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Obama’s Partner in War Crimes

When Senate Democrats such as Harry Reid praise Brennan to the heavens, as America’s savior, and Diane Feinstein settles for OLC legal memos confined to the killing of Americans, but not the basis for the entire armed drone program for targeted assassination, it is fair to say Obama has the party as his accomplice in the violation of international law.  If Democrats had the slightest moral conscience, they would a) censure Obama for assassination, this as a starter for a geopolitical strategy vastly enlarging the military’s role in foreign policy; b) vote against Brennan’s confirmation; and c) oppose everything Obama does, countering with specific proposals across the board, from steep progressive taxation to deep cuts in the military budget to stringent banking regulation and to ditto on climate change—again as a starter, given his gross betrayal of the bottom half of the American people.

Brennan’s presence in government actually and symbolically drives a spike through the heart of US claims to being a democratic society.  Not that democracy hasn’t been tattered to shreds long before, but at least now the moonshine dispensed from the White House, because of its pretentiousness, makes still more evident the rapid slide away from basic freedoms.  I wish Madame Tussaud’s in London would re-create the Terror Tuesday’s off the Situation Room—the ugliness of which would hardly be believed.  Brennan in his element: hit lists, vaporizing the baddies, the triumph of just-war ideology.  And now, at CIA, designed to his liking, a full-throttle engine of expansive paramilitary operations, so that through a take-no-prisoners approach it won’t be necessary to have waterboarding—no one to waterboard.  CIA operatives can now enjoy the fun of their JSOC partners, proving their manhood over what is left of the bodies of children, now blood spats.

And we have Obama to thank for providing cover for atrocities by his staunch defense of SECRECY, so that US global military expansion can proceed unhampered.  Africa is ripe for pickings, but why stop there?  Why stop anywhere, for that matter?  This is the classic imperialism paradigm, adjusted for the 21st century.  By “classic,” I mean, not simply expansion, markets, materials, the extraction of global wealth and resources into our vaults and coffers, but also, turning sadistic energies inward in shaping a docile underclass, an adoring middle class, and, at the upper reaches, a small, immensely wealthy ruling class.  It can’t happen here?  I think it has already, or is well along as a societal process, with Obama’s own distinctive contribution: monopoly capitalism on panzer treads.

Yes, Senate Intelligence has just confirmed 12-3 as I write.  This is, of course, not unexpected.  Everyone knows Brennan is the architect of the drone program, a program of state-sponsored murder that has killed more civilians by far, than those presumably validated as terrorists, and that has gone after first responders and those attending the funerals of the victims. How base and nihilistic can we get—and yet this is to be America’s point-man on the Obama-supported doctrine of permanent war.  Drones have a special resonance with Obama, Brennan, and the national security team.  High tech gadgetry is no doubt appealing, as is the total separation of order and execution, a sanitization of murder done from 8,000 miles away.  But more, its locations, air strips, ground crews, accompanying personnel, all provide the means for implementing imperialism itself.  Djibouti and Niger are windows into, if not the African soul, then at least its riches.  Wherever drones are placed, the US has vantage ground-outpost-battle station rolled in one.  One almost senses that for Obama, NATO is obsolete, although bearable as an “ally” in further interventions—but obsolete and even a possible restraining force when it comes to the big boy: confrontation with China.

The connection between drone warfare and the Pacific-first strategy still remains unclear, as though the former is intended to nibble away at the periphery, as well as challenge China’s influence in Africa.  But ambitions for the drone as the prime agency for assassination remain high; its presence, given Obama’s already clear planning to institutionalize the whole practice, thus binding future administrations, has been reported by both the New York Times and the Washington Post, such a proud legacy that, unfortunately, cannot also be found on banking regulation, progressive taxation, climate change, and a thousand and one other sell-outs.  Here Brennan so perfectly epitomizes America, the way Eichmann did Germany, except that Brennan is more hands-on, and cannot plead deniability (although he has tried that in his first confirmation battle, his name subsequently withdrawn) as a bloodless administrator.

As with so much else, the American people sleep the sleep of innocence, purposefully unaware of war crimes abroad, serious deprivations—affecting many of them—at home.  Blissful, a Norman Rockwell world of Dick and Jane.  Jump, Fido, jump, citizen, roll over, play nice…as our political-economic-military elite smile down from above.

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Norman Pollack Ph.D. Harvard, Guggenheim Fellow, early writings on American Populism as a radical movement, prof., activist.. His interests are social theory and the structural analysis of capitalism and fascism. He can be reached at pollackn@msu.edu.

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