War is over, if you want it.
The question is — do we want it? By “we,” I mean the American public at large. I know for certain that I am now and forever will be a pacifist. Though I am pragmatic enough to realize that any country the size of our own who does not have a large enough military force to defend its own borders and even help its allies when they are truly under dire and immediate attack is foolish. That said, this country — these United States of America — has bumbled its way through one bad foreign policy decision after another in the decades that have followed World War II.
You can draw a straight line from the Cold War to the War on Terror. Ideologically driven crusades of either protecting the world from the creeping influence of communism, or a nebulous war on a mindset that seems to be fought with little regard for international sovereignty or the sanctity of life. There was a time when Ronald Reagan thought it was a good idea to give a man named Osama Bin Laden all the help he needed, and did we ever pay the price for that mistake. One has to wonder therefore, how many more wedding parties we’re going to be blowing up, and what the long-term impacts of this drone strike policy of ours will be.
The wedding party metaphor wasn’t something I concocted out of thin air. While the country debates whether or not some old, dumb fucking hick with more guns than sense should be taken off his show for his blatantly homophobic remarks or not, at least two families in Yemen are mourning the death of their loved ones at the business end of a drone-fired missile. Of course, as is our usual policy, the U.S. is cowardly denying any role in the strike. The denial isn’t an outright and flat one, rather it’s a denial of omission; we’re just not saying anything about it. Meanwhile more than a dozen people are dead in Yemen, and if even one of them is an innocent civilian, there appears to be no way of finding justice for the miscarriage of military power that was visited upon their loved one.
Probably the most disheartening thing about our drone strike campaign is how quickly and easily America’s so-called left wing has abandoned their principled stance against the War on Terror simply because it’s now a Democrat in office pulling the strings. I can promise you that after publishing this article the comments will be filled with people defending the drone strikes as a way to keep the body counts low, to keep American soldiers safer, and any other excuse you can find under the sun that distracts your mind from the simple fact that we are flexing our muscles anywhere and everywhere without an official declaration of war, and that there will be more terrorists recruited in the wake of every single drone strike — especially those that take out wedding parties — than we are able to take out.
It sickens me that the man who ran to end the Bush Era nonsense has glommed on so tightly to the War on Terror. Yes, the killing of Osama Bin Laden was necessary — who knows if he’d ever have come peacefully and my guess is that he wouldn’t have. In fact, even though sending in SEAL Team Six was far riskier in terms of the lives at stake, it was a much more understandable and dare I say morally correct way of handling such an operation than flying an unmanned death robot into a country undetected and raining bombs down from above. Why do we deserve the respect of any nation whose citizens genuinely fear drone strikes on a daily basis? Would we feel safe here at home if we knew at any time Al Qaeda could fly one of their drones into Idaho and lay waste to a neighborhood bar?
For all the good that President Obama has done, history will judge him just as harshly for the few vestiges of the Cheney Doctrine he kept in place. Gitmo is still open (spare me the “CONGRESS WON’T LET HIM!” bleating please). The NSA is still Hoovering up last byte of data on us and storing it in secret. Drones are still flying into countries without permission and killing people — and we have no idea what the official body counts are. None of this means he’s a terrible person over all, but if you truly believe in moving the human race even an inch or two closer to a peaceful existence, then you cannot be in any way defensive of these things that he’s saw fit to keep in place from the last regime, can you?
I get why conservatives love drone strikes. They are the “war” wing of American politics. Liberals are supposed to be outraged by these kinds of things, and yet, just as all things logical left the Republican Party when Barack Obama was elected and the right-wing conspiracy kooks started becoming more popular and louder in their rhetoric…so too has the American Left abandoned its righteous indignation over the proliferation of the military industrial complex into every facet of our lives. And now, we’ve taken to just firing missiles and bombs at targets that we’re supposed to just presume are legitimate. There’s no case made for why we have to hunt these people down this way, and there certainly hasn’t been one really solid argument for why drone strikes are in the hands of the CIA — the most secretive arm of our government — and not in the hands of the military themselves.
You can’t help but feel there will always be pieces of information missing from the stories, and that no matter what we’ll never get the full story. You could blame it on the Patriot Act, but there was no Patriot Act when we went bumblefucking into Vietnam or Iraq (twice), or Grenada, or Cuba, or…or…or…We have sat back and let the dick waving go on for so long that every time there’s a changing of the guard in the White House from one party to the next, the supporters of the side that had previously been out of power quickly roll over and keep the war machine churning the buckets of blood with which every terrible foreign policy decision has been painted. Let’s not forget even Bill Clinton had his share of “What the fuck were you thinking?” moments when it comes to military engagements.
Maybe it’ll never change. Maybe we’re so insulated on this island nation of ours that no amount of lives lost will seem relevant to us. Maybe seeing the wreckage at Pearl Harbor, or the towers collapsing in Manhattan permanently ingrains an apathy toward the rest of the world’s suffering, but I sure as hell hope not. I sure as hell hope that at some point, some generation of Americans comes along and says “enough is enough.” We don’t have to be isolationists to avoid sticking our dicks in someone else’s mashed potatoes unnecessarily. We don’t have to be weak militarily for us to exercise prudence and good judgment. We don’t have to be wimpy to show a willingness to work with the international community and not in spite of them.
We just have to want it.