Saturday, March 22, 2008
Move along; these aren't the droids you're looking for.
In this Atlantic Free Press article, Tom Engelhardt reveals the extent to which the united States military is resorting to targeted drones and remotely launched cruise missiles to attempt to assassinate what are considered to be al-Qua'ida leaders, in remote villages around the world. This is not just in Iraq, having recently been attempted in Somalia, where a Tomahawk cruise missile blew up a small house, killing 4 to 6 (reports vary) innocent women and children. The intended victim was not in the area.
Imagine launching a $1.5 million dollar piece of technocracy from a bazillion dollar warship standing miles off shore, its crew honed to fine readiness, backed up by 300 million "Support the Troops" banners flying safely back in the Homeland. The missile streaks across the water, recognizes the shoreline, follows its internally programmed map inside its glittering rare metal innards and smashes into a single crude mud hut in the middle of the African desert, where its detonates its highly tuned package of explosives, scattering heads and limbs of women and children across the dry, sandy soil outside what once was their home.
This is the face of American power in these modern times, Uncle Sam cowering in a small, dimly lit room, observing the mayhem and horror through a glowing phosphor screen, destroying the lives of innocent civilians across the globe to make the world safe for American hypocrisy.
This is the face of American imperialism: the overwhelming power of indiscriminate killing, the targeted civilians, the destruction of civilian infrastructure, the denial of basic rights to food, water and shelter. This is how we smash our chosen enemies, how we prop up our economy by inventing wars for our military-industrial establishment to play in, to build untold technocratic marvels to send overseas and blow up in the beds and on the dinner tables of unsuspecting mothers, grandfathers, and more than any other, the children who will never have a chance to know a normal childhood.
This is bad enough, this cowardly long-distance destruction in the name of an economic philosophy: corporate capitalism, military Keynesianism, call it whatever fits your viewpoint. It is the propping up of a "way of life" for the residents of a favored country at the expense of the lives and welfare of millions of those unfortunates in the gun sights. It is the abdication of democratic institutions in favor of petty greed, and the puerile lust for power at home.
In the united States, the mayhem is largely ignored. 99 44/100% of the people go about their daily lives completely unaware of the death and destruction visited in their name on children and families just like theirs. Nor is there any connection in their minds between the cheap oil, the fancy electronic gadgetry, the shiny new car, the fine clothes, the warm, creamy latté, the ubiquitous cell phone and the lives of billions of people around the world whose miserable existence makes such luxury possible. The awareness that does exists consists mainly of smug complacency that our "Defense" Department is doing a fine job protecting us from the barbarians who blew up the World Trade Center.
It's good to remember that the industrial-military complex is always looking for new markets to test and deploy its glittering array of weapons systems. And one should recall that Homeland Security here at home is always looking for justifications to increase its influence (and budget) through domestic surveillance and the fostering of armed and dangerous constabularies. Pilotless drones are already being used to observe gatherings of unruly and unpredictable civilians. Surveillance cameras are everywhere, increasingly networked in seething tentacles linked by face recognition and Bugsplat software, all funneled through febrile wires and cables into the dark inner workings of Homeland Security, working safely miles below ground in undisclosed locations.
When will we witness our first crack house taken out by an armed Predator drone? A gang gathering broken up by a remotely controlled robot? And when will we have our first collateral damage as the technology of violent remote oppression comes fully home to roost?
The definitions of "yours" and "mine" are thin, transparent and separated by a tissue thickness of distinction. It will take only a slight breeze in the political winds to turn the sights from "them" to "us."