Posts Tagged war
Calls for supporting our troops and honoring veterans and military personnel are ubiquitous and loud and it has become one of those concepts people take for granted and unanimously agree on and rarely ever question, the assumption being that these men and women have “served” our country and deserve our respect, veneration and support.
Everything is “support the troops.” It has become a punctuation mark on nearly every advertising campaign and seemingly every sporting event. “Support The Troops” and “God Bless America”; you can hear those phrases repeated at anything from a car lot commercial to an NFL or even our local minor league hockey games.
Stating that you do not support our troops and the military is seen as sacrilege; as a heinous and cold hearted thing to do, next to kicking puppy dogs and toddlers. In some parts of the country, not blindly accepting the alleged War On Terror is seen as unpatriotic.
I often read that whether one agrees with the reasoning for engaging in war, no one deserves our respect more than the people who served, fought, died or were seriously wounded as a result of war. I read a comment once stating that “regardless of what the intention is, good or bad, giving yourself up for your nation’s ambitions is pretty respectful.”
Intention matters. Our nation’s ambitions matter. Why one joins the military and why one’s military engages in armed conflict matter very much. In fact, I would argue that this is one instance where intentions and motives should matter the most. Joining an armed organization that has massive firepower capabilities with deadly consequences for other human beings, especially civilians, should not be taken lightly. It is a big fucking deal and it matters.
If the reasons as to why do not and should not matter, then we had no business prosecuting SS officers back in Nuremberg after WWII. But we did becasue we believed that blindly following orders and not asking why was neither a valid excuse nor acceptable.
More importantly, I disagree with this notion that our troops deserve our support no matter what. Supporting troops is an endorsement of war and armed conflict. Such seemingly innocuous endorsements in turn set a bad example for the citizenry and especially children, because they teach them that violence and armed conflict are not only necessary and needed but also heroic and admirable, ultimately normalizing and glorifying war as something inevitable.
“Support Our Troops” or war in general are not something that should be romanticized and worshipped. Dying is not glorious. Being maimed and traumatized for life is not grand and heroic. Coming back an emotional, physical and spiritual wreck becasue you fought wars of choice and opportunity to further someone else’s agenda or fill their pocket books, as has been the case for all of the wars this country has fought over the past half a century, are not grand things. They are not admirable and laudable. They are contemptible.
War is bloody, devastating and brutal and everyone loses, one way or another. Even the “winners.”
Casualties and collateral damage and thus the loss of human life are not acceptable. They should never be taken as just a normal thing one must live with.
It’s easy to stand for a few moments and chant “USA! USA! USA!” and put a yellow ribbon sticker on your vehicle, than it is to try to understand the horrors of combat and the lasting traumas our troops have to endure, not to mention those whom our troops end up injuring, maiming and killing in the line of duty.
When I hear someone say those troops performed a service to our country, I have to ask: what service? And for whom? For me? Killing and displacing people or adding fuel to internal feuding wars while bankrupting us internally are not a service performed for us. They do not do us any good.I am not benefiting from a fiscally bankrupting US military involvement all around the world. Involvement and meddling that gave rise to Islamic extremism in the Middle East and such things as the Islamic State Group. Those are not things that I consider benefits brought to me by our military. Those are devastating disasters I distance myself from and that I do not like committed in my name and with my taxes. I am most certainly not thankful for them or the military or the fucking troops.
Now I understand the need for military action at some point. I am not naive to believe we never, ever need it. But wars should be fought for defense only, instead of employed strategically in order to wear down and threaten those who do not agree with us or who pose potential threats or in order to change the balance of power in a region to our favor etc.
Fighting countries hardly even capable of mounting a defense, never mind a real attack on our country, is not heroic and bold. It is cowardly and cruel. Adding fuel to internal conflicts, arming and training rebels to serve our cause regardless of the long-term consequences are not things I support about our military and, by extension, about our troops.
Take the Iraq war, for example, and calls to support our troops there:
First of all, the Iraq war was not a draft, those men who went, joined voluntarily. No one made them.
