Pointless atrocities

How can you process something like this?

Militants from the Pakistani Taliban have attacked an army-run school in Peshawar, killing 141 people, 132 of them children, the military say.

Officials say the attack in the north-western city is over, with all the attackers killed. Seven militants took part in all, according to the army.

132 children murdered for…what? Retaliation against the Pakistani army? Revenge? Anger over girls getting an education? This act makes a mockery of armed resistance and hollows out any claims that the Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan make about Islamabad’s abuses toward the Pashtun communities in Pakistan’s Federally Administered Tribal Areas. Any Pashtun who continues to align themselves with these killers after today forfeits any right to that community’s (frequently justifiable) complaints about the Pakistani government.

I suppose what the TTP wants out of an attack like this is the same thing Man Haron Monis wanted: the inevitable counterstrike. The TTP want the whole weight of the Pakistani government to come down on the communities in the FATA, to turn a rebel insurgency into a full-blown Pashtun vs. Islamabad civil war. They’ll likely get what they want. The Pakistani security complex, which has until now tried to cultivate the TTP with one hand while striking it with the other, is going to have a tough time justifying anything but a total commitment to eliminating the Taliban at this point.

But those political considerations are beside the point. These were innocent schoolchildren and their murders cannot be justified or rationalized. It’s grotesque. I know very well that there’s blood on America’s hands and on the hands of our allies — like Yemen and Pakistan — in how we have conducted ourselves around the world over the past century or so, but there is no justification for something like this.

And it’s not even the only terrorist attack today that targeted children. There’s also what happened in Yemen:

At least 25 people, among them 15 children, have been killed in twin car bomb attack in the central Yemeni province of Bayda, reports say.

The children were inside a school bus that was passing a checkpoint manned by Shia Houthi rebels in the Radaa area when the first bomb exploded.

The second one went off soon afterwards near the home of a Houthi leader.

The rebels blamed Sunni jihadist militants from al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) for the blasts.

These children were all girls, so the possibility really does exist that they were targeted for the “crime” of learning while female. AQAP is lashing out against state institutions in the wake of the virtual takeover of the Yemeni state by the Houthis.

Groups like TTP and AQAP claim to have goals, political aims, justifications for their violence and brutality. But there’s no justification for deliberately targeting children. It’s unfathomable that any right-thinking human being could conceive of something like this in the context of what is supposed to be an armed struggle to achieve political aims, and equally unfathomable that any right-thinking human being could be given orders to carry out something like this and actually agree to go through with it. It’s the act of a group of serial killers, of psychopaths, nothing more. It reveals that the TTP and AQAP aren’t acting in the service of some larger purpose or goal. They’re in it for the body count, for the thrill of bringing death and utter despair on as many people as they possibly can.

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