Feb 14, 2013 - Issue 504


Warfare Fit for a Changed America

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my sweet old etcetera

aunt lucy during the recent


war could and what

is more did tell you just

what everybody was fighting



my sister


isabel created hundreds


hundreds) of socks not to

mention shirts fleaproof ear warmers


etcetera wristers etcetera, my

mother hoped that


i would die etcetera

bravely of course my father used

to become hoarse talking about how it was

a privilege and if only he

could meanwhile my


self etcetera lay quietly

in the deep mud et





cetera, of

Your smile

eyes knees and of your Etcetera)


-E.E. Cummings, “[my sweet old etcetera]”


In the dark

They could not see

Who had gained

The victory.


-Langston Hughes, “Peace”


The armed forces of the U.S. government, the CIA, the contracted militiamen and women, the capitalists, corporations from Exxon Mobile to weapons manufactures, to agriculture, pharmaceutical and apparel companies, to foreign puppet and so-called sovereign nations - all contribute to the body count. Yet, it is always uncountable - the 1 or 14 or 60 daily or the 236 monthly, the thousands and millions year after year. Nevertheless, a KA-POW! BANG! SPLASH! accompanies each exit from this world. In addition, the “operations,” accomplished out of the sight of American citizens, rely on the cooperation of taxpaying Americans.


Americans, Liberals, Tea Partiers, Progressives, Leftists, Republicans, Democrats, Libertarians, Green Partiers, and Christians, are unique. The philosophy of American exceptionalism attests to the nation’s unique role in the world and to its difference from the other –isms such as fascism and communism.


Consequently, it is unlikely to witness in the upper classes and the nobility, who waltzed while fellow citizens died of starvation or disease, any parallel here in the United States. So many German citizens turned their heads and held their noses as Jewish men, women, and children disappeared or went up in smoke, but here in the United States such behavior from average citizens toward other Americans is unlikely. So many millions of citizens in the former Soviet Union accepted the “party line” and dared to imagine an alternative vision free of coercive force and outright repression. In the United States however, the land of the free, a vision of citizenry in lock step with a repressive regime is unthinkable.


Come hell or high water, Americans flock to Wal-Mart or their local gun dealer and cherish gun ownership more than freedom itself!


In the meantime, the body count in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Yemen, and Somalia continues to rise and, it seems Americans do waltz, turn their heads, or march in lock step with the notion that the U.S. government is saving lives and sparing Americans another 911 or worse.


The United States is “unique” in that its people professing for 200 years such difference, newness, such a historical awareness of it other nations and its own past in savagery and barbarianism that they today respond to the daily, monthly, yearly tally of the neutralized, exterminated, liquidated with indifference.


It is incomprehensible but no less real.




The more things change, the more things advance. Gone is large-scale fascism in Italy or Germany. Gone is the Communist Block. But today, a sovereign and supposedly free Western nation like France, with a socialist government no less, sends a cavalier to rescue “poor” Malians, in a gold an oil deposit rich Mali, at the request of its puppet leadership, from the new evil terrorist. Even the BBC sends its troops of journalists to meet and greet the saved. Americans are not terribly concerned.


It is France, right? France’s former colony, right? Nevertheless, Mali is a “partner” of the U.S. too. Most important, Mali is “an important partner in regional efforts to combat Islamic extremism,” according to a Reuters report, April 4, 2012. Just last year, the U.S. suspended $13 million of its $140 million in humanitarian aid to Mali (Reuters) - a lot of American taxpayer’s money for a rich nation where the body count rises. It seems Malians still starve while the U.S. treats Malian soldiers to expert training in the U.S. - to do what else but kill.


When there are plenty of Dead Presidents to go around who is counting? Just thank the well-armed French troops and the well-trained Malian soldiers for their “partnership.”


Hitler only had a little more than 10 years.


In the old days, when the communists of Vietnam dared to tell France that their days as colonial rulers were coming to an end, the French (of all “revolutionary” people) did not believe in the power of the people. On their exit from Vietnam came the U.S. The tiny nation, too, warned the big giant. You, too, will go. Time is on our side.


Chemical defoliants ravaged the land (see Nick Turse, “The American System of Suffering 1965-2014,” The Nation, January 8, 2013).[1] “Helicopter machine gunners began firing on locals. By 1969, bombing and shelling were day-and-night occurrences.” Villagers fled for the mountains, writes Turse, “trading the terror of imminent death for a daily struggle of hardscrabble privation.” Others still ended up in “squalid” refugee “resettlement” camps. According to one eyewitness and survivor, 78-year-old Pham To:


Those who remained in the village suffered more when the troops came through. Homes were burned as a matter of course. People were kicked and beaten. Men were shot when they ran in fear. Women were raped. One morning, a massacre by American soldiers wiped out 21 fellow villagers.


