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Taibbi writes: "It's been amazing, watching the histrionics and mental gymnastics some people have resorted to in their efforts to defend this infamous drone program. Extralegal murder is not an easy thing to manufacture consent around, and the signs of strain in the press have been pretty clear all around."

Matt Taibbi. (photo: Current TV)
Matt Taibbi. (photo: Current TV)


Rationalizing Drone Attacks Hits New Low

By Matt Taibbi, Rolling Stone

18 February 13

 

ead an absolutely amazing article today. Entitled "Droning on about Drones," it was published in the online version of Dawn, Pakistan's oldest and most widely read English-language newspaper, and written by one Michael Kugelman, identified as the Senior Program Associate for South Asia at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars in Washington, D.C.

In this piece, the author's thesis is that all this fuss about America's drone policy is overdone and perhaps a little hysterical. Yes, he admits, there are some figures that suggest that as many as 900 civilians have been killed in drone strikes between 2004 and 2013. But, he notes, that only averages out to about 100 civilians a year. Apparently, we need to put that number in perspective:

Now let's consider some very different types of statistics.

In 2012, measles killed 210 children in Sindh. Karachiites staged numerous anti-drones protests last year, but I don't recall them holding any rallies to highlight a scourge that was twice as deadly for their province's kids than drone strikes were for Pakistani civilians.

Nor do I recall any mass action centered around unsafe water. More people in Karachi die each month from contaminated water than have been killed by India's army since 1947 . . . 630 Pakistani children die from water-borne illness every day (that's more than three times the total number of Pakistani children the BIJ believes have died from drone strikes since 2004).

So I'm reading this and thinking, he's not really going to go there, is he? But he does:

I am not minimising the civilian casualties from drone strikes. Nor am I denying that drones deserve rigorous debate in Pakistan (and beyond). Still, it's striking how so much less is said about afflictions that affect - and kill - so many more people than do drones.

The reason, of course, is the allure of anti-Americanism. It's easier - and more politically expedient - to rail en masse against Washington's policies than Pakistan-patented problems (I also acknowledge the deep concerns about drones that go beyond civilian casualties - like radicalization risks and psychological trauma).

So there it is, folks. Welcome to the honor of American citizenship. Should we replace E Pluribus Unum with We Don't Kill as Many Children as Measles? Of course people aren't mad about bombs being dropped on them from space without reason; they're mad because anti-Americanism is alluring!

It's been amazing, watching the histrionics and mental gymnastics some people have resorted to in their efforts to defend this infamous drone program. Extralegal murder is not an easy thing to manufacture consent around, and the signs of strain in the press have been pretty clear all around.

The drone-strike controversy briefly sizzled when it came out last week that even American citizens against whom the government does not have concrete evidence of terrorist complicity may be placed on the president's infamous "kill list."

The news that the executive branch had claimed for itself the power to assassinate Americans managed to very briefly raise the national eyebrow, but for the most part, the body politic barely flinched. I got the sense that most of the major press organizations sort of hoped the story would go away quietly (aided, hopefully, by the felicitous appearance of some distractingly thrilling pop-news/cable sensation, like Chris Dorner's Lost Weekend).

Some politicians, like Maine Senator Angus King and Oregon's Ron Wyden, tried to keep the story alive, but others just shrugged. Senator Lindsey Graham's response, incidentally, was to propose a formal resolution praising the president for using drones to kill American citizens, Graham being concerned that the president was all alone out there, taking criticism from "libertarians and the left." It's an interesting footnote to this controversy, that it's one of the few areas outside of the non-policing of Wall Street where there's solid bipartisan agreement.

Meanwhile, it also recently came out that the New York Times, among other papers, sat on knowledge of the existence of a drone base in Saudi Arabia for over a year because, get this, the paper was concerned that it might result in the base being closed.

As old friend David Sirota noted, Times ombudsman Dean Baquet blazed a burning new trail in the history of craven journalistic surrender when he admitted the paper's rationale in an interview. "The Saudis might shut [the base] down because the citizenry would be very upset," Baquet said. "We have to balance that concern with reporting the news."

