FacebookTwitterRedditEmail

State of the Drones

President Obama is going to deliver the annual State of the Union address next Tuesday and if I were to make a wild guess, I’d say he’ll declare the union strong. The economy may be troubled, some people are facing challenges perhaps, but if history’s any guide the president will say the union is special, blessed by god and strong, and there will be applause, no matter that it couldn’t be less true.

Politically, the nation is split as dramatically as it was before the Civil War. The Republican Democrat divide reflects almost exactly the borders of the old confederacy and there’s no sign of it shifting any time soon.Economically we’re as divided as can be. Take our supposedly representative congress. In a middle-and-working class nation, Congress is a gathering of millionaires, multi- millionaires and billionaires.  While working class people are a majority of our labor force and 90 million people strong, they can’t afford to run for office and fewer and fewer rich people have ever held a working class job. Duke University Professor Nicholas Carnes has found that since 1998, the average member of Congress has spent just one-and-a-half percent of his or her adult life doing any sort of service or manual labor.

Domestically, we’re divided; go global and it’s worse. In sharp contrast to his first State of the Union address four years ago, Pew Research reports that global approval of President Barack Obama’s international policies has declined significantly since he first took office, along with overall confidence in him and attitudes toward the U.S. “In nearly all countries surveyed,” writes Pew, “there is considerable opposition to a major component of the Obama administration’s anti-terrorism policy: drone strikes.”

Yup, killing people via robot-in-the-sky, without trial or warning is not only, as a New York Times headline put it recently, “Hazardous” for US policy goals and America’s global effectiveness, but also, as it turns out, for human life. Drones kill people and make others hate us.  They’re bad for our union with the world, and it’s not just the drones, the entire war on terror’s done a job on our world relations.

What might be good for our union? Next Tuesday, if he really wanted to strengthen our union with the world, President Obama could ask Kathy Kelly to deliver his address for him.

Coordinator of Voices for Creative Non Violence, Kelly is fresh back from her 12th trip to Afghanistan. As she trudged up the stairs where I live, recently, I heard her breath heavily. She’s just getting over pneumonia, but my three-flight walk up turns out to be nothing compared to Kelly’s daily routine in working class Kabul.

In our conversation she described going to visit poor women who live high in the mountains outside the city, far from warmth and water, because the rent on a one room hut on the cliff-side is all they can afford.

“It’s the culture,” Kathy explained, “if somebody knocks at your door and asks for food or beverage, you give it to them. If that person’s a Taliban who’s appearing on a screen to somebody in Creech Air Force Base, Hancock Field or Whiteman Air Force Base, then you may very well be a subject of a night raid or worse — a weaponized drone could target your house.”

Kelly has a friend who is still trying to explain to her five-year old son that a computer killed his father.

Kathy Kelly’s union with the Afghan people is strong. How’s ours? You don’t get much of a sense that anyone cares in Congress. As Kelly reports, four hundred new refugees are displaced by the war in Afghanistan every day. One out of five children does not live beyond the age of five; one out of every 11 women dies in childbirth. All of this happening while the United States has spent $2 billion – two billion dollars per week – on the US military presence there.  Yet in eight hours of hearings on Chuck Hagel’s nomination as Secretary of Defense, no Republican even asked about Afghanistan, and the three questions from Democrats were all about the schedule for troop withdrawal and the future for Americans.

To reach back into history again, contemporaneous with the Civil War, internationalism was born. The first meeting of the International Working Men’s Association was held in London in 1864. Packed into a church hall, English, Italian, French, Irish, Polish and German dissidents pledged allegiance to one another and not to Imperial wars. The First International was followed by a Second in 1886 where some socialists by then had had come up with the radical notion that an international workers’ organization was needed to balance the growing power of global capitalism and finance.

How’s the state of our union in those terms? I don’t just mean our Pentagon’s and the CIA’s, I mean ours, yours and mine. What’s the state of our union?  What if every drone attack in Kabul provoked a response in Denver, and Delhi and DC?  How would our union be then?

LAURA FLANDERS is the host of The Laura Flanders Show coming to public television stations later this year. She was the host and founder of GRITtv.org. Follow her on Twitter: @GRITlaura. 