“Leaving aside those who perished from disease, hunger, or lack of medical acre, at least 3.8 million Vietnamese died violent war deaths according to researchers from Harvard Medical School and the University of Washington,” writes Turse. Of this number, “2 million” were civilians! Another “5.3 million” suffered wounds, “for a total of 7.3 million Vietnamese civilian casualties overall.” Close to 5 million (4.8) were sprayed with “toxic herbicides like Agent Orange” while 11. 7 million fled their homes.


In those days, however, a “revolutionary” and “new” people, staged an era of spectacular protest. A high count of military casualties- and causalities, high and deep among the protesters send U.S. troops stumbling over one another to flee Vietnamese military and villagers and city dwellers alike.


Things are different today.


The U.S. government invaded Iraq anyway just as it had invaded Vietnam in 1965, resulting in an “uncountable” number of deaths. Iraq’s former U.S. puppet Saddam did not send troops to New York, Washington D.C. or Pennsylvania and WMDs were never found, but Americans believe war is the only option!


The daily, monthly, yearly body count keeps Americans safe. The neutralization, extermination, liquidation of other human beings is but a sacrificial offering to the gods, to the universe, for the longevity of the greatest nation the world has ever seen (or experienced!) - not to echo past empires that have said much the same.


The altars, furnaces, gulags, the Dionysian frenzy, and the Viennese waltzes among the stately high rises command the American people to turn their heads and hold their noses - and they oblige because “politics” boils down to the “politics” of Scott Walker and the like. Democrats and or Republicans - and there is no other alternative to this reality. The electoral process has the U.S either in the grips of “socialism” or living out the “King legacy.”




War saves lives! War saves a lifestyle!


It is imperative that those in serve of the Market silence Americans old enough to remember the body count and suffering in Europe and Japan, in Korea, in Vietnam, and the protest body count in the U.S. with revised narratives, for example, regarding the conflict in Vietnam. Omit the millions of civilian casualties but insert a victorious “W” for the U.S.A., and Americans won in Vietnam! Those Americans in 2009, who dared to call into question Obama’s war in Afghanistan and refer to it as “Obama’s Vietnam” (see Turse) were quickly shot down and out shouted from above: David Patraeus’s “winning formula” or horrors that will befall the U.S. if a Mitt Romney succeeds to the White House. Now the U.S. has yet another general who will win the war against “terrorists.”


Turse is right to note that Americans just do not get it. “Reporters, pundits, historians, generals, politicians, or other members of the chattering class” manage “to miss the one unfailing parallel between America’s wars” in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Yemen, and Somalia - “civilian suffering.”


The suffering of others goes unnoticed. But how successful has that campaign of change been? What a successful slogan on the other hand, this inertia on the part of the American public shows just how successful, echoed in every regime since the Nixon regime. Behind a Nixon, a Carter, a Reagan, a Bush I and II, and a Clinton in between, Americans listened for the promise of change. And Americans changed, and apparently, Americans believe in this change!


Few Americans, writes Turse, have “ever personally experienced anything like what their tax dollars have wrought in Southeast Asia, the Middle East, and Southwest Asia in the last half-century.” In Vietnam alone, “the numbers are staggering, the suffering incalculable, the misery almost incomprehensible to most Americans but not, perhaps, to an Iraqi.”


Or Pakistanis or Yemenis or Somalis who, if they do not know it, are the newest sacrificial lambs for the advancement of U.S. military engagement with the “enemy.” It is being mapped out.


Silence some and dazzle the young!


According to a well-tuned propaganda documentary, Rise of the Drones, featured on PBS’s NOVA last month (Lockheed Martin and the Koch Foundation for Science funded this propaganda for the continuation, advancement of warfare).[2] Incomprehensible, huh? The U.S. works day and night to develop drones of all shapes and sizes. With the help of scientists (like schoolboys, so eager to be in the service of the “good guys,” hired by the military and corporations such as the featured BASF, and others specializing in warfare, the U.S. is mastering the high-tech approach to killing from what looks like basement labs. (Aspects of the changing face of warfare require secrecy, so the American viewer is not allowed to see too much of what lies underneath blue tarps. However, what is omitted: other nations know enough to start tinkering with drone technology!). Nonetheless, America now has the capacity to zero in on individuals on the street, walking, driving, playing, and this work in high definition will enhance the targeting of the enemy - the bug splash! You can imagine the “enhanced” potential for the U.S. government to spy on citizens, including Americans, anywhere in the world. According to the Obama administration, the government will not need to explain why your name appears on the CIA’s or Obama’s kill list. Surveillance or bug splash! (“Capture is infeasible!”).


