Rachel Maddow Defends the US Drone Program on Howard Stern
Rachel Maddow defended the legally fuzzy bombardment of Pakistan, Yemen, Somalia, Ethiopia, and other nations in an interview with Howard Stern. In Maddow’s words the drones, “don’t change the politics of it [war] that much.” In reality, however, the politics have changed markedly because of the US military’s use of their stable/panoply of death-inducing/mass immolating drones. And it is, moreover, exceedingly unclear what is meant by Maddow’s comments as, for example, families have embarked upon lawsuits against the US government for innocents, non-terrorists, and non-combatants — who have been unceremoniously snuffed out — by the legally hazy, and decidedly unmanned aerial drones.
Additionally and infamously, of course, whole wedding parties have been wiped out, by some detached and far-flung controller in the American Southwest or in Langley, VA. Is this what is meant by making war more and more “hospitable” and “sanitized”? I guess, in a sense, but not; of course, for those at the receiving end of the drone. Such questions, I think, force one to wonder about what Maddow thinks regarding the Constitution — vis a vis the war authorization for the US military conflict — in the so-called Afpak war zone.
Indeed, the aforementioned authorization for the war in Afghanistan, pertains to the US military’s actions in Afghanistan — and Afghanistan alone.  Thus, of course, there is no constitutional basis for any sort of military, or even drone activities in the sovereign nation of Pakistan (or any of the other nations where they have been used). And furthermore, one wonders what Maddow’s position on the two American citizens — executed under unconstitutional bureaucratic fiat is — considering that this was not addressed in the Howard Stern interview. These Americans were, according to the Obama administration, guilty until proven innocent, but; of course, never received anything like their inalienable right to a trial, or the long-hallowed and (previously) integrally American jury of their peers.
International law scholar Richard Falk does believe that drones have changed the idea of war/military conflict seriously, and that their advent should be regarded with grave interest/concern. According to Falk the drones clearly raise questions about national sovereignty, and the parameters about presently held notions — of what are the currently permissible forms of war. Falk likens legal “rationalities” for the usage of the deathly — and indeed death-dealing — military drone technology, as analogous to John Yoo style torture memo-esque scrawlings of the George Bush Jr. administration/cabal. So, if some more mature, rational, and informed legal bases/doctrines, don’t arise regarding present and impending drone technology; Falk envisions a dystopian future scenario of rampant proliferation that will be imposed upon the world, by a small number of select, drone-armed, and exceedingly powerful elite states.
Falk posits that in our Machiavellian world, where a handful of nuclear countries have been able to cajole a vast majority of the world’s nations, into the signing of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, that a similar regime could come forward — regarding these still fairly nascent military drones. Falk sees no impediment to ridding the world of nuclear weapons, at present, and says that the same is essentially true of the drones. But the least evil (but still evil) route for the drones may; in fact, end similarly to nuclear armaments, in which the “great powers” — self-chosen — make elaborate and extensive use of their own specific unmanned aerial drones. And by that Falk means that some nations will use drones within their own territory, whilst more powerful international actors, will use them globally (and for attack purposes too).
Falk may be putting his realist hat on, and his spot-on theorizing may be of the Machiavellian reality/order of things, but the actuality of the matter is that the drones are totally (and utterly) illegal and unfair. Like a child in a candy shop, the military-industrial complex’s eyes have bulged out, at the advent of this facile way of grievously and insufferably slaughtering people — and so Falk’s analysis is, positively, very sound in this sense. But truth, facts, and reason, I think, must be defended also, even if they are ridiculed as utopian and overly idealistic, by the egregious, sly, and unscrupulous actions — made by the technocrats, military, governmental and political elite officials — who rule our modern day Oceania-esque nation-state, and evermore integrated world.
One of the most prominent government officials of any position — or any stripe — to come out, and unequivocally attack the drones is Hina Rabbani Khar, the Foreign Minister of Pakistan. Khar has said that, “Drones are not only completely illegal and unlawful and have no authorization to be used — within the domains of international law, but even more importantly, they are counterproductive to your objective of getting this region rid of militancy and terrorism and extremism. Furthermore she has stated, “if one [drone] strike leads to getting you target number one, or target number three today; you are creating five more targets, or ten more targets — in the militancy that it breeds — in the fodder that it gives to the militants, to join their ranks.”
Earlier this year Amnesty International called upon the Obama administration to demonstrate the legal and factual basis of the lethal use of drones. Amnesty’s Asia-Pacific director — at the time — said that, “the US authorities must give a detailed explanation of how these strikes are lawful, and what is being done to monitor civilian casualties and ensure proper accountability. And the director moreover asked, “What are the rules of engagement? What proper legal justification exists for these attacks? While the President’s confirmation of the use of drones in Pakistan, is a welcome first step towards transparency, these and other questions need to be answered.”
Thin and paltry “justifications” for the drone attacks have, in the past, been offered by US officials, and are “grounded” upon the spurious legal basis of a US global war on terrorism with Al-Qaeda — a concept that is not accepted or recognized, by international humanitarian or human rights law. Truthfully, the ultimate question is what law — if any — recognizes, or gives any credence to the deplorable bombardments, by these egregious, brutish, feral, and essentially barbaric (and deeply) inhuman drones?
International law scholar Philip Alston has said about the drones, “I’m particularly concerned that the United States seems oblivious to this fact when it asserts an ever-expanding entitlement for itself to target individuals across the globe… this strongly asserted but ill-defined license to kill without accountability is not an entitlement which the United States or other states can have without doing grave damage to the rules designed to protect the right to life and prevent extrajudicial executions.”
Alston, a former United Nations Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions, has proposed a summit by the “great” military powers to clarify the legal limits, and the boundaries on the extrajudicial attacks by the killer drones. If such a summit doesn’t take place, and define a fixed, immutable, firm, resolute, and unbending (drone) operational blueprint Alston says, “This expansive and open-ended interpretation of the right to self-defense [used to attempt to legitimize the drone strikes] goes a long way towards destroying the prohibition on the use of armed force contained in the [Charter of the UN].”
As made clear by Professor Richard Falk, there is absolutely no reason whatsoever, to continue on with these savage, mass slaying, and annihilating — and indeed, authentically diabolical killer drones. Like the opening of Pandora’s box, though, these horrid, reprehensible, and unconscionable technological creations may be with us for good. Professor Falk is a more learned man than I, so sadly, if the forces of peace and justice can’t effectively resist, and potentially put an end to these stealthful mass-murderers — run by cowards who have never even envisaged any battlefields — then they will continue to amass great civilian murder, death, heinousness, invidiousness, and inordinate barbarity too. This will more than likely be done by the nations, and regimes that trumpet human rights, democracy, liberty, transparency, openness, and unregulated; and unrestrained human thought, as articles that are necessary to their very basic foundational civic principles, and integral to their national essence also.
Sean Fenley is an independent progressive who would like to see the end of the dictatorial duopoly of the so-called two party adversarial system.
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