By Gary Brumback
Pakistanis hold up a burning mock drone aircraft during a May rally against drone attacks in Peshawar. In 2009, the Brookings Institution estimated that unmanned drone attacks were killing about 10 civilians for every 1 insurgent in Pakistan. K. Pervez/Reuters
Murder: an intentional killing. Surrogate murder: An intentional drone killing. A difference between Mafia hit men and U.S. drone strikes is that hit men have no Orwellian defense that makes “lies sound truthful and murder respectable—.” [www.en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Politics_and_the_English_Language
On the Orwellian Claim Drone Strikes are Efficacious
How so? Because robots can’t be killed? Are drones effective because every one struck on the ground is murdered or maimed? Hardly so. No, to be effective, drone strikes must achieve their objective and timely so; pursue the right objective; pursue a credible objective; be the best means available to achieve the objective; and avoid undesirable side effects and chain reactions.
Drone strikes can never achieve the objective of eliminating al-Qaida and ending terrorism against the U.S. Drone strikes beg for retaliation, guaranteeing that al-Qaida or mutations of it will keep the U.S. war on terror in perpetuity.
Eliminating terrorism by eliminating al-Qaida is not the right objective. An unachievable objective never is.
Drone strikes aren’t among the best means for eliminating terrorism. The best means would be those designed to end the U.S. support of Israel’s militarism and her illegal building of settlements; substantially reduce U.S. military presence in the Great Middle East; substantially reduce welfare to the war industry; reduce dependence on foreign oil; and stop aiding corporate hegemony.
Drone strikes can never avoid the “collateral” killing and maiming of hundreds of non-targeted men, women and children or guarantee preventing possible retaliation some day worse than the attack on the twin towers.
On the Orwellian Claim that Drone strikes are Ethical
By whose ethics and values, the administration’s or those of civilization down through the ages? Throughout history and across very different cultures certain ethical values have remained constant, such as accountability, caring for others, excellence, fairness, fidelity, honesty, integrity, promise keeping, respecting others, and responsible citizenship. Only an Orwellian claim could twist those universal values to justify drone strikes; could argue that the “principle of humanity,” whatever that means to the administration “requires it to use weapons that will not inflict unnecessary suffering;” could cite abstruse principles of “necessity,” “distinction,” and “proportionality” as additional justifications; and could assert that the administration is “harnessing every element of American power— [including] the power of our values.”
While acknowledging that many innocent, noncombatant men, women and children have been killed and wounded by U.S. drone strikes, the Orwellian claim is made that the “administration puts a “premium—on protecting human life, including innocent civilians.” Why didn’t the chief counterterroris adviser go on to say what exactly this premium is and what limit if any the administration has set on the toll taken by drone strikes before it decides that they are no longer efficacious and ethical?
On the Orwellian Claim that Drone Strikes are Legal
Why doesn’t the administration acknowledge that it is relying on legal loop holes to claim the legality of drone strikes; loop holes such as not declaring drone strikes to be an act of war since the Constitution requires Congress to declare war; and using the CIA because it somehow circumvents legal accountability?
On the Orwellian Claim that Drone Strikes are Wise
Drone strikes are a wise choice, the Orwellian claim goes, because they are less constrained by geography; can be done more quickly; use robots; reduce the danger to innocent people in the targeted area; can aim precisely at targets; and strategically avoid troublesome consequences that can ensue from “deploying large armies.”
Why was the issue sidestepped of whether a wiser choice in the long run would be to persistently pursue peaceful means to eliminating al-Qaida?
Only an Orwellian spokesperson would brag about the precautions taken to ensure that the use of drone strikes is a “standard bearer,” on the insistence of President Obama, in the conduct of war, and would add that “if we want other nations to use these technologies responsibly, we must use them responsibly.”
How can the administration be a standard bearer since it is lagging behind in drone technology? Jefferson Morley in a recent piece in Salon tells us that if we “want to know how drones will change America, look to the Jewish State -- where they're already widespread.” [www.salon.com/2012/05/15/israels_drone_dominance/singleton/
] He cites a top Israeli official claiming Israel is becoming a world leader in development and production of UAVs [that’s drone talk].”
Never to mind, though, whether Israel or America; welcome world to the Devil’s premium quality drones! Get them before their prices go even more stratospheric.
The transcript also reminded me of Hannah Arendt’s phrase, “the banality of evil.” Well, we have just looked it in the eye, but will it ever blink?
America’s worse enemy is not al-Qaida, as treacherous as it may be according to the administration. America’s worse enemy is her own powerful corpocracy, the Devil’s marriage between corporate and political interests. The only way to end the administration’s surrogate murdering is to end the corpocracy by organizing and unleashing two-fisted democracy power (see www.uschamberofdemocracy.com
Gary Brumback, PhD, is a retired psychologist and Fellow of both the American Psychological Association and the Association for Psychological Science. He is the author of The Devil’s Marriage: Break Up the Corpocracy or Leave Democracy in the Lurch. Gary can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org.
ACHTUNG! ACHTUNG! (Hmm…that got your attention, uh?)
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