Wednesday, March 13, 2013

"The handing over of all power"

I can only imagine how the people of the USA must have felt in the aftermath of 9/11. With hindsight it's easy to see that measures taken by the then president and administration were draconian and have led to, so far, 12 years of conflict known as "the war on terror" - not a war in the traditional sense, since Congress did not declare war on either Afghanistan or Iraq. The atmosphere in the USA after 9/11 must have been akin to a rolling boil, so I can kind of understand how the people, led by their representatives, mostly agreed to the invasion of Afghanistan. There was more protest to the invasion of Iraq if I recall correctly. However, legislation dating from those dramatic years, the AUMF (The Authorization for Use of Military Force) and The Patriot Act are pillars upon which President Obama relies to authorise drone assassinations from the skies of several nations, often resulting in the murder of innocents and children.

The threat of terrorism hasn't disappeared, it will never disappear. Terrorism, of one kind or another, has been part of human experience since the dawn of history. Countries need to be prepared to deal with terrorist threats, that's accepted, but the way the USA is acting currently is more akin to stirring up a hornets' nest. Al Quaeda isn't Nazi Germany, its strength is puny compared with that of the USA - or even the UK. The whole scenario reminds me of an elephant twitchy and paranoid trying to stamp on an ant.

The use of drones, now they have been developed, will be part of life from now on, drones in ever more sophisticated forms too. The argument that the damage, collateral and to US military personnel, is less than that which would be brought about by conventional bombing methods, might hold true. I could not argue against that in times of declared war. In current circumstances, though, the US would be unlikely to be using other styles of bombing where drones are being used as attack weapons in countries such as Yemen, Pakistan and others.

Drones will, in any case, continue to be of benefit in reconnaissance and surveillance during times of conflict and disturbance. Their use beyond that, except in times of declared war, declared by Congress against a nation state, ought to be a matter for new legislation written to address present day situations, not those present in the period immediately following September 2001 - legislation containing strict limitations on, and mandated accountability for, the use of drones, military or civilian.

There's another aspect to drone use which will surely become apparent over time: further de-sensitisation and de-humanisation of the operators. War will become little more than a video game, that is until drones from some source carry and drop powerful nuclear bombs, then it'll be "game over" for humanity.
From George Orwell's "1984":

"The social atmosphere is that of a besieged city. And at the same time the consciousness of being at war, and therefore in danger, makes the handing-over of all power to a small caste seem the natural, unavoidable condition of survival."

"...the average citizen of Oceania never sets eyes on a citizen of either Eurasia or Eastasia, and he is forbidden the knowledge of foreign languages. If he were allowed contact with foreigners he would discover that they are creatures similar to himself and that most of what he has been told about them is lies."


DC said...

This drone program is nothing short of inhumane.....sterile unattached killing by our own citizens of foreigners and yes, now even it's own citizens. And with no due process?! American's attitudes towards other countries is really scary.
When it comes to American people's opinions of "foreigners" I can only speak through my own voice of experience.
After living in Turkey for nearly two years I realize now, how wrong,and just plain stupid most people were when they judged a foreign country from their comfortable corner of the world. This is usually done by those that have never even been to a foreign country themselves.
I often look up "travel" quotes in regards to this, and your article reminded me to do so again, so I'll share a couple of my favourites with you...

“Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness, and many of our people need it sorely on these accounts. Broad, wholesome, charitable views of men and things cannot be acquired by vegetating in one little corner of the earth all one's lifetime.” Mark Twain

“Travel makes one modest. You see what a tiny place you occupy in the world.”
― Gustave Flaubert

“If you reject the food, ignore the customs, fear the relgion and avoid the people, you might better stay home.”
― James A. Michener

“Perhaps travel cannot prevent bigotry, but by demonstrating that all peoples cry, laugh, eat, worry, and die, it can introduce the idea that if we try and understand each other, we may even become friends.” – Maya Angelou

“To travel is to discover that everyone is wrong about other countries.” – Aldous Huxley

Twilight said...

Thanks, DC!

Although Rand Paul's concern last week was only about possible killing of American citizens on American soil, his filibuster and arguments surrounding it did at least keep the drone issue in the news cycle.

The "American soil" part of the issue is the least worrying really - because if it ever did occur Americans would be out on the streets protesting in their millions.

But if focus on that part of the problem is what it takes to get people involved - then so be it.
It's better than nothing.

I'm with you, all the way on this. It's the use of drones in other countries, when war is undeclared, that I find most worrying. The old "they hate us for our freedoms" is downright rubbish! "They" (the ordinary people of the countries involved) hate us, if "they" do indeed hate us at all, because we kill their families and friends for no reason, and we are never held accountable.

Very good and relevant quotes, those - thanks! :-)