international prohibitions on this issue. But it seems, since 9/11, the current hegemon - the USA itself is breaching these laws daily.
 
However, this is not the only prohibition the USA has breached. The drone strike on Iranian military commander Qasem Soleimani on Jan 3, 2020, also violated international laws related to internationally protected persons. As an official of the Iran government, Soleimani was an internationally protected person. Therefore, killing Soleimani is a violation of international laws and norms.
 
Apart from international laws and norms, targeted killing is also an act of 'extrajudicial killings,' and it overrides due legal process and 'right to justice'.
 
Double standards
 
In the international arena, the USA always maintains a strong voice for ensuring democracy and human rights. But it seems when it comes to its allies, it tends to turn a blind eye. Many of the US's traditional allies, including Israel, Saudi Arabia, and Egypt, have many human rights violations issues, including forced disappearance, extrajudicial killing, tortures, denying legal rights, and killing of internationally protected persons. But the USA is not as vocal as it is in several other cases. It seems 'selections' of interventions are subordinate to the US interest rather than actual concerns.
 
For many other cases, the US highlights the jurisdiction and activities of the International Criminal Court (ICC). But when it comes to its own, it seems the USA relies on sanctioning the court only. According to Human Rights Watch report, last year, in September, the US government imposed sanctions implemented through executive order on two ICC prosecutors and restricted the visa issuance for them. These prosecutors were investigating US personnel. The US has shown its dual position on ICC and rejected fairness and legal norms in the international sphere by taking such actions.

All these violations of human rights issues of the US foreign policy can be termed as ‘western immorality’.  In a recent article on the Afghan context, cultural philosopher Slavoj Zizek also addressed the issue of 'immorality'. It seems in the international sphere, the US itself has questionable actions that go against human rights and has a tendency to bypass the existing international laws and norms when it comes to its interests. Therefore, the US itself is a violator, and it is currently not in a position to 'lecture' others about human rights. To be the 'actual' champion of human rights, the USA must give up its violations, duality, and 'immoral' aspects of its foreign policy that raise questions against it.

(The writer is an independent researcher from Islamabad,  Pakistan. The views expressed are personal. He can be contacted at ahmad.farazpk01@gmail.com)