FacebookTwitterRedditEmail

Cruisin’ for a Bruisin’

“The president does not have power under the Constitution to unilaterally authorize a military attack in a situation that does not involve stopping an actual or imminent threat to the nation.”

— candidate Barack Obama

“NO MEN!” the massed ranks of tired, mud-spattered women shouted a I , a lone man, timidly approached their Greenham Common “peace camp” in spring ’82.  The handholding women at female-only “Green Gate”  were protesting the British government’s decision to allow cruise missiles to be based at this  RAF/USAF air base in Berkshire.  As a CND veteran, I merely wanted to help, maybe cook food, dig latrines, whatever.  But “No Men!” turned me back.  However, it was the start of my education on the cheap death tools called cruise missiles that kill without the killers being killed.

In the current Libyan adventure over a hundred and sixty ship- or land-based cruise missiles already have been fired in Operation Odyssey Dawn – who dreams up these rock-album titles?  And more to come.  At one to one and a half million dollars apiece, do the math.

Cruise missile specs are simple.  They are unmanned, single-use, pre-programmed fanjet-engine aerial torpedoes that carry a 1000-pound bomb or those cruel cluster bomblets that shred so many civilians especially children long after combat ends.  Inertially guided, the hi-tech missiles fly very close to the ground jinking around obstacles using an terrain-recognition system.

Today they’re called Tomahawks and are a direct descendant of, and a vast improvement on, the Nazi V-1 buzz-bombs of World War Two that killed over 6,000 Britons.  Present-day cruise missiles are made by the U.S. corporation Raytheon whose chief lobbyist, William Lynn III, was picked by Obama as his deputy defense secretary, second only to Robert Gates,  days after the inauguration.

In the coming days we will hear how “precise” and “accurate” cruise missiles are.  The fact is, even in perfect test conditions, they have a history of going wrong and veering off course, killing as they go wild.   So along with the current clichés being taken off the shelf from the Iraq and Afghan invasions -– brutal tyrant, coalition, unspeakable atrocities – add the Vietnam era euphemism “collateral damage” for burned and dismembered corpses.

Cruise missiles on-target are deadly, as British survivors of the Exocet-sunk HMS Sheffield and Atlantic Conveyor will recall from the Falklands war.  Maggie Thatcher’s war in the South Atlantic badly split the UK left, as Libya is doing in Germany where the normally pacifist Greens are quarreling among themselves whether to intervene or stand fast.  In the U.S. some left-fractures, and alliances, are unpredictable.  Marc Cooper, Juan Cole and John Judis “for” war while Dennis Kucinich and Senators Lugar and Webb asking the right questions.  Some budget-and-Constitution conscious Republicans line up with the antiwar crowd.

The military loves cruise missiles because they’re (relatively) inexpensive to make, easy to house and maintain, and can be fired with a deafening shock-and-awe roar from great distances.  They make for great orgasmic TV.  You aim from a faraway computer.  No pilot needs to be trained or lost.  Hence, no Arlington cemetery funerals with flag-draped coffins – yet.  Despite Obama’s pious promise that U.S. “boots on the ground” won’t be used, I note (usually buried deep in print stories) that the amphibious assault ship USS Kearsage lurks off Libya carrying 1600 Marines.

All we need now, to complete the hackneyed script is another “Curveball”, the defecting Iraqi chemist who duped the CIA into lying us into the horrific Operation Enduring Freedom, to swear on his mother’s honor that Qaddafi is about to nuclear bomb Disneyland.

The Libyan adventure comes at just the right time for various Allied – yes, they’re using that word again – western politicians.   France’s president Nicolas Sarkozy is widely predicted to have a rough time in the upcoming elections.   Polls indicate he is running behind the rightwinger Marine Le Pen, and a good little war can do wonders for a battered politician.  And with all David Cameron’s troubles, sending in Tornadoes and Typhoons and Trafalgar-class submarines, makes him look “presidential”.  (Forget for the moment that the U.K. helped train Qaddafi’s special forces and how eagerly British weapons companies vied for his custom.)

