FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

The Bomb and the Drone

by ED KINANE

The lessons of Hiroshima and Nagasaki belong always before us.  The agony of those two cities must remain our dark beacon.

Hiroshima/Nagasaki wasn’t so much about targets as about audiences. We – or rather, the very highest reaches of the US government – annihilated a couple hundred thousand nameless, unarmed, undefended human beings to warn the world: “Don’t mess with us; we run things now.”

Thanks to its atomic prowess – showcased at H/N – for over 65 years the US has been able to hold the planet hostage. It deploys nuclear blackmail to further its corporations’ grip on the world’s resources and markets. But such gunboat diplomacy has only partially succeeded.

The Soviets soon acquired the Bomb. For nearly four decades that other evil empire terrorized us here in our previously invincible Homeland. So the pitiless logic of proliferation made us all far less safe.

The Big Lie(s) 

Every August 6 letters to editors perpetuate the last century’s most enduring myth: the Bomb forced the fanatic, loathsome Japs to surrender. Japan would not have to be invaded. Thousands of G.I. lives were thereby saved.  Thank God for the Bomb!

Never mind that by spring 1945, the US Air Force ruled Japanese skies. Never mind that after merciless firebombing, Japan’s major cities now lay in ashes, their people incinerated. Never mind that the US Navy ruled the sea; not a grain of rice could penetrate its blockade. Never mind that Japan was totally depleted by years of war. Never mind that Japan had already been seeking surrender.

Mr. Truman and the generals could have accepted Japan’s one nonnegotiable demand: to treat its divine emperor with respect. Alternatively, they could have let Japan dangle for as long as it took and then swept in to feed the emaciated and bury the dead.

Afghanistan/Pakistan/Yemen echo Hiroshima/Nagasaki. With its new cutting edge technology the Pentagon still trots out the old myth: the Reaper drone is all about “saving our boys’ lives.” And Bomb-like, the Reaper proclaims: “If you defy us, wherever you are, we will hunt you down and kill you.” Déjà vu.

Once again, clandestinely and without referendum, the Pentagon has embarked on a new era of terror. To add menace to dread, its robotic warfare comes with almost preternatural surveillance…both over there and, soon, here.

For several years the Pentagon has used high-tech robots like the Predator and the Reaper, not only for surveillance, but to blow up people and things in Afghanistan. Defying international law, the CIA uses the Reaper to assassinate nameless “bad guys” in Pakistan. In Yemen the Reaper perpetrates extrajudicial executions and even hunts down and kills US citizens. That’s what happens when your name somehow appears on White House “kill lists” reviewed by Mr. Obama himself.

The “beauty” of it is that technicians, wielding joysticks at satellite-linked computers thousands of miles from combat, pilot these unmanned drones.  They can deliver – “with laser accuracy” – their Hellfire missiles and 500-pound bombs. And do so with scant knowledge of their non-combatant victims and with no physical risk. Can anything be more disdainful of honor, more disdainful of life?

Mission Creep 

The Reaper –  piloted from, among  other places, our local Hancock Air Base – has become the Pentagon’s and the CIA’s darling. With no on-board crew, no US personnel die when the Reaper crashes or is hacked or shot down. With few witnesses, with no maimed vets and no awkward body bags shipped home, few ask: Why are we there? Who benefits? What’s our complicity? What’s become of our humanity?

So opaque is our bubble, so pervasive is the distancing, so unaccountable is drone warfare, that mission creep is guaranteed. Mission creep: the slide into perpetual warfare.

Like Japan’s hundreds of thousands of civilian casualties, the Reaper’s civilian casualties in Afghanistan/Pakistan/Yemen fail to matter. Few ask: What’s the human cost? What’s the blowback? We forget that victims anywhere surely have survivors nursing enduring hatred for the US. But – hey, not to worry! – those further security threats keep the pot boiling. And General Atomics, Lockheed and other corporate war profiteers continue to reap their billions.

One day drone missiles may strike Hancock Air Base. And if nearby communities are hit…well, aren’t we very accepting of “collateral damage”? Thanks to the Pentagon’s love affair with death – and thanks to the trillions we squander on “defense” – the world is much safer…for corporate greed. Most dare not allow themselves to see how those military contracts ravage our already depressed economy.

