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Or Buck Rogers in the 21st Century
[This piece has been adapted and expanded from Alfred W. McCoy’s new book, In the Shadows of the American Century: The Rise and Decline of U.S. Global Power.] Not quite a century ago, on January 7, 1929, newspaper readers across America were captivated by a brand-new comic strip, Buck Rogers in the 25th Century. It... Read More
A forthcoming report will downplay the bloody consequences
Cities reduced to rubble, schools and hospitals leveled, prisoners tortured and executed, car bombs exploding. Long lines of refugees, their homes in ruins, stumbling along a road to nowhere with their few remaining possessions carried on their backs. Graphic photos and videos from the Middle East, Asia, and Africa continue to show the downside of... Read More
In our part of the world, it’s not often that potential “collateral damage” speaks, but it happened last week. A Pakistani tribal leader, Malik Jalal, flew to England to plead in a newspaper piece he wrote and in media interviews to be taken off the Obama White House’s “kill list.” (“I am in England this... Read More
In Washington’s Drone Wars, Collateral Damage Comes Home
In a trio of recent action-packed movies, good guys watch terrorists mingling with innocent women and children via real-time video feeds from halfway across the world. A clock ticks and we, the audience, are let in on the secret that mayhem is going to break loose. After much agonized soul-searching about possible collateral damage, the... Read More
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Promoting the American Way of War in Campaign 2016
The crowd that gathered in an airplane hangar in the desert roared with excitement when the man on stage vowed to murder women and children. It was just another Donald Trump campaign event, and the candidate had affirmed his previously made pledge not only to kill terrorists but to “take out” their family members, too.... Read More
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Two Versions of the U.S. Destruction of a Hospital in Afghanistan
When people ask me what my new job is like, I tell them that I wake up very early and count the dead. When I say “very early,” I mean a few minutes after four a.m., as the sky is just softening to the color of faded purple corduroy. By “the dead,” I mostly mean... Read More
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These executions are a mark of tyranny
The ability to execute its own citizens has been a mark of tyrannical government from Rome in the days of the Caesars to Moscow during the Great Purge in the 1930s The lack of public response to the British government ordering the assassination by pilotless drones of two British citizens, Reyaad Khan and Rahul Amin,... Read More
The Perpetrators Become the Victims of Drone Warfare
The myth of the lone drone warrior is now well established and threatens to become as enduring as that of the lone lawman with a white horse and a silver bullet who rode out into the Wild West to find the bad guys. In a similar fashion, the unsung hero of Washington’s modern War on... Read More
Since November 2002, when a CIA drone strike destroyed the SUV of “al-Qaeda's chief operative in Yemen,” Qaed Salim Sinan al-Harethi (“U.S. kills al-Qaeda suspects in Yemen”), it’s been almost 13 years of unending repeat headlines. Here are a few recent ones: “U.S. drone strike kills a senior Islamic State militant in Syria,” “Drone kills... Read More
The United States's targeted killing program has neither the controls nor the justifications the president promises
Ironically, for a president who once ran for office promising “transparency” in government, the dreaded associated “a” word, “accountability,” has been somewhat difficult to discern. Even if government actions were transparent, which they are not, the ability of senior bureaucrats and politicians to make multiple bad decisions goes unchallenged when there is no accountability .... Read More
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Body Counts, Drones, and “Collateral Damage” (aka “Bug Splat”)
In the twenty-first-century world of drone warfare, one question with two aspects reigns supreme: Who counts? In Washington, the answers are the same: We don’t count and they don’t count. The Obama administration has adamantly refused to count. Not a body. In fact, for a long time, American officials associated with Washington’s drone assassination campaigns... Read More
Thomas Cromwell was the principal behind-the-scenes fixer for much of the reign of King Henry VIII. He engineered the interrogations, convictions and executions of many whom Henry needed out of the way, including his two predecessors as fixer and even the king's second wife, Queen Anne. When Cromwell's son, Gregory, who became sickened as he... Read More
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Assassination as Policy in Washington and How It Failed, 1990-2015