As if to right this wrong, the paper today ran an editorial, "A Court for Targeted Killings," which proposed that the government create a (probably secret) tribunal to which intelligence services would have to present evidence before drone-bombing a suspected enemy combatant.

The paper, which originally proposed the creation of such a court in 2010, suggested that the new court be modeled after the secret court created in the wake of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act. The FISA court was designed to give a fig leaf of judicial review to secret wiretaps of suspected foreign agents without having to make the government's evidence public.

But the paper itself noted the comical record of the FISA court as a check on governmental power - in its entire history of 32,000 wiretap applications between 1979 and 2011, it rejected only 11. Still, the paper said, the creation of such a court would "ensure that the administration's requests are serious."

So the newspaper's bold proposal to right the moral wrong of killing people not only without trial but without charge is to create a secret court that they themselves admit would be little more than a rubber-stamp. Hilariously, the Times editorialists seemed afraid even to propose this much, reassuringly adding, toward the end of their commentary, that the court they propose to create would not actually have any power at all or curtail executive power in any real way:

The court would not be expected to approve individual drone strikes, and the executive branch would still be empowered to take emergency actions to prevent an impending attack.

Thank God for that!

The Times editorial is a kind of moral lunacy that Joseph Heller, the author of Catch-22, captured in his play, We Bombed in New Haven, which was about an American Air Force commander instructing a squadron to bomb a series of ridiculous targets. There's a great scene where some of the men ask "Captain Starkey" why they've been asked to bomb Istanbul:

Starkey: Because we're a peace-loving people, that's why. And because we're a peace-loving people, we're going to bomb Constantinople right off the map!

Bailey: Why don't we just bomb the map?

What the Times proposes is the same sort of thinking. In their minds, the problem with our drone program isn't that we're murdering masses of people, it's that we're doing it without the appearance of legality. It looks bad on paper - so let's leave the problem, but fix the paper. Bomb the map, in other words.

This whole thing is crazy. In our own country, we don't allow the government to torture criminal suspects and/or kill people without trial - because it's wrong. If it's wrong here, it's wrong in Yemen or Iraq or Afghanistan; if it's wrong to do it to an American citizen, it's wrong to do it to a Pakistani. Our failure to recognize that and our increasingly desperate attempts to rationalize or legitimize this hideous program gives the entire world an automatic show of proof of American bigotry and stupidity.

And cowardice, by the way. What kind of a people kills children by remote control? If you're going to assassinate someone, you'd better be able to look him in the eye first - and not hide behind some rubber-stamp secret court that tells you it's okay.

Editor's Note: I've received some letters about this last "look them in the eye" line, which was written poorly, because people are taking to mean something I didn't intend it to mean.

I'm not trying to be tough and say you should be Clint Eastwood and look 'em in the eye before you blow 'em away. I'm saying you'd better be able, morally, to look him and everyone else in the eye when you do it - or else don't do it. If you're going to pass the ultimate sanction on someone, it had better be a decision you're comfortable making before everybody, including the target, his family, your family, the world in general.

It's too easy to kill people when they're just dots on a screen. It's unpleasantly easier when you're not even looking at the screen, but just giving an order to someone who is - like the officers in Iraq who told Apache pilots to light up a whole street full of civilians just because one of the pilots thought he saw a gun (it turned out to be camera equipment). And it's even easier than that when you're just a politician here at home, taking part by casting a vote in favor of this lunacy, or dreaming up justifications for it.

Would Lindsey Graham be able to look the mother of some dead Pakistani child in the eye and still call for a resolution praising the president for braving the criticism of "libertarians and the left" to kill people by remote control? I doubt it. But that's what the standard should be. You'd better be able to cast that vote with that grieving mother hanging on your shirt, or else don't do it. The farther away you are from the blood and the agony of the actual death, the easier it is to endorse the policy. And it shouldn't be easy, that was all I was trying to say.

I'm not talking about physical bravery, I'm talking about bravery in the sense of being willing to stare directly at the consequences of your decisions, and we're cowards because we do just the opposite, we work hard to avoid looking, and we build machines that help us do that avoiding.


