See More on Facebook


American killer

Staying away from an American policy that does not value brown and black people.

Written by

Updated: November 28, 2019

CHIEF Special Warfare Operator Edward ‘Eddie’ Gallagher is a man of many sins. According to military prosecutors in the United States, Gallagher is responsible for brutally stabbing and murdering a teenage so-called Islamic State (IS) fighter, using his sniper rifle on ordinary Iraqi citizens, and boasting about racking up his ‘kills’ to others.

To top it all off, Gallagher is also guilty of taking a triumphant photo of himself with the young IS fighter that he killed. Gallagher was tried and convicted by a military court earlier this year, and was to be deprived of his rank and booted out of the US Navy SEALs.

President Donald Trump could not tolerate this. Despite having been told by top military and defence officials that he should leave the issue alone and allow the navy to handle what happened to Gallagher, he decided to intervene and reverse war criminal Gallagher’s demotion. This angered the naval secretary who was made to step down.

The whole story is important because it can easily be considered as a metaphor for how American power is likely to operate in the next decade.

First, it is of course not ‘news’ that the United States, either via its armed forces or via other officials, cares little for the lives of brown and black people in places such as Pakistan or Afghanistan or Iraq. The massive death toll in the Iraq and Afghan wars, the crushing depravity of Abu Ghraib, the torture carried out on suspected terrorists at the CIA black sites, are only the incidents that we know of. Others in greater numbers may also have taken place, their perpetrators never caught and their victims never avenged. In simple terms, the exercise of American power in the past two decades has been brash and brutish.

And yet those pre-Trump era years represent the ones in which there were still limits to American power. In the past decades, the United States, as the liberal democratic giant of the world, tried, at least in name, to toe the line of the rule of law and the enforcement of human rights principles. Many, or even most, times it failed, but it did appear to try.

Human rights reports were regularly issued by the US State Department and officials routinely considered the records of every country around the world. In sum, American foreign policy at least tried to pay some level of lip service to human rights and fair play.

The next decade is going to be different. The US may be making an exit from expensive ground wars, but the use of its special forces to carry out missions such as the killing of IS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi are all examples of what American warfare will look like in the future.

Condoning the deeds of a man like Gallagher further suggests that US civilian leadership, particularly if the presidency stays with the Republicans, is going to be completely unfettered in the mayhem it inflicts on enemies real or imagined. Donald Trump pardoned Gallagher because he has little patience for the rules and procedures that are supposed to ensure how American soldiers exercise their power.

In his simple and murderous world, might makes right — and America has plenty of might. With this worldview he is likely to provide carte blanche to any and all exercises of American power, regardless of whether or not they are humane. The weakening of liberal limits on the exercise of power that began under former president George Bush will now lead to complete evisceration under President Trump.

The future of the US is likely to be illiberal. The restoration of the rank of a man who did not fight fairly and the commander-in-chief’s disregard for the lives of non-white peoples is likely to be a fixture of American foreign policy in the future.

Already, the US has set about eliminating foreign aid to non-Christian places. Aid to Gaza and the West Bank has been indefinitely discontinued; already disbursed aid to Iraq has been left without proper administrators. The liberal constraints that would have functioned as a buffer against overt discrimination against aid-recipient countries based on their religion are no longer regarded as such.

The cumulative impact of these developments requires Pakistan to be very vigilant of the kind of help it accepts from the United States in the near future. Despite the criticism offered by American officials vis-à-vis the debt burden incurred by Pakistan in the implementation of CPEC, Pakistan should continue to diversify its options and relationships with emerging superpowers.

With the US having done away with its commitment to furthering the cause of human rights, the choice to ally with other illiberal countries no longer represents a repudiation of human rights and other liberal principles.

The chances that Donald Trump will be re-elected in the US appear to be good.

Despite being quite far into the process, the Democratic Party is struggling to find a candidate strong enough to beat him. Impeachment is also guaranteed to fail in the US Senate. If President Trump has in his first term been pardoning war criminals, he in his second term is likely to be even more erratic, doing whatever he wants to whomever he wants.

With such uncertainty as the basis of US foreign policy, the most prudent path would be to maintain a safe distance. If not, Pakistan may end up being like one of the victims of Mike Gallagher’s killing sprees — nameless and powerless, and chased by a monster.

Enjoyed this story? Share it.

About the Author: Dawn is Pakistan's oldest and most widely read English-language newspaper.

Eastern Briefings

All you need to know about Asia

Our Eastern Briefings Newsletter presents curated stories from 22 Asian newspapers from South, Southeast and Northeast Asia.

Sign up and stay updated with the latest news.

By providing us with your email address, you agree to our Privacy Policy and Terms of Service.

