Why was Wikileaks founder Julian Assange arrested and removed from the Ecuador embassy?

Watch Collateral Murder, a video published by Wikileaks and which documents US war crimes.

 

The Army *really* wants YOU to become a government contract killer!

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One might have thought, with the advent of remote-control killing and combatant-free warfare, that it would be the easiest thing in the world to lure new recruits into the military in the twenty-first century, especially given the rapidity with which entire professions continue to disappear. Where in the world can a young person find a well-paying, salaried position with good benefits, a pension package—and even healthcare? Where else can one find a job guaranteed NEVER to disappear, no matter what future technology may bring?

All of those perks, and the progressive removal of soldierly risk from the war equation, have still not sufficed to fill the ranks, even as the Iraq fiasco fades fast from popular cultural memory. Witness the British Army’s recently launched, bold marketing campaign, which targets, well, anyone! You may be the Class Clown, a Me-Me-Me Millennial, an i-phone Zombie, a Selfie Addict, a Binge Gamer, or even a Snowflake! Sure, the personality traits often corresponding to those types–irresponsibility, narcissism, OCD (obsessive-compulsive disorder), ADHD (attention-deficit-hyperactivity disorder), and excessive sensitivity–may have disqualified prospective enlistees in the twentieth century. But no more!

What used to be vices have become, in the Drone Age, reimagined as virtues!

 

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It comes as no surprise, of course, that military recruiters are targeting gamers and I-phone zombies. What the twenty-first century warrior needs, above all, is the ability to stare at a screen in a small, dark room, for many hours a day. Binge Gamers have the added credential of having already spent thousands of hours of their life attempting to “light up” icons on their computer screens. Why not put this skill to work in lighting up real live human beings????

 

But there is room in the technologically advanced, twenty-first-century Killing Machine military for Me-Me-Me Millennials and Selfie Addicts, too! Who better to recruit to erase other people–designated by someone somewhere as “evil”–from existence? Why it’s a dream come true for any self-respecting narcissist: you can play God Almighty, possessing the power to wipe other people from the face of the planet with the push of a button!

 

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And it’s always good to have someone on hand with a sense of humor–as “towel heads” and “Hadjis”, “rats”, “mice”, “rabbits”, and “bugs” are systematically snuffed out, or “splashed”–to remind stodgier types present that “This wasn’t a bake sale,” and “You know what’s going on in the BadaBing!” Hooaah!

 

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The surest sign that things are not going so well in the recruitment departments of modern military institutions is that they are now reaching out, improbably, to Snowflakes as well! But there is an explanation for this, too. First, Snowflakes like safe spaces. What could be safer than a hermetically sealed metal shipping container located in a desert thousands of miles away from the battlefield? And should the Snowflake experience any compunction whatsoever about what he or she has done, that will be remedied immediately with a liberal dose of some of the latest and greatest pharmaceutical developments being lavished upon modern soldiers, both on and off “the battlefield”: antidepressants, anti-anxiety antidotes, antipsychotic meds used for off-label conditions such as insomnia, the sky is the limit–the list goes on and on!

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The Lethal Foreign Policy of Military Experts

Speaking of James “Mad Dog” Mattis, who has now resigned…

We Kill Because We Can

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Libya was bombed by the US government yesterday, but you wouldn’t know it because the media have been obsessed with the #TakeAKnee dispute between the president and the NFL. Trump may not even be aware that Libya was bombed under his authority, because he has put his trusty “Mad Dog” on a very long leash, in the hopes that he’ll be able to figure out how to clean up the mess in the Middle East.

I’ve picked on General James “Helluva Hoot to Shoot Some People” Mattis before, pointing out, among other things, the fact that he’s part of the revolving door of military officers and war profiteers. Was the Fallujah siege of 2004 a splendid show of US military prowess? I beg to differ. Perhaps it was for his moniker alone that General Mattis was called out of semi-retirement by Trump to serve as the Secretary of Defense…

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Sting of the Drone: A fictional work filled with truths about drone warfare

 

 

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I recently finished Richard A. Clarke’s Sting of the Drone (2014), which is a modern military thriller filled with fictional characters who are all apt metaphors for the players involved in drone warfare, including bureaucrats, operators, victims, angry survivors, mercenary opportunists, and young men lured into becoming jihadi foot soldiers. The book is quick-paced and portrays a world in which drone assassination is perpetrated by a group of professionals who view themselves as fighting “the bad guys” and defending their country, even when they accidentally wipe out a group of young boys or an American citizen at a hotel in Vienna, Austria, among other mistakes. The notion of “collateral damage” is used to absolve the killers from any true responsibility for what they do, but some among the perpetrators occasionally indulge in a bit of soul-searching.

Without revealing the major plot points or dénouement, I will say that I applaud Clarke’s willingness to tackle this topic in what appears to be something of an act of contrition, given the confessional quality of the author’s note at the end of the book. It turns out that Clarke himself first agitated most forcefully for the arming of the Predator drone, way back in the twentieth century, when it was used strictly for surveillance, but he was repeatedly rebuffed. All that changed with the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, after which, of course, an entire program of assassination was instigated.

The critical tone of much of Sting of the Drone makes clear that Clarke now disagrees with what the drone program has become. The former chief counter-terrorism security adviser on the National Security Council appears to believe that Osama bin Laden could have been taken out early on, in which case 9/11 would have been averted, and the Drone Age would then perhaps never have come about. I am not so sure, given the lethal centrism of US foreign policy and the lethal creep of the military, fueled by a fascination with the latest and greatest–and most deadly–DARPA technologies.

In any case, Clarke competently covers a range of important topics ignored by the all-too-sanguine headlines regularly reporting “victories” in the “Global War on Terror” (GWOT), above all: What happens when drones are hijacked, or commandeered, by angry converts to jihadism who wish to exact revenge against the bureaucrats serving on “kill committees” and the operators who act on orders arising out of “kill calls”?

Clarke offers plenty of nitty-gritty detail, explaining how in reality such retaliations could be carried out, which is sure to interest technology buffs and readers of military thrillers alike. It should also be of interest to ordinary citizens, who will no doubt bear the brunt of the blowback attacks of the future, orchestrated in direct response to the US government’s summary execution of thousands of military-age men, along with unintended “collateral damage”, in countries all over the Middle East and Africa, among other places.

This book offers a fine introduction to the manifold problems with the US drone program and the proliferation of remote-control killing currently underway all over the globe, thanks to the precedent set by the US government, especially under President Barack Obama, who opted to kill rather than capture suspected terrorists. The lawless and counterproductive drone killing of such persons abroad has, predictably, continued and grown worse under President Donald Trump. But the normalization and rebranding of suspect assassination as “targeted killing” and an act of “war” will surely go down in history as Obama’s biggest blunder. Executive power, once seized, is seldom renounced, and it is difficult to imagine why targeted killing would be curtailed by any future president without a significant popular movement to call a halt to the practice. Unfortunately, most of the citizenry has been hoodwinked into believing that drone assassination is a form of “smart war”.

Give this easy-to-digest but thought-provoking book a read, or a listen, and see what you think…

Interview: What will be the likely effects of loosening restrictions on US military drone exports?

In this short interview, Jason White of Sputnik International asks Laurie Calhoun to comment on recent reports that the Trump administration plans to loosen restrictions on military drone exports.

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Here is a more detailed treatment of the topic.