Thursday, June 18, 2015

Drone Pilots Burn Out From the Horrors of Being Remote Control Assassins

Two stories in the New York Times yesterday made me furious: One about the Air Force   cutting the number of drone flights per day because they can’t replace the burned out pilots fast enough; and the other about how the U.S. is going to lose leverage and influence in the Far East if Congress doesn’t give Obama authority to fast track the Trans Pacific Trade Agreement.
            What the stories have in common is our continuing delusion as a country that we can forever be, and should be, the most powerful country in the world. Our dominance must be total not only militarily but also economically—we must control the world banking system and the global market.  This paradigm ensures that we will never have peace.  So much profit is involved in making perpetual war, and those profiteers in the energy and defense industries have Congress in their grip. Meanwhile people in other nations that want a bigger piece of the economic pie--who'd just like a roof over their heads, not a McMansion--continue to struggle against our domination.
Caught in the middle are the patriotic Americans who go to work every day as remote control assassins. Since last August, they have “flown” 3,300 drone sorties and launched 875 missile and bomb strikes just in Iraq against the Islamic State. This doesn’t count the strikes in Pakistan, Afghanistan, and elsewhere. By engaging in a remote control war, our political leaders prevent Americans from feeling the impact of these killings and the cost to us.
What are we doing to these drone pilots? Aren’t we sentencing them to a life of anguish and guilt? Who could get up every morning and know that each day you will probably be killing people and not have that sear your soul, break your heart, destroy your compassion as a human being? They know that the missiles and bombs they launch kill not only "terrorists" but also innocent children, women and men.
Our fight against terrorism and terrorists is inextricably linked to the demand that we continue to control the world economy. The Times story about the Pacific trade agreement whined on and on about how defeat of the agreement might weaken our claim to leadership in Asia, as if that were the only option that protects our interests. But what interests are we protecting? Left out of the story were the downsides of the deal as best we know them, given that the details of the deal are still a highly guarded secret. But from the reactions of Senators like Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders, who have read the text in a guarded room in which they are not even allowed to take notes, there is danger to workers’ rights and the environment. I trust them on this one, and not Obama. 
Can't we grow up and learn to share our prosperity? Can't we develop a vision of a peaceful world? I can hear the objections, that Russia and China and Iran and Syria and ISIS and Al Qaeda want to kill us. But where does it end? Who, better than we to seek a different way?