As the war on terror nears its 14th anniversary -- a war we seem to be losing, given jihadist advances in Iraq, Syria, and Yemen -- the U.S. sticks stolidly to its strategy of “high-value targeting,” our preferred euphemism for assassination. Secretary of State John Kerry has proudly cited the elimination of “fifty percent” of... Read More
No one can claim that plotting assassination is new to Washington or that, in the past, American leaders and the CIA didn’t aim high: the Congo’s Patrice Lumumba, Cuba’s Fidel Castro, the Dominican Republic’s Rafael Trujillo. The difference was that, in those days, the idea of assassinating a foreign leader, or anyone abroad, had a... Read More
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How the Predator and Extra-Judicial Execution Became Washington’s Calling Cards
[The following is slightly adapted from chapters two and three of Grégoire Chamayou’s new book, A Theory of the Drone, with special thanks to his publisher, the New Press.] Initially, the English word “drone” meant both an insect and a sound. It was not until the outbreak of World War II that it began to... Read More
Drones seemed to come out of nowhere, sexy as the latest iPhones and armed to kill. They were all-seeing eyes in the sky (“a constant stare,” as drone promoters liked to say) and surgically precise in their ability to deliver death to evildoers. Above all, without pilots in their cockpits, they were, in terms of... Read More
It was a typical little news story on Washington’s drone wars -- six paragraphs from Yemen, the sort of minimalist report that, in these years, has also regularly come out of Pakistan or even, from time to time, Somalia. “A U.S. drone attack in Yemen killed four suspected al-Qaeda militants on Saturday in the southern... Read More
A New Form of War May Be Producing a New Form of Mental Disturbance
The U.S. drone war across much of the Greater Middle East and parts of Africa is in crisis and not because civilians are dying or the target list for that war or the right to wage it just about anywhere on the planet are in question in Washington. Something far more basic is at stake:... Read More
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From Torture to Drone Assassination, How Washington Gave Itself a Global Get-Out-of-Jail-Free Card
"The sovereign is he who decides on the exception,” said conservative thinker Carl Schmitt in 1922, meaning that a nation’s leader can defy the law to serve the greater good. Though Schmitt’s service as Nazi Germany’s chief jurist and his unwavering support for Hitler from the night of the long knives to Kristallnacht and beyond... Read More
My drone is yours, compadre! Or so Washington has now decided. The latest promise of good times in the arms trade comes from an administration that has pioneered a robotic assassination regime organized out of the White House (though credit for groundbreaking drone assassination work should go to Israel as well). Run largely by the... Read More
Looking Back on Washington’s War on Terror
It was December 6, 2019, three years into a sagging Clinton presidency and a bitterly divided Congress. That day, the 500-page executive summary of the Senate Intelligence Committee’s long fought-over, much-delayed, heavily redacted report on the secret CIA drone wars and other American air campaigns in the 18-year-long war on terror was finally released. That... Read More
The political philosopher Edmund Burke once remarked that all that is necessary for the triumph of evil is for good folks to do nothing. A glaring example of the impending triumph of a constitutional evil that could be stopped by folks who have been largely silent is the tyranny coming from the White House. And... Read More
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We’re Number One... In Obliterating Wedding Parties
The headline -- “Bride and Boom!” -- was spectacular, if you think killing people in distant lands is a blast and a half. Of course, you have to imagine that smirk line in giant black letters with a monstrous exclamation point covering most of the bottom third of the front page of the Murdoch-owned New... Read More
Credit: Wikimedia Commons
It would seem the CIA has gone back into their archives, blown the dust off the Phoenix Program, and put it into play again as the "Drone War." The similarities with the Drone War are readily evident to anyone old enough to know of the Phoenix Program. For those who aren't old enough or who... Read More
The killing of Anwar al-Awlaki a U.S citizen in Yemen by a CIA drone missile on September 30 has been publicized by the mass media, President Obama and the usual experts on al-Qaeda as “a major blow to the jihadist network founded by Osama bin Laden” US officials called Awlaki “the most dangerous figure in... Read More
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PastClassics
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The “war hero” candidate buried information about POWs left behind in Vietnam.
The major media overlooked Communist spies and Madoff’s fraud. What are they missing today?
What Was John McCain's True Wartime Record in Vietnam?