If the seven Berkshire stones commemorating the 70,000 Greenham Common women could weep, they would.  After Maggie Thatcher and Madeleine Albright, we shouldn’t be surprised that the strongest voices pushing Obama into his third war were three strong, powerful, liberated women – Samantha Powers, Susan Rice and Hilary Clinton.

CLANCY SIGAL is a novelist and screenwriter in Los Angeles. He can be reached at clancy@jsasoc.com

 

 

More articles by:

Clancy Sigal is a screenwriter and novelist. His latest book is Black Sunset

March 26, 2019
Patrick Cockburn
How ISIS’s Brutal Project in the Middle East was Finally Overthrown
Joshua Frank
To Celebrate or to Not? The Mueller Question
George Ochenski
The Fox in the Henhouse: Bernhardt at Interior
Thomas Klikauer
Corporate Bullshit
Chelli Stanley
Detectives on Smollett Case Have Troubling Backgrounds
William deBuys
12 Ways to Make Sense of the Border Mess
Robert Fisk
Ardern’s Response to Christchurch has Put Other Leaders to Shame, But Not for Its Compassion Alone
Binoy Kampmark
Disinviting Jordan Peterson: the Faculty of Divinity, Cambridge and Approved Ideas
James C. Kennedy
The Poisonous History of Neo-Classical Economics
Jenna Orkin
Quentin Crisp’s Posthumous Book, the Sequel
Elizabeth Keyes
My Russia Hot-Air Balloon
March 25, 2019
Jonathan Cook
Three Lessons for the Left from the Mueller Inquiry
Dave Lindorff
The TSA’s Role as Journalist Harasser and Media ‘Watchdog’
Tanya Golash-Boza – Michael Golash
Epifanio Camacho: a Militant Farmworker Brushed Out of History
Robert Fisk
Don’t Believe the Hype: Here’s Why ISIS Hasn’t Been Defeated
Jack Rasmus
The Capitulation of Jerome Powell and the Fed
Lawrence Davidson
Israel’s Moves to the Right
John Feffer
After Trump
James Ridgeway
Good Agent, Bad Agent: Robert Mueller and 9/11
Dean Baker
The Importance of Kicking Up: Changing Market Structures So the Rich Don’t Get All the Money
Lawrence Wittner
What Democratic Socialism Is and Is Not
Thomas Knapp
Suppressing Discussion Doesn’t Solve the Problem. It is the Problem.
Stephen Cooper
“I’m a Nine-Star General Now”: an Interview with Black Uhuru’s Duckie Simpson
Andrew Moss
Immigration and the Democratic Hopefuls
Weekend Edition
March 22, 2019
Friday - Sunday
Henry Giroux
The Ghost of Fascism in the Post-Truth Era
Gabriel Rockhill
Spectacular Violence as a Weapon of War Against the Yellow Vests
H. Bruce Franklin
Trump vs. McCain: an American Horror Story
Paul Street
A Pox on the Houses of Trump and McCain, Huxleyan Media, and the Myth of “The Vietnam War”
Andrew Levine
Why Not Impeach?
Bruce E. Levine
Right-Wing Psychiatry, Love-Me Liberals and the Anti-Authoritarian Left
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: Darn That (American) Dream
Charles Pierson
Rick Perry, the Saudis and a Dangerous Nuclear Deal
Moshe Adler
American Workers Should Want to Transfer Technology to China
David Rosen
Trafficking or Commercial Sex? What Recent Exposés Reveal
Nick Pemberton
The Real Parallels Between Donald Trump and George Orwell
Binoy Kampmark
Reading Manifestos: Restricting Brenton Tarrant’s The Great Replacement
Brian Cloughley
NATO’s Expensive Anniversaries
Ron Jacobs
Donald Cox: Tale of a Panther
Joseph Grosso
New York’s Hudson Yards: The Revanchist City Lives On
REZA FIYOUZAT
Is It Really So Shocking?
Bob Lord
There’s Plenty of Wealth to Go Around, But It Doesn’t
John W. Whitehead
The Growing Epidemic of Cops Shooting Family Dogs
Jeff Cohen
Let’s Not Restore or Mythologize Obama 
Christy Rodgers
Achieving Escape Velocity
Monika Zgustova
The Masculinity of the Future
FacebookTwitterRedditEmail