This article originally appeared at TomDispatch.com.
It's been going on for so many years -- Predators cruising, looking for their prey. Some attention has since been paid to the phenomenon and to the devastating effect their actions have had on their victims, but it hasn't really mattered. The predation has only spread.
Oh, before I go any further, let me clear up one possible bit of confusion. I'm not talking about Charlie Rose, Roy Moore, Donald Trump, Harvey Weinstein, or any of that crew of predators. I'm talking about America's robotic killers, the drones that long ago were grimly named Predators (retired this year) and their more advanced cousins, the Reapers (as in Grim...), who have taken a once-illegal American activity, political assassination, and made it the well-respected law of the land and increasingly of huge swaths of the globe.
In these years of predation, the president -- any president -- has become an assassin-in-chief. George W. Bush began the process with 50 drone strikes in the Greater Middle East during his years in office. Barack Obama multiplied those numbers tenfold. He even had his own White House "kill list" and "terror Tuesday" meetings to decide just who should be on it. Donald Trump has simply given the U.S. military and the CIA license to send those drones wherever they please. Such drone strikes are now commonplace from Yemen (almost a strike a day in the months after Trump entered the Oval Office) to Afghanistan (where the CIA has, for the first time, been given license to strike at will), Pakistan (where such strikes have recently intensified) to Somalia (23 of them in 2017), Iraq to... Niger (where U.S. surveillance drones are now being weaponized). In the process, across the Greater Middle East and parts of Africa, the U.S. has taken out not just terror suspects but civilians in significant numbers, including children and American citizens (two of whom were children). The drones, which terrorize the populations under them, have proven to be ferocious assassins, capable of crossing borders without a blink and without respect for national sovereignty, not to speak of remarkable recruitment tools for terror groups.
And keep in mind that these never-ending drone killings are just one small part of America's wars of the last 16 years that have driven funding for the national security state to new heights and turned Washington into a permanent war capital. Today, TomDispatch regular Andrew Bacevich, author of America's War for the Greater Middle East, wonders when this country will truly notice America's Predators abroad the way, in recent weeks, we've finally noticed them at home. Tom
A Harvey Weinstein Moment for America's Wars?
By Andrew J. Bacevich
What makes a Harvey Weinstein moment? The now-disgraced Hollywood mogul is hardly the first powerful man to stand accused of having abused women. The Harveys who preceded Harvey himself are legion, their prominence matching or exceeding his own and the misdeeds with which they were charged at least as reprehensible.- Advertisement -
In the relatively recent past, a roster of prominent offenders would include Bill Clinton, Bill Cosby, Roger Ailes, Bill O'Reilly, and, of course, Donald Trump. Throw in various jocks, maestros, senior military officers, members of the professoriate and you end up with quite a list. Yet in virtually all such cases, the alleged transgressions were treated as instances of individual misconduct, egregious perhaps but possessing at best transitory political resonance.
All that, though, was pre-Harvey. As far as male sexual hijinks are concerned, we might compare Weinstein's epic fall from grace to the stock market crash of 1929: one week it's the anything-goes Roaring Twenties, the next we're smack dab in a Great Depression.
How profound is the change? Up here in Massachusetts where I live, we've spent the past year marking John F. Kennedy's 100th birthday. If Kennedy were still around to join in the festivities, it would be as a Class A sex offender. Rarely in American history has the cultural landscape shifted so quickly or so radically.
In our post-Harvey world, men charged with sexual misconduct are guilty until proven innocent, all crimes are capital offenses, and there exists no statute of limitations. Once a largely empty corporate slogan, "zero tolerance" has become a battle cry.
All of this serves as a reminder that, on some matters at least, the American people retain an admirable capacity for outrage. We can distinguish between the tolerable and the intolerable. And we can demand accountability of powerful individuals and institutions.
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What's puzzling is why that capacity for outrage and demand for accountability doesn't extend to our now well-established penchant for waging war across much of the planet.
In no way would I wish to minimize the pain, suffering, and humiliation of the women preyed upon by the various reprobates now getting their belated comeuppance. But to judge from published accounts, the women (and in some cases, men) abused by Weinstein, Louis C.K., Mark Halperin, Leon Wieseltier, Kevin Spacey, Al Franken, Charlie Rose, Matt Lauer, Garrison Keillor, my West Point classmate Judge Roy Moore, and their compadres at least managed to survive their encounters. None of the perpetrators are charged with having committed murder. No one died.
Compare their culpability to that of the high-ranking officials who have presided over or promoted this country's various military misadventures of the present century. Those wars have, of course, resulted in hundreds of thousands of deaths and will ultimately cost American taxpayers many trillions of dollars. Nor have those costly military efforts eliminated "terrorism," as President George W. Bush promised back when today's G.I.s were still in diapers.