Didn’t they get the memo?

It’s only terrorism if someone else does it:

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton faced sharp rebukes from Pakistani audiences Friday, including one woman who accused the U.S. of conducting ”executions without trial” in aerial drone strikes. Slapping back, Clinton questioned Pakistan’s commitment to fighting terrorists.

During the visit and talks with Pakistani leaders, Clinton found herself repeatedly on the defensive from ordinary Pakistanis brimming with resentment toward U.S. foreign policy.

During a live broadcast of an interview before a predominantly female audience of several hundred, Clinton struggled to avoid describing the classified U.S. effort to target terrorists, and still try to explain the efforts of American foreign policy.

One woman asked Clinton how she would define terrorism.

”Is it the killing of people in drone attacks?” the woman asked. Then she asked if Clinton considered both the U.S. missile strikes and militant bombings like the one that killed more than 100 civilians in the city of Peshawar earlier in the week as acts of terrorism.

”No, I do not,” Clinton replied.

To be fair, I don’t think the drone attacks fit the classic definition of terrorism (even if it certainly fits the American definition which includes anything we don’t like). Definitions aside, the drone attacks that have killed hundreds of civilians must be terrifying to the population in Pakistan and Afghanistan. And anything that pisses them off – radicalizes them – makes attacks on Americans more likely.

Just another reason we should wind down our full scale occupation of that area…


  1. Clint

    It’s great the Pakistanis aggressively challenged the Obama Administration on this in such a public way. Hopefully that will open up more discussion on the issue of drone attacks.

    Clinton probably stumbled a bit in her response because it’s hard to provide legal, moral and strategic bases for attacks that are blatantly illegal, inhumane and counter-productive.

  2. Ian

    “Legal” assumes that there is a law and a means of punishment for breaking that law. We all know this isn’t the case here. Good for the Pakistani’s sure, but remember, there is no recourse for them here. Even if it could cause such an embarrassment for this administration that they lost the next election, the replacement administration would likely be the more hawkish Republicans. Its lose/lose for everyone else in the world until we agree to be held accountable.

  3. Chris

    The Pakistani government could force the issue and consider any further drone attacks an act of war.

  4. Ian

    Cause that would be in everyone’s best interest.