America’s foreign policy depends on the sanctity of its information. For this reason, questioning the selective use of intelligence to justify the war in Iraq is neither idle sniping nor ”revisionist history,” as Mr. Bush has suggested. The act of war is the last option of a democracy, taken when there is a grave threat to our national security. More than 200 American soldiers have lost their lives in Iraq already. We have a duty to ensure that their sacrifice came for the right reasons.
(Source: The New York Times)
Rachel Maddow’s Drift, reservations about the author aside, is a very important book in that it tackles very complex issues that are generally ignored by the American public at large. The book’s mere 252 pages leaves it lacking in addressing many of these complexities, but Maddow’s ability to present difficult topics with her own brand of sarcasm and wit in a way that can be understood by the average reader makes it worth the read. For most of us who have studied history and/or politics the contents will reinforce already held notions of an inflated military industrial complex that has warped this country’s outlook on the world and thus our foreign policy at the expense of our economic and social well being. For everyone else, throw whatever preconceived notions about the military and America’s ‘noble’ past out the window and read.
When I was asked during the campaign about what I would do if it came down to a choice between defense and deficits I always said national security had to come first, and the people applauded every time.
I didn’t return from Afghanistan as the same person. My personality is the same, or at least close enough, but I’m no longer the “good” person I once thought I was. There’s nothing that can change that; it’s impossible to forget what happened, and the only people who can forgive me are dead.
Of all the enemies to public liberty, war is, perhaps, the most to be dreaded, because it comprises and develops the germ of every other. War is the parent of armies; from those proceed debts and taxes; and armies, and debts, and taxes are known instruments for bringing the many under the domination of a few. In war, too, the discretionary power of the Executive is extended; its influence in dealing out offices, honors, and emoluments is multiplied; and all the means of seducing the minds are added to those of subduing the force of the people. The same malignant aspect in republicanism may be traced in the inequality of fortunes and the opportunities of fraud growing out of a state of war, and in the degeneracy of manners and of morals endangered by both. No nation could reserve its freedom in the midst of continual warfare.
Those truths are well established. They are read in every page which records the progression from a less arbitrary to a more arbitrary government, or the transition from a popular government, to an aristocracy or a monarchy.
If the victims of Mr Obama’s drone strikes are mentioned by the state at all, they are discussed in terms which suggest that they are less than human. The people who operate the drones, Rolling Stone magazine reports, describe their casualties as “bug splats”, “since viewing the body through a grainy-green video image gives the sense of an insect being crushed”. Or they are reduced to vegetation: justifying the drone war, Obama’s counterterrorism adviser Bruce Riedel explained that “you’ve got to mow the lawn all the time. The minute you stop mowing, the grass is going to grow back”.
Like George Bush’s government in Iraq, Obama’s administration neither documents nor acknowledges the civilian casualties of the CIA’s drone strikes in north-west Pakistan. But a report by the law schools at Stanford and New York universities suggests that during the first three years of his time in office, the 259 strikes for which he is ultimately responsible killed between 297 and 569 civilians, of whom at least 64 were children. These are figures extracted from credible reports: there may be more which have not been fully documented.
The wider effects on the children of the region have been devastating. Many have been withdrawn from school because of fears that large gatherings of any kind are being targeted. There have been several strikes on schools since Bush launched the drone programme that Obama has expanded so enthusiastically: one of Bush’s blunders killed 69 children.
The study reports that children scream in terror when they hear the sound of a drone. A local psychologist says that their fear and the horrors they witness is causing permanent mental scarring. Children wounded in drone attacks told the researchers that they are too traumatised to go back to school and have abandoned hopes of the careers they might have had. Their dreams as well as their bodies have been broken.
Obama does not kill children deliberately. But their deaths are an inevitable outcome of the way his drones are deployed. We don’t know what emotional effect these deaths might have on him, as neither he nor his officials will discuss the matter: almost everything to do with the CIA’s extrajudicial killings in Pakistan is kept secret. But you get the impression that no one in the administration is losing much sleep over it.
We’ve had Cool Obama, and No Drama Obama. Now we have Weeping Obama. Does Weeping Obama “meet privately” with the families of those he has ordered murdered in Pakistan, or Somalia, or Yemen? Does he even acknowledge those murders — murders that he himself ordered? Does the “nation reel” in response to these regular, systematic murders of innocent human beings — many of them children? Does the “nation reel” in response to the Obama administration’s repeated public announcements of its Kill List and its Murder Program, a program which intentionally, repeatedly murders innocent people? Does America react with horror to the fact that Obama and his administration claim the “right” to murder anyone they want, anywhere in the world, for any reason they choose or invent out of nothing?
Nope. White Americans want their politics of violence distilled into easily digested talking points that they only have to consider on rare, exclusively white occasions.
Isn’t it amazing how rhetoric shapes politics? Simple words and images. If you’ve studied US foreign policy specifically in terms of the Middle East and South and Central Asia, you’ll notice how the Western media has maintained a very strong and even strangely hypnotic kind of control over consumers when it comes to the notion of “danger.” It’s full of sensationalism and trigger-happy as well as trigger-paranoid narrow-minded discourse. After 9/11, the most “dangerous” places in the world were Iraq and Afghanistan. US and its allies deployed troops in both regions, killed thousands and thousands of Iraqis and Afghans, plunged itself into an economic failure, and unwillingly realized only recently that its decision was a flawed, hypocritical one.
Now the rhetoric has shifted its focus on Iran and Pakistan. Two countries that have been under aggressive and relentless US foreign policy for the past decade. With sanctions imposed on Iran and drone strikes in the tribal areas of Pakistan, USA continues to increases its violent pressure on both states. What’s amazing is how there’s very little opposition from American viewers; the majority plays easily into media’s aim to create a phantom Muslim enemy. An enemy that is, statistically speaking, so small and negligent that it barely exists as an “imminent” threat. Putting power politics aside, what does that say about Western media? It highlights its purposeful, malicious bias that perpetuates violence and bigotry against Muslims but it’s more than just that: Western media operates like a machine. It facilitates war.
Do you remember this from 1945? Look closer.
“Kill Japs, Kill Japs, then kill more Japs.” We all remember what happened then.
It’s just incredibly saddening. I grew up thinking words are obsolete, that human sensibility could see through the loopholes and inconsistencies of political rhetoric but when you have media so passionate about exaggeration and dishonesty, and people who are not only unaware but unmoved by tragedies proven over and over again, piles and piles of dead children and women and old people, it’s easy for war to happen - again. It’s convenient even. Because it satisfies that fear put into you. That “enemy” is dead, your politicians tell you. Then they create another enemy. It’s time to kill that “enemy” too.
Words are everything. Western media insists that it is “fair” and “neutral” but it contradicts itself by analyzing international relations without discussing actual politics. Yesterday everyone was worried about nonexistent WMD in Iraq and Afghanistan; today they’re worried about Iran and Pakistan.
And you know what could possibly happen after that. Everyone knows.