Chen Weihua

Killing kids a crime whatever the reason

By Chen Weihua (China Daily)
Updated: 2011-05-03 07:58
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When news about the NATO air strike killing Libyan leader Muammar Gadhafi's youngest son and three grandchildren emerged on Saturday evening, US President Barack Obama was wining and dining at the annual White House Correspondents Dinner in the Washington Hilton Hotel.

He and NBC Saturday Night Live head writer Seth Meyers were sharing jokes with hundreds of journalists and celebrities.

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Obama offered his prayers to the people in Alabama who had just suffered a devastating tornado, but mentioned nothing about the NATO air strike in Tripoli, where Gadhafi's three grandchildren all under the age of 12 were killed.

Which is not surprising, after all, US leaders have never apologized for the children killed by US military operations in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Rather than feeling outraged by the killings, Obama was having a good time on Saturday evening. He made fun of billionaire Donald Trump who was sitting among the audience and he laughed when Seth Meyers lampooned Trump.

While Trump, who has been questioning Obama's birth certificate for months, is indeed the biggest joke in US politics these days, Obama looked very much like a comedian that evening.

After the air strike, some US officials immediately tried to shirk responsibility by describing the bombing as a NATO operation. Yet anyone who knows how NATO functions knows it is impossible for the US to dodge responsibility in this way.

That evening, the journalists who cover the White House and the US President failed to accept their responsibilities. Instead of promptly questioning the US president about the killing, they partied with the Hollywood stars that were also attending the dinner.

Killing three young children was sadly no news to them.

TV networks, such as CNN, which devoted days to reporting a rape case in Libya a month ago, have also showed little interest in digging into the children's deaths.

On the contrary, they broadcast the wild celebrations by Libyan rebels when they heard the news.

The headlines on the Washington Post and New York Times websites mentioned only the killing of Gadhafi's son, not his three grandchildren. The message seems to be: It is a crime for others to assassinate and kill children, but it is perfectly acceptable when it comes to the US and NATO.

Nevertheless, comments left by readers were mostly condemnation.

There is no doubt that both the US and NATO still believe that military operations are great solutions to some of the world's problems. However, what has happened in Iraq and Afghanistan has proved they are wrong. Victory cannot be won by relying on military force. The drone attacks that have been expanded under Obama are triggering more anti-US sentiments in that part of the world.

Eliminating someone is a relatively easy task for the mighty US military, but wiping out the influence of that person's ideology and spirit is a far tougher job than it seems.

Both Obama and NATO should condemn the killing of the three children, even if their last name was Gadhafi. That is the only way not to lose more hearts and minds.

The author is deputy editor of China Daily US edition. E-mail:

(China Daily 05/03/2011 page8)