Secondly, the Iraq war was a fraudulent war to begin with. We had no business being there. It was a war sold to us via lies and manipulation, still is, and the troops are hailed as heroes when what they mostly did is engage in the indiscriminate killing of locals and various other war crimes, ultimately leading to the death and suffering of hundreds of thousands of Iraqi men and women. Men and women who were victims of the regimes that oppressed them and for whom US invasion and intervention brought nothing but more chaos, instability and death.
US troops are being ordered to commit atrocities so vile that the only way many of them can cope with the horror of what they have done is by killing themselves.
Examples of atrocities aided directly or indirectly by US troops in Iraq include;
– Orders to slaughter “all military age men” during some operations;
– Torturing detainees – many of whom had never engaged in combat and were totally innocent – at grisly prison camps across the country;
– Raping and torturing children at the infamous Abu Ghraib detention facility while they shrieked in terror. Women forced to watch later begged to be killed.
– Sodomizing detainees with chemical lights and broom sticks;
– Indiscriminately firing upon and killing journalists and children from the air;
– Massacring entire groups of unarmed Iraqis, including children and the elderly in Hadith.
“This is what brought me to my actual final mission. Not suicide, but a mercy killing,” wrote Daniel Somers, an Iraq war veteran who committed suicide following an arduous battle with PTSD that was caused by his role in committing “crimes against humanity,” according to the soldier’s suicide note – adding that him living “any kind of ordinary life is an insult to those who died at my hand.”
Our military involvements for the past forty to fifty years (i.e since the end of Vietnam) have been voluntary recruitment, not drafts. In case of a draft, I cannot blame people for going. They had no choice. But when there is no draft and you join the fucking military voluntarily, then that makes you an accomplice in the devastating and bankrupting war machine .
Of course, I am not surprised that the war machine and the powers that be and which profit from endless war would send such, almost subliminal, messages to people, trying their hardest to normalize war and gain support for what is really a futile, dangerous and devastating endeavour.
And in a way they have to, right? And with they I mean the politicians, warmongers and the highly profitable military industrial complex. In order to convince people to join a military organisation and give their life for whatever dubious cause, you have to embellish and romanticize, obfuscate and blur the lines. You have to say you support and honor the troops and praise them as heroes performing a service to our country. You have to tell them they are doing it for a grander cause. Who doesn’t want to be a hero? Who doesn’t want to believe they did something for a grander cause?
By creating a romantic appeal for war and by hailing those the war machine uses to fight those wars, as heroes who are “fighting for our freedoms”, the military industrial complex and the war mongering politicians who do their bidding, create public support for a war machine that has been devastating on many levels.
The last legitimate war the US fought was WWII. All wars after that have been wars of choice and opportunity; of political posturing; from Korea to Vietnam to the Gulf War, to Iraq, Afghanistan, North Africa, Eastern Europe: all fraudulent wars of choice and opportunity aimed at enhancing our dominance in the world. Gaining allies here or starting wars there for political gain and so we can come out on top; so we can keep militaries and defense contractors funded at the expense of everyone else.
Heck we have taken the manipulation so far that we are now calling the War Department euphemistically the “Defense Department.”
The individuals who go to war and die or who are alive but have come back damaged and broken, aren’t heroes. They are pawns at best; fools who were duped and manipulated by the war mongers and defense contractors to believe that war is good and that dying for oil or political dominance or strategic advancement, was a good thing.
At worst, they are trigger nervous thugs, miscreants and losers who are looking for an outlet to live out their murder-lust and sociopathy (see Chris Kyle) while at the same time sticking it to what they perceive to be Muslim scum, as payback for 9/11.
Our troops and veterans don’t exist and are funded in a vacuum. They exist and are funded within the context of our foreign policy objectives and our military actions. To say that the reasons for wars should not matter when it comes to supporting our troops is short-sighted and harmful.
The truth is, our troops are not heroes. They are not doing this country and its citizen a great service. Killing, raping, pillaging and displacing thousands of innocent people for every one bad guy, is hardly a heroic act.
All the Memorial Day crap and “Support Our Troops” slogans are a way for the government and the military industrial complex that it is beholden to, to not only create a culture of war but to also normalize war as inevitable, needed, and heroic with the ultimate goal of creating support for it. And that is something I, as pacifist who opposes military action unless strictly for defensive purposes, oppose.
