no third solution

Blogging about liberty, anarchy, economics and politics

Bye, Bye, Miss American Pie…

July 6th, 2012

Since the Obama administration has twisted the definition of “enemy combatant” to include “anyone who’s close enough to get exploded by a US missile”, I guess it shouldn’t come as a surprise to see a video like this one, where some “heroes” from the 101st Airborne fire a missile at two people walking across the street. And then laugh about it while singing “American Pie”.

And then open fire machine guns on the first responders, which I’m pretty sure is a war crime.

Propaganda is often created to portray soldiers as doing a duty, and that they do not want or like to kill. That is probably true for many, even most soldiers, despite the desensitizing and dehumanizing training that is designed to encourage them otherwise.

“It’s almost impossible to act on your morality. . . . You remove the humanity from them — beat them — and in doing so you remove humanity from yourself.” — Carlos Mejia

It is pretty clear to me that these guys get off on killing. And anyone who gets off on killing is a sociopath, exactly the sort of person who should not be allowed anywhere near a sharp objects, let alone allowed to pilot or gun a fully armed Apache helicopter.

Is there another side to this story? Some secret that might otherwise justify stealth firing a missile at two men walking across the street? Maybe. Even if they’re justified in engaging actual enemy combatants isn’t it disturbing to see someone so callous about taking another life that they would laugh about it?

Just like the “good cop” meme, people will write this off as the uncontrollable actions of “a few bad apples”.  Well, this raises a host of questions about how the bad apples keep making their way in to the system in the first place, and why we only find out about their actions from “leak” sites (don’t the “good” guys want to get these cancers out of their ranks?). No. The fact of the matter is that are probably more bad apples who didn’t get caught and this isn’t an isolated incident.

The only thing necessary for evil to flourish is for good men to do nothing.

Even if the bad apples are a small minority, that makes it worse, because that means there is a large majority of “good” soldiers who look the other way when things like this, or Abu Ghraib, or the trophy killings, or the gang rapes, or the massacres, go down.

That makes them just as bad.

Pentagon vs. WikiLeaks: The Big Picture

August 6th, 2010

wikileaksThe other day, an obnoxious Pentagon spokesperson issued formal threats (essentially: destroy everything, or else!) against WikiLeaks, the organization which received thousands of classified documents from Bradley Manning and has since made many of those available for public consumption.

WikiLeaks founder, Julian Assange, responded in an interview on Democracy Now. Amy Goodman, conducting the interview, quoted Admiral Mike Mullen from a news conference earlier in the week

ADM. MIKE MULLEN: Mr. Assange can say whatever he likes about the greater good he thinks he and his source are doing, but the truth is, they might already have on their hands the blood of some young soldier or that of an Afghan family. Disagree with the war all you want, take issue with the policy, challenge me or our ground commanders on the decisions we make to accomplish the mission we’ve been given, but don’t put those who willingly go into harm’s way even further in harm’s way just to satisfy your need to make a point.

Hear? We’re allowed to “take issue with the policy” and “challenge” the tactical decisions made by the commanders, as long as we leave “the mission” out of the equation, because, you see, they’re just following orders (and so should you). But following orders isn’t an excuse.

Following orders was not an excuse for anyone put on trial in Nuremberg, and it will not be an excuse for you or your superiors, either.” — Andrew Williams (addressing Brigadier General Thomas Hartmann, legal advisor to Guantanamo Bay prison)

About those who “willingly” go in to harm’s way? They would rather be driving their kids to soccer practice, finishing college, working their 9-to-5, etc.  How many would’ve “willingly” gone to fight for Empire if the Pentagon had put a C-130 at every airport in the country with suitable runway and said, “Anyone who wants to go to Afghanistan and fight, the door is open!”? My guess: they wouldn’t fill a high school gymnasium.

Assange points out that when, e.g., Robert Gates or Mike Mullen implies that WikiLeaks and its collaborators might have blood on their hands, that these statements “all together, are designed to distract from the big picture,” which is of course the same big picture which Mullen craftily sidesteps in the blockquote above. The big picture is “the mission” itself, the objective consequences of which include the deaths of 20,000 civilian, non-combatant Afghans.

Mr. Mullen can say whatever he likes about the greater good he thinks he and his forces are doing, but the truth is, they already have on their hands the blood of 4,000 American soldiers, some 20,000 innocent Afghans, and (conservatively) over 100,000 innocent Iraqis. Including “accidents” wherein 150+ children were bombed to death.

Collateral murder, indeed.

Assange and WikiLeaks are exposing the crimes and the criminals like Mullen, Gates, et. Al, who are responsible. If you want to pretend that all that shit never happened, then I guess you can get on your high horse and start spouting off about the “potential” blood Assange might someday be responsible for.  But you’re definitely light-years ahead of him in terms of destroying human lives.

Mr. Mullen & Mr. Gates, You pay lip-service to keeping the troops out of harm’s way, you may fret over tactics, the specific actions you take towards the accomplishment of “the mission you’ve been given”, but tactics do not exist in a fucking vacuum. They exist only in the context of “the mission.”  Every second of your pitiful existence which passes without questioning the morality of the orders you’ve been given, the orders you’ve accepted to undertake, is another second in which you are responsible for the harm those people face, and the harm they may commit.  And if “the mission” is rotten (to the goddamned core), then nothing else matters.

Releasing “secret” military files does not endanger the troops. Putting them in unconstitutional wars and keeping them there for a decade does.

no third solution

Blogging about liberty, anarchy, economics and politics