FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

Loving the Drone Disease

by BINOY KAMPMARK

“I can’t wait to write a defense of the drone strike that takes out Julian Assange”

Michael Grunwald, Twitter, Aug 17, 2013

He regrets having tweeted it on Saturday.  According to TIME Magazine, Michael Grunwald’s endorsement of assassinating WikiLeaks’ Julian Assange via a drone strike was “offensive.”  While Twitter is a notorious medium of unreliable guff, its spontaneity, its allowance for rawness, can be a window on the mind.   The mind here was particularly disturbed, and disturbing.

What Grunwald, senior national correspondent for TIME has been doing is glossing the language of murder with “statist” hygiene, showing in turn a fascination for pro-establishment rhetoric. In other words, killing Assange would be, in the manner of killing Anwar al-Awlaki, a matter of state endorsement for the broader good.  Not palatable but generally acceptable; goodness, even legal, something that could be “justified.”  Yes, a few eggs are broken to make a bloody omelette, but (and no doubt Grunwald’s anticipation strikes fever pitch at this point) some things must be done.

Drone strikes are palliatives.  They are deemed to be surgical applications used by democratic states to punish those with conflicting standards.  The civilisational prerogative is thereby upheld – to retain one’s values, a touch of shedding may be required from time to time.  One is patriotic embracing the latest effective killing machine. To do so otherwise would be treasonous.

Indeed, the general culture of extra judicial killing that graces the U.S. security establishment leads to the happy hurrahs that come from those like Grunwald.  The standard in terms of targeting American citizens has already been lowered; the standard regarding non-Americans such as Assange has plummeted even further.

Grunwald’s initial effort at apologia was one of simple deletion of the comment. “Fair point.  I’ll delete,” he responded to an indignant respondent.  But another sentiment was at play as well.  “[M]y main problem with this is that it gives Assange supporters a nice safe persecution complex to hide in.”

It is hard to see what on this unfortunate planet Grunwald is on about, when this “persecution complex” envelopes and plumes like noxious clouds over the entire publishing industry.  Journalists are the obvious target of the state, and his amoral fumbling in the dark may be a symptom of how successful the establishment has been in convincing some that Assange is to be disposed off by any means necessary.  Besides, that dispatch might well be “justified”.

The type of device helps too.  Too much fuss, claim the pro-drone experts, is being made about the slippery slope of legality and their incessant deployment.  In February 2012, Alex Seitz-Wald observed in Salon that even liberal elites with a habitual love affair with liberties were losing the battle against the Democratic base which was “simply” not with them in terms of condemning the use of drones.  Indeed, polling data “shows that Americans really love their flying autonomous death robots.”

Peter Mehlman, writing for The Huffington Post (Sep 28, 2012) was even more descriptive about this insidious love affair, one that corrodes the participants. “If there’s a hawk in the marrow of every liberal, drones have become the above-the-line escape hatch, a place to valet park our conscience and finally let us enjoy a bit of American muscle.”

Broadly speaking, the position by Grunwald has proven estranging to other journalists.  This was particularly the case for Amy Davidson writing in The New Yorker (Aug 18): “It was troubling, too, to read Grunwald’s tweet on the day when journalists were being threatened detained and set upon in Cairo, accused of being terrorist sympathisers or spies, underminers of public safety, for reporting on the violence of the government’s assault on the Muslim Brotherhood.”

Even as Grunwald was entertaining dreams of death by robot, Glen Greenwald of The Guardian was greeted with news that his partner David Miranda was in a pickle with Heathrow authorities in London.  He was being questioned under schedule 7 of the Terrorism Act 2000.  With such assaults on the journalistic code, the extra-legal fantasies of the drone dreamers are becoming all too real.  Who, indeed, will be on that list?

Grenwald’s own reaction to the blood embracing comment by Grunwald was unsurprising.  “Thing like this make you not just understand, but celebrate, the failings of large media outlets.”

Exposure comes at a price. The journalistic creed, when abided by, may only be as valuable as the fury it inspires.  Attitudes such as those by TIME’s senior national correspondent suggest an almost collaborative attitude with the press officer’s brief.  Government has been given a huge leg over.  Grunwald’s record justifying the use of such killing methods is official and pressing.

A few suggestions regarding the cyber spread gaffe.  Boycott the magazine.  Sack Grunwald, or at the very least, regard his material on WikiLeaks and Assange from now on as suspect.  But Grunwald’s careless fingers are merely the symptom of a broader, intractable disease.  The drone culture, with its magical propensities to undermine legality, has shown itself to be attractive and overwhelming.  Oh, and justifiable.