 

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+88 # universlman 2013-02-18 17:07
Not allowing the imprisoning and killing of people without trial is supposed to be one of the foundations of our national exceptionalism. The oath to enforce these Constitutional guarantees by every elected official is universal.

Since 9/11/01, and our reactive jerk to the right, the value of our precious freedom is being exhausted for nothing.
 
 
+20 # futhark 2013-02-19 07:58
Mr. Obama has repeatedly stated that his top priority is "to protect the American people". His actions relative to the drones is consistent with this mindset.

We need to keep reminding him of the wording of his oath of office, that he is granted power and authority pursuant to the protection and defense of the Constitution. As the Constitution is used as a guideline for government, the American people are much better protected than they would be by any self-appointed autocrat, no matter how benevolent of purpose.

While we're at it, let's have a new investigation of 9/11 that is allowed to question the current sacrosanct orthodox account.
 
 
+30 # Walter J Smith 2013-02-18 21:40
Well, Matt, you may be asking us to again remember what it used to mean to be Americans. But to say this seems to be a bit anachronistic: "In our own country, we don't allow the government to torture criminal suspects and/or kill people without trial - because it's wrong." That was nominally true, for us whites, before the NDAA came along and made it legal for Obama to target for elimination any one, US citizens included.

We have to give Obama credit where credit is due: for once he didn't want to appear to be a hypocrite.

This is not to be mistaken to suppose that he actually has any problem with his otherwise gross hypocrisy.
 
 
+12 # Lowflyin Lolana 2013-02-18 23:21
I think sometimes that computers are destroying three-dimension al, realtime human relationships, maybe our very humanity.
They put us in touch with people who are elsewhere, at the expense of the people who are in our immediate present.

Are they connecting us or disconnecting us?
So far for me the jury is out.
 
 
+33 # ganymede 2013-02-18 23:23
Thanks Matt Tiabbi. The Drone Issue is inadvertently bringing up one of the greatest moral dilemmas this country has ever been caught up in. Technology has now allowed us to have kids in Las Vegas playing deadly video games with real live people. Of course, the Drone issue has brought up the fact that we have turned into a truly barbaric state, and it may turn out to be one of the best things to happen in that Americans are for the first time going to have to face the fact that we have become a nation of warmongering murderers. We are armed to the teeth and killing too many innocent people and turning their peoples against us. Just as we created the Taliban by supporting bin Laden to 'free' Afghanistan from the Soviets, we keep creating our own enemies. I think this time round the total immorality is going to have an impact on our brainwashed fellow citizens and there will be serious pressure to curtail the Drone project.
It's a bit like the current issue with guns. For the first time in my life the, again, brainwashed citizens are beginning to get the message that the crazy proliferation of all kinds overkill weapons is causing mayhem in our fair country and there will continue to be mass shootings,etc.B ut, as the moral idiots say, "Well, many more people die from ill thought out and dangerous medical procedures and toxic pharmaceutical than are shot". We're beyond the slippery slope folks, and we better start talking about the moral corruption most of us have slunk to.
 
 
+6 # indian weaver 2013-02-19 09:04
The domestic equivalence of obama's international terrorism is the usa's FBI. They too are creating, inventing enemies that they call "terrorist threats". However, the FBI has no crediblity at all anymore for those of us who know that they are merely setting up and entrapping their victims that they can indict. Robt. Mueller does this to validate his existence and his budget. We don't really need the FBI. We need a real police force that is honest. The FBI and Mueller are the very terrorists that they create and harm, innocent victims of their out of control cruelty and fantasy, greed and power if you will. Mueller is another assassin and, if you will, joke (if you have not yet been targeted anyhow).
 
 
+2 # MJnevetS 2013-02-22 08:03
Don't know if anyone here is a fan of of Orson Scott Card, but Ganymede's comment about kids in Las Vegas killing real people with a video game was presaged in his Ender's Game series. The only difference was the children weren't told they were really killing alien armies, just that it was a game. Speculative fiction becomes reality! (How come it's always the dystopian vision of the future that seems to come true?!)
 
