This week, the White House revealed it really does care about civilians being killed by drones -- at least when they're Americans or Westerners. On Thursday, President Obama expressed "profound regrets," and described as "uniquely tragic," a January drone strike in Pakistan that killed two al Qaeda-held hostages -- one American, one Italian. But while certainly tragic, it's far from unique. The Bureau of Investigative Journalism estimates that, under Obama, drones in Pakistan alone have killed between 256 and 630 civilians, with at least 66 of them children. In fact, the first drone strike of his presidency reportedly killed at least nine civilians. In the wake of this week's announcement, the president ordered a review of what lessons can be learned from these latest deaths. One we already know: Some innocent lives are apparently more valuable than others.
This week campaigners against cluster munitions are pressing for answers on why any financial institution or bank would choose to be associated with the production of this banned weapon. PAX, a member of the international Cluster Munition Coalition, has released a report revealing the financial institutions backing companies involved in production of cluster munitions.
The world has become accustomed to fighting between Israel and the Palestinians, and there has been a cumulative desensitization to the human suffering caused by the current conflict. The magnitude of the humanitarian disaster now unfolding is immense. Gaza has fewer than 1.8 million inhabitants, and over 1,400 of them are now dead. Were a similar catastrophe to occur in the United States, a nation of 316 million people, the equivalent number of deaths would be over 240,000. Faced with the unending possibility of attack, Israel is understandably concerned about its security. But its actions in the current conflict suggest that in the end its greatest threat may be to its soul.
Whether the blood spilled is Israeli or Palestinian, it is red. Responsibility for spilling that blood is on the hands of both Israel and Hamas. Perhaps sometimes war can be just, but there is nothing holy or just about Hamas targeting Israeli civilians or the death of Palestinian children caused by Israeli bombardment.