Wednesday, July 13, 2011

US Drones kill 54 as insane US foreign policy acts as recruiting agent for "terrorists"

The US is now deploying unmanned drones, remote controlled missile laden aircraft in six countries; Afghanistan, Pakistan, Yemen, Iraq, Libya and Somalia. In a 24-hour period Monday four US drones killed 54 people in northern Pakistan. The overwhelming majority of people in Pakistan are opposed to these bombings that they say indiscriminately kill civilians. The opposition is so great that the corrupt Pakistani government has to publicly oppose them and major forces in the country have asked the US to stop.

This is how the US mass media reports the deaths. The headline in the San Francisco Chronicle today reads: “Suspected U.S. missile strikes kill at least 42 militants”. The strikes are “suspected” U.S. strikes because the US does not publicly acknowledge the “covert” CIA drone program in Pakistan although everyone, especially the relatives of the dead victims, know who the missiles belong to. A son or daughter of the deceased is looking for the nearest suicide bomber training academy we can be sure of that. The average rural peasant in Pakistan doesn’t have a drone, missiles, or any other aircraft with which to retaliate. But by not publicly acknowledging them, US capitalism can ignore appeals to stop. You cannot stop something you don’t acknowledge doing.

The Chronicle report names the areas of the missile strikes fired from the unmanned planes that are “suspected” of belonging to the US; Gorvak village, Dremala village etc. But unlike in the headline, the people killed in Gorvak, Dremala, Shawal, and Datta Khel are all not just “Militants” they are “alleged” militants. They’ve slipped an adjective in there. Given the close relationship between the so-called free press and the capitalist state, I am not sure whose decision it was to add a clearly defining adjective, the Chronicle editorial board or the Pentagon. Most likely it is a joint effort. But it appears that the neither the Chronicle or the US government knows exactly who it’s killing.

And Bradley Manning’s in jail. He’s an American hero. Someone we should be proud of and tell our kids we’re proud of.

The anti-war president, Barack Obama described today’s terrorist attack in Mumbai as "outrageous.”, and that, "The American people will stand with the Indian people in times of trial, and we will offer support to India's efforts to bring the perpetrators of these terrible crimes to justice,"

Meanwhile, Obama has “dramatically increased drone strikes” says the Chronicle and I am sure that the help the US can offer India will be drone strikes and kidnapping which has been a very popular tactic of US capitalism in the post 911 era.

But the drone strikes are despised by most of the world’s peoples and a recent British study answers some questions about this new age weaponry and raises others. It was reported on at “The US drone fleet, which has grown from around 50 a decade ago to more than 7,000 today is increasing at a fast clip, unaffected by defense spending cuts in other areas.”, the study reveals.

Boy this is fun.  Good thing its just a game
For the official military, the drones and the missiles they drop on people are controlled by a guy sitting in front of a computer at Creech Air Force base near Las Vegas. The CIA on the other hand has its own separate and covert, program. Some critics refer to these as assassinations. A young guy sitting in front of a computer in northern Virginia directs the killing machines, “The pilots, sitting in cockpits in front of television monitors, run no physical risks whatever, a novelty for men engaged in war.” Says the author of the Daily Dawn piece.

A question the study raises is the role of the guy in front of the computer 7,000 miles away from the victims of his actions. The study asks the following question.: “Is the Reaper (Drone) operator walking the streets of his home town after a shift a legitimate target as a combatant? Would an attack (on him) by a Taliban sympathiser be an act of war under international law or murder under the statutes of the home state? Does the person who has the right to kill as a combatant while in the control station cease to be a combatant on his way home?”

A legitimate question for sure. US capitalism has killed a few million people the last few years by military means. Its sanctions on Iraq after the first Gulf War had no effect on its former partner in crime, Saddam Hussein but killed an estimated 500,000 Iraqi’s many of them children, something Madeline Albright said was “worth it.” We’ll leave aside three to four million Vietnamese that never attacked or invaded or threatened the US in any way. So its’ not surprising that the Drone study found that the west, and the US in particular, “is seen as a cowardly bully that is unwilling to risk his own troops but is happy to kill remotely,”

The other down side to these attacks as we have explained repeatedly on this blog is that they’re the best recruiting tool for anti-American causes as the article points out. It violates a county’s sovereignty for example. Can we imagine how we would react if Iran had bombed the murderous Shah while he was here killing a few people and destroying some building along the way? People in other countries feel exactly the same but they don’t have drones so they strap explosives to themselves; not a tactic from someone who thinks there is a future. But they fight back as best they can. The US is the driver of the arms race. It is no accident Bush never invaded North Korea; it has nuclear bombs.

The growth of what is termed as “terrorism” has its roots in US foreign policy. The Dawn article points out that the basic response from US officials is that they don’t care about the consequences of their actions. “It is not an issue, however, that strikes a chord with the public and US politicians are largely in favor of drone strikes.” The paper says, “They are seen as an inexpensive way of targeting enemies, with no risk to the lives of American personnel. The downside to the seemingly risk-free elimination of Taliban fighters, al Qaeda militants and assorted other anti-American elements is of little apparent concern in the US.”

The consequences of these policies are of no concern to the likes of the men that sat in that room with Obama watching the assassination of Bin Laden because they don’t use public transport. They don’t go to other countries on commercial flights and they have 24 hour armed protection. They also prefer it that Americans don’t travel abroad as it shelters us from alien ideas and concepts such as the incredible notion that you could have more than two political parties from which to choose in an election or that the role of the US government internationally is not what we think it is or that people can get health care without insurance companies as middlemen etc.
 So if some victim from one of these countries manages to enter the US and blow up one of the computer geeks that fly Drones is that terrorism? If he kills “innocents” as well, surely that is just “collateral damage”, the favored term of the US military when it kills civilians. We can surely see if we take time to look how one person’s terrorist is another's freedom fighter. The British after all considered the US revolutionists terrorists. Is the computer guy operating the drone not a “legitimate” target or is he one when he's at work but not at home?

The study also raises questions about the increasing use of robotics in warfare. It is only a small step it points out from a human operating the drone to the drone making its own decision to fire based on implanted data. If it misses and wipes out folks at a wedding as the US has done on more than one occasion, who is guilty; the manufacturer of the drone? Is that company, its employees and building a legitimate target?

With its waning world power, US capitalism will become a more dangerous animal. It is still the world’s most powerful military force. What a waste of science and human resources, the expansion of robotic warfare. As workers and the middle class in the US face the dismantling of a century or more of social gains, the corrupt US ruling class is spending trillions of dollars in its struggle to drive its rivals from the marketplace. We are expected to pay for that and are paying for it.

911 should have been a wake up call to us as American workers. We need to recognize that we can no longer ignore the role of the US war machine as it roams the world making it safe for capitalism. It will be a matter of time before another attack of some nature occurs on US soil. The Obama’s Rumsfeld’s and Cheney’s of this world have no solution to this crisis except violence and more violence. As representatives of capital their view of the world is narrow and short sighted. They cannot win this game and will only generate more hatred toward us as Americans as they ravage the planet and its resources in their quest for control of the world’s resources and profits.

They are not alone, but they are ours and they hold the biggest stick for the moment. The US working class has to present a different face and a different future to the peoples of the world than what stands as the American view at the moment. We can offer a future, Obama and the rest of them can’t, they can only offer violence and despair.

I have not yet read the study that generated the Dawn article. It is here:

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