It is well established that the United States is an insatiably warmongering nation, whose propensity for waging war and glorifying it is legendary. The wars that the U.S. wages, sponsored and spearheaded historically by its super-wealthy, super-crooked 1% (to use a current terminology popularized by the noble Occupy movement trying to defang Wall Street in these bloodthirsty times), are also consented to, or not sufficiently opposed, by its largely soporific, propaganda-opiated and woefully uninformed populace, whose delusions are bolstered by the machinations of the very selfsame 1% super-wealthy warmongers that run the show.
The idea that the 1% (in reality, more likely the 0.1%) controlled and spearheaded the imperial ambitions of this country has been known since the age of slavery and the land-grabbing war years of two hundred years or longer. Only the other day, I watched a video clip of a radio conversation between a caller from Texas and the astute debater and campaigner for human rights, George Galloway. When Galloway labeled the U.S. and U.K. as imperial powers, the Texan, in defense of the U.S. spreading "freedom" around the world (an enormous Orwellian falsehood that is bandied around even as the U.S. engages in its many acts of violations of territorial and human rights of other nations of the world), demanded to know how much U.S. territory had increased as a result of these "imperial" campaigns. Galloway thereupon offered up a tutorial to the proud Texan (who classified the then 5,000 U.S. soldiers killed in Iraq as not quantifiable as a "war") on the many faces of imperialism. That imperialism no longer needs to be seen as territorial conquests. That imperialism is simply the money-grabbing and power-grabbing by the ruthless and soulless 1% using fear-mongering, bribery, brow-beating, enslavement, sponsored killings, morale-breaking, and the application of the most lethal killing instruments (WMDs) known to humankind, in order to continue its profiteering and obscene amassing of wealth while keeping the have-nots in perpetual poverty and subjugation. To accomplish this, direct territorial acquisition is no longer necessary. To do so might even be unacceptably unprofitable. After all, robbing other people's territories by force (the standard imperial modus operandi (MO) down the ages) also requires the unpleasant hassles of administering and maintaining law and order in these regions, from near or far. History has taught the imperial conquistadors that stealing, looting, robbing and mass-murder are best carried out using remote control, from a distance, with as little physical presence on the spot as possible.
Since 1945, the U.S. has applied the above MO in its imperial missions with varying degrees of success around the world. Outside of overt attacks and acts of territorial aggression, such as the prolonged invasion and relentless destruction of Korea and Vietnam, it has also consistently applied a variety of covert means to keep poorer nations and peoples from acquiring a semblance of social and economic upliftment, or democratizing- invariably because such efforts at collective progress would reduce the ability of the U.S. to exert political influence, access to the region's energy or other resources (having a steady flow of materials and goods is, after all, a primary goal of imperialism and profiteering), or its strategic goals of installing spying networks that maintain a close surveillance operation upon other, trouble-making nations. Such covert means have run the gamut from supplying arms and money to bands of "rebels" in these regions (finding rebels in any set-up is a very effective strategy; the reason this works so well is because human beings by nature respond to the impulses of greed and power; thus, in every corner of the earth, there are Judas Iscariot s, Mir Zafar s, Quisling s, Pinochets, Chalabi s and the like, waiting to sell their nations and peoples for a few pieces of silver), to installing ruthlessly dictatorial puppet regimes, assassinating popular leaders, and destabilizing target governments by imposing embargoes, economic sanctions (merrily so, with minimal human concern even when such inhuman acts have resulted in denying little children basic medicine, or great loss of life- who will ever forget Madeline Albright's famous pronouncement in this matter?), or establishing, with god-like certainty, the supremely audacious and arrogant no-fly zones upon the air-space of sovereign nations.
While the covert strategies have served imperialism rather well over the years, and these have included employment of spy planes at high altitudes, using satellites and a variety of surveillance devices, it was not until the past 20 years or so, that the imperial warmongers found a highly lucrative tool of hands-off targeted killing, which could accomplish the killing of targets (preferably darker, poorer and non-chosen ones) in remote places from the comfort of a well-appointed monitoring room in the imperialists' backyard, calibrating and pushing a button that would blow up, say, an entire school bus full of children or other darkies, all while sipping a fine cup of cappuccino or chai latte.
