A few days ago this image showed up on my Facebook feed, and I shared it.
When you shoot people, they will try to shoot back.
Not many governments have the huge resources available required to deploy drones. The United States is one of the few. If you want a better understanding of our drone program in form of a movie, watch Good Kill and get yourself shocked.
Our drones are killing machines, doomsday robots we only knew in science fiction movies a few decades ago, that descend out of nowhere, unheard, unseen, and shoot missiles. We have documented cases where the United States has shot missiles into wedding parties, killing dozens of innocent people, women and children, because there was a terrorist in their midst.
We also have a policy to “double tap” which means we shoot another missile into the aftermath of the first one. Since the rescuers on the ground know that, they don’t go into the original death scene and this ensures that the wounded there are slowly dying in agony with bystanders watching from a distance, unable to help or risk their own lives.
This is war at its very, very worst.
Do we think that a young boy who sees his mother, his father, his siblings murdered this way, might be inclined to join the jihad and fight the people on the other side of the planet that send killer robots their way? You bet. I am sure I would too if I were that boy and an American killer robot had blown away my mom and dad.
People Bomb You. You Get Angry. You Bomb People.
This bombing is done by the American government. Our president orders it. He does it in the name of the American people, in my name, with my tax dollars.
Imagine you are playing a video game. You hunt down bad guys and blow them to pieces with missiles. A few minutes later, the rescuers come from all directions with shovels to help any possible buried survivors. For good measure, you fire another missile into the rescue mission. You call it a follow-up. You just killed more than a dozen people, seemingly by just moving objects on a screen.
But it isn’t a video game. Your shift is over. You get up from your chair, unplug your headset, and someone else takes over. You get out of the air-conditioned trailer on an airbase in Nevada, get into your car and drive home to Las Vegas, to your wife and kids. Backyard barbecue tonight.
Good Kill tells the riveting story of modern-day warfare. “Pilots” sit safely on the ground in trailers in the U.S. flying killer robot machines over targets anywhere in the Middle East, on the other side of the globe. The killer robots can circle for many hours and practically fly themselves. They are so high up, they cannot be seen from the ground. But the “pilots” have high-resolution cameras. They get a laser fix on the target, pull the trigger, and a Hellfire missile is on its way. Time to impact, 10 seconds. Hopefully no kids or other innocent victims walk into the “theater” within those 10 seconds. When the missile hits, there is a cloud of fire and destruction. Another $64,000 of American tax payer money well spent.
Major Thomas Egan (Ethan Hawke) is a former fighter pilot with 3,000 hours in an F-16 and six tours of duty in the Middle East. He considers himself a pilot. Playing video games, albeit deadly ones way beyond what an F-16 could do, is not his idea of warfare and he yearns to get back into the cockpit of a real plane. When the CIA takes over and directs his crew and their missions, the psychological impact of those orders, which often kill innocent civilians simply because they happen to be around a “high value target,” is demoralizing to the crew. Egan has a hard time going home to his wife and family and playing father and husband. He is distant and deeply troubled. He is part of a killing machine in 21st century warfare.
Good Kill is a fictional account of supposedly true events. We will never know how true. We have all learned about drone strikes and their impact on terrorism. I believe that this type of warfare simply is a terrorism breeder. You want more terrorists, send more Hellfire missile out of the blue sky into civilian neighborhoods in Yemen and Afghanistan. It works perfectly. Every boy who sees his father blown to pieces grows into a fiercely dedicated combatant within just a few years. The Middle East we have created is a petri dish to grow terrorists.
If Good Kill only approximates what is really going on, even if it is a fictional exaggeration, it exposes a frightening reality that we, the American tax payer, must become aware of. Bush started the war on terror, but Obama refined it and sanitized it. We’re not seeing the body bags coming off airplanes anymore. But we know the killer robots are out there, looking down from the blue sky.
Good Kill tells the story of what our government thinks is okay to do in our name, to the people of the Middle East, and to our own soldiers.
The top U.S. commander in Afghanistan apologized to Afghan President Hamid Karzai for a drone strike that killed a two-year-old child, and wounded two women, according to the U-T San Diego of December 1, 2013. The article further stated that Karzai condemned the attack and said all strikes and foreign raids on Afghan homes must stop if the United States expects him to sign a pact that would allow thousands of Americans to stay in the country beyond a 2014 withdrawal deadline.
According to nationalpriorities.org, we are paying $10.45 million dollars an hour for the war in Afghanistan.
More than 10 MILLION DOLLARS an HOUR, every hour, every day. For that, we get drone strikes that occasionally kill toddlers and women. For that we get soldiers that come back and have to wait for two years for their veterans benefits to kick in. For that we have soldiers with post-traumatic stress syndrome with ruined lives (see 60 Minutes of last Sunday).
We are propping up Karzai’s corrupt regime, only because the alternative seems worse to us: Total control of the country by the Taliban. We are fanning the flames of terrorism. One does not make friends with the father of a toddler when killing the child with a drone. While I don’t know the particulars of this case, it is quite possible that along with the two wounded women, the home of the family was also destroyed. These people don’t have Progressive Insurance to come over and replace their houses when American rockets level them. This unfortunate “incident” as we call it, necessary collateral damage to “keep America safe” may have destroyed a man’s livelihood, taken away his house and all his possessions, killed one of his children and injured two more women. One such incident turns that one father into a devoted terrorist for the rest of his life.
Drones are blunt weapons. Try to kill gnat with a sledge-hammer. Try not to do damage to the thing the gnat sits on. That’s what a drone strike in a civilian neighborhood is like. As long as there are drone strikes, there are civilian casualties, and they hurt the most.
For the $677 billion spent so far on the war in Afghanistan we could have given every citizen in Afghanistan (all 31 million of them) a cash sum of $21,838. Do you think the Taliban would have any chance for a foothold, if we had paid every family of four $88,000 in cash? The average income in Afghanistan is $426 a year, up sharply from $70 in 2004. The $88,000 would be 206 years of income, about what an Afghan family will earn in eight generations. For perspective, eight generations ago, that was the era of Thomas Jefferson in the United States!
From a minute fraction of the money we have spent and continue spending we could have BOUGHT the entire country and the eternal loyalty of its citizens for generations. Yet, here in 2013, we are no further along with the eradication of the Taliban, and its sponsorship of terrorism, than we were in 2004, ten years ago.
Karzai wants us to stop, he wants us out, and he is acting like he is doing us a favor by allowing us to keep forces in the country after 2014. I know he has to say that to stand up for his country, but it is galling nonetheless.
I say we stop the insanity, we withdraw all troops now, and let Karzai deal with his Taliban-infested, corrupt mess of a country himself. We’d have more friends in Afghanistan, and we could start spending $10 million an hour on the education of American children in American schools – and we’d get so much more bang for the buck.
Bush was responsible for starting the war – and with 9/11 one might argue it needed doing. Then Bush kept it going for another seven years. Obama is now responsible for five more years.
All this is done in the name of the American citizen. It’s done in my name, and I don’t like it.