By borrowing one of Florida’s laws, President Obama is employing his drone and cyber warfare program as part of an ingenious reelection campaign. Since the programs are officially classified, Congress cannot publicly debate them. Yet President Obama is free to leak the programs to the media, letting us only hear what he wants us to hear.
President Obama has also taken care to favorably identify those killed in attacks he orders. According to Obama staff, any male of military age killed by a drone attack is counted as a combatant unless proven otherwise after their deaths. Virtually none of the US mainstream media has investigated the White House’s identification of those killed, save a few independent journalists like Amy Goodman of Democracy Now (gratefully carried by our local public radio station). Americans continue to take all their government tells them about foreign attacks as the gospel truth. Like we did in Vietnam. Like we did in Iraq 1 and Iraq 2. Like we did in Afghanistan.
The connection to Florida? President Obama simply borrowed the Stand your Ground law that George Zimmerman used when he killed unarmed Trevon Martin. Like many of the innocent Pakistanis, Yemenis and Afghanis killed, Trevon was a dark skinned young man living his life in his own neighborhood minding his own business. George Zimmerman thought this kid was somewhere he shouldn’t be and up to no good. For “the safety of Americans,” George Zimmerman killed him to “protect our freedom”.
President Obama said if he had a son he would look like Trevon Martin. And if Trevon Martin had brothers, they’d look like many of the innocent bystanders killed with the drone attacks. Their families and friends feel the same sense of loss and outrage as those in Florida did for Trevon’s death. But they will get no justice from the US. No day in court. Not even an acknowledgment of wrongdoing in taking innocent lives. The deaths will become another in the hundreds of thousands of what our government has come to call “collateral damage.” We can’t even call it death, much less manslaughter, anymore.
These deaths are turning simple farmers or traders or housewives into people who will now support anyone who will fight the nation who killed their family. Just as many of us here would if a country ten thousand miles away sent missiles into a Juneau neighborhood.
Like the atom bomb and chemical weapons developed in the US, our country will soon be spending our grandchildren’s money to keep these weapons out of the hands of those we don’t want to have them. We’ll spend far more money defending against these weapons than we ever did to develop and use them, like we did developing President Reagan’s Strategic Defense Initiative to combat incoming atomic weapons, and starting the Iraq War to “defend” against WMD technology we gave to Sadaam.
Our unapologetic killing of innocent civilians by drone missile strikes makes our criticism of the Syrian government hypocritical. More and more, the voice of the US is falling on deaf ears. Like the Soviet Union of the Cold War, countries now fear us for our military might alone. Fewer and fewer respect us as “Leader of the Free World” because it is becoming an oxymoron.
The drone attacks provide perfect cover for the Obama administration. We only hear what they want us to hear, no one in Congress can openly question the details or results of the bombings, and the media has little interest in finding the truth. President Obama’s covert operations in the Middle East and Afghanistan make former president George W. Bush’s war in Iraq look like an open house. The President’s actions have continued a series of presidential policies dating back to Kennedy that continue to undermine the checks and balances of our three branches of government.
Carrying on a presidential drone war against several countries under the guise of “classified operations” gives cover to those to support the war machine, silences those who oppose it, and leaves the public in the dark of a complicit media.
• Mark Stopha lives in Juneau.