Binoy Kampmark was a Commonwealth Scholar at Selwyn College, Cambridge.  He lectures at RMIT University, Melbourne and is on the Victorian ticket for the Senate, running with Julian Assange and Dr. Leslie Cannold.  Email: bkampmark@gmail.com

More articles by:

Binoy Kampmark was a Commonwealth Scholar at Selwyn College, Cambridge. He lectures at RMIT University, Melbourne. Email: bkampmark@gmail.com

CounterPunch Magazine

minimag-edit

bernie-the-sandernistas-cover-344x550

zen economics

June 22, 2017
Jason Hirthler
Invisible Empire Beneath the Radar, Above Suspicion
Ken Levy
Sorry, But It’s Entirely the Right’s Fault
John Laforge
Fukushima’s Radiation Will Poison Food “for Decades,” Study Finds
Ann Garrison
Jeremy Corbyn, the Labour Party, and the UK’s Socialist Surge
Phillip Doe
Big Oil in the Rocky Mountain State: the Overwhelming Tawdriness of Government in Colorado
Howard Lisnoff
The Spiritual Death of Ongoing War
Stephen Cooper
Civilized, Constitution-Loving Californians Will Continue Capital Punishment Fight
Bruno Rodríguez Parrilla
Cuba Will Not Bow to Trump’s Threats
Ramzy Baroud
Israel vs. the United Nations: The Nikki Haley Doctrine
Tyler Wilch
The Political Theology of US Drone Warfare
Colin Todhunter
A Grain of Truth: RCEP and the Corporate Hijack of Indian Agriculture
Robert Koehler
When the Detainee is American…
Jeff Berg
Our No Trump Contract
Faiza Shaheen
London Fire Fuels Movement to Challenge Inequality in UK
Rob Seimetz
Sorry I Am Not Sorry: A Letter From Millennials to Baby Boomers
June 21, 2017
Jim Kavanagh
Resist This: the United States is at War With Syria
James Ridgeway
Good Agent, Bad Agent: Robert Mueller and 9-11
Diana Johnstone
The Single Party French State … as the Majority of Voters Abstain
Ted Rall
Democrats Want to Lose the 2020 Election
Kathy Kelly
“Would You Like a Drink of Water?” Please Ask a Yemeni Child
Russell Mokhiber
Sen. Joe Manchin Says “No” to Single-Payer, While Lindsay Graham Floats Single-Payer for Sick People
Ralph Nader
Closing Democracy’s Doors Until the People Open Them
Binoy Kampmark
Barclays in Hot Water: The Qatar Connection
Jesse Jackson
Trump Ratchets Up the Use of Guns, Bombs, Troops, and Insults
N.D. Jayaprakash
No More Con Games: Abolish Nuclear Weapons Now! (Part Four)
David Busch
The Kingdom of Pence–and His League of Flaming Demons–is Upon Us
Stephen Cooper
How John Steinbeck’s “In Dubious Battle” Helps Us Navigate Social Discord
Madis Senner
The Roots of America’s Identity and Our Political Divide are Buried Deep in the Land
June 20, 2017
Ajamu Baraka
The Body Count Rises in the U.S. War Against Black People
Gary Leupp
Russia’s Calm, But Firm, Response to the US Shooting Down a Syrian Fighter Jet
Maxim Nikolenko
Beating Oliver Stone: the Media’s Spin on the Putin Interviews
Michael J. Sainato
Philando Castile and the Self Righteous Cloak of White Privilege
John W. Whitehead
The Militarized Police State Opens Fire
Peter Crowley
The Groundhog Days of Terrorism
Norman Solomon
Behind the Media Surge Against Bernie Sanders
Pauline Murphy
Friedrich Engels: a Tourist In Ireland
David Swanson
The Unifying Force of War Abolition
Louisa Willcox
Senators Bernie Sanders, Cory Booker, Tom Udall Back Tribes in Grizzly Fight
John Stanton
Mass Incarceration, Prison Labor in the United States
Robert Fisk
Did Trump Denounce Qatar Over Failed Business Deals?
Medea Benjamin
America Will Regret Helping Saudi Arabia Bomb Yemen
Brian Addison
Los Angeles County Data Shows Startling Surge in Youth, Latino Homelessness
Native News Online
Betraying Indian Country: How Grizzly Delisting Exposes Trump and Zinke’s Assault on Tribal Sovereignty and Treaty Rights
Stephen Martin
A Tragic Inferno in London Reflects the Terrorism of the Global Free Market
Debadityo Sinha
Think Like a River
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail