When asked the question ‘how on earth could you do that?’ is asked. Their answers are all the same; ‘I was just doing my job’ or ‘I’ve got bills to pay’. They were just doing their ‘duty’. The problem with collectivism, is that it is so rampant, and so widespread, that it affects everyone’s lives. It is easy to hide behind, and is the cause of millions of deaths and suffering in the world.
Portrait of a Drone Killer: ‘I Have a Duty, and I Execute My Duty’
One wonders if drone pilot Col. D. Scott Brenton listens to Louis Armstrong in the suburban Air National Guard Base in Syracuse from which he murders people 7,000 miles away.
“I see mothers with children, I see fathers with children, I see fathers with mothers, I see kids playing soccer,” Brenton tells the New York Times. Drone operators see their intended targets “wake up in the morning, do their work, go to sleep at night,” explains Dave, another high-tech murderer who killed from an office cockpit at Nevada’s Creech Air Force Base and who now trains new recruits to the cyber-killer corps at New Mexico’s Holloman Air Force Base.
When instructed to kill someone he has stalked from the air for a prolonged period, “I feel no emotional attachment to the enemy,” Brenton insists. I have a duty, and I execute my duty.” When the deed is done, he points out, nobody “in my immediate environment is aware of anything that has occurred.”
“There was a good reason for killing the people that I did, and I go through it in my head over and over and over,” insists another drone operator named Will, who — like Dave — served a deskbound “combat” tour at Creech and now trains others to do likewise at Holloman Air Base.
Like the soldier Bates in Henry V, it’s sufficient for Will — and others of his ilk — to render obedience to their Leader, confident that “if his cause be wrong, our obedience to the king wipes the crime of it out of us.” The more concise and notorious formula, of course, is: We are only obeying orders. Besides, drone operators (who insist on being called “combat pilots”) are carrying out an indispensable function by picking off Afghan “militants” — or at least those “suspected” of such tendencies — who unreasonably resent the presence of foreign military personnel in their country.
The New York Times profile is part of a campaign by the state-aligned media to “humanize” the state functionaries who murder by remote control — and to normalize this mode of mass murder as drones become part of the domestic apparatus of surveillance, regimentation, and repression. Readers are invited to share the anguish of these conflicted people, who for reasons of duty have to do terrible but necessary things.
In her book Eichmann in Jerusalem, Hannah Arendt offered a glimpse into the mindset of SS personnel who were given a somewhat similar assignment. To carry out their killing errand, she explained, something had to be done “to overcome not so much their conscience as the animal pity by which all normal men are affected in the presence of physical suffering.”
“The trick used by Himmler … was very simple and probably very effective; it consisted in turning these instincts around, as it were, in directing them toward the self,” Arendt recounted. “So that instead of saying: What horrible things I did to people!, the murderers would be able to say: What horrible things I had to watch in the pursuance of my duties, how heavily the task weighed upon my shoulders!”
Not everybody attached to the Regime’s Cyber-Killing Corps is haunted by the horrors he has inflicted on defenseless people halfway around the world. In a 2009 U.S. Naval Academy lecture, Dr. P.W. Singer of the Brookings Institution made reference to what he called “predator porn” — footage of drone attacks proudly circulated by the people who committed those acts. In a typical offering, Dr. Singer relates, “A Hellfire missile drops, goes in, and hits the target, followed by an explosion and bodies tossed into the air.” Singer described one clip of that kind, sent to him by a joystick-wielding assassin, that “was set to music, the pop song ‘I Just Want to Fly’ by the band Sugar Ray.”
“It’s like a videogame,” one deskbound drone jockey told Singer. “It can get a little bloodthirsty. But it’s f****g cool.”
Singer describes asking a drone pilot “what it was like to fight insurgents in Iraq while based in Nevada. He said, ‘You are going to war for 12 hours, shooting weapons at targets, directing kills on enemy combatants, and then you get in the car and you drive home. And within 20 minutes, you’re sitting at the dinner table talking to your kids about their homework.” Meanwhile, somewhere in Iraq (or Afghanistan, Pakistan, Libya, Somalia, Yemen, or another country yet to be identified), other families are desperately looking through the rubble of their own homes in search of survivors.
Although drone strikes occur daily, most Americans pay little heed to them — beyond occasionally taking inconsolable offense when a dissident publicly describes them as acts of murder, and insults the Dear Leader by daring to compare him to less prolific killers.
This may change soon: As the Times points out, the Pentagon — driven by “a near insatiable demand for drones” — is training hundreds of operators to join the corps of more than 1,300 currently stationed at more than a dozen bases across the country. Surveillance drones operated by domestic police agencies are already plying the skies above us. Those robot aircraft can be upgraded to airborne weapons platforms, and they soon will. The people being trained to feel “no emotional attachment” to foreigners designated enemies of the state will feel no particular burden when ordered to kill fellow Americans on that list. I’m sure that the “combat pilots” who murdered U.S. citizen Anwar al-Awlaki and his 16-year-old son Abdulrahman would testify to that fact — that is, if the “heroes” who committed those acts were man enough to acknowledge their deeds in public.
