May 29, 2012
Obama - Killer By Drones - Has No Principles
A long piece in the NYT covers Obama's record of killing by drones.
It is headlined Secret ‘Kill List’ Proves a Test of Obama’s Principles and Will. But as the URL reveals the original title was the rather sycophantic "Obama's leadership in the war on Al Qaida". Despite some seriously troublesome issue reported in it the piece, as the original title, is quite sympathetic to his policies and avoids the difficult questions. And contradicting its new headline the piece shows that Obama has no principles at all but is moving those he purports to have whenever he deems that convenient. Here are some excerpts from the long piece to demonstrate that.
Obama is bending the law to fit his agenda:
When he applies his lawyering skills to counterterrorism, it is usually to enable, not constrain, his ferocious campaign against Al Qaeda — even when it comes to killing an American cleric in Yemen, a decision that Mr. Obama told colleagues was “an easy one.”
While claiming to be against some Bush policies he is giving himself loopholes to continue them:
A phalanx of retired generals and admirals stood behind Mr. Obama on the second day of his presidency, providing martial cover as he signed several executive orders to make good on campaign pledges. Brutal interrogation techniques were banned, he declared. And the prison at Guantánamo Bay would be closed.
What the new president did not say was that the orders contained a few subtle loopholes.
The CIA is still in the "rendition" business of illegal detention, Guantanamo is still open and from those facts we can guess about the torture issue.
Now on to drone strikes which, according to the piece, get Obama's personal sign off. Here is how he avoids his alleged prinicple of not killing innocent people:
It is also because Mr. Obama embraced a disputed method for counting civilian casualties that did little to box him in. It in effect counts all military-age males in a strike zone as combatants, according to several administration officials, unless there is explicit intelligence posthumously proving them innocent.
This counting method may partly explain the official claims of extraordinarily low collateral deaths.
And who would ever care to "posthumously prove" that the "militants" killed, i.e. any military-age male, were indeed innocent? No one.
Yet that immense killing by drone campaign, in which Obama - we are to believe - makes a personal decision about most of them, is only to avoid the inconveniences of capturing people and to prove that they are guilty:
Yet the administration’s very success at killing terrorism suspects has been shadowed by a suspicion: that Mr. Obama has avoided the complications of detention by deciding, in effect, to take no prisoners alive. While scores of suspects have been killed under Mr. Obama, only one has been taken into American custody, and the president has balked at adding new prisoners to Guantánamo.
“Their policy is to take out high-value targets, versus capturing high-value targets,” said Senator Saxby Chambliss of Georgia, the top Republican on the intelligence committee. “They are not going to advertise that, but that’s what they are doing.”
Obama does not care about "collateral damaged" corpses even when they are women and children:
[I]n August 2009, the C.I.A. director, Leon E. Panetta, told Mr. Brennan that the agency had Mr. Mehsud in its sights. But taking out the Pakistani Taliban leader, Mr. Panetta warned, did not meet Mr. Obama’s standard of “near certainty” of no innocents being killed. In fact, a strike would certainly result in such deaths: he was with his wife at his in-laws’ home.
Mr. Obama, through Mr. Brennan, told the C.I.A. to take the shot, and Mr. Mehsud was killed, along with his wife and, by some reports, other family members as well, said a senior intelligence official.
And this is what troubles me most:
Today, the Defense Department can target suspects in Yemen whose names they do not know. Officials say the criteria are tighter than those for signature strikes, requiring evidence of a threat to the United States, and they have even given them a new name — TADS, for Terrorist Attack Disruption Strikes. But the details are a closely guarded secret — part of a pattern for a president who came into office promising transparency.
These "Terrorist Attack Disruption Strikes" are on people who likely have neither the means nor the motive to attack the United States. While the administration has claimed that they were only some 20 or so higher ranking Al-Qaeda people in Yemen it has bombed, by jets and drones, far more often without even knowing who it bombs.
In both, Pakistan and Yemen, U.S. increased drone strikes correlate with increased interior political violence. They are obviously very destabilizing but Obama keeps enlarging their number. He is increasing the problem instead of solving it.
The most open administration ever that principled Obama promised in his campaign is, of course, no such thing:
In the wake of Mr. Awlaki’s death, some administration officials, including the attorney general, argued that the Justice Department’s legal memo should be made public. In 2009, after all, Mr. Obama had released Bush administration legal opinions on interrogation over the vociferous objections of six former C.I.A. directors.
This time, contemplating his own secrets, he chose to keep the Awlaki opinion secret.
