The unthinkable as the slaughter of schoolchildren

This was a so-called military school in which children were slaughtered mercilessly, and as well as I can understand its project from news sites, this meant it was a school devoted to service to families of the military regime in power in Pakistan, which had recently targeted sites associated with the Taliban as among its areas of influence, sites that had previously not been bombed that now were getting bombed.

In the Wikipedia article devoted to the attack on the school, the Taliban’s spokesman himself seems to find the deliberate, ruthless and hours-long slaughter of the children unthinkable, to judge by his speakings:

TTP spokesman Muhammad Omar Khorasani said that “we targeted the school because the Army targets our families. We want them to feel our pain.”[29] “Our six fighters successfully entered the Army school and we are giving them instructions from outside,” said Khorasani by phone.[30] Khorasani also said “Our suicide bombers have entered the school, they have instructions not to harm the children, but to target the Army personnel. It’s a revenge attack for the Army offensive in North Waziristan.”[31][32]

In Wikipedia’s account of the military campaign beginning this June that the Taliban claim this massacre was a response to, one notes the following:

After the attack, the Pakistani military launched a series of aerial strikes on militant hideouts in the tribal areas along the Afghan border. At least 25 militants, including foreign fighters, were killed on 10 June.[42] Two drone attacks on 12 June killed Uzbek, Afghan and local militants.[43][44] On 15 June the Pakistani military intensified air strikes in North Waziristan and bombed eight foreign militant hideouts, killing as many as 140 militants (most Uzbek, including persons linked to the airport attack and airport attack commander and mastermind Abu Abdur Rehman Almani).[45][46] The intensified aerial strikes in the wake of the attack were an extension of operations against militants conducted over the last few months.[42]

Within this account (and, I suspect, all or most all others covering this operation), no children or women, disabled or elderly persons are evidently counted or, perhaps, identified as part of the count. Nor were any “militant hideouts” reported as mistakenly identified by the Pakistani military — in which case, their aerial strikes are certainly far more skillfully chosen and executed than those of the US military. But I’m not sure this is reliably to be assumed.

But we do have some statistics, however precise or rough, on the outcome of the United States’ executive’s military wing in its campaign of surgically precise drone attacks on terrorists in Yemen, Afghanistan, and elsewhere. A recent article in the Guardian is worth reading in full (at It starts by noting that two drone strikes that both unsuccessfully targeted Aywan Zawahair inside a village in Pakistan cost the lives of 76 children and 29 other adults.

Two paragraphs from the middle of this article read:

“Drone strikes have been sold to the American public on the claim that they’re ‘precise’. But they are only as precise as the intelligence that feeds them. There is nothing precise about intelligence that results in the deaths of 28 unknown people, including women and children, for every ‘bad guy’ the US goes after,” said Reprieve’s Jennifer Gibson, who spearheaded the group’s study.

Some 24 men specifically targeted in Pakistan resulted in the death of 874 people. All were reported in the press as “killed” on multiple occasions, meaning that numerous strikes were aimed at each of them. The vast majority of those strikes were unsuccessful. An estimated 142 children were killed in the course of pursuing those 24 men, only six of whom died in the course of drone strikes that killed their intended targets.

​​The coincidence of “142” children in this quotation and “140 children” cited in the school massacre will not be lost on us once it is noticed.

The unspeakable has been under-reported but present with us for quite a while. To not know, not remember and not discuss has been a familiar norm, particularly in the United States. The Triangle Building fire, the Indian Removal Act of 1830, the chronic sexual abuse of young children by their clergy, the mass incarceration of African-American boys and men in our own time​ are only a few of countless examples of unspeakable yet systematic (or system-driven) devastation on a massive and scale that remain for the most part as much out of mind as out of site — above all, here in “the homeland of the free.”

I agree this is very difficult stuff to theorize, but there are dots that are connectable, however horrific, gut-wrenching, and irrationalizing their particulars happen to be.

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