Sure—that’s what you need to believe, isn’t it?
Especially on Veteran’s Day, when you recall the gigantic costs of America daily enforcing its empire on the world.
Of course, it won’t be long before the only combat veterans of our wars will look like metallic and plastic pterosaurs—flying killer drones—or Terminators. And nobody will be handing out medals and honors to these pieces of equipment or, as the military calls them, “assets”—the very same word they use to describe human beings in thrall to the national will.
A few months ago, the New York Times hosted a discussion about the morality of the use of robot killers—especially the drone aircraft that have been much employed by the USA to kill alleged terrorists, including US citizens assassinated by their own government without any trial.
Of course, the real moral questions come up when the robots end up killing “collaterals”, civilians who essentially get in the way by living nearby the location of a supposed terrorist target. Sometimes, it isn’t the