Obamas great talk in Egypt about the U.S. friendliness to the Muslim world was also unprincipled:
His focus on strikes has made it impossible to forge, for now, the new relationship with the Muslim world that he had envisioned. Both Pakistan and Yemen are arguably less stable and more hostile to the United States than when Mr. Obama became president.
Justly or not, drones have become a provocative symbol of American power, running roughshod over national sovereignty and killing innocents. With China and Russia watching, the United States has set an international precedent for sending drones over borders to kill enemies.
The few critics of his policies within the administrated get shafted.
Mr. Obama’s ambassador to Pakistan, Cameron P. Munter, has complained to colleagues that the C.I.A.’s strikes drive American policy there, saying “he didn’t realize his main job was to kill people,” a colleague said.
Two weeks ago Munter resigned as ambassador.
Dennis C. Blair, director of national intelligence until he was fired in May 2010, said that discussions inside the White House of long-term strategy against Al Qaeda were sidelined by the intense focus on strikes. “The steady refrain in the White House was, ‘This is the only game in town’ — reminded me of body counts in Vietnam,” said Mr. Blair, a retired admiral who began his Navy service during that war.
Blair is right. The drone war is now a body-count war. Counting bodies deceives as those killed were likely not the real problem and killing them is not the solution.
But as Obama has not principles. He is mudeling through avoiding this or that political problem by always taking the easiest way out. Be that by bowing to Wall Street, appeasing a republican congress or killing by drones.
Here are two question the NYT piece avoids to ask. Trying to answer them shows the problem of such behavior.
- Why are the AQAP in Yemen and the Taliban in Pakistan growing stronger despite more and more U.S. strikes?
- What happens if the recent rapid increase of strikes in Pakistan and Yemen turn out to not solve the problem. What then? More strikes?
Judging from his behavior as described in the NYT piece Obama's answer to the last question is sounding principled "Yes!"
Posted by b on May 29, 2012 at 10:41 AM | Permalink
When Obama was elected, he wanted to stop all these Bush policies, but the Generals convinced him that now that a super-intelligent Constitutional-lawyer professor and all around genius was in charge, he could make them work!
And after all, what is the military's number-one mission if not to make Obama look good? They won't let the situation become embarrassing, or let him take the fall.
Obama is not a very smart man, and he seems to be alarmingly naive.
Posted by: Mooser | May 29, 2012 11:18:53 AM | 1
Counting bodies is the only game in the White House, I assumed Obama would be pragmatic, but there's pragmatic and there is sociopathic, I suspect Obama has a broad stroke of the latter.
Posted by: Alexander | May 29, 2012 11:22:14 AM | 2
How many people have been killed by drones so far? The NYT claims "scores of suspects have been killed under Mr. Obama", but my understanding is that thousands of people have been killed.
Posted by: Amar | May 29, 2012 11:58:09 AM | 3
The Holy Gangsters of Al Qaeda are performing a similar service to the one the Mafia once provided, eg Italy after WWII, namely, stopping the Reds.
Posted by: ruralito | May 29, 2012 12:32:12 PM | 4
Obama, and all other realistic candidates for POTUS, are servants of the Oligarchy. The trick for them, is appearing otherwise.
Posted by: ben | May 29, 2012 12:36:28 PM | 5
Counting bodies, though, I should point out they're not very good at it. It is in the thousands someplace.
Posted by: Alexander | May 29, 2012 1:17:12 PM | 6
As to Obama, he was brought up in Indonesia, in the shadow of the epochal massacres to whose accompaniment Suharto came to power. His step father and role model took part in the massacres in east Timor; his mother worked with those deeply stained with the blood of a million innocents. Indonesia was surrounded by a system of vicious gulags filled with communists, intellectuals and awkward neighbours, vile prisons where tens of thousands, uncharged, untried languished and died.
From an early age Obama has been taught to rationalise the murder of civilians, to excuse those who slit the throats of children after making them watch the rape and murder of their mothers. He has been taught that "weak men" deserve to be killed in order that compradors may prosper.
He is a moral nullity who seeks out the patronage of thugs and gangsters: it is no accident that his closest allies are the corrupt wardheelers of Chicago, or that he thrills to the sheer audacity with which Israel's fascists commit their crimes, or that he recalls Reagan, of El Salvador and Contra fame, as a hero.
What he is doing in Yemen, Pakistan and elsewhere is, as Chris Floyd, today at Counterpunch, suggests as criminal as anything with which Stalin was charged.
History will show, however, that in Obama's case everything he did was done with the approval of Congress, public opinion, the governments of Europe, including those allegedly composed of the opponents of "totalitarianism" (of which the current US government is a perfect example) who throw up their hands in dismay at the (almost)century old deeds of the cheka while clapping in delight at the refined tortures, crude terrorism and dirty wars aimed at those who, like Sukarno in Indonesia, refuse to lick the Empire's boots with the relish and gusto expected of all.