I do not support our troops because I do not support our wars. And one cannot be divorced from the other.
War is horrible, devastating and harmful and at the end of the day, we will not be able to solve out problems with tanks, drones and via war fare. We will, however, be able to do so via diplomacy, cooperation and thus peaceful means. Those are also the avenues and channels we must explore and exhaust before a call to arms.
By supporting our troops, who at this point are nothing more than glorified contract killers if you ask me, we become accomplices in their crimes. Not to mention that if we were to really support our troops, we would first have to see how they live and what they are going through; something that is not particularly compatible with all the feel-good, romanticised notions everyone has about war.
I think it was about time we took a step back and asked ourselves whether supporting the troops, and thus war, is the kind of culture and society we want to have.
It is a proud, proud moment for war mongers – Republican and Democrat alike – because President Obama – you know, this amazing shining beacon of Progressivism and the man who was going to do things differently and bring about change we can truly believe and who was supposed to finally be the person to break us out of bad habits such as engaging in fabricated, pointless, illegitimate and not well-thought-out wars that do nothing but suck up our resources and create a milieu ripe for extremists and other such scum that keep targeting us and our people – finally became yet another President to announce military engagement in Iraq, this time without trying to pretend we do it for nation building.
Not wanting to be the first President in a long line of Presidents to not announce military airstrike in Iraq, President Obama proudly announced a bombing campaign in Iraq stating equally proudly that the United States has taken the first step in its planned expanded fight against Islamic State militants (ISIS) going to the “aid” (uh-huh) of Iraqi security forces near Baghdad who were being attacked by enemy fighters.
The U.S. Central Command said it conducted two airstrikes Sunday and Monday in support of the Iraqi forces near Sinjar and southwest of Baghdad.
A vote on the broader use of military force against the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) isn’t expected to happen until after Election Day because, of course not. First you lie to the public with lofty speeches and then once you got their votes, you turn around and do what you wanted to do all along by saying something about national security and changing priorities.
The White House feels good about the chances for getting authorization for the package through Congress, a senior administration official said. Obama spoke with lawmakers from both parties on Monday and, according to the official, is personally gratified that he has received support from Republican and Democratic leaders for the proposal.
According to the White House, officials weren’t sure the idea would receive bipartisan support with the public still wary of military action following the Bush years. But, the official said, congressional leaders expressed bipartisan agreement for that path forward during an Oval Office meeting last week with Boehner, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.).
Boehner and Obama spoke last Wednesday on the telephone and have cooperated in trying to move the package forward — a sharp shift from the chilliness over much of the last year.
It is interesting that there is bipartisan support for the President’s plan (always a sign that something is amiss because if Republicans are for it, it cannot be good) because nothing brings politicians together more than war and, of course, one is not bound to find a Republican who never met a war he didn’t like.
The only extent to which Republicans and Democrats differ from one another in this is that Republicans worry the military actions will not go far enough (66%) whereas by contrast, 54% of Democrats say their bigger concern is that it will go too far.
This is amazing: we now have gone straight from nation building to military building and we are not even trying to pretend otherwise anymore.
Of course, the bigger question to ask – and which everyone on Capitol Hill and the White House refuses to ask – is whether we really think that bombing Iraq once again, thus undoubtedly causing the deaths of countless innocent people and creating the kind of havoc only war can create, to maybe get a few ISIS operatives is going to put an end to ISIS.
The thing is that ISIS is the symptom of a larger problem. You bomb and kill them, two new groups will grow in their place in no time and the cycle continues.
That is why military action in such a short-sighted, knee-jerk manner is not the answer. We need to step back and rethink our strategy toward the Middle East altogether, not engage in those very acts that created the milieu that gave rise to entities like ISIS in the first place.
I am afraid that all this will do is perpetuate the violence, create an even bigger disdain for the US and, worse of all, cost the lives of countless innocent people as collateral damage before we are back at square one.