Evil men and their puppets are able to hide behind technology now, but it is harder for the police ‘on the street’. The evidence of militarized build up of police forces is now rampant. The problems arise when innocent people get shot by cops who cross the line, like the events in Anaheim a few days ago.
The people who protest against police brutality and the militarization of police forces are heroes. Now how exactly is this young man threatening anyone?
‘Tempers continued to flare in Anaheim on Sunday afternoon as a group of about 250 protesters stood directly in front of the Police Department, the latest demonstration the city has seen after two fatal police shootings last weekend. Heavily armed and militarized forces were patrolling the streets and nine people were arrested including this man.’
Why is it, in a civilized nation, that we need the police force to become militarized? Is it because we are heading straight toward total anarchy? Or a total police state? I would say we already have a police state. There are security cameras being put up at new intersections all over the country. The police have become militarized, and the TSA has become an ever increasing parasite, including not only airports now, but bus services, and road checkpoints. This country truly is becoming the spitting image of Nazi Germany of the 1930’s.
When you hear news pundits talk about the ‘greatness of America’ and of patriotism and ‘serving your nation’. They are talking of serving the state, for the sake of the state, and not for the responsibility of liberty. Freedom comes at a cost, but not in wars over seas. We have lost more freedoms since our armed forces have been in Iraq and Afghanistan, than any other point in our nation’s history.
Take a look around you, what do you see? Is this still the home of the brave and the land of the free? Or do you notice the 450 million rounds of ammunition going to homeland security, an agency that didn’t exist a few years ago. And do you see all the horrible constitution denying documents that are being passed by congress?
Nazi Germany came about slowly over the course of a decade, in a similar way to this country over this previous decade.
What is your definition of patriotism? Do you support and defend the Constitution and your own individual liberties, or do you support the nation state and the collective?
At what point should the police and military stop taking horrific orders? Will they stop at the sight of Americans themselves being killed? Or is their training so ingrained that they will go along with whatever their masters tell them to?
And what will you do? How far will you go? Will you stand up and stop this from happening? Or will you go along with the nation, for the greatness of the nation state?
As Yoda said in star wars; “you must unlearn, what you have learned”
6 thoughts on “Military Police and Drones”
I do hold them accountable. I’m not in one of those jobs for that very reason. They had a choice, and if they chose to obey an order from a tyrant, they are just as guilty.
Yes, it is the individual who decides to follow the orders, and it is the individual who pulls the trigger. Collective is just a word to hide behind.
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This article is completely one sided and unfairly written. The author seems to believe that our own police and military are the tyrannical bad guys, but we should be feeling sorry for the poor defenseless Al Qaeda operatives. Trust me, mr author, if those Al Qaeda and Taliban guys got their hands on you they would cut your head off with a dull blade and send a video of it back to America. Your article is totally un-American and if you think it sucks so bad here, perhaps you should leave. Spend some time in other parts of the world and see how much you still think America sucks. The military and police are the ones out there making enormous sacrifices protecting your right to have such stupid opinions, and they deserve our gratitude. 99.9 percent of the time the police operate with professionalism and integrity. To pick stories like this out and report them disproportionately is irresponsible to say the least. It’s really easy to be a keyboard badass but the fact is you can sleep safely at nice because of the very people your article is unfairly bashing. I bet if somebody was breaking into your home or victimizing a member of your family you would be happy to see the cops. Everybody loves to hate them right up till the moment they need them.
Thank you for your comment. The point of the article is to show the difference between patriotically defending an oath to the constitution, and blind servitude to nationalism. There are many good honest policemen and military servicemen who risk their lives to protect this country, and my thanks goes out to them. However, they are currently being directed by very corrupt members of government, who’s agenda is evil. The Nazi’s rose to power in only a decade, and we have seen our civil liberties and constitutional rights stripped away from us while our brave men and women have been dieing in foreign lands ‘to protect our freedoms’. We have lost many of our freedoms while they have been fighting these fruitless wars. Al Qaeda and the Taliban are not lurking around the corner at every turn, and I am perfectly aware of evil people in this world. That is why I own firearms, and that is why I speak out against the state imposing its will upon myself and others; because the end result is the complete loss of freedom, and a totalitarian world right on our doorstep instead of just in a foreign land. I am quite happy to speak about my opinions in public, but the keyboard is certainly a convenient means to broadcast to the world the difference between blind nationalism and true patriotism. I chose to become a United State’s citizen, and I took my oath to the constitution very seriously. That is why I question the role of government, and that is why I question some of our military leaders and police chiefs. It is the responsibility of us as citizens and individuals to point out that what should be an honorable role in public in the form of military and police service can quickly become the opposite. That is why I posed the questions about standing up to the system, and exposing the encroaching tyranny. I am quite aware of the outside world and its evils, but this is supposed to be the last bastion of freedom in the world, and it is up to us to pose tough questions and to expose the threat from within. As for needing cops; I am quite capable of taking care of myself.