How much relish? How much gusto? As much as any ambitious journalist in the NYT, Washington Post or Guardian puts into his work.
Today's article in the NY Times explains, precisely, what those who vote for Obama in November want in a President, and what it is that they wish upon the rest of the world.
Posted by: bevin | May 29, 2012 2:56:49 PM | 9
Bevin: very insightful.
It seems that a lot of Americans have this deep seated need to believe whatever this moral nullity says.
Posted by: JohnH | May 29, 2012 3:07:36 PM | 10
I'll feel sad about Stalin's 20 millions when the lizard people agree to be sad, in equal measure, at the waves of genocide unleashed by the "Age of Discovery", that's still going on. Who remembers Bhopal, or Diego Garcis?
Darwin, in a layover in Argentina, asked an Italian "entrepreneur" why he hunted the local indigenes as pests. "They breed so," came the reply.
Posted by: ruralito | May 29, 2012 3:17:22 PM | 11
How come the International Community, whatever that is, e.g. EU, UN, even NATO, or others, e.g. Putin, China, G8, G20, WTO, other acronyms, humanitarian NGOs .. are not protesting against such an illegal, arbitrary, blatant in yo face individual murder program by Barry, chief of the Superpower?
To me, the deafening silence is more alarming than Obama’s glib, practiced, corporate-type, petty and narcissistic sadism, his blind, fawning, calculated subservience. Some ppl are like that. Society’s job, the laws it sets up and enforces, is to see to it that such ppl are kept in check.
Posted by: Noirette | May 29, 2012 4:04:19 PM | 12
an amazing array of anti-americanism. Racist attitudes thinly disguised as politics. Right wingers pretending to be left. Leftists as neo-cons etc. This is an anti-Obama site, regardless of what is said.
Posted by: louis adessa | May 29, 2012 4:20:00 PM | 13
there is nothing american about what america is doing right now.
Posted by: Proton Soup | May 29, 2012 4:40:57 PM | 14
The politics in this case seems to be defined by the technical capacity to kill people by drone. They do it, because they can.
The day that the Yemenis figure out how to knock drones out of the sky, it's all over. Even if it's Hizbullah who works it out and passes the word.
Posted by: alexno | May 29, 2012 4:57:30 PM | 15
They've been downloading video from drones for a decade. Iran succeded spoofing fake GPS coordinates, next someone will figure out they can fry the cirquits with EMP.
Posted by: Alexander | May 29, 2012 5:03:22 PM | 16
Reading Scahill's tweets the other night got my blood boiling. It is all too absurd. We are plainly trying to escalate the war on terror, so that we can continue everything that goes with it; decreased liberty, increased military spending, more foreign adventures, etc. I can find no other rational or answer.
So the question becomes, what are the Powers that Be's projections for twenty years from now? I think they are going to push it further than any of us could imagine. Twenty years from now, we will look back and remember the good old days of the PATRIOT Act, NDAA, espionage chargers against whistle blowers, and say "man, things were so much better then. How did we let it get to this point?"
Think back ten years ago. Could you have envisioned targeted assassinations of US citizens? NDAA being passed into law? NSA scooping up 1 billion+ e-mails per day? Just wait to see what else they come up with. The trajectory could not be more clear.
Posted by: Cynthia | May 29, 2012 5:20:46 PM | 17
By calling the remains of human beings they have murdered by a predator drone "bugsplat", the armchair warriors perform the essential function of dehumanizing their victims. This behavior resembles the tape of three U.S. soldiers urinating on the remains of three Afghans they have killed, and making jokes about them. This psychological denial, can allow murderers to avoid feeling guilty over what they have done. By denying the humanity of human beings you have murdered, you deny having committed the act of fratricide (fratricide, because we are all brothers, and sisters) But in the process, they quite clearly become monsters who have forsaken their humanity. As uncomfortable as the feeling of personal guilt is ( is there any worse?), it is preferable to becoming inhuman.
Posted by: Cynthia | May 29, 2012 5:22:52 PM | 18
notice that US can kill as many people as it likes and no western state expells US diplomats...
But australias Bob Carr has expelled syrian diplomats believing Syria did Houla...
Posted by: brian | May 29, 2012 5:33:54 PM | 19
It is obvious that President Obama is enamored of the drone program. It promises a weakening of political constraints on warfare, since it permits secrecy and subversion of territorial sovereignty, without incurring US war casualties. The concern about the morality of drone warfare probably does not weigh too heavily in the balance.