Not to mention that we cannot afford this. Our last engagement in Iraq nearly bankrupted us, we cannot afford another war, however short-lived it allegedly may be. And it will not be short-lived. Once you are in, once you start arming rebels and becoming part of the deal, there is no easy way out. You are bound to stay around to continue and finish what you started. It took us nearly a decade to get out of Iraq (and we are still not really fully out) and we are still in Afghanistan.
I am absolutely terrified and appalled that going to war has become such an easy thing to do with our lawmakers.
We are such a disgraceful country and seem to seriously have no other priorities besides stealing from the masses to get a few people rich and go to wars.
We keep insisting that we do not have the funds to feed our hungry and, therefore, slash food-stamps and welfare programmes; that we cannot extend unemployment benefits for the long-term unemployed; that we cannot increase the minimum wage (as we speak, Republicans have blocked the Paycheck Fairness Act once again); over the past six or seven years, Republicans have fought tooth and nail to make sure we do not get the Affordable Care Act which makes affordable health care accessible to everyone; we claim we do not have the money to build on, strengthen and expand our social safety net programs and enact a host of middle-class strengthening policies citing lack of resources and a deficit (which, ironically, was created, among other things, by being in a perpetual state of war); we say we cannot regulate polluters and strengthen regulatory agencies to safeguard the environment and with it our health, slashing their funding, but somehow we seem to be able to always find copious amounts of money to engage in yet another expensive military strike under questionable rationales.
The ongoing ground incursion of Gaza by Israel begun July 18 and has, according to a statement by the World Health Organization (WHO) greatly accelerated the casualty rate, especially with respect to the numbers of displaced families.
In a statement, the Israel Defense Forces said that “following 10 days of Hamas attacks by land, air and sea, and after repeated rejections of offers to de-escalate the situation, the IDF has initiated a ground operation within the Gaza Strip.”
It said the goal was to “establish a reality in which Israeli residents can live in safety and security without continuous indiscriminate terror, while striking a significant blow to Hamas’ terror infrastructure.”
The overwhelming majority of people killed so far in the conflict are Palestinians, including 121 Gaza children under the age of 18, Juliette Touma of the U.N. Children’s Fund (UNICEF) said.
Today, Israeli tank shells hit a compound housing a U.N. school in the Gaza Strip, killing at least 15 people and wounding dozens who were seeking shelter from fierce clashes on the streets outside, Palestinian officials said, as Israel pressed forward with its 17-day ethnic cleansing of Palestinians
war against the territory’s Hamas rulers.
Pools of blood stained the school courtyard in the northern town of Beit Hanoun, amid scattered books and belongings. There was a large scorch mark in the courtyard marking the place where one of the tank shells hit. Dozens of people, including children were wheeled into a nearby hospital as sirens wailed.
The deaths raised the overall Palestinian death toll in the conflict that began on July 8 to at least 751. Israel has lost 32 soldiers, all since July 18, when it widened its air campaign into a full-scale ground operation. Two Israeli civilians and a Thai worker in Israel have also been killed by rocket or mortar fire.
More than 900 Palestinian children are also reported to have been injured, according to UNICEF.
Israel says it has carried out more than 2,000 attacks on Gaza since 8 July, while militants have fired some 1,380 rockets at Israel.
The UN says at least 1,370 homes have been destroyed in Gaza and more than 18,000 people displaced in recent hostilities.
“According to an assessment by aid workers on ground at least 107,000 children need psycho-social support for the trauma they are experiencing such as death, injury or loss of their homes,” Jens Laerke, spokesman of the U.N. Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) said during a briefing in Geneva.
More than 1.2 million of the 1.8 million people in the enclave have no water or only limited access to water as power networks have been damaged or lack fuel for generators, Laerke said.
“In addition, we do have reports of sewage flooding which is a threat to public health,” Laerke said.
The U.N.’s World Food Program (WFP) has distributed emergency food rations and food vouchers to more than 90,000 people so far, spokeswoman Elisabeth Byrs said.
* More than 500 killed in densely-populated enclave
* 121 children killed, 900 wounded, UNICEF says
* More than 1.2 mln in Gaza have no or little water
* Ready-to-eat food stocks running low, WFP warns
* Three hospitals among 18 damaged health facilities (adds statements by UNRWA and WHO)
The World Health Organization said that 18 health facilities in Gaza have been damaged, including three hospitals.
