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Friday, October 26, 2012

The Twisting Of The American Mind II: Black Helicopters Vs. American Eagles

Predator Drone
American Eagle soars lovingly over a protected world, captured by Kirsty Wigglesworth - AP. From The Guardian

Update: Link to Part 5 of The Archdruid's speculative odyssey added below.
As an "American," one is simply not permitted to entertain the simple thought experiment of considering what U.S. policy looks like to non-Americans. Any attempts to do so in what is considered "polite" cocktail chatter is sure to invite angry, accusatory, even eliminationist backlash.

It is easy to demonstrate....
- Me,
The Twisting Of The American Mind: Shorter Noam & The Patriot's Toll
It is save to assume and predict that reactions to this might also serve as "demonstration":
The United Nations is to set up a dedicated investigations unit in Geneva early next year to examine the legality of drone attacks in cases where civilians are killed in so-called "targeted" counter-terrorism operations...

...[UN special rapporteur* Ben] Emmerson, who monitors counter-terrorism for the UN, called for effective investigations into drone attacks. Some US drone strikes in Pakistan may amount to war crimes, Emmerson warned.
- Owen Bowcott,
UN to investigate civilian deaths from US drone strikes
I'll be honest - having been born and raised "an American," with all of its attendant educational and media propaganda suffusing my then developing and now nominally adult brain, I too feel a twinge of umbrage when outside agencies take it upon themselves to second-guess the policies of This Great Nation.

I said "a twinge." I also have a prefrontal cortex, however, so this reaction serves more to feed my empathy for those who really truly do buy into American Exceptionalism, than it does to inform my ultimate feelings on such matters.

When one permits oneself to think objectively, it is not hard to see why what the legal system calls a "reasonable person" might think of the collateral damage brought down upon a social event like a wedding or funeral - regardless of the caliber of the "evildoers" that might be attending. The Godfather did an admirable job of rehabilitating popular sentiment towards the sociopathic ethic of "Our Thing," but could you imagine how that might have been amplified if the government had employed drones to sanitize the Corleone wedding, rather than the small cadre of drones-of-another-sort sent to scribble down license plates?

Yea, I'm thinking that Pakistanis just might see it like that. But, as I say in that earlier post, American's don't easily permit themselves to think as generic human beings. We are compelled to fealty, to don the plumage of patriotism before our deliberations begin, to take an advisory from the bench, to steep in exceptionalist Tea, and then proceed to return a verdict against those who are clearly "not us."

Such faux-objectivity will, of course, be one of the many corrosives that mock the Empire, that have always mocked Empire, that should, at some historical moment, add to the definition of the word "Empire" as a "flash in the pan form of government."

On a related note, another awake American, Nick Turse, invites ridicule by questioning the wisdom of The Most Powerful Military In The World:
Something akin to the law of diminishing returns may be at work. The more time, effort, and treasure the U.S. invests in its military and its military adventures, the weaker the payback. In this context, the impressive destructive power of that military may not matter a bit, if it is tasked with doing things that military might, as it has been traditionally conceived, can perhaps no longer do.

Success may not be possible, whatever the circumstances, in the twenty-first-century world, and victory not even an option. Instead of trying yet again to find exactly the right formula or even reinventing warfare, perhaps the U.S. military needs to reinvent itself and its
raison d’être if it’s ever to break out of its long cycle of failure.

But don’t count on it.
A Failed Formula for Worldwide War
And, not to pile on (OK, to pile on a little bit), The Archdruid casts his jaded eye, with gripping fiction, upon a possible scenario whereby the Pentagon might be handed it's ass (not for the faint-hearted, or for those who don't give themselves permission to think outside of the American Box):
...I’ve returned to the toolkit of narrative fiction, and this and the next four posts will sketch out a scenario of American imperial defeat and collapse. The narrative takes place at some unspecified point in the next two decades; it’s probably necessary to say outright that is not how I think the end of America’s empire will happen, simply one way that it could happen—and thus a model that may help expose some of the vulnerabilities of the self-proclaimed hyperpower currently tottering toward history’s compost bin.
How It Could Happen:

*Rapporteur: A person appointed by a committee to prepare reports of meetings or carry out an investigation. New word for me.

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