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Posted on May 14, 2012
An Honorable German (CC BY 2.0)

An MQ-9 Reaper drone.

By Tom Engelhardt, TomDispatch

(Page 3)

As the Washington Post’s David Ignatius put it in a column about Brennan’s speech: “What if the Chinese deployed drones to protect their workers in southern Sudan against rebels who have killed them in past attacks? What if Iran used them against Kurdish separatists they regard as terrorists? What if Russia used them over Chechnya? What position would the United States take, and wouldn’t it be hypocritical if it opposed drone attacks by other nations that face ‘imminent’ or ‘significant’ threats?”

This is Washington’s global drone conundrum as seen from inside the Beltway.  These are the nightmarish scenarios even our leaders can imagine others producing with their own drones and our rules.  A deeply embedded sense of American exceptionalism, a powerful belief in their own special, self-evident goodness, however, conveniently blinds them to what they are doing right now.  Looking in the mirror, they are incapable of seeing a mask of death.  And yet our proudest export at present, other than Hollywood superhero films, may be a stone-cold robotic killer with a name straight out of a horror movie.

Consider this as well: those “shining drones” launched on campaigns of assassination and slaughter are increasingly the “face” that we choose to present to the world.  And yet it’s beyond us why it might not shine for others.

In reality, it’s not so hard to imagine what we increasingly look like to those others: a Predator nation.  And not just to the parents and relatives of the more than 160 children the Bureau of Investigative Journalism has documented as having died in U.S. drone strikes in Pakistan.  After all, war is now the only game in town.  Peace?  For the managers of our national security state, it’s neither a word worth mentioning, nor an imaginable condition.

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In truth, our leaders should be in mourning for whatever peaceful dreams we ever had.  But mention drones and they light up.  They’re having a love affair with those machines.  They just can’t get enough of them or imagine their world or ours without them.

What they can’t see in the haze of exceptional self-congratulation is this: they are transforming the promise of America into a promise of death. And death, visited from the skies, isn’t precise. It isn’t glorious. It isn’t judicious. It certainly isn’t a shining vision.  It’s hell.  And it’s a global future for which, someday, no one will thank us.

Tom Engelhardt, co-founder of the American Empire Project and author of “The American Way of War: How Bush’s Wars Became Obama’s” as well as “The End of Victory Culture,” runs the Nation Institute’s TomDispatch.com. His latest book is “The United States of Fear” (Haymarket Books).

To stay on top of important articles like these, sign up to receive the latest updates from TomDispatch.com.

Follow TomDispatch on Twitter @TomDispatch and join us on Facebook.

Copyright 2012 Tom Engelhardt


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By berniem, May 19, 2012 at 9:59 am Link to this comment

While the nit-wit contingent of this nation is running around forming their Keystone Kops militias, be advised that a surreptitious resistance movement is afoot and grows in strength in contemplation of the eventual slide into fascism this nation is rapidly heading for. The OWS serves as a feint and probe of the system’s contingencies while the resistance develops and refines its means of derailing the insane course charted by the greedy and power hungry. Eventually all will be forced to committing to being part of the solution or the problem! FREE BRADLEY MANNING!!!!!

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By Night-Gaunt, May 18, 2012 at 6:18 pm Link to this comment

Right now people are not only accepting CCTV’s every where but are forgetting about them. The same with RPVs. Who knows how many UFO sightings were of secret use of them here? The NSA has been spying on everyone for some time. Even before they were officially authorized to do so. Now just wait till we are told, after some “terrorist” disaster, that now we must arm them and use them for policing functions. First for “Muslim Terrorists” then later anyone else. What they do now in killing suspects using Hellfire missiles may eventually be used here after long training in other countries.

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By RHONDA, May 16, 2012 at 12:42 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

The blow back from drone use will be tremendous.  Over
thirty years ago, when people were worried about the
Soviets, I’d say, “Who’s the most dangerous country on
earth?”  Yeah, we’re exceptional.  Are we ready to fear
the sound of aircraft overhead which might be an armed
police drone? Only a handful of people remember WWII
and terror from the sky.  I can only imagine, but I
don’t think it’s something we’d like to live with.