An Israeli tank shell hit the third floor of Al-Aqsa hospital in the central Gaza Strip on Monday, killing four people and wounding 16, the Health Ministry said.
Hospitals in northern Gaza have been overwhelmed by high numbers of trauma cases and their inadequate supplies, it said.
While the International Committee of the Red Cross, guardian of the rules of war, condemned the attack on the Al-Aqsa hospital which it said had come under “direct fire at least four times”, most countries have, most notably the United States, have remained nothing but bystanders to this massacre.
Warring parties are obliged under international humanitarian law to protect medical personnel, ambulances and facilities, the ICRC said in a statement issued late on Monday.
“There is literally no safe place for civilians,” Jens Laerke, spokesman of the U.N. Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), told a news briefing in Geneva.
The death toll is rising in the coastal enclave which has an estimated 4,500 people per square kilometer, he said. The priority for aid agencies was protecting civilians and evacuating and treating the wounded.
Nearly 500 homes have been destroyed by Israeli air strikes and 100,000 people have sought shelter in schools of the U.N. Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA), where they need food, water and mattresses, he said.
“This number continues to increase by the hour,” UNRWA said in a statement on Tuesday, raising its emergency funding appeal to $115 million from $60 million.
Israel’s Genocidal Ambitions and the Apartheid State
To put it in a nutshell: this is horrifying. The argument that Hamas uses civilian locations to hide and launch rockets does not explain, nor justify, Israel’s decision to, say, shell children playing on an open beach.
Sure, one can argue that this is all Hamas’s fault for continuing to fire rockets at Israeli population centers, and doing so in midst of their own civilians, knowing full well what Israel’s response will be. However, that still does not make Israel massacring innocent civilians and children any more ok or understandable. Murdering children is murdering children. There is no grey area.
Of course, the other question here is why the Palestinian people keep re-electing the Hamas.
Some argue that the Hamas’ are leaders of an occupied resistance, others call them terrorists, and yet others call them both.
I may be in the camp of those who call them both and given what Israel has been doing to the Palestinian people whose lands they stole based on a book they themselves wrote, I have to say I do not blame them for turning to Hamas to do their fighting.
After all, who else do they have? The Palestinian people have nothing. They have no allies, they have no voice in the international community, they don’t have a standing army.
As Dorothy Zellner, a member of the advocacy group Jewish Voice for Peace, noted “[T]he Palestinians have no army, no air force, no navy, not even an airfield. The Israelis, on the other hand, have super high-tech weaponry.” They also have Iron Dome which has been incredibly effective at shooting down rockets.
Additionally, and thus unlike Palestine, Israel has been receiving over $3 billion in aid, much of which went toward its defense, from the United States in the last year alone.
That is an awful lot of might, behind which is rhetoric like: “When there is no ceasefire, our answer is fire.” Which suggests a parity that does not exist.
Or like: “[Israel] is continuing to pound Hamas and its infrastructure,” without regard for the fact that the population of Gaza is not, in fact, synonymous with “Hamas and its infrastructure.” Children are not Hamas and its infrastructure.
At a certain point, being right becomes less important than doing the right thing.
Or, at least not doubling down on the wrong thing.
So when I hear people say that it is all Hamas’ fault, I ask again: what are the Palestinians supposed to do?
What is anyone whose back is against the wall and desperate, to do? Like a drowning person holding on to whatever he can get his hands on, can we blame Palestinians for holding on to the only entity that is doing their bidding while they are drowning under Israel’s yoke and apartheid regime?
Again, Palestinians have no one on their side and for better or worse, Hamas is all they got.
In fact, the only reason that groups like Hamas have any broad appeal among the Palestinian population is because of Israeli policies permitting the taking of Palestinian land, separating Palestinians from the population, forcing them to live in what are effectively ghettos cut off from all outside resources, preventing them from settling and becoming Israeli citizens, and otherwise ensuring that they have absolutely no stake whatsoever in Israel’s continued existence even as they remain beholden to Israeli power.