And the music is pulsating because this is such a revolutionary adventure into the future!


I should add that the scientists and developers of drone technology are just Americans who do not intend for their inventions to be deployed against humans in warfare. They just want to serve the flag. Oppenheimer bought the same narrative.


The “remote pilots” featured in The Rise of Drones are key to the whole operation. Pilots are heroes, so naturally, these remote pilots represent the future’s heroes. For remote pilots sitting in front of computers, maneuvering the drones, the word “kill” is, I guess, inoperative. It is now- “SPLASH!” - as in “bug splash!” (Already acclimated to a video game world where people are expendable “bugs,” these remote pilots are easier to train). “The U.S. now trains more remote pilots than manned Air Force and Navy pilots combined.” So you young folks out there, come on! Combat without your blood!


This shift, change, saves lives! “Pilots” stay at a safe distance, and I suppose the Empire need not worry about misfits like bombers in Vietnam who, witnessing the impact of napalm and bombs on men, women, and children, dared to let the Navy or Air Force know they had a conscious! There is no room for a conscious in a militarized/CIA operation.


The Rise of Drones features the future, the future of warfare! It is inevitable moving of time forward. Who does not want to move forward? As retired General David Deptula explains, it takes too long to gather information on the enemy. Gone are those days - welcome to the future - to forward thinking and rapid responses to a threat!


Where in all this talk in the old ways verses the new is there reference even to a decrease in the body count?


Drones, the tool “of choice for taking out militants outside of Afghanistan and Iraq,” (“Everything We Know So Far About Drone Strikes,” Propublica, January 11, 2013,) are triggered from within the U.S. and from a remote “network of secret bases around the world” (Propublica). No one knows the total number killed by strikes. Maybe add over 3000 bodies (Propublica) to those millions here and there and in the past. But what is another 3000 dead, killed!


While the U.S. Congress stages a show of concern, questioning the legality of drone strikes and the legality of Obama’s (the Executive Branch’s) right to list and kill Americans, the U.S. Empire is working to affect the future of change. Well, is this not the reason Barack Obama selection and slogan of change galvanizes (and enriches) Wall Street, Bernanke, Summers, Spritzer, Brennans, AIG, Goldman Sachs, and Lockheed Martin ($126, 932, Opensecrets.org). Dr. King’s selection by the oligarchy would be incomprehensible to someone with his principles who could not manipulate the national and international laws and declare war on the world’s citizens. King is exactly where Americans in 1968 (and maybe even now) want him to be. Dead!


Drone warfare arms Americans with the right to kill while disarming Americans of their Constitutional right to due process if charged or detained by the legal apparatus of the government. Unfortunately, too many citizens in the U.S., concerned about holding on to their guns, will find confronting a tiny drone outside living room windows a Wow, Bang, Splash blend of the Old West meets Star Wars.


The future of drones is the future of profits for individual Americans as well as for corporations. As we know, the good ol’ American is entitled to be just as enterprising as the giant corporations. America is the land of opportunity! The world of drone warfare offers a systematically high-tech militarized reality, part otherworldly and dazzling, smartly packaged to present Americans opportunities to fulfill their wildest dreams for themselves and their families.


Incomprehensible? No. Drone warfare saves capitalism and with capitalism, an American lifestyle of violence!


In the dark/They could not see/Who had gained/The victory.


The masterminds behind the idea of drone warfare, of perpetual warfare, tap into the psyche of the American people. There is something attractive to Americans in this down-spiraling transformation of themselves and of the State. It is the best of Sci-Fi writ large: a terrifying enemy with exceptional advantages appears on the planet. Before the end of the Hollywood production, the little people wake up from a state of helplessness, glimpse a vision of freedom from the enemy, and begin to fight back-  if it is understood that “the enemy” is a manifestation of the fear within.


[1] Turse, Kill Anything That Moves: The Real American War in Vietnam. Turse reviewed the archives of U.S. war crimes committed in Vietnam. These reports originated from soldiers and returning veterans. These documents were compiled by U.S. Army investigators for the Pentagon Task Force after soldiers reported witnessing fellow soldiers committing war crimes with impunity.

BlackCommentator.com Editorial Board member and Columnist, Lenore Jean Daniels, PhD, has a Doctorate in Modern American Literature/Cultural Theory. Click here to contact Dr. Daniels.