So the exponential growth of the drone industry in the US will undoubtedly continue. An interesting question is what will happen once the technology proliferates to all other countries? Here's an excerpt from an article on China's development of drone technology (see link below):
..."The United States doesn’t export many attack drones, so we’re taking advantage of that hole in the market," said Zhang Qiaoliang, a representative of the Chengdu Aircraft Design and Research Institute, which manufactures many of the most advanced military aircraft for the People’s Liberation Army. "The main reason is the amazing demand in the market for drones after 9/11."...
China is not the only country marketing drones; Israel has done so, and Russia is also putting a lot of effort into the technology. So it is inevitable that every country with a standing army will soon be able to purchase large numbers of advanced drones.
While the potential for abuse is obvious (governments using drones against their own citizens), there's also the potential for blowback (victims of drone attacks using drones against the US). Eventually this will lead to a drone-based world war, where predator drones will be battling it out on the global stage. As they say -- you reap what you sow.
Posted by: Cynthia | May 29, 2012 6:01:47 PM | 20
I doubt that any of the "western" states really believes the nonsense that the Syrian government carried out a massacre in Houla. Unfortunately they aren't quite as dumb as that.
They are however, trying to whip up anti-Syrian hysteria among the general public, hoping that it will reach such a pitch that another idiotic war, to degrade the states surrounding Israel and in order to kill Arabs (a genocidal purpose almost openly avowed by Israel's leaders, another war will be endorsed by people whose living standards are falling rapidly, whose social services are evaporating and whose public debts are increasingly onerous.
There would seem to be considerable evidence that behind the massacre lie the Saudi government, agents of the US State Department, organised by Jeffrey Feltman, now, amazingly, of the UN, and others supplying what Ban Ki Moon needs to heat up the campaign against Syria. Russia is playing a role in this affair, that of an honest and scrupulous broker, which the "west" long ago ceased to pretend it played.
As to Ban Ki Moon he has a long record of carrying out dirty jobs for his bosses, a record that began in south Korea in the 1970s.
Posted by: bevin | May 29, 2012 6:11:32 PM | 21
Obomber is a despicable blood-drenched mass murderer as well an evil scumbag from central casting.
if you want to see him tenderly fellated, may I recommend daily horseshit?
Posted by: ran | May 29, 2012 9:34:04 PM | 22
Your posts, Cynthia, stimulate an interplay between my mental/emotional neurons. I see less of psychological denial than full blown psychopathy. Only the true psychopath, if indeed that category in fact exists, is impervious to the senses of guilt, remorse and empathy. Someone above on this thread suggested Obama’s sociopathic (synonymous with psychopathic) proclivities. I hadn’t actually thought of him that way because of his smooth demeanor. But highly intelligent psychopaths can inhabit the most righteous of personas with nary a flaw. Maybe he had me fooled. He certainly still has a plethora of his democratic supporters so buffaloed. And he was spawned from the deeply psychopathic Chicago class. bevin’s reference to his early grooming in Indonesia adds credence to this hypothesis.
Yes, the PTB seem to be herding us all toward the extinction cliff. And I also wonder just what their thoughts are for twenty years down the road. Do they actually believe they can drive six billion of us over the edge without taking them along with us? Maybe they envisage L5 as their escape. Faith in the technology deity you know. Maybe they really don’t give a fuck for anyone or anything else and are playing an end game which is their inevitable destiny anyway. It’s hard to believe that they can’t foresee a disaster awaiting themselves as well as their victims. Thirty five years ago in the 70's I couldn’t foresee a human world still continuing in it’s self-destructive ways and thought we were finally waking up. But then Regan and the slippery downhill slope ever since. Truly disheartening and totally baffling.
I’m with you in thinking “The trajectory could not be more clear”, but sometimes I question my own beliefs. Perhaps, I think, they may be right and me seeing all signs pointing toward an existential crisis are figments of my own flawed mind. I don’t really believe that but have to entertain those questions to try to insure my own mental and emotional validity. How could not the proliferation of drones along with all of the other magnificently efficacious technologies of killing eventually do us all in as we all have super-kill capacities? Maybe the PTB recognize all the other pestilences we are falling prey to so only wish to speed up that inevitable day.
Who knows? Ofttimes it’s hard to keep on keeping on.
Posted by: juannie | May 29, 2012 10:35:36 PM | 23
Posted by: Alexander | May 30, 2012 5:42:19 AM | 24
Drones becoming the weapon of choice in warfare indicates, at least to me it does, Juannie, that a sociopathic mindset is taking shape in America, but the political landscape doesn't appear to be changing anytime soon. On a brighter note, I do see signs, faint though they are, of a paradigm shift away from geopolitics to the malignancy at the core here at home. It'll be some time, of course, before polite society will take to self-reflection and acknowledge the sickness.
