On Tuesday night, President Obama droned on about how terrible the US has become because of gun violence, but didn’tÂ take into considerationÂ the gun violence in Afghanistan, or Pakistan, or Yemen, or a dozen other spots across the globe where Americans are shooting at somebody. Either on ground-level or from way-up yonder.
The next morning (Wednesday), 10 Afghan civilians, including five children, were killed by a NATO airstrike, reportedly four Taliban fighteres were also eliminated as if by accident.
(Illustration found here).
Although drones are most-active in faraway places like Afghanistan or Yemen, once they get here in the US of A then…
Oops, too late. There’s already legal and ethics problemsÂ in northeast Ohio, where police and a couple of community colleges are started to use the UAV’s in map making, research and, maybe, even surveillance.
AndÂ cops already useÂ drone technology, as they did this week in the manhunt for Christopher Dorner: The drone or drones being used donâ€™t appear to be carrying any lethal weaponry. Instead, they have thermal imaging cameras that the task force hopes will be able to locate Dorner in the snow-capped mountains. Dorner is now the first human target for a remote-controlled UAV on US soil, at least officially.
And he most-way-likely won’t be the last. The process is way-cheaper, too. The scheme does have a big negative — this endless, perpetual warfare all over the globe will, and already, will diminish civil liberties, at least to us freedom-lovers in the US.
A poll taken for The Hill, and released last Monday, revealed a certain chunk of US voters believe Obama is no worse than George Jr., the worse commander-in-chief in this country’s history: Thirty-seven percent of voters argue that Obama has been worse than Bush while 15 percent say he has been â€œabout the same.â€
And Kevin Gosztola concludes at FiredoglakeÂ with this:
As long as the War on Terrorism is being fought with its current policies in tact, Americans can count on presidents who differ little from their predecessor on civil liberties.
They will never defend due process, free speech, press freedom, privacy or rights to liberty and justice and risk constraining the ability of government to fight enemies abroad.
Each president will be the same or worse than the previous president.
They may be able to end policies that have become exposed and indefensible (i.e. the torture program), but, ultimately, whether they personally support the policies or not, this is how the national security state conducts business and no president will ever let their commitment to change disrupt business as usual.
Ta-Nehisi Coates at The AtlanticÂ gives endless war a glance:
We have set as our goal the destruction of Al Qaeda and its affiliates, and the safe-guarding of every single American life against murder at their hands.
That strikes me as a reasonable undertaking, and one that any state acting in its interests might undertake.
One problem with this is that America prides itself on a kind of moral exceptionalism.
We do not, in fact, view ourselves as merely acting in our own interests, but as a force for good in the world.
But the more vexing problem is that it means a kind of perpetual war.
Here is what I would like to know: Can any of us imagine a time when we are not firing weapons into foreign countries; when we are not stripping down to our socks for travel; when we are not sending agents into mosques to foment plots; when we are not spying on Muslim students?
What reason is there to view this moment when we do not torture as anything more than a brief interlude?
Is this just who we are, now?
Or is it, in fact, who we have always been?
Can any of us actually imagine the end?
Of course not, either mental or physical.
Osama bin Laden lucked out — in the vast experience of things, Sept. 11, 2001, was a drop in the bucketÂ for historical killings, but the real asshole in the body of man right now is what happened, and continues to happen after 9/11, and appaently appears to getting more worse — if such a thing.
Osama had the fortune to have George Jr. and his loonies as head of the US government — the very-worst presidency in US history, in fact, most people and especially the GOP and the MSM have seemed to completly forgotten about those way-terrible eight years.
In many violent respects, Obama keeps that terrible legacy not only alive, but growing.
FromÂ Salon and the recent justification for the drones:
Beyond all that, and to a large extent underlying it, there is also the post-Orwellian creep of our language, and of all public discourse, towards emptiness.
What Orwell described was a phenomenon distinct to the totalitarian regimes of the 20th century, the abrupt replacement of ordinary language with a propagandistic and bureaucratic Newspeak designed to make ideological resistance impossible.
In the electoral dictatorship now developing in the United States â€“ and no, that isnâ€™t a contradiction in terms â€“ you can find sterling examples of such Newspeak and doublethink.
But the most prominent American version, which Iâ€™m calling post-Orwellian, is subtler: Ordinary words whose meanings seem clear enough on the surface, such as â€œwarâ€ or â€œenemyâ€ or â€œself-defenseâ€ or â€œimminentâ€ (not to mention the ever-fraught â€œterrorismâ€) turn out not to mean anything at all, or to be legalistic terms of art with endlessly expansive frames of reference.
If this is starting to sound too much like a graduate seminar in literary theory, letâ€™s remember that the real subject here is an amorphous 12-year war conducted largely in secret by two presidential administrations from opposing parties.
Its result, if not its true purpose, has been the creation of an invisible and unaccountable national-security state apparatus and the consolidation of immense and unprecedented power in the executive branch.
If the Bush administration claimed the right to detain and torture anyone it wanted to at â€œblack sitesâ€ in insalubrious parts of the world, the Obama administration has arguably gone even further, claiming the right to kill anyone anywhere whom it deems to be an enemy combatant, including United States citizens like Anwar al-Awlaki and his teenage son, with long-range drone strikes piloted from afar.
The more you read this damn thing, in fact, the less illuminating it becomes.
The war against al-Qaida, we are told, is a borderless and indefinite global struggle, â€œa non-international armed conflictâ€ with â€œa transnational non-state actor,â€ and the government recognizes no â€œstrict geographical limit on [its] permissible scope.â€
In other words, a potential enemy combatant, and the substitution of the laws of war for normal international law, may be found anywhere at any time â€“ potentially within the United States itself, although that possibility is not mentioned.
And one must remember here on Valetine’s Day — look up!