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By Night-Gaunt, May 15, 2012 at 8:50 pm Link to this comment

Those drone strikes, he assured his listeners, are based on staggeringly “rigorous standards” involving the individual identification of human targets. Even when visited on American citizens outside declared war zones, they are invariably “within the bounds of the law,” as you would expect of the preeminent “nation of laws.”

The strikes are never motivated by vengeance, always target someone known to us as the worst of the worst, and almost invariably avoid anyone who is even the most mediocre of the mediocre.  (Forget the fact that, as Greg Miller of the Washington Post reported, the CIA has recently received permission from the president to launch drone strikes in Yemen based only on the observed “patterns of suspicious behavior” of groups of unidentified individuals, as was already true in the Pakistani tribal borderlands.)

How long will it be before corporations and local police start using them for the same reason here in this country? First to just spy on but later use weapons to kill such suspicious people without a lick of proof they are the person they claim and have any proof that could show in court these people have done anything illegal and are worth the death penalty. It that passes muster in our present court system then they can just use death squads to do it all over our country. Then target and wipe out criminal cartels etc. Where does it end?

Vector56 what is old is new again. So long as the USA endures none of them will be prosecuted unless they go to certain countries. (Henry Kissinger knows full well he is at risk so he travels very little. He knows what happened to Adolf Eichmann in 1962.)

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By it's only Scott, May 15, 2012 at 12:26 pm Link to this comment

Probably wouldn’t be a good idea to plan an outdoor wedding.

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By vector56, May 15, 2012 at 4:49 am Link to this comment

A few things about this whole thing (assignation by drone) bug me? I thought after WWII we established that “I was just following orders” does not work any more? During the attack on Iraq America made it very clear to Iraqi lower level commanders on the ground when we were not sure they did not have chemical (tactical) weapons, that even if they were ordered to us such weapons against our invading troops that after we win they would be held personally responsible!

Those who sit in Nevada and play with their joystick while killing human beings half way around the world should not feel that international laws we have agreed to in the past will not come back to bite them in the ass.

Under the Geneva Conventions and other Inter national rules of war the US has agreed to, Obama is a War Criminal for covering up and refusing to prosecute the Bush War Crimes. All in the Military and CIA who carried out these unlawful acts are also War Criminals.

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By gerard, May 14, 2012 at 3:54 pm Link to this comment

A FEW OF MY NOT-FAVORITE THINGS

Missiles on rootfops and drones in the offing,
This is a matter too serious for scoffing.
London Olympics must be well prepared
To ward off the A’rabs of whom we’re so scared.

Never a moment too soon to be armed,
Just to be sure that nobody is harmed
By stray IEDs from the Mujahadeen
Hiding in subways right next to the Queen.

Property-management will not be pleased,
But throughout the contests the rules won’t be eased
Gated communities must be protected
But slums and bordelos need not be affectd.

Such is the temper of permanent war
And these are a few of the things I abhor!


(*written after reading that missiles were to be put
on London rooftops in preparation for the Olympics)

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By diamond, May 14, 2012 at 1:59 pm Link to this comment

Is anyone really surprised that having used these killing machines to assassinate those they designate their ‘enemies’ in foreign lands, they are now determined to use them to spy on and assassinate those they deem their ‘enemies’ in their own lands. A drone can fly over a demonstration and identify anyone at that demonstration. They then go on a list. They can be surveilled, their house can be entered when they are not there and evidence can be planted. Then the police can come back with a warrant and arrest them and then they can be placed on a ‘no fly’ list etc. All kinds of other harassments and invasions of their privacy and their liberty can take place: I always wondered how destroying democracy was going to protect us from ‘terrorists’. Now it’s very clear who the terrorists are and 99.9% of them are not Muslims and also not the least bit interested in democracy, or protecting it.

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By PatrickHenry, May 14, 2012 at 1:01 pm Link to this comment

Somewhere in Maryland on the shores of the Chesapeake bay a drone is zero’d in on a suspected al qaeda bar-b-que…..we think.

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