Thursday, September 12, 2013

OK, You Have Our Attention. Let's Put a Stop to ALL These Criminal Weapons!

How many of Barack Obama's words about Syria will be used against him when the U.S. is indicted for its crimes using drones?

As President Obama insisted two nights ago:
When dictators commit atrocities, they depend upon the world to look the other way until those horrifying pictures fade from memory. But these things happened. The facts cannot be denied. The question now is what the United States of America, and the international community, is prepared to do about it. Because what happened to those people -- to those children -- is not only a violation of international law, it’s also a danger to our security. (Emphasis added. Full transcript from Washington Post.)
The UN is on the verge of taking action on U.S. extrajudicial executions using drones, and the movement against drone warfare is preparing for another wave of nationwide protests. Person after person is noticing the eerie resonance of Barack Obama's accusations against Syria with the crimes of his own administration against people in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Yemen, Somalia, and elsewhere.

A friend wrote to me from Wisconsin:
Yesterday evening I watched Obama fill the air with hypocrisy. It struck me he mentioned children dying 3 times. He also talked of them writhing. Obviously this is a ploy to pull the heartstrings of Americans. Of course it struck me that he is killing children in Pakistan and elsewhere and the fact thousands are being killed, and hundreds of thousands killed by the U.S.
Bob Koehler, the syndicated columnist based here in Chicago, calls Obama's behavior "cherry-picking evil":
So Barack Obama, in his role as president, belies both his own intelligence and that of — my guess — most of his constituents when he asks us to play along with the game. Yes, poison gas is a ghastly evil (though who actually used it in the Damascus suburb of Ghouta remains uncertain), but what a ruse to muster all one’s outrage over images of “men, women, children lying in rows, killed by poison gas, others foaming at the mouth, gasping for breath, a father clutching his dead children, imploring them to get up and walk” — and then use that outrage as the pretext to justify counter-actions on our part that are equally indiscriminate in their delivery of hell to the same people. Virtually every aspect of modern warfare fits the description Obama drew as a sort of “red line” of bad behavior: the use of weaponry that kills on a mass scale, making no distinction between soldier and infant. We are, after all, the nation that developed nuclear weapons and, over the next half century, spent some $5.5 trillion playing arms race with the Soviet Union and, ultimately, with no one at all. We’re still developing further generations of “tactical” nukes, bleeding more than $30 billion annually into this insanity. (Read Bob's entire column: Cherry-Picking Evil)
Sure, the world needs to stop Syria's chemical weapons. But what about the United States' drones? Which leads me to another metaphor -- one that found resonance with my friends from Pakistan on Twitter -- "what's good for the goose is good for the gander."

Isn't it time we put a stop to ALL these criminal weapons? And the criminals who use them?

Related posts

In my opinion, the reason to focus on drones is this: when we focus on drones, the general public is able to "get," to an unusual extent, the degree to which popular consent has been banished from the process of carrying out state violence. (Sure, it was banished long ago, but the absence of a human in the cockpit of a drone suddenly makes a light bulb go off in people's heads.) It takes some prodding, but people can sense that drone use somehow crosses a line. And that opens up the discussion about how our consent has been eliminated from the vast range of US militarism.

(See "Why focus on drone attacks?")

"Because of the intensified division of labor," the narrator explains, "many technicians and scientists can no longer recognize the contribution the have made to weapons of destruction." "Our department extracts lareic, oleic, and naptha acids . . . . "  "I'm a chemist. What should I do? If I develop a substance, it can be good for humanity . . . ."  "Besides napalm, Dow Chemical produces 800 other products . . . ." Does this familiar to you?

(See American Fire: Still Spreading, Still Inextinguishable)

The recurring theme of the The Hurt Locker is "We're done here." The tension of each encounter with a bomb is followed by the moment when the hero successfully defuses the bomb, and then announces "We're done here." The deeper theme of the movie is psychological: the solder is addicted to the excitement. He is unable to go on with a normal life. He keeps going back, again and again, to Iraq, to defuse more bombs. (HE is NEVER "done".)

(See DU: Will we ever be able to say "We're done here" ? )