Thursday, March 7, 2013

Of drones and war

The weird, treacherous world of drones….. 

The first genuine old-fashioned filibuster in a very long time …. Rand Paul, supported by a few GOP colleagues, bravely resisted the pressure of his bladder for 13 hours!

The object of the heroic protest was restricted: the Administration’s ominous refusal to promise that drones would never be used to assassinate Americans on American soil. That’s no small matter in these bizarre times when the incredible often becomes commonplace. Yet, as Bishop Tutu has angrily called to attention, that’s hardly the voice of conscience; rather it can be taken as another unashamed avowal of “American exceptionalism”.  Drones can take “other” lives on “other” soils on demand from Washington — overriding sovereignty, legality, due process and concerns about the “unintended” elimination of all who happen to come within target range.

Now that land wars have proved unwinnable (from Vietnam to Iraq to Afghanistan), the attempted alternative is assassination (without borders) by drones and Special Forces under command of an unprecedentedly military CIA. But it may turn out that drone and CIA warfare will prove as counterproductive and unsustainable in present times as traditional war. For one thing, drone attacks are only practical when the target is in countries too weak or underdeveloped to retaliate. So as Africa and parts of Asia become expanding targets, blowback also expands against superpower arrogance and perceived contempt for the lives of people of color. The Gallop poll finds that 92% of Pakistanis, whose country suffers the highest concentration of drone strikes, now condemn the United States. 

Of course, the new weapons featured in this latest theory and practice of war can’t be contained “for US use only”. Here and abroad, military, police and control freaks all want drones. And they are accessible in all conceivable varieties. As with computer hacking, another potential instrument of intervention and modern warfare, the necessary imagination and skills are not exclusively American.

If the CIA can conduct global war operations without legal or moral restriction, may not others act or retaliate in kind? Just the other day, the US military disclaimed authorship for two drone attacks that occurred in Pakistan; it must have been the Pakistan military…. or somebody else!

This is a tough world and answers often seem out of reach. What we know is that in our times the mindset of war as a solution— whether by armies, drones or doomsday weapons — makes things terribly worse. Problems and enemies proliferate; friends are lost.

Whatever forms of narrowly focused force may sometimes be necessary and legally justifiable, any promise for a better future demands breaking with war and all its reinventions. Only rabid hawks are never ready to give up on war.  The hard part is to overcome the entrenched global policies of military and economic interventionism that, decade after decade, drag us down the path to war.

1 comment:

  1. On Drones and War
    During the presidential race between Obama and Romney , Obama kept saying we were bringing our troops home from Iraq … he said some were coming home because they were to be replaced by drones. Drones are much more dangerous than regular soldiers even though they are also very bad. Obama is using rhetoric to convince the public that the war is winding down even though it is not because the soldiers are being replaced by drones.