I am referring, of course, to the remote-controlled long-distance missile and bomb-launcher that flies over sovereign airspace (though such bombing and killing would be criminal in the eyes of human rights and civilization even if launched from the imperialists' domain) and fires lethal explosives upon the unsuspecting and unaware- the soulless, conscience-bereft, clean and non-guilt-inducing killing device called the Drone. Conceptually, this killing tool is like a dream-come-true to the imperial enterprise. I am convinced it makes the CEOs and business leaders of Lockheed, Grumman, Bechtel, GE, General Dynamics, AT&T, Verizon, BP, ExxonMobil, Halliburton, Disney, and Rupert Murdoch salivate at the prospect of eliminating the nuisance darkies of the world with minimum capital investment.
Before going further, let me digress briefly to shed some light upon the martial implications of the word Drone. Ironically, drones are stingless male bees in a beehive; the imperial 1% killer machine of choice, on the other hand, specializes in blowing away hapless human beings at the flick of a switch. Interesting terminology indeed for a faceless, efficient killer destined to become a favorite of the criminal imperial enterprise.
The lethal murder-weapon named Drone resonates in my mind with the venerable martial instructor of the royal Kuru princes in India's enduring epic, the Mahabharata. Dronacharya, the legendary weapons and warfare instructor of the Kauravas and Pandavas, was himself known to have been born outside the womb (this is one example of a fertilization method in the Mahabharata that resembles the in-vitro technique of modern medicine). While he was an outstanding warrior skilled foremost in archery, and was the teacher of such pupils as Arjuna and others such as the famed Ekalavya, Drona was nevertheless a deeply ethical human being. This humane and moral trait alone sets him apart from the ruthless, immoral, self-serving imperial killing enterprise of the Western world, and in particular the versions of it I have witnessed in the past 25 years. It is known that during the battle of Kurukshetra, Drona was virtually unassailable. It was a treacherous white lie uttered by the greatest prince of Dharma or Virtue, Yudhishthira, to the effect that Drona's beloved son Ashwatthama had died in battle (when in effect Yudhishthira was referring to the elephant by the same name, and not Drona's son), that made a grieving Drona drop his guard and retract his weapons, causing thereby his assassination. That a soulless, stealthy weapon of death bears a name similar to that of the noble Kuru teacher is both ironic and tragic.
Another association I make in the title of this essay is with the legendary warrior Meghnad from the Ramayana. Meghnad (literally, the thunderous rumbling of clouds), a son of the Lankan King Ravana, had defeated Indra, King of the gods in battle. Hence he is also known as Indrajit (Victor over Indra). One of Meghnad's principal martial powers was the ability to engage in battle from beyond the clouds; however, despite these magical powers, he is eventually felled in battle by Lakshmana, brother of Rama. The story of Meghnad, like that of Drona, attests to the interplay between duty and ethical action. Wanton killing, and killing from misguided hatred and self-assurance, are virtually absent from these tales.
On YouTube I came across a clip of a Drone Awareness (Know Your Drones, I believe they have labeled it; URL: http://www.knowdrones.com/ ) campaign that has been assembled through the efforts of The World Can't Wait, a brave and conscientious anti-war group along the lines of Code Pink and After Downing Street. In this effective (if intentionally disturbing) clip, we see Nick Mottern, a long-standing anti-war campaigner, roll a scale-model of a killer drone (a Reaper, or MQ-9, used extensively in Pakistan, Afghanistan, Yemen and elsewhere) with multiple missile bays, mounted on a platform with wheels to the front of the Museum of Modern Art (MOMA) in New York City. Mr. Mottern's aim, it appears, is at least two-fold. He calls the Drone Awareness campaign Less Distance from War (URL: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SbM2mZ8uYBw ) , and it works alongside another graphic, artistic portrayal of the vicious killing that is at the heart of warfare (called Images of War at a Distance), and in particular the kind aimed at no organized or at least passably viable enemy of any sort, but simply under the auspices of the War Industry which today more than ever runs the U.S. government and others aligned with it in the Western imperial campaigns. The exhibit Images of War (At a Distance) by Harun Farocki was sponsored by The World Can't Wait, and has been running at the MOMA since January of 2012.
