Monday, September 06, 2010

Droning on about Americans

The use of drone aircraft is coming closer and closer to a community like yours, to help us monitor your activities, and to just very occasionally terminate an undesirable, with the very occasional regrettable collateral damage.

Bringing the war home, one incremental step at a time, sliding slowly down a slippery slope toward the Total Security State, is something only extremists need fear, though, since loyal Americans decide what happens to others.

Indeed, the editorial board of the Washington Post, one of the US papers of record, after all, has determined that we should, usually, make a good try at following the international law that tries to put some rules of engagement on war--and when we can't, we need to reinterpret that law, much as the Obama administration has done in response to the UN calling for an end to drone strikes.

The Washington Post editors totally ignore the collateral damage question and the image question that is the natural sequelae of that avoidable tragedy. Children and other noncombatants are being killed by these Predator drone strikes, and they expanded first out of Afghanistan into Pakistan, and now into Yemen, a nation outside the war zone--oops, I guess they're in now. The red herring flopped on the table by the Post is the American probably most hated by other Americans (if you don't count President Obama, gauging by the rightwing rhetoric I get in my emailbox 24-7 from their high-volume organizations), that Svengali of the Muslims, Anwar al-Aulaqi, American-born, designated a terrorist for his alleged role in the Fort Hood massacre, the foiled "underwear bomber" attack and the attempted car bombing of Times Square. He's living in Yemen. So bomb Yemen, says the Washington Post. Take those drones with their Hellfire missiles and go for it.

This is how the war profiteers and DoD quash opposition. "Oh, so you like al-Aulaqi, eh?" No, but now the drones have not only expanded into Pakistan and Yemen, the US has been targeting those in the drug trade too. Suddenly, a poppy grower in Afghanistan, who is not a party to war but who is trying to survive in an economy that has been one of Earth's basket cases for decades--he and his family are suddenly legitimate targets to the Obama administration. Oh, that's right, didn't target his family, just happened to die because they live in his house.

Last year the DoD demanded and received $4.7 billion for media work, whatever it takes to manipulate public opinion and whatever that means. That is a lot of money, certainly more than enough to help make a powerful case when necessary to the editorial boards or our papers of record. I'm sorry, but when our independent press makes such a lopsided case for such a wrongheaded practice, it raises concerns.

Since it's Labor Day, I must grasp for connections. Svengali was a character from an 1894 novel and 1894 was when Labor Day became a US federal holiday. In other words, there is no connection.

Except that drones are being used to stop migrant workers coming from Mexico.
They are, so far, not shooting Hellfire missiles. And except for the Faustian bargain some of our communities make in the name of creating jobs. Right in Hood River, Oregon, the Insitu corporation designs and manufactures the drones. It's a bit of a controversy in peaceloving Portland, but in small town Hood River that government money has its Svengali effect.

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