In fairness to Democrats, they're simply doing their constituents' bidding. Which gives the demand for transparency and democratic accountability a be-careful-what-you-wish-for quality; a solid majority likely has no issue with what the national security apparatus is doing.
Posted by: Cynthia | May 30, 2012 9:24:51 AM | 25
Charlie Pierce on Obama and his "kill lists."
Along with juannie, there are times I have to pinch myself to make sure I'm not having a nightmare. But it's all too real, and I don't tend to remember my dreams and if I do it's only frustratingly tantalizing snippets. Living in these times is like a nightmare but way too real.
Kill lists! Wiping out 8 teenagers, one the US citizen son of another US citizen drone killed by Obama. Counting any male of "military age" as a terrorist. Not counting as many of those killed as he can get away with. If he isn't a sociopath, he will live out his life in an agony of self-recrimination. Right? Or does achieving wealth assuage those feelings?
I can't quite believe what has happened, is happening to the USA. It wasn't supposed to be like this.... Heh, but Obama did tell us prior to his nomination that he admired Reagan for his "transformation" of the nation, and that he wanted to the same and more. Well, he sure has done that. And is even worse than Reagan, than Bush -- eclipsing Nixon actually.
Quite a feat -- and still managing to persuade lots of Democratic voters that's he really is a "Democrat." That he actually is supporting the Constitution....
Posted by: jawbone | May 30, 2012 9:34:16 AM | 26
Cynthis at 20 re: proliferation of drones --
I think the US feels impenetrable to outside attack, other than the odd car bomb, IED, using airliners as missiles, and such like. But drones are going to be small enough to, oh, fly over important sites and throw off a few missiles or bombs and do real damage. Just another form of blowback.
And the US has certainly moved the boundaries for where and when a nation can attack another. Ask Pakistan.
Posted by: jawbone | May 30, 2012 9:38:26 AM | 27
This site I believe,is an anti-evil site,with whomever is doing evil the target.
I read once that when wittle Obomba was in Indonesia9with his CIA mom and step dad),the local(Muslim) children threw stones at the black boy.Is this his revenge?One never knows.
The Maltese Falcon POTUS;He's as fake as the black bird.
Funny thing,when people start agreeing with me,I'm no longer welcome at said site.
Oy!The Zionists don't like it,rock the temple!
Posted by: dahoit | May 30, 2012 12:14:25 PM | 28
BTW;Was that Syrian atrocity because the rebels were using the victims as human shields?
alCIAda knows for sure.
Posted by: dahoit | May 30, 2012 12:16:24 PM | 29
The Powers that be prognostication 20 years in the future?
The Road,by Cormac McCarthy.
Posted by: dahoit | May 30, 2012 12:18:54 PM | 30
And,what about Bob(Dylan)?Dementia?Or tribalism?You make the call.
That is one low blow.(job)
Posted by: dahoit | May 30, 2012 12:51:35 PM | 31
Utterly predictable and predicted: In Yemen, U.S. airstrikes breed anger, and sympathy for al-Qaeda
“These attacks are making people say, ‘We believe now that al-Qaeda is on the right side,’ ” said businessman Salim al-Barakani, adding that his two brothers — one a teacher, the other a cellphone repairman — were killed in a U.S. strike in March.
Since January, as many as 21 missile attacks have targeted suspected al-Qaeda operatives in southern Yemen, reflecting a sharp shift in a secret war carried out by the CIA and the Joint Special Operations Command that had focused on Pakistan.
But as in the tribal areas of Pakistan, where U.S. drone strikes have significantly weakened al-Qaeda’s capabilities, an unintended consequence of the attacks has been a marked radicalization of the local population.
Another fawning long-read that came out today about Obama and the drones: Drones: How Obama Learned to Kill
It confirms that the U.S. is now doing "signature strikes" not against "terrorists" but to help the Yemeni puppet government.
Posted by: b | May 30, 2012 12:57:05 PM | 32
"Forget for a moment the idea that we're just outright murdering people in foreign countries. Forget for a moment that if, say, China decided to send a drone to take out Chen Guangcheng in New York City, we'd be hypocritical pricks for having a problem with that (not that it would stop us). Forget that. The reason to be angry, very angry about the drone program is right there. A unilateral, unchecked power over the life and death of individual, everyday people now rests with the President. And we're supposed to be fine with it because it's Obama, and, boy, trust him because he's so fucking smart. But even if you do, would you trust President Romney to rain robot doom in a rational way? Or President Christie? Or President Jeb Bush? Or some unknown who isn't as smart and good and wise and Nobel Peace Prize-winning as the current kill list decider?" From the Rude Pundit site.