You cannot blame a peoples who are the subject of ethnic cleansing, peoples whose lands have been stolen from them, for holding on to anything that resembles some kind of a help.
And then there is my primary concern at this point, which is the utter disproportion of a conflict that has consequences far beyond merely “striking a significant blow” to Hamas’ military arm.
Israel didn’t suffer many casualties from the Hamas rockets that provoked this latest assault! Yet, they’ve ended up killing hundreds of innocent Palestinians in response – most of whom have been children.
The Israeli response has been so disproportionate that they’ve come out of this looking like monsters; like the sort of people that drop-kick a chihuahua into a roaring fireplace after it nips them in the ankle.
The World Is Just Standing By
Sadly, because this is Israel and because the United States is beholden to the Zionist lobby and because we give them billions of dollars of aide each year and because any criticism of Israel’s apartheid regime will immediately be shot down as antisemitism, the world is standing by with officials merely verbally condemning the attacks but without anyone stepping in and actually doing something.
While I, of course, am not denying that antisemitism is quite prevalent, when it comes to Israel’s occupation of Palestine I think that term has been milked for all it’s worth by the Israelis and their Zionist supporters who justify their sinister ambitions and the creation of an apartheid state by calling any criticism of Israel antisemitism, when in reality what Israel is doing, and has been doing, is a gross violation of all sorts of international laws and human rights.
Criticizing the massacre of children and innocent civilians is not antisemitism.
A few months ago we were ready to launch an attack against Syria citing human rights violations and the use of white phosphorous against civilians. Now, Israel is doing exactly that and President Obama is scratching his balls, doing absolutely nothing.
And what does all of this accomplish for Israel, really, other than sapping its moral authority and creating a large, angry class of mistreated individuals? Don’t even give me that “Jewish state” bullshit. You cannot actively disenfranchise people in order to maintain racial or religious purity, and call yourself a modern democracy at the same time. Israel needs to drop its pseudo-theocratic aims and grant equal rights under the laws to Palestinians, or else admit that it’s a backwater theocracy undeserving of international respect.
US Citizens Subsidizing The Murder of Palestinians
The conflict for this strip of land has been going on for over 60 years and it is not going end as long as Israel disenfranchises people to maintain a religious or racial purity, as long as the likes of Netanyahu come to the US war mongering under the guise of “providing aide” and as long as Israel forces Palestinians to live in what are effectively ghettos cut off from all outside resources, preventing them from settling and becoming Israeli citizens, and otherwise ensuring that they have absolutely no stake whatsoever in Israel’s continued existence even as they remain beholden to Israeli power.
We need to stop helping Israel’s genocidal regime and let it fight its own wars. US tax payer dollars need not support the continued atrocities and murders of innocent people.
While her husband, President Barack Obama, has been obsessed with nothing else but attacking Syria and flying all over the world trying to sell a war like it was a bill of goods, Michelle Obama decided to ignore the proverbial giant pink elephant in the room that is her husband’s war mongering and urged military servicemembers, veterans and their families to make use of mental-health resources when they need help as a result of a war that’s fucked them emotionally.
In an an exclusive video for The Huffington Post‘s “Invisible Casualties” series, First Lady Michelle Obama joined Dr. Jill Biden to wholeheartedly and with compassion talk about the “unseen wounds of war” urging – without compunction and a shred of irony – that those vets who do suffer from the terrible consequences of war and have suicidal thoughts as a result – make use of the various mental health services available to them – completely ignoring the fact that as we speak, her husband is planning yet another unjust war we, as a nation, can neither afford, nor have any business to engage in, and most importantly, do not want.
Shame has no boundaries. Even in the case of otherwise very smart, educated people like Michelle Obama and Jill Biden.
Dear Michelle, if you really care about those veterans, then maybe tonight, when you take off your $600 a pair of Jimmy Choos and call it a day, you care to brief your hubby on not starting any more wars. Maybe you should advise him that sending young men and women off to fight in a couple of hellholes in the Middle East for oil, Israel and the military industrial complex, results in the kind of severe emotional and psychological trauma that makes them want to kill themselves; maybe you care to tell him that even though being caught up in that whole “patriotism” thing and putting ribbons on the backs of our SUVs was fun, maybe the best way to prevent emotional damage to people who are sent to war and then want to go kill themselves as a result is to not send them in the first place.
