Send in the Drones

Last Saturday afternoon I attended the memorial meeting for Ward Morehouse, a dedicated life-long activist and a long-time supporter of the Rosenberg Fund for Children.  Charlie King opened the program with one of Ward’s favorite parody songs:  Send in the Drones, sung to the tune of Send in the Clowns.   I’ve set down some of the words below:

“Isn’t it strange?
Aren’t we a pair?
One sitting safe on the ground
One in mid air

Send in the Drones
Never leave home
Never ask why
One rolls a joystick around
One gets to fly
Which is the drone?
Send in the drones

100’s are dead
1000’s are maimed
Digitized dolls on a string
No faces, no names”

After hearing this parody I thought about the recently released study in which Stanford and New York University researchers found that drone strikes in Pakistan are killing more civilians than reported, and slaying for the most part only low-level combatants.  Researchers found that since 2004 drone strikes have "killed 2562 to 3325 people in Pakistan, of whom 474 to 881 were civilians, including 176 children." Since only 50 to 60 of those dead were considered "high-level" targets, the strikes have killed three times as many children as key terrorists.   The study also concluded that the constant presence of drones in the sky terrorizes men, women, and children.

I also thought about the Obama administration’s increasing reliance on drones.  The Bush administration mounted no more than 50 such attacks during its second term, while the Obama administration has launched over 300 in a shorter time period.  I tried to imagine what it must be like to live in this free-fire zone; to hear these machines overhead and never know from one moment to the next when another dose of death would descend upon me.  I felt the deepest sense of revulsion for these devices and those who employ them.

I’ve read other commentaries, some more lengthy, that mount these as well as other attacks on our drone campaign.  But I’ve haven’t come across another critique of the use of drones that has haunted me since I heard Charlie sing the words above. One definition of “coward” in my computer’s dictionary is:  “Someone who anonymously harms those who cannot defend themselves.”

According to this dictionary’s definition drones are devices of quintessential cowardice.  Those who are responsible for their use, from the one who manipulates the joystick up the chain of command to the Commander-in-Chief of the United States, are mired in this most cowardly of death-dealing acts.

What more is there to say?

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The primary purpose is to award no-bid, cost-plus defense contracts to cronies who donated to election campaigns. As Congress awards the contracts, they, being exempt from insider trading regulations, phone their brokers to buy stock in the corporations they're awarding the contracts to. A million dollars in campaign contributions is expected to return trillions in defense contracts. Of course the contracts are awarded in five and ten year blocks, so no matter who is elected, the drone bombings will continue.

Congressional Democrats gave Bush standing ovations and voted for everything he wanted because his decisions had doubled and tripled the value of the defense stocks in their investment portfolios. Obama's decisions have done the same. The media leads voters to focus on marriage equality, reproductive rights--everything except the arms trade profits made by killing innocent kids.

Consent to Tyranny: Voting in the USA

Even votes for third party peace candidates are counted as part of the turnout in support of drone bombs.

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