 
+25 # James Marcus 2013-02-19 00:25
Impeach. Prosecute All Involved, for crimes against Humanity, as well as the US Constitution.
 
 
+2 # indian weaver 2013-02-19 09:06
Nothing "legal" will work. Only the international option of "asymmetric assassinations" are useful and effective, as the Taliban well knows, to terrorize the terrorists like Obama et. al. Legal is obsolete and useless, ineffective, a waste of time.
 
 
+1 # RMDC 2013-02-22 06:07
Obama and the national security apparatus know this. That is why they are so heavily defended. No one could get near them and the airspace over their heads is equally heavily defended. Nothing protects the people of Pakistan, Yemen, Somalia, Libya, Syria, Sudan, and about 50 more nations where the US is murdering people every day.
 
 
+8 # ThankYouForPlaying 2013-02-19 01:29
With each new step in practical technology and as a unique species, we are able to kill from increasingly greater distances. That is part of the extreme craft and curse of physical distance coupled with intent.

However and even more insidious, there is the risk of mental distance creep, when we slowly lose sight of the unresolved moral dilemma of any action’s consequences.

Society is not defined by these distances but rather by what it does with the growing gap between the thinking of any action and its smallest result.

Hope always lives deep in the tiniest and not the largest statistic. Ironically, the human condition is at its purest in singularity and cannot be reduced further or expanded by numbers, no matter our orders of magnitude or where we position ourselves.
 
 
+10 # jazzman633 2013-02-19 11:30
ThankYou for that. Soldiers have always been reluctant to kill close up. Bombers and artillerymen feel less remorse than infantrymen. The drone take the remoteness, moral and physical, to a whole new level.
 
 
+10 # NOMINAE 2013-02-19 17:28
Quoting jazzman633:
..... Bombers and artillerymen feel less remorse than infantrymen. The drone take the remoteness, moral and physical, to a whole new level.


Very accurate point. And I know that Matt was a bit too young to have caught that Vietnam gig, but I am amazed to watch this discussion revolve around one single weapon as opposed to the entire IDEA of the expanding Power of the Executive Branch to take this entire Nation into Pre-emptive Wars of Choice !

"Extra-Legal Murder" ? Indeed, Matt, that is the very *definition* of ALL U.S. Wars since WWII ! Were you in any way surprised ?

YES drones cause "collateral damage". What do you think that NAPALM STRIKES on civilians did in Vietnam ? You can't IMAGINE a more gruesome, mind-numbing sight than the aftermath of a NAPE Strike. And the "collateral damage" from a full-out Napalm Raid renders that from a drone strike to be absolutely *no* comparison. (And NO, Virginia, that does NOT mean that collateral damage from drone stikes is "O.K.".)

So, again, why are we hyperventilatin g over ONE SINGLE horrible weapon of elective WAR instead of throwing all possible opposition against elective and "pre-emptive" WARS of CHOICE to *begin* with ? And against the EXTRALEGAL Power of the Executive Branch to "VOLUNTEER" this country for said extralegal wars at their own whim ?

If you need to kill the snake, you cut off it's HEAD !
 
 
+18 # cordleycoit 2013-02-19 02:51
Americans don't give a fig for human life. Look at the rivers of blood that the White House opens every day. Corpses heaped on corpses by a Man Of Peace. What is wrong is wrong but Americans don't care.
 
 
+2 # RMDC 2013-02-22 06:12
Americans have been taught not to care. They get endless propaganda about how dangerous other people are. They think they need to be protected from a villager in Pakistan, Yemen, Somalia, or some other place.

I once read that a poll in Afghanistan revealed that 95% of Afghans never heard of 911 and had no idea at all why the US was occupying their country and killing or brutalizing them on a mass scale. They think Americans are crazy and savages with no regard for human life.

So you are right. They whole world knows Americans don't give a fig for human life. But Americans don't know this. They think they are the greatest nation on earth and that Americans care. This is criminally delusional.
 
 
+19 # Scotty44 2013-02-19 04:04
Those that accept the drone program are killing America's values. They are the enemy of America.
 