Those brave men and women that have been used by this government, in the name of god and patriotism, to fight wars for power and money and other dubious reasons don’t need you to tell them to go seek help after they have been knowingly put in a situation that we all know causes those things. ifyou really want to help, then create a climate where they are not sent to those wars in the first place.
What Michelle Obama is doing is the equivalent of a company urging people that have become sick with cancer from its contamination of the water supply to please go seek medical help for the very contamination that they are continuing to cause.
CIA nominee John Brennan said during Senate confirmation hearings that the U.S. had no evidence of drone strike collateral killings.
Noor Behram, a Pakistani photojournalist who lives in North Waziristan, has a different story to tell. He has been documenting the human cost of U.S. drone policy for several years stating that he “wants people to know” what the weapons have wrought. The photographer provided photos to documentary filmmaker Robert Greenwald in Pakistan doing research and interviews for his forthcoming documentary, “UNMANNED: America’s Drone Wars,” in the fall 2012.
I am always stunned to see the extent to which people seriously seem to think that engaging in war does not carry with itself a real human cost – drones or not. So to be clear: war always has a human cost and that cost is, more often than not, carried by innocent people. You know, that term “collateral damage” that everyone likes to throw around to casually dismiss or minimize the real human cost associated with war; a term that trivializes the devastation wrought by war as something that just unfortunately happens and cannot be controlled, like a hiccup, and thus is not all that important. This, however, is an assertion that is deeply problematic at best, not to mention untrue.
To be bombed in your sleep is not American, nor can such attacks be casually dismissed as “collateral damage” as if they were irrelevant or unavoidable, because they are relevant and avoidable.
Civilian casualties are central to the debate over the use of drones, because public support hinges on the false belief that the weapons kill with surgical precision. If the public were aware of the human toll of the policy, opposition would be widespread. Or would they?
Even sadder than the Obama administration lying about the human cost of drones and seeking to set a precedent for an authority no administration should ever have, is the public perception and support of drones as the following survey’s indicate:
It is certainly interesting that George W. Bush did get the bad rep as a war criminal (which he is) when up-stand guy Obama’s administration currently takes the position that it can essentially disappear U.S. citizens, not ever being under any legal obligation to admit, even after the deed is done, that it has assassinated anyone. The policy remains secret in most aspects, involves no judicial review, has resulted in
There may be extraordinary occasions when killing a citizen is permissible, but it should never be acceptable for the government to refuse to acknowledge such an act. How can call ourselves a free nation and a free peoples if our government has the power to kill us in secret and not be accountable to anyone? And how can a sovereign authority be accountable to the people if the sovereign can refuse to own up to its actions?
Finally, one of the most important aspects of this issue is that when you send in drones instead of manned aircraft and machines to carry out your wars, you – as the entity executing the plan and also as the public – are getting a very distorted and unrealistic picture of war and its consequences. In fact, you don’t feel the consequences.
More importantly, you do not experience the human cost of war, which is one of the biggest consequences of and deterrents to war, because you are so removed from your action.
Sending in a machine to carry out the terrible deed of murdering people for a political cause creates awful detachment to the deed. Or why else do people think the press is not allowed to photograph all the body-bags filled with the remains of soldiers being returned. After all, the visual presentation of those countless bags being delivered back to our shores was one of the reasons helping end the Vietnam war.
The government is fully aware that people putting a human face to war will most likely result in them not wanting to support the war.
Similarly, sending in anonymous, unmanned drones to carry out war removes the human from the equation and makes the act very mechanic, efficient and most importantly it turns those people into nothing but dots in on a game board.
When you are not having anything at stake here and the cost of war, by humans, is carried by the “enemy” only and not you, you will have no respect for the act. There will also not be anything holding you back from engaging in more of the same because hey, there is no real cost in it for you. You are not using any people, the collateral damage isn’t on your end.