Posted by: ben | May 30, 2012 2:37:57 PM | 33
Excuse me?...evil people have deeper, hide WRONG principles. I am not a professional psychiatrist, but anybody understands crime needs a lot of intelligence and info more than usual in order to get their henious agenda...How we can be "so intelligent"? It is nice and frighening to explore sick souls, minds and spirits...How far we can be more than sufficient mind cold to predict (and countermesure) the criminal acts of deviant souls?...contention helps.
Posted by: Rick | May 30, 2012 3:14:39 PM | 34
Only sociopaths need apply for the office of president; and they are probably vetted to confirm their peculiar insanity, before they are allowed anywhere near the nomination of their parties, along the glide path to power.
Mitt Romney, would-be White House Occupant, urges President Obama to do even more to bring down the Syrian government.
War is the bipartisan political platform. And robot drones fit Obama's new bureaucracy of killing, and the planners and consultants are as unbothered as he is, about whether families are wiped out, children or bystanders, or anyone in particular.
Posted by: Copeland | May 30, 2012 6:45:33 PM | 35
Obama's position is made politically viable because he assumes that nobody who objects, on constitutional, libertarian or humanitarian grounds will fail to vote for him in November. He assumes that "the left" is in his pocket and that his gangster like behaviour will earn him the support of the great well of homicidal maniacs who constitute US public opinion.
Were I a US citizen, and I am very thankful that I am not, I could not conceive of voting for Obama who is in no sense preferable to the very worst Republican candidates. As his attitude towards Wisconsin's recall elections shows, he is actively involved in supporting the most reactionary Republicans against Democrats who, however weakly, oppose the neo-liberal, anti-working class, anti-welfare state agenda which he is intent on imposing domestically and internationally.
After all the other aspect of the Suharto regime, not unrelated to its contempt for democracy, was its embrace of Chicago school kleptocracy. Obama's step father actually worked as a comprador for Chevron, which was allowed to plunder Indonesia's petrochemical resources after the coup. The Indonesian experiment almost certainly inspired the CIA coup in Chile and the subsequent generation of neo-fascist governance in Latin America. Not surprising that Obama, sincerely admires Reagan and Reaganism.
Posted by: bevin | May 30, 2012 6:48:51 PM | 36
an amazing array of anti-americanism. Racist attitudes thinly disguised as politics. Right wingers pretending to be left. Leftists as neo-cons etc. This is an anti-Obama site, regardless of what is said.
Posted by: louis adessa | May 29, 2012 4:20:00 PM | 13
The truth can be hard to stomach...esp for dumbed down patriots Obama-bots neo-neocons etc
Posted by: brian | May 30, 2012 7:23:50 PM | 37
Robot warfare may be the warfare of the fast approaching future...no need to worry about backlashes at home from dead or maimed troops...let robots do your killing!
NOW if US diplomats were to be sent packing by governments that may send a message to the warmakers..if they can do it to innocent syrian diplomats why not guilty american ones!
Posted by: brian | May 30, 2012 7:27:56 PM | 38
b @ 32
I tried to read the piece on Obamas squirming acceptance of signature strikes, but I get ball-pain whenever I try. It's really frustrating how that person got the flopping peace-price, after killing some unknown dusins of muslims in their 30's with beard congregating in rural Pakistan.
Posted by: Alexander | May 30, 2012 8:20:51 PM | 39
I am more and more reticent to post here these days with the expanding "secret lists" (that are public knowledge) continuing to be compiled, but I suppose it's simply a matter of time for someone like me who isn't an assassination cheerleader to be targeted by someone who is... so I suppose remaining silent doesn't guarantee my safety and well-being, either. It is funny to me, though, that there don't seem to be half as many cheerleaders of any sort here these days as there were during the last US election cycle. For anyone who has been reading this blog for any length of time, you must already have pondered the question: "Where's waldo?"
Anyway, I was thinking about b's first link at #32, and pondering about how obvious the cause-and-effect were there and how asinine it was to engage in this indefensible policy of drone warfare, but now I'm not so sure. I grew up during the Cold War, in which the (then) millionaires in the defense industry never had to justify themselves. "The War Against Terror," on the other hand, was supposed to be about perpetual war since one can't count on another superpower always being able to keep pace with our own (now) billionaires. I had heard somewhere that the membership of al Qaida wasn't really very impressive in terms of numbers and prestige at the best of times, and with our continual policy of taking out various and sundry #2's, it was probably headed the way of the dodo. Kind of the antithesis of "perpetual war" when you actually, definitively wipe your opponent into extinction. Obviously, then, something had to be done to make the other guys appear more sympathetic to the vast throngs of "undecideds" in the middle east, and indiscriminate killing is about as polarizing and radicalizing as it gets. So maybe there is some devious method to the diabolical madness after all.