As both of the above exhibit and campaign make clear, increasingly warfare by the War Industry has become frightfully similar to video games. Soldiers (who, except in extremely defensive applications, are to me nothing more than trained assassins, and deserve little of the accolades the deceitful War Industry trains people to offer) armed with these remote-controlled murder weapons of choice can pick-off human targets at will, and dispose of them gleefully as they do in video warfare games.
What has amazed me thus far is that, as with much of the immoral, illegal, profiteering and wanton killing sprees committed by the U.S. government in the past 9 years (with little change worth writing about since the takeover in 2009 by the other half of the War Industry partnership, the Democratic Party) in protest of which there has been little mass action in this country, there has been no fundamental concern or all-out outrage regarding the use of these remote-controlled WMDs in killing without the slightest accountability any number of innocent human beings in different parts of the world. The complete imperial disregard for international law or any humanitarian concerns, and evident immunity from prosecution by some international body of accountability (such as the generally defanged and ineffectual International Criminal Court) has been evident for the past 65 years or longer. These trivialities simply do not apply to the U.S. or its divine allies.
In the midst of such absence of outrage, it was somewhat encouraging for me to discover the efforts by Nick Mottern, as cited above, or a few articles recently in Counterpunch on the subject. Notable among these are The Drone and the Cross by Brian Terrell (URL: http://www.counterpunch.org/2012/04/05/the-drone-and-the-cross/ ), and Assassination by Drones by David Model (URL: http://www.counterpunch.org/2012/04/05/assassination-by-drones/ ). It may be cause for at least the vanishing hope that someday the civilized world (and that may not necessarily imply the Western world, whose claim to civilization Mahatma Gandhi had famously questioned many decades ago) might put an end to these all-too-real war games, and uninterrupted state-sponsored criminal acts by the wealthy and the mighty upon humanity, and eliminate, once and for all, the limitless WMDs in the possession of the Western Industrial Killing Machine.
In his compelling campaign, Nick Mottern shows an actual video outtake of a missile being launched upon a pick-up truck or van somewhere on a roadway in Pakistan or Afghanistan. Two video games operators, tucked away in a criminal's den somewhere in paradise, carefully run down the checklist of pre-launch procedures (as though they were launching a rocket to Mars), then a lovely hand with manicured fingennails resolutely presses a button, and Voila! With a second or two, we see a vehicle carrying human beings simply explode in a cloud of smoke and fire. The professional killers from the War Industry have achieved excellence in hands-off extra-judicial killing a Josef Mengele could only dream about. To drive the ghastly point home, Mr. Mottern has also equipped his audio visual display with appropriate electronics that show sophisticated Manhattanites how at that very moment they may be in the cross-hairs of the viewfinder mounted on a lethal missile launcher in the sky.
Mr. Mottern, a caring human being whose ethics trouble him as they should all decent human beings, conducts on-the-spot interviews with several urban and urbane Manhattanites. While we observe mild abhorrence on the part of a few, the majority in my view are either shown to be blase about this 1% murder strategy, while a fair number actually gloat about how the divinely-placed Americans are under attack (statistics in time and space greatly put the lie to this oft-repeated lie, but that is a different discussion) by those evil-doers, and therefore killing them and their children is America's divine mission. That the imperial war industry has so conditioned great numbers of human beings to believe these monstrous assumptions only goes to show how effective their profiteering and killing enterprise is.
I do like to believe that America's imperial hubris, and runaway consumption of the world's resources like mindless gluttons will not last forever. However, for the sake of the human civilization, and the rights of humanity everywhere in the world, people need to be sufficiently educated about and made aware of the ruthless face of the War Industry, and that both parties in the American duopoly are equally culpable in committing these perpetual war crimes, decade after decade. Such awareness, one hopes, will someday build up resistance that will shut the War Industry and the Profit-Making CEO-coddling Industry down once and for all.