Armed Drones for Sale
What could we possibly be thinking? In a world where the countries of the Middle East are murdering each other, not just country-by-country, but town-by-town, street-by-street, we are accelerating that deadly process by blowing them up with endless bombing and droning.
Why? Who are the good guys? Who are the bad guys?
The answer to those questions seems to change weekly, if not daily. Is Assad, for instance our friend this week or our enemy? Anyone???
Never mind. That distinction doesn’t matter anymore because killing itself has become the mission. And the United States continues to be one of the top providers of the lethal weapons that keep that mission going.
Our President begins every day with a briefing by the CIA, usually with John Brennan, who has been its Director for the last two years. Active in the CIA under Clinton and George W. Bush, he was known as a war and torture hawk, particularly supportive of water boarding. But Obama enthusiastically supports him and considers him one of his closest advisors. Imagine starting your day off not with a delicious cup of warm coffee and a yummy muffin, but a list by the head of the CIA on who is out to get us, and who we should bomb or drone first.
Arms merchants have neither allies nor enemies. They have only customers.
Imagine that being followed by pressure from a Congress hot to put troops on the ground, a Congress not only heavily lobbied by the arms industry, but too often bought by them. Fan the paranoia is the game. It all conspires to make arms manufacturing the most thriving industry in our country. No matter how rich arms merchants become, no matter how large the economic gap grows between them and the rest of us, it’s never enough for them.
Allow me to repeat: Arms merchants have neither allies nor enemies. They have only customers. We are a country locked in a permanent war economy. To feed that economy we must have permanent war. And we have never been more successful at securing that combination than we are right now. Our endless wars with Iraq and Afghanistan destabilized the entire region.
Now, instead of rebuilding what we destroyed, we’re pursuing the policy that failed, creating a Middle East where destabilization is state of the art. And even with the Congress and the President champing at the bit to wage more war, it still is not enough. In our madness for more power and off-the-chart profit we have just made the move that not only guarantees our ability to destroy the Middle East, it empowers them to take us with them.
As of last week we lifted the ban on selling drones to foreign countries.
Just to our allies of course. But today’s allies are often tomorrow’s enemy’s…..witness Pakistan, Iran, Iraq, Afghanistan and Syria.
Remember when we were friends with all of them? Saddam Hussein and Osama Bin Laden actually worked for us, remember? It all depends on the moment, and of course the oil.
Then there is always our best friend in the region….Saudi Arabia. Saudi Arabia, despite its practice of massive beheadings, its savage treatment of women, its gothic torture of protestors, despite its outrageous insult to our First Lady by refusing to shake her hand, or acknowledge her in any way on the Obamas’ recent trip there…even Saudi Arabia, known for its massive resale of arms which it receives from the United States, is our closest buddy in the middle East.
Israel, who yesterday held that exalted position is today’s outcast. Like a child who has been told to go to his room, Israel is stamping its foot, sticking out its tongue and allowing its leader to challenge our leader to a duel in front of the US Congress.
Netanyahu and Obama, on guard, standing with swords ready, are minutes away from sticking those swords in where it hurts. And with that distraction solidly in place the United States last week reversed its policy since 1987 prohibited the sale of armed drones to other countries….except sometimes.
So, Great Britain, the sole country that flies armed American-made drones is about to have a lot of company….like the rest of the world. You’ve heard the people of Pakistan and Somalia and Yemen, Afghanistan, Syria, Iraq, Qatar describe the torture, of hearing the endless buzz of the drones overhead, knowing that the next house, the next wedding party, the next child could be obliterated by them. Well, get your earplugs ready friends. We’re about to join that chorus.
Even with the individual atrocities that groups like ISIS and Al Qaida are performing to get back at us, they cannot do the massive damage they dream about. But now that drones are about to be theirs, all that has changed. As of last week’s decision to open up the drone market, the party can easily be over.
We understand why Lockheed Martin, Northrup Grumman, General Atomics Aeronautical System and the rest of the death producers are dancing in the streets. Drones are their pride and joy, their hot new item.
But what about us, the real people on this earth. If nothing else, where is our instinct for self-preservation? Where are the masses of activists in the Peace Movement when the survival of our planet hangs in the balance. Is this issue too big for them to handle? It had better not be because the “them” in this case is us.
Lila Garrett, Host of CONNECT THE DOTS, KPFK 90.7 FM in LA; 98.7 Santa Barbara