 
+10 # indian weaver 2013-02-19 09:20
This includes our "government" which has become an enemy of America and an enemy of The People, including Mr. Nobel Prize, the laughable baby boy toy slave and coward obama (and Congress, and ...).
 
 
+11 # Vern Radul 2013-02-19 04:12
Well, since Obama was murdering innocent kids around the world during his first term, the only reasonable assumptions that can be made after the fact are that not only is Obama a terrorist by all definitions of the word, and this was no secret at the time of the election, Barack Obama is a terrorist who deserves to be in prison enjoying fairer and more humane treatment than he doles out to his overseas victims with Hellfire missiles (and to his American torture victims like Bradley Manning).

Anyone who voted for Barack Obama in 2012 and is now supporting him is either consciously and intentionally a terrorist sympathizer and supporter, or is just plain stupid.
 
 
+23 # goodsensecynic 2013-02-19 06:07
Mr. Taibbi says that he doubts Lindsay Graham would be able to look the mother of a dead Pakistani child in the eye and go on to praise the President for ongoing drone strikes.

I think Mr. Taibbi is underestimating Senator Graham. I don't think he'd have much difficulty. His main dilemma would be whether to ask her for a contribution for his next political campaign or call for a direct hit on her as soon as he was personally "out of harm's way."
 
 
+4 # Emily 2013-02-19 06:20
Here is my proposal: a Level Playing Field bill or amendment to our Constitution, wherein the State of Vermont sponsors a series of debates for all statewide and national seats during the election season (Mid-June to-election day in November 2014). During this election season a debate every two weeks will occur in different school gym locations around the State, most with a focus on elements of platform (economy, health, environment, agriculture, education, prosperity, national relations etc.). Questions are generated only from the Vermont public, not those devised by members of the press. No other private host, be it press or AARP or VLCT or any other one will be permitted to host a display of candidates and describe that event as a candidate forum or debate unless all balloted candidates are welcomed. Should a candidate fail to show up at more than 2 of these debates ( by skype or in person) they will be removed from the ballot in November. Vermont Public Radio, Vermont Public Television and Vt Digger in receipt of public money will be obliged to air /provide transcript of these debates. The rest of the press are unobliged in any way.
I work in Vermont, thus this is where I will promote this.
 
 
+23 # motamanx 2013-02-19 06:38
Cowardly is indeed the operative word when discussing drones and drone tactics.
 
 
+9 # Ardt123 2013-02-19 06:58
Lindsay Graham could indeed look a Pakistani mother in the eye and justify the drone strike that killed her child, please look at his record of sensitivity, and justification of conservative Republican obstructionist policies!
 
 
+6 # charsjcca 2013-02-19 07:29
In the late 1960s Timothy Leary wrote an essay about long distance killing machines. Mellman also wrote about the degradation that happens when one participates in helping to create these machines by working on an assembly line. I need not remind all of My Lai and Lt. Calley.

The abyss spoken of here is not new. It is that we thought we were moving away from it. That was what we thought the 2008 election was about. Now we know that we need Ralph Nader and Daniel Ellsberg up front. But we found ourselves applauding and bragging about the Navy Seals and their misadventure in pursuit of lawlessness re: Bin Laden.

You can remember if you choose to recall George Corley Wallace standing in the door of Foster Auditorium on June 11, 1963, to keep two students from enrolling at University of Alabama. Yet the accreditation was not lifted. In fact, the issue never came up in America.

So I see the pattern. No matter who get elected use the machinery to grind them down until they look just like the last one. Years ago a group of high school students from Virginia produce a short movie, "The Refiners Fire." It was about social change and the difficulty. No matter how hard the change agents try we are always wanting to return to our former state/shape. We are...
 
 
+16 # mrbadexample 2013-02-19 07:34
Last year a peace group delivered a war crimes indictment for President Obama over the use of drones. It was submitted at Hancock AFB in New York, a drone base in the US. There's been zero coverage on this, even though it's clear that the UN has finally decided to look at whether the program is a violation of the UN Charter. more about it here:
http://moveforchangebkculturejam.wordpress.com/2013/02/05/obamas-drone-policy-expands-definitions-of-enemies/

One other note--back in 2004, SCOTUS ruled in Hamdi Vs Rumsfeld that American citizens captured as 'enemy combatants' are entitled to due process. How is the Obama drone strike program targeting Americans abroad not contrary to Hamdi Vs Rumsfeld?
 
