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OpEdNews Op Eds    H4'ed 3/28/13

The Bloody Path to Empire

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A great empire is not destroyed from the outside until it has first destroyed itself from the inside. Will Durant

drone 2 by Dick Overfield

A new Gallup poll indicates 65% of Americans favor using drones to kill people identified by our government as a problem of one kind or another. By government, the language used in the poll presumably refers not only to the president, but to some person, or persons in the intelligence community &/or the military.

There is no meaningful moral distinction between a young man wielding a military assault rifle slaughtering children in a classroom & another young man, & now woman, slaughtering children who happen to be near a person Washington has decided to assassinate. One chooses to experience first hand the bloody results while the other pushes back from the console & has another cup of coffee. One wades through the blood while the other is safely on the other side of the world heading home for dinner with the spouse & kids. All are engaged in sociopathic behavior.

Our schizophrenic media define the one as a crazed psychopath & the other as a hero. The hero, known in the military as an "unmanned systems operator," following orders in a secret base somewhere, possibly next door or in an abandoned salt mine, the location doesn't much matter, gets to retire on a full pension while the other's life ends violently with suicide, or in a similarly violent event at the hands of the police. Some face a darker fate in the ascending horror of one of America's privatized prisons. Both are executioners.

For The Examiner , in December, 2010, William Hamby wrote the following: R achel Kalish and Michael Kimmel (2010) proposed a mechanism that might well explain why males are routinely going crazy and killing people. It's called "aggrieved entitlement." According to the authors, it is "a gendered emotion, a fusion of that humiliating loss of manhood and the moral obligation and entitlement to get it back. And its gender is masculine." This feeling was clearly articulated by Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold, the perpetrators of the Columbine Massacre. Harris said, "People constantly make fun of my face, my hair, my shirts..." A group of girls asked him, "Why are you doing this?" He replied, "We've always wanted to do this. This is payback... This is for all the sh*t you put us through. This is what you deserve."

There is not one syllable in our Constitution that identifies the purchase of an ultra sophisticated weapon designed to kill as many people as possible as quickly & efficiently as possible as an "unalienable right" bestowed on us by the creator du jour . To say you believe this, stains the founding values of this country & diminishes the humanity of the person saying it as well as the person who believes it.

We, you & I, cultivate & prepare the minds & shape the thoughts of those pulling the triggers on the weapons pointed at our children in our schools as well as  the children sitting down for dinner with the wrong person in Pakistan, or Yemen, or Jordan...you get the idea. It doesn't matter whether those thoughts occur in the head of a pilot in a Blackhawk gunship, or one using the weapon system of an F-18, or one using a 9mm Glock he just moments before used to kill his mother. Currently, no "she" has appeared at one of our schools, but do any of us believe she won't make an appearance soon? That Gallup poll makes it clear that Americans are now so morally degraded that they believe the rule of domestic & international law & the moral values that underpin it are no longer relevant.

We all know, or we all should know, that the CIA & its brothers & sisters in the US intelligence community have been murdering & torturing people for decades. Conservatives routinely & openly think that's just hunkey dorey. Liberals not so much. In any case, the distinction is completely useless.

Here's why all this is a such a kicker: By not prosecuting those in power who preceded him, a central feature of Obama's legacy is going to be this festering truth- he has made it clear conservatives, liberals, progressives, independents, communists, christians & atheists of all political persuasions, genders & colors are directly responsible for America's policy of torture & murder.

How has Obama done this?

He led us to believe he would end the torture, assassinations & illegal wars. He promised change that would put us on a stronger moral footing. He insinuated that all public officials who committed crimes would be prosecuted. He failed. He might have been just lying through his bright white teeth, or he might have actually believed what he was saying. For whatever reasons, he simply didn't do it. Not only did he fail, he allowed it to get worse.

At a time when the US is transitioning military power to the Afghan government and planning its 2014 withdrawal, it broke a new record with the 447 drone strikes it launched in that war-torn country in 2012. Every American, but particularly that 65% of Gallup's poll, should know that they authorized their government to carry out more strikes in Afghanistan than it did in Pakistan in the past eight years, which is how long the CIA has been conducting such strikes. Moreover, the US has decided to launch more drones this year than ever before.  About 338 drone strikes have been launched in Pakistan. Obama has initiated six times as many drone strikes against Pakistan as occurred under Bush. Obama clearly likes drone strikes. His administration has refused to reveal how many civilians have been killed. Could it be because they don't know? Or, if they do know, that there are just too many children & assorted other "collateral damage" in the numbers?

Is it really true our government is doing this? How reliable are these numbers? Well, we don't know, but how reliable are any of the numbers about the ugly stuff we get from our government & its agencies?

Obama is not alone here. President after president has made it clear we cannot trust our political leaders to honor their promises let alone change the corporate war profiteering agenda that shapes our government. Most Americans believe that the federal government attracts the dregs of our country & we expect next to nothing from them beyond greed & febrile narcissism. We do expect & hope for more from our presidents & we nearly never get it.

So, can we ever know the truth?  Whom can we trust? We certainly can't trust our religious leaders. They are on a par with what we find in Congress, or worse, if that's possible. We can't trust our business leaders to do it because they are the ones on whose behalf & obscene profits all the torturing & murdering is being done. War, & all its antecedent arts, is incredibly profitable. A good capitalist would never pass up an opportunity like war. Can anyone even begin to make a case that the Koch Brothers, Halliburton, Raytheon & Lockheed Martin are anything beyond predatory, ethically decrepit war profiteers? Apparently, & this is most painful of all, we re-elected Obama to continue pulling the triggers for these ingrates. Yes, each of us re-elected him & that goes for everyone who voted against him or didn't vote at all.

There is no escaping what our government does in our name.

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Richard W. Overfield is an artist/writer currently based in New Mexico after living in Vancouver, Canada for 20 years.His paintings are represented in over 300 public & private collections in the U.S., Canada, Switzerland, France, England, Japan & (more...)
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