The April 19th witness at the Boeing/Insitu military drone factory near Hood River will seek to remind us all that we were raised on the Golden Rule: Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.
U.S. Policy Violates Golden Rule
But the Golden Rule could use amending to read: Treat others as they would like to be treated. This shift opens up a nonviolent dialogue and compels people to get to know others and be considerate of them, and may even lead to friendship. It could be the basis for U.S. foreign policy.
But itâ€™s not.
The U.S. war machine operates a teensy bit differently. Its Golden Rule says: Do like we say or weâ€™ll blow you away.
This de facto U.S. foreign policy is brief and easy to understand. It gets attention. But itâ€™s a self-damning rule of conduct because it is unjust, creates enemies and guarantees retaliation. Some of those retaliators may deserve to be arrested and put on trial, but no one deserves to be assassinated without trial, or tortured for profit and power. The U.S. is at the forefront of manufacturing enemies. Weâ€™re now making a whole lot more with robotic warfare waged by â€œunmanned aerial vehiclesâ€ (UAVâ€™s) like the armed Predator drone or missile â€œsystemsâ€ like the ones that use Insituâ€™s drones. They are being flown by the hundreds in Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan by the military and by the CIA.
Killing With Zero Accountability
They assassinate anyone their handlers are pleased to target, without benefit of independent investigation or trial, with zero accountability. The fingers on the triggers that launch the Hellfire missiles can be 7,000 miles away in Las Vegas.
The civilian cost is high. David Kilcullen, a former top advisor to General David Petraeus, testified before Congress early in 2009 that drones had terminated 14 â€œhigh-valueâ€ Islamic militants, while killing some 700 Pakistani civilians. In June 2009, after missing its main target seven or eight times and killing scores of people in the process, the C.I.A. killed as many as 86 more during a drone attack on a funeral gathering for the earlier victims.
Ten of the dead were children, and four were elderly tribal leaders. Body parts went flying everywhere. These were innocent country people. The C.I.A. made no apology. Who was the terrorist in that attack?
It violates international law and any sense of morality or clear thinking to allow this violence in our name. These victims had faces and dreams and loved ones. Acts like this by the C.I.A. are cowardly beyond words and will be paid back in kind some way and some day. We can bet the farm on that — and we will pay in lives.
We love our cheap affordable oil, but the young men and women in uniform that help provide it look unacceptably pale and unheroic when unpacked at Dover, Delaware after they step on an I.E.D. or are hit by U.S. friendly fire. The problem is that drones and robots make war way more likely, and a fresh new dynamic is emerging: the illusion of war without risk. The term â€œclean warâ€ is even bandied about in Washington. No need for courage or heroics. Send in a machine. Let the robot take the punch. Theyâ€™re cheap, no pilot is onboard, and they make jobs, jobs, jobs. Since every war system from the slingshot to the nuclear missile has been copied and pointed back at the inventor, do we really want to go down this road?
What are our choices, and where can they take us? The April conference in Hood River will explore these questions and choices for organizers through panel discussions, speakers, and small-group sessions. Come join us.
Rollean is a peace activist, U.S. Army veteran, and board member of the Columbia River Fellowship for Peace. He lives in Lyle, Washington.
Photo of David Kilcullen: http://infidelsarecool.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/04/david-kilcullen.jpg