 
+11 # cmp 2013-02-19 07:34
One foot on the moon and one foot, still in the cave..
 
 
+8 # indian weaver 2013-02-19 09:24
As for that foot in the cave: “I do not know how the Third World War will be fought, but I can tell you what they will use in the Fourth – rocks.” - Einstein interview with Alfred Werner, Liberal Judaism, Apr. - May 1949.
 
 
0 # cmp 2013-02-19 13:58
Exactly!
What are they going to justify their actions with next? "That they've only had 6,000 years of evolution?"
 
 
+17 # jgorman 2013-02-19 07:45
I dream a world where man
No other man will scorn,
Where love will bless the earth
And peace its paths adorn.
I dream a world where all
Will know sweet freedom's way,
Where greed no longer saps the soul
Nor avarice blights our day.
A world I dream where black or white,
Whatever race you be,
Will share the bounties of the earth
And every man is free,
Where wretchedness will hang its head
And joy, like a pearl,
Attends the needs of all mankind--
Of such I dream, my world!

Langston Hughes


I simply must ask, why can't we make this so? For I do believe greatly, that even though we live in a world shaped for us, we ultimately determine its reality. Mr. President, dare to dream again but, stand up for and defend what is right as our conscious dictates...alwa ys.
 
 
+15 # freeone 2013-02-19 08:47
This is just plain WRONG. against everything I was taught as a child & have followed all my life. How can I be proud to be an American. I'm not & haven't been for a while. Our taxes spent for wars & more wars, none for education & health care. That's the American way. Greed. I'm getting too old to continue this fight & want to live in another country so I do not have to watch the moral destruction of the USA. Hide from the news & pray for a better & more moral YSA for my grandchildren. Maye that's what happened for the Pope. God help us.
 
 
+10 # Anarchist 23 2013-02-19 10:56
The Oligarchs are our chief enemies in all this. They have bought the government, control the 'issues' and scared the pant off everybody with their 9/11-it's written right in the PNAC 'mission' statement-radic al change will be slow without some catastrophic event like another Pearl Harbor and then -wow-9/11 'How convenient' You should read Atwood's 'After the Flood'-the CorpSecCorps (Corporate Security Corporation) is an interesting take on where 'privatized' armies can get us and of course 'Citizens United' opened the door to unlimited purchase of elections and we got the Tea Party. Drones are inhumane and acts of war crime. We are now Fascist with the capital 'F' .
 
 
+15 # Helen Marshall 2013-02-19 11:27
"In our own country, we don't allow the government to torture criminal suspects and/or kill people without trial - because it's wrong."

I wish that were true but it's no longer so. The Padilla and Manning cases alone show a government that is perfectly willing to keep suspects in conditions that amount to torture, and psychologists have long known that sustained solitary confinement produces severe mental trauma. We are just about alone among industrialized nations in our prison practices these days.

And now, not only do we have a president who eagerly accepted authority under the NDAA for the military to arrest and "disappear" persons alleged to have some shadowy connection to some terorist organization, the same president's CIA nominee is not willing to say that the president cannot order drone strikes on suspects, including Americans, inside the US.

What exactly is left of our constitution, not to mention our consciences?
 
 
+7 # oakes721 2013-02-19 12:09
A Proponent of Drones compares US Policies to a DISEASE... Would that be a CANCER on EARTH? Wars only promise the PEACE of the grave ~ unless they've also paved the way to HELL, which is most likely. The bravest soldiers are those who say NO to illegal orders.
 
 
+5 # MHAS 2013-02-19 12:15
Kugelman writes:

"Now let's consider some very different types of statistists [statistics]... 630 Pakistani children die from water-borne illness every day (that's more than three times the total number of Pakistani children the BIJ believes have died from drone strikes since 2004)...I am not minimising the civilian casualties from drone strikes. Nor am I denying that drones deserve rigorous debate in Pakistan (and beyond). Still, it's striking how so much less is said about afflictions that affect - and kill - so many more people than do drones."