Fifty nations reportedly are either importing or manufacturing their own drones. This past spring the U.S. sold six weaponized drones to Italy – Italy?!  Like nuclear proliferation, drone proliferation will haunt us till the end of our days.

Unless….

Ed Kinane is an anti-militarism activist based in Syracuse, New York. He’s one of the “Hancock 2,” the “Hancock 33,” the “Hancock 15,” and the “Hancock 38.” Reach him at edkinane@verizon.net.

Weekend Edition
April 29, 2016
Friday - Sunday
Andrew Levine
What is the Democratic Party Good For? Absolutely Nothing
Roberto J. González – David Price
Anthropologists Marshalling History: the American Anthropological Association’s Vote on the Academic Boycott of Israeli Institutions
Robert Jacobs
Hanford, Not Fukushima, is the Big Radiological Threat to the West Coast
Ismael Hossein-Zadeh
US Presidential Election: Beyond Lesser Evilism
Dave Lindorff
The Push to Make Sanders the Green Party’s Candidate
Ian Fairlie
Chernobyl’s Ongoing Toll: 40,000 More Cancer Deaths?
Pete Dolack
Verizon Sticks it to its Workers Because $45 Billion isn’t Enough
Richard Falk
If Obama Visits Hiroshima
Margaret Kimberley
Dishonoring Harriet Tubman
Deepak Tripathi
The United States, Britain and the European Union
Eva Golinger
My Country, My Love: a Conversation with Gerardo and Adriana of the Cuban Five
Peter Linebaugh
Marymount, Haymarket, Marikana: a Brief Note Towards ‘Completing’ May Day
Moshe Adler
May Day: a Trade Agreement to Unite Third World and American Workers
Vijay Prashad
Political Violence in Honduras
Paul Krane
Where Gun Control Ought to Start: Disarming the Police
David Anderson
Al Jazeera America: Goodbye to All That Jazz
Rob Hager
Platform Perversity: More From the Campaign That Can’t Strategize
Pat Williams
FDR in Montana
Dave Marsh
Every Day I Read the Book (the Best Music Books of the Last Year)
David Rosen
Job Satisfaction Under Perpetual Stagnation
John Feffer
Big Oil isn’t Going Down Without a Fight
Murray Dobbin
The Canadian / Saudi Arms Deal: More Than Meets the Eye?
Gary Engler
The Devil Capitalism
Brian Cloughley
Is Washington Preparing for War Against Russia?
Manuel E. Yepe
The Big Lies and the Small Lies
Robert Fantina
Vice Presidents, Candidates and History
Mel Gurtov
Sanctions and Defiance in North Korea
Howard Lisnoff
Still the Litmus Test of Worth
Dean Baker
Big Business and the Overtime Rule: Irrational Complaints
Ulrich Heyden
Crimea as a Paradise for High-Class Tourism?
Ramzy Baroud
Did the Arabs Betray Palestine? – A Schism between the Ruling Classes and the Wider Society
Halyna Mokrushyna
The War on Ukrainian Scientists
Joseph Natoli
Who’s the Better Neoliberal?
Ron Jacobs
The Battle at Big Brown: Joe Allen’s The Package King
Wahid Azal
Class Struggle and Westoxication in Pahlavi Iran: a Review of the Iranian Series ‘Shahrzad’
David Crisp
After All These Years, Newspapers Still Needed
Graham Peebles
Hungry and Frightened: Famine in Ethiopia 2016
Robert Koehler
Opening the Closed Political Culture
Missy Comley Beattie
Waves of Nostalgia
Thomas Knapp
The Problem with Donald Trump’s Version of “America First”
Georgina Downs
Hillsborough and Beyond: Establishment Cover Ups, Lies & Corruption
Jeffrey St. Clair
Groove on the Tracks: the Magic Left Hand of Red Garland
Ben Debney
Kush Zombies: QELD’s Hat Tip to Old School Hip Hop
Charles R. Larson
Moby Dick on Steroids?
David Yearsley
Miles Davis: Ace of Baseness
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail