If Afghan Lives Mattered, Dallas Lives Would Matter by David Swanson

"Am I next?" - Justice for Philando Castile

Image by Tony Webster via Flickr

by David Swanson
Writer, Dandelion Salad
Let’s Try Democracy
July 8, 2016

The man who murdered police officers in Dallas, Texas, this week had earlier been employed in a massive operation, now in its 15th year, that has killed many thousands of people in Afghanistan. He was trained to kill by the U.S. military using U.S. tax dollars. He was conditioned to believe violence an appropriate response to violence by the examples everywhere to be found in U.S. public policy, history, entertainment, and language.

Murdering police officers because some other police officers committed murder is unfair, unjust, immoral, and certainly counterproductive on its own terms. The Dallas killer managed to get himself killed by means of a bomb delivered by a robot. The police could have waited him out but chose not to, and no one indoctrinated to accept violent revenge will blame them. But that technology will spread among police and non-police killers. The airwaves are reverberating with cries for a race war. Greater militarization of the police, not greater restraint, will follow this incident. More lives will be lost. More screams of agony will be heard over loved ones lost.

Murdering people in Afghanistan because some other people who had been to Afghanistan were suspected of committing murder was and is unfair, unjust, immoral, and certainly counterproductive on its own terms – and according to the White House this week it will continue for years to come. Not only did most people in Afghanistan not support the murders of September 11, 2001, but most people in Afghanistan had never heard of that crime. The global war on and of terrorism has been increasing terrorism for nearly 15 years. “When you drop a bomb from a drone… you are going to cause more damage than you are going to cause good,” said retired U.S. Lt. General Michael Flynn, who quit as head of the Pentagon’s Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) in August 2014. “The more weapons we give, the more bombs we drop, that just… fuels the conflict.”

The cry of “Black lives matter!” is not a proposal that white lives or police lives or soldiers’ lives or any lives do not matter. It is a lament over the disproportionate targeting of blacks by police shootings. The trick is to understand the shootings as the enemy, the militarizing and weaponizing policies as the enemy, and not some group of people.

The murders on 9/11 were not rightly understood. The enemy was murder, not Saudis or foreigners or Muslims. Now hundreds of times those murders have been added in response, making murder the big victor and peace the big loser. With no end in sight.

We must not go on trying to solve a problem with the same tools that created it. We must, in fact, proclaim that “All lives matter.” But if that is meant to include only the 4% of human lives contained within the United States, it will fail. We must stop training people to imagine that violence works, and hoping they will only use their violent skills abroad among the 96% of people who don’t matter.

Where is our outrage and our grief when the White House admits to killing innocents with drones? Where is our indignation over the people killed by the U.S. military in foreign lands? Where is our concern over U.S. weapons sales flooding the Middle East and other regions of the globe with instruments of death? When attacking ISIS just fuels ISIS, why is the only option ever considered more of the same?

What brings in campaign funding, what earns votes, what wins media coverage, what generates movie ticket sales, and what sustains the weapons industry may just be at odds with what protects all human lives including those we’re traditionally encouraged to think matter. But we can redirect our votes, our media consumption, and even our choice of industries to invest in.

Dallas lives are, whether we know it or not, going to go on not mattering, until Afghan and all other lives matter too.


David Swanson is an author, activist, journalist, and radio host. He is director of WorldBeyondWar.org and campaign coordinator for RootsAction.org. Swanson’s books include War Is A Lie. He blogs at DavidSwanson.org and WarIsACrime.org. He hosts Talk Nation Radio. He is a 2015 Nobel Peace Prize Nominee. War Is A Lie: Second Edition, published by Just World Books on April 5, 2016. I’ll come anywhere in the world to speak about it. Invite me!

see also:

From Martin Luther King + 50 to Dallas, Minneapolis, Baton Rouge by Rabbi Arthur Waskow

Afghan war veteran guns down five Dallas police By Patrick Martin

from the archives:

A Drone Was Used to Blow up a US Citizen Without a Trial. Let That Sink In by Daniel McAdams

Women’s Draft? Sign Me Up To Abolish War by Rivera Sun

U.S. Air Force’s Ability to Deliver Death But Not Food Is A Choice by David Swanson

Chris Hedges: Why the Brutalized Become Brutal

Chris Hedges: The New Black Militants

Kill Them All – US Strike on Afghan Hospital by Finian Cunningham

Everyone Has to Practice Nonviolence. Now. by Rev. John Dear

8 responses to “If Afghan Lives Mattered, Dallas Lives Would Matter by David Swanson

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  5. Facebook Comment 2

    “Yes. I hear all these self-deluded and self-righteous politicians and media announcers loudly proclaim in the last few days that violence against anyone is wrong and solves nothing. But really, they just mean, don’t shoot the white cops. But when they used a robot bomb to execute the suspected shooter, that was somehow okay. When we used remote controlled flying robot drones to kill in the Middle East taking brown lives, that somehow is a-okay. I don’t hear politicians and media types getting out there and decrying that loss of life. We are very selective about what lives matter in our society and pretty much the lives we do and don’t care so much about breaks down to matters of skin color, religion, sex, sexuality – anyone that’s not the supposed norm.”

  6. I adore David Swanson’s ever articulate and sound as a pound reasoning. This just nails it.

    How many more years of this beligent hogwash by our government can we take??

  7. Facebook Comment 1

    “There’s so much truth in this article that it would be toxic to the average flag waving American. It’s correct to say that a veil of delusion lays over the land of mass aggression; the land of mass death. It is also correct to say that a charade prevails in the name of progress and profit in the land of mass aggression and mass death. And yet, we, who dwell in the land of mass delusion and death, who are unsubscribed to its policies are subject to retribution and gather in our loneliness to find solace in each other, outside the cheering crowds.”

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