The drone addiction

The astonishment that followed the New York Times report on how the “kill lists” are developed at weekly meetings at the White House, how the President makes his assassination decisions, how numbers of “collateral damage” are reduced by inferring that all males in the area of the strike are militants, how the President’s chief political adviser attends these meetings and how ruthlessly indifferent our government is to the deaths of scores of innocents is hard to account for. Is it because we see how the process takes place that we are outraged? But how can that be? We have seen how our government delivers death from unmanned predator drones at an increasing rate and undeterred by numerous civilian deaths. We’ve seen that it’s used not only in Pakistan but wherever our government is pleased to use them. When the administration began using drones in Libya, it argued that the use had become so routine that it did not trigger the War Powers Act, which requires the President to obtain the consent of Congress for the use of force. Drones aren’t “hostilities”; they are politics by different means.

We now use our new political tool in Yeman. The Washington Post reports that civilians on the ground take offense of this new politics and threaten to become our enemies as a result. And how is this remarkable? Hasn’t this been the universal reaction to our liberal predilection to risk civilian death to protect our own military?

We are no longer able to infer conduct from the result. Unless there is a White House press release or a Republican allegation, the press is now powerless to “report.”

Our liberal President engages in acts that Henry Kissinger would not admit to wishing. A country that once officially denied that it engaged in assassination now assassinates its own citizens. And our President, the 2009 Nobel Peace laureate claims, according to that article, that that decision was was an “easy one.” The New York Times did not explain the ease of the President’s decision to later kill the 16 year old son of that same American citizen.

The rule of international law has never had a big constituency in this country, at least so long as we have been the last remaining mega-power. And those few proponents 0f restraint on American power have now been co-opted by the leader of their party. And there is hardly any hope from the opposition, who dispatched a meek proponent of international views when Richard Lugar was turned out by the very right wing of that reactionary party.

So, my dear reader, when the drone becomes the surgical weapon of choice by other countries and other groups, we will of course react in outrage. And the description of how a liberal President convened assassination meetings every Tuesday will have been long forgotten. Because, we can no longer draw inferences from known facts.

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