More articles by:

Laura Flanders is the host of GRITtv now seen on the new, news channel TeleSUR English – for a new perspective. 

bernie-the-sandernistas-cover-344x550
November 13, 2019
Vijay Prashad
After Evo, the Lithium Question Looms Large in Bolivia
Charles Pierson
How Not to End a Forever War
Kenneth Surin
“We’ll See You on the Barricades”: Bojo Johnson’s Poundshop Churchill Imitation
Nick Alexandrov
Murder Like It’s 1495: U.S.-Backed Counterinsurgency in the Philippines
George Ochenski
Montana’s Radioactive Waste Legacy
Brian Terrell
A Doubtful Proposition: a Reflection on the Trial of the Kings Bay Plowshares 7
Nick Pemberton
Assange, Zuckerberg and Free Speech
James Bovard
The “Officer Friendly” Police Fantasy
Dean Baker
The Logic of Medical Co-Payments
Jeff Mackler
Chicago Teachers Divided Over Strike Settlement
Binoy Kampmark
The ISC Report: Russian Connections in Albion?
Norman Solomon
Biden and Bloomberg Want Uncle Sam to Defer to Uncle Scrooge
Jesse Jackson
Risking Lives in Endless Wars is Morally Wrong and a Strategic Failure
Manuel García, Jr.
Criminalated Warmongers
November 12, 2019
Nino Pagliccia
Bolivia and Venezuela: Two Countries, But Same Hybrid War
Patrick Cockburn
How Iran-Backed Forces Are Taking Over Iraq
Jonathan Cook
Israel is Silencing the Last Voices Trying to Stop Abuses Against Palestinians
Jim Kavanagh
Trump’s Syrian See-Saw: From Pullout to Pillage
Susan Babbitt
Fidel, Three Years Later
Dean Baker
A Bold Plan to Strengthen and Improve Social Security is What America Needs
ADRIAN KUZMINSKI
Trump’s Crime Against Humanity
Victor Grossman
The Wall and General Pyrrhus
Yoko Liriano
De Facto Martial Law in the Philippines
Ana Paula Vargas – Vijay Prashad
Lula is Free: Can Socialism Be Restored?
Thomas Knapp
Explainer: No, House Democrats Aren’t Violating Trump’s Rights
Wim Laven
Serve With Honor, Honor Those Who Serve; or Support Trump?
Colin Todhunter
Agrarian Crisis and Malnutrition: GM Agriculture Is Not the Answer
Binoy Kampmark
Walls in the Head: “Ostalgia” and the Berlin Wall Three Decades Later
Akio Tanaka
Response to Pete Dolack Articles on WBAI and Pacifica
Nyla Ali Khan
Bigotry and Ideology in India and Kashmir: the Legacy of the Babri Masjid Mosque
Yves Engler
Canada Backs Coup Against Bolivia’s President
November 11, 2019
Aaron Goings, Brian Barnes, and Roger Snider
Class War Violence: Centralia 1919
Steve Early - Suzanne Gordon
“Other Than Honorable?” Veterans With “Bad Paper” Seek Long Overdue Benefits
Peter Linebaugh
The Worm in the Apple
Joseph Natoli
In the Looming Shadow of Civil War
Robert Fisk
How the Syrian Democratic Forces Were Suddenly Transformed into “Kurdish Forces”
Patrick Cockburn
David Cameron and the Decline of British Leadership
Naomi Oreskes
The Greatest Scam in History: How the Energy Companies Took Us All
Fred Gardner
Most Iraq and Afghanistan Vets now Regret the Mission
Howard Lisnoff
The Dubious Case of Washing Machines and Student Performance
Nino Pagliccia
The Secret of Cuba’s Success: International Solidarity
Binoy Kampmark
Corporate Mammon: Amazon and the Seattle Council Elections
Kim C. Domenico
To Overthrow Radical Evil, Part II: A Grandmother’s Proposal
Marc Levy
Veterans’ Day: Four Poems
Weekend Edition
November 08, 2019
Friday - Sunday
Paul Street
The Real Constitutional Crisis: The Constitution
FacebookTwitterRedditEmail