There is Nothing Worse than Being Psychologically Removed From This Horrific Act of War and Killing
There is nothing worse than the act just becoming far removed from its consequences because there is, literally, no one sitting at the other end witnessing the maimed and torn bodies as a result of the fall out from an attack. The more you are removed from your actions, the more you are removed from the consequences of those actions and thus the less likely to actually care about your actions.
That is why guns in civilian hands, in the debate on gun control, are so problematic because by pulling the trigger from afar one is removed from the act of killing; from the psychological involvement associated with killing. Because remember, having to actually get hands-on with someone you are going to kill requires more psychological involvement and commitment than just standing far away and pulling the trigger.
Finally, while the war on terrorism is legitimate, collateral damage as a fall out and to this extent is not. Our actions should not match, in cruelty and inhumanity, that of terrorists – who also do not have any regard for human life and probably view those they kill as collateral damage. Just like Obama and his war criminal-in-the-making Brennan.
No matter how you look at it, the Obama administration is setting a precedent for an authority no administration should ever have, and the use of drones specifically takes the human out of the equation turning war and killing, and with it its victims, into targets on a game board rather than real human beings – innocent civilians – who are being murdered.
Maybe war is a necessary evil but we should never get to the point of trivializing its consequences, or worse, not recognizing its consequences, while sitting in some building miles away programming our avatars to carry out the act while we quietly sit back in our offices sipping our coffees or eating our lunches.
While we gather together this Memorial Day to honor the fallen, the veterans and military personnel in ceremonies and private remembrances – people who have died while serving their country in the line of duty – it is important to take a step back and remind ourselves of what war actually is and what it does to people.
When I think about the kinds of wars we have sent our young people to in the past two or three decades, I can’t help but feel a great sense of sadness and betrayal to those who have fallen.
Contrary to what our leaders with often questionable motives tell us, war is not romantic or heroic.
War is destruction, mutilation and devastation, leaving those going to war and at war, physical, emotional and spiritual wrecks. Going to war to defend your country is one thing, but to go to war preemptively or for political reasons – as has been the case for the most part in the past two decades – is not heroic and it is certainly not worthy of an enlightened nation.
We should not celebrate, we should mourn our war mongering and use this day to rethink our policies, especially in light of the war drums being beaten against Iran.
On this day, while people fire up the grills and decorate the decks with patriotic colors and hold a moment of silence, I can’t help but feel a great sense of sadness and disappointment over the fact that most of these same people don’t truly understand the consequences of war and starting next week will probably come around cheering for another confrontation – this time against Iran – based on lies and manipulations of our political leaders and the entities they serve and are enslaved to (hint: it is not the American people).
It also saddens me to know that the people we buried and honor now, have lost their lives not to defend their country, but due to political game playing and posturing and power tripping of the leaders they entrusted with their lives.
Mandatory military service during declared war time would reduce the number of politically motivated fiascoes and save us thousands of lives and trillions in treasure.
There are wars that absolutely must be fought, and there are all the others that are a slap in the face of our servicemen and their families.
In the end we have to realize, as a nation but mostly as human beings, that the answers to our problems as a country and human kind in general cannot ever be solved through warfare and violence, but through diplomacy and cooperation. And while the above picture with the little girl holding the flag amid a graveyard might really seem adorable, remember all those grave stones behind her each represent dead human beings who probably did not have to die if it had not been for the irresponsible decision making of their leaders.
When i think of people cheering for the troops and war like it was a sports game, I can’t help but feel a great sense of nausea in the pit of my stomach. All these celebrations are meaningless if we don’t leanr from the past and continue with business as usual.
Today, people are making both a mockery of themselves as well as the veterans and thus those who have fallen. They honor them now but tomorrow they’ll be back at square one cheering once again for war against Iran or whatever country Israel has come up with this time and forget everything said today.
Thousands of Americans dead to fight a fraudulent war, mass deficit and people think they have a clean slate, like a walk to the confession booth, for having “honored” the troops with patriotic colors and a bbq. Tomorrow everyone will go back to business as usual because somehow they have been manipulated into thinking that war is honorable and inevitable.
War should always be the last resort and only to defend oneself, because contrary to what our leaders and even pop culture like to tell us, war is not peace, ignorance is not strength and slavery (of the mind) is not freedom.