First of all, I'll bet he wouldn't embrace that example if an American corporation were implicated in those water-borne illness statistics (Is one?).

But my main point is, I'd like to see how Kugelman would react if someone made such an argument regarding the 9/11 attacks...."les s than 3000 people were killed...that's fewer than..."
 
 
+3 # moodymack 2013-02-19 12:37
The US Citiznry is really no different today as was the citiznry of the Europian Dark Ages,psychologi cally. Today, just as then, Independent thought "is frowned upon in the establishment". ..the mass controller being propaganda and fear created by religion, government, or both. Their motive is the same:greed and power.
Why specify Obama or any other puppit throughout history. Identify the motive and then work to correct it.
The only way that possibly could correct it and turn this entire paridyme around is insistence of truth and transpirency.
 
 
+4 # saltywind 2013-02-19 16:50
Here's a poem on the subject written in 2009
THE HIVE

In a small Nevada town
a very young man rises early
from the comfort of bed
and wife, dons a uniform
starched for duty
heads for the office.

Worker bee in his cubicled hive,
the joystick warrior mans a console
patterned after Grand Theft Auto.
His flat-screen ripples
with sweet, swaying poppies
wedding parties, bad guys.

Seven thousand miles removed,
the dice have been rolled. A Predator
drone armed with a Hellfire missile,
leaves home, hovers silently,
obliterates the high-value target,
then he launches another...

Twelve hours later, laying rubber
the warrior commutes home, cruises by
the attractive nectar of casino lights,
blinking in the distance.

Honey,I'm home!
 
 
+1 # Lowflyin Lolana 2013-02-19 21:04
I can almost hear Matt Taibbi through the computer. He writes that well.

Needed some of the laughs I got from this along with the sense of comfort that someone, somewhere, finds all this outrageous.
 
 
+3 # tomo 2013-02-20 01:08
"If it's wrong here, it's wrong in Yemen." This is the heart of the matter. When the Declaration of Independence was written and proclaimed, the principles invoked therein were invoked as universal principles. In such writings as those of Samuel Adams and Thomas Paine, the arguments are clearly argued from a premise of "natural law." The case for American rights was very deliberately rooted in a case for human rights in general. Later, when the Bill of Rights was added to the Constitution, there is careful wording to suggest that the bill is not generating rights that will be specific to Americans, but that it is protecting for Americans the freedoms that belong rightfully to people in general. Today, the drones are murdering foreigners in a way that is altogether unacceptable. In their insanity, the perpetrators of these murders do not realize they are driving a sword into the heart of America.
 
 
0 # mkarenina63 2013-02-20 14:26
We dream dreams,write invocations,and poetry about what humanity should be.While we act out our predatory nature on all living things,includin g our fellow humans. We mitigate our predatory nature with laws,commandmen ts, and philosophies. As you challenge my use of the word predator to describe our nature as a species, consider what we eat. Our complex brains could not have evolved if we ate just grass all day.We needed to move up the food chain and eat high protein living things to get these big smart brains. We are killers of other species to feed ourselves.Event ually denial grew as our food was delivered without personally experiencing killing. Until we understand and admit our natures,we will not see what we are really doing.We now manifest profound denial in bloodthirsty video games,endless economic wars,and in our arguments about the killing or murder of other human beings using drones. It all appears the same to a brain divorced from the actual act of killing. In such a society real killing often leads to PTSD in soldiers, plus difficulty reentering a society that is so disconnected from death.
Control of wealth is a motive to kill each other. Look at the deadly austerity proposals forced on people by governments,so that a minority of global oligarchs will "win" more riches.Are we capable of being a benign. peaceful, species? I am not optimistic.We may face more global suffering, death, even genocides,in the global battle for the survival of the "fittest."
 
 
+2 # wullen 2013-02-21 05:17
Once again, in simple language, you have gotten to the core and true essence of an issue. You just keep on doing what you do!
 

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