View Today's Newsletter Here


Rohingya Crisis Fallout

Transparency International Bangladesh has painted a grim outlook for the crisis. Bangladesh faces long-term financial, political and security challenges as Rohingya repatriation may not happen anytime soon, said Transparency International Bangladesh (TIB) Executive Director Dr Iftekharuzzaman. The fund from the international community for nearly one million Rohingyas may not sustain as no strong international initiative has been taken to oblige Myanmar for creating a conducive environment for the refugees to return soon, he said. “As a result, Bangladesh’s socio-economic instability will grow. There are risks of security at local and national levels. The crisis also creates political and diplomatic challenges for the government,” Iftekharuzzaman said. It also involves the risks of growing extremism as the people who face violence are more likely to become violent, he said at a press confere

By Daily Star
December 6, 2019


No safe spaces for women in Pakistan

Rafia Zakaria writes for Dawn. THAT crime lurks in the streets and corners of Karachi is not news for anyone. Precariousness and predation are the mainstay in this southern corner of the land of the pure; if you have something you are hunted and if you have nothing, you hunt. Destiny damns both, the hunters and the hunted, enacting a dystopian version of The Walking Dead, every day and every night. Karachi is, after all, judged as one of the world’s cities that are least liveable. The scars of it all are visible everywhere, on the bodies and faces of its people, on the hospitals that do not care, and the police that do not protect. This time, the dark forces that breed within the city came for a young girl. According to news reports, 20-year-old Dua Nisar Mangi was ‘committing the crime’ of walking down a city street. This was over the weekend past, and with her was a friend named Haris. It was not suppo

By Dawn
December 5, 2019


Climate Change: Bangladesh 7th worst-hit nation

The country is at risk from cyclones and flooding. Bangladesh is seventh among the 10 countries worst hit by extreme weather events, says a global climate report. Puerto Rico, Myanmar and Haiti top the list which has three South Asian countries and seven Asian nations, according to the Global Climate Risk Index (CRI) 2020 that analysed data from 1999 and 2018. Germanwatch, a Berlin based non-profit environmental research organisation, released the report yesterday on the sidelines of The Conference of the Parties (COP-25) meet in Madrid, Spain. In the previous report that examined data between 1998 and 2017, Bangladesh was at the ninth position. The study looked at four indicators — death toll, number of events, loss of property of each person and loss of gross domestic product. The CRI 2020 is based on the loss figures of 181 countries, it said. The report also said Japan, th

By Daily Star
December 5, 2019


S. Korean negotiator hopes for ‘win-win’ burden-sharing deal with US

Trump has accused Korea of not paying its fair share of defense costs. South Korea’s top negotiator in defense cost-sharing talks with the United States said Monday that he believes the two sides will be able to strike a “win-win” deal based on their common understanding of the bilateral alliance. Jeong Eun-bo, the top envoy to the Special Measures Agreement negotiations, made the comment upon arriving at Washington’s Dulles International Airport ahead of the fourth round of talks slated for Tuesday and Wednesday. The previous round of talks in Seoul last month was cut short, publicly displaying the rift between the allies over how to share the costs for the stationing of 28,500 American troops in South Korea.

By The Korea Herald
December 3, 2019


New parties face drubbing in by-elections as Nepalis continue to vote along party lines

“They failed to convince the voters as to what they would bring to the table if they were given a chance”. Nepalis once again displayed traditional voting patterns as they continued to choose the established parties—Nepal Communist Party and the Nepali Congress—while casting their ballots in Saturday’s by-election, as they snubbed newer parties like Sajha and Bibeksheel. Despite their untiring efforts, focussing primarily on Kaski Constituency-2 in a bid to get a seat in the federal Parliament, both Sajha and Bibeksheel, cut no ice with voters. Both parties have had to fight hard to even secure their deposits, as candidates must garner at least 10 percent of the total votes cast to get back their deposit; a failure to do so is considered humiliating. By-elections were held on Saturday for 52 positions, including a vacant seat in the House of Representatives, three provincial assembly seats

By The Kathmandu Post
December 2, 2019


TikTok apologises for blocking American teen’s video about Xinjiang disguised as makeup tutorial

In a statement, TikTok blamed a “human moderation error” for the incident and promised to review its policies. VIdeo-sharing app TikTok apologised for blocking an American teenager’s account after she posted a video about China’s treatment of Muslims in the Xinjiang region that went viral. In a statement, Eric Han, head of safety at TikTok US, blamed a “human moderation error” for the removal of 17-year-old Feroza Aziz’s video, which was disguised as a makeup tutorial and received millions of views across TikTok, Twitter and Instagram. Han said: “Due to a human moderation error, the viral video… was removed. It’s important to clarify that nothing in our community guidelines precludes content such as this video, and it shou

By Dawn
November 29, 2019