But I'm hearing people discussing the indefensible policy of drone warfare with some measure of shock and disbelief here. That is something I really don't get. One need only consider that we've been engaged in Afghanistan alone for 11 years now to find the historical precedent. The marines of the Republic of Korea were reknowned for their barbarism during the Vietnam War, and even managed to strike fear into the hearts of US marines. But US marines served a one year tour of duty then, whereas the ROK was deployed for the duration of the hostilities. When there is no end in sight, more barbaric methods are introduced to expedite things one way or another.
I'm not trying to Godwin the discussion, but Germany didn't start talking about "Final Solutions" during the early blitzkrieg phase of the war while things were going well. It was only after things stalled that more desperate measures became relied upon. So, drone warfare might be thought of as America's Zyklon-B. It's the natural progression of things. Of course, indiscriminately killing everyone is indefensible, but it's certainly not without precedent. Let's hope that the precedent of trials in Nuremberg is also part of the natural progression.
Posted by: Monolycus | May 30, 2012 11:54:01 PM | 40
@40 - someone wrote this in august 2008 prior to the election. it was prophetic. no, it was common sense. something sorely missing these days.
What Billmon is gushing about, and let's face it, that's gushing for him, is the pinnacle of success of the campaign by the plutocracy to pacify and incapacitate any shred of progressive reform in the U.S. For starters, it's a blasphemy to label Obama an African American. Sure, his father was an African, but he was never an American. His mother was Caucasian, and Obama was raised by his Caucasian grandparents. So, culturally speaking, Obama has not truly lived the African American experience. His parents were not the descendents of slaves, and he was raised outside the culture. And you know what, it shows. He's perfectly suited for the liberal vote. The following is tongue in cheek for those who don't understand satire. He's so articulate for a black man, and so intelligent. He doesn't mumble like Jessie Jackson or talk jive like Al Sharpton.
Of course, many, if not all black folks will vote for him because of the symbolism Billmon gushes on about. It won't matter that the symbolism is mere projection, and that when the veil is pulled back, there resides yet another establishment pawn. It's masterful, you must admit, and actually quite riddled with plutocratical hubris. The plutocracy seems to be thumbing their nose at us, once again. The guy's name alone is an in your face joke. As others have mentioned, you can't make shit like that up. He was tapped long ago for this, and I'm sure they got a huge laugh at the time, and continue to laugh to this day, that they can pawn off this transparent trojan horse on a completely unwitting, uncritically accepting, somnambulant liberal voting block.
Posted by: Barry | Aug 28, 2008 8:10:03 AM | 5
Posted by: wenis | May 31, 2012 7:50:05 AM | 41
In 1965 -say- it was still considered that human labor and human ingenuity, intelligence, and plain working stiffs in factories, etc. could, collectively produce growth, make magic that created more for all.
Lift all boats, thru gingerly-cooperation, in a stable, law ruled society. (The law, strictly applied, is an absolute requirement for cooperation to function.) All thus needed and adhered to some kind of scheme where working together was not too blatantly exploitative, where everyone got a slice of the pie, aka “free” education, affordable perhaps small lodgings, some medical care, etc. and the cash to buy cars, consumer products, expand, advance, keeping local and national biz alive, in a sort of virtuous circle of development. Entrepreneurship! (I’m thinking of the US mostly, but not so different in many other places.)
That was *after* the days where in the US the slave was replaced by the tractor, because of an abundance of fossil fuel energy, taken for granted.
The fantastic boost in energy use lead to a population explosion. Egypt is a prime ex, the US as well, of different kind.
As energy becomes scarcer, more expensive, restrictions have to be imposed, on transport, manufacturing, medical care, education, infrastructure, enviro protection. There is no longer enough ‘growth’ to go round.
The 15% / PTB have known this for decades, and in the US, various palliative moves have been implemented.
They include: world military control, and forays abroad to dominate, attacking other countries in any way possible; using ‘slave’ labor at home and abroad; destroying the rule of law; using debt as an ersatz for ‘growth’; upping internal security to control revolt before it breaks out, pitting communities (any) against each other; and generally indulging in authoritarian clout and melding the efficient money earners (big corps, who succeed because of indulgence and breaks - France, btw, is very big on this, as said, US not alone), into a sort of modern, glitzy, strident, neo-feudalism.
The general scene provided multiple opportunities for different groups:
The military complex, followed by ‘security’ (e.g. local police, prison industry, Taser manufacturers), the 15% who want more control and can triple their ‘advantage’, Corporations, Finance with its snake oil, mirages, casino betting (this will not end well but everyone figures they will get theirs and then leave), various brands of technocrats eg. drug producers or dealers, green energy scammers, free marketers looking for profit (as profit is a common good!) in areas like education; the MSM, to keep ppl unaware, distracted, on board with nonsense news, lame issues, etc.
All these perceived potential gains and rushed into the breach created by the zeitgeist. The broken law system was embraced, as a ‘freeing’ mechanism, and has led to the destruction of ‘relevant science’, honest appraisal, social and or community considerations, and even, of course, economic ones, not to mention all the rest. Those who can sell lies are heroes and compensated with millions. So the unscrupulous, the greedy, the criminal, the rich with an advantage, rush to position themselves, take charge. Incl. Gvmt. personnel who resort, openly, to arbitrary serial killings. (Obama, not new for sure.)
The last fantastical gyrations of a short-term profiteers. Death spiral!
-- sorry for the length.
Posted by: Noirette | May 31, 2012 2:42:08 PM | 42
not finished yet:
I started this thinking about Syria. Musing about ‘pop culture’ and didn’t like to use that expression about a situation where children are being coldly murdered to get into the news or onto the UN’s talking points.
But that is what it is, it is knee-jerk group think, any leader who is vulnerable and can be brought down, go for it, no matter why or for what. The stooges, the informers, the utterly corrupt journos and media, profiteers of various stripes, the military (NATO, etc.), those waiting in the wings to get control, more money, status, etc., terrorist or freedom fighters it is all interchangeable at a whim of media spin, all of them collaborate under cover for like, ha ha, change you can believe in.
Posted by: Noirette | May 31, 2012 2:57:25 PM | 43
Sad thing is, a lot of us actually believed in the change. That's what prompted the Norwegians to give him a flopping medal, not for doing anything, but for instigating hope.
Posted by: Alexander | May 31, 2012 3:29:36 PM | 44
And then smashing the hope brutally and laughing to our face.
Posted by: Alexander | May 31, 2012 3:31:18 PM | 45
Noirette, I like the historical picture you describe, but rising energy costs don't get close to account for what happened in the 80's
simply, the plutocracy rolled back the democratic gains it had been forced to concede in the course of the 20th century, after the failures of the ruling elites (WWI and the great Depression);
limited growth was due first of all to the fact that "productive" investments aren't very profitable in a mature, industrialized society, so the search for alternatives began: lowering the costs of labor, of regulations (Reagan), then in financial tricks (Clinton), etc
Posted by: claudio | May 31, 2012 3:48:10 PM | 46
...claudio, i agree in a way, i tend to put too much weight on raw energy and its cost (oil, nat gas, nukes, barrages, etc.), aka the energy crunch, hesitate sometimes to attribute much of our today horror to Finance gone amuck, or to political moves to favor the elites, plutocracy, whatever.. they all play a role together, identifying the roots is impossible and useless, there is no prize for pointing to the prime, unique cause as there isn’t one...
Posted by: Noirette | May 31, 2012 4:44:02 PM | 47
well, I see profits as a root cause; it doesn't explain everything, but gives a sense to the big picture (without the need for conspiracies, just good old alliance of wealth and power)
Posted by: claudio | May 31, 2012 6:23:36 PM | 48
@Noirette, my last post (and maybe also the one before) was a bit hurried ... thinking about it, maybe the search for greater profits accounts for much of the success of neoliberalism and the new global finance; but there's a lot more that happened these last decades that must be explained on different grounds (the conservative movement of the 70s in the Us, then the neocons, then the alliance beteween them; the "new philosophers" in France; the influence of AIPAC; etc);
what I mean is that yes, profits are the real propulsive force, but it's not a "cause" in the sense that it doesn't explain why it so suddenly reemerged so powerful and the forces it unleashed (which you describe well in @42) spiraled out of control;
there has been a "cultural counter-revolution" that gave so much power to neoliberalism and to the neocons; Tatcher was admired both for having crushed the miners' union and for the Falklands/Malvinas war; but why did the democratic forces fade away like they did? why did the USSR crumble as it did, leaving a heritage of criminal plutocrats? why are the BRIC countries so intimidated by the West's explicit plans of global domination? why is Germany so intimidated by the financial lobby and neoliberal ideologues, even after the disasters they provoked? why isn't there a strong political reaction, after 30 years of disasters?
Posted by: claudio | May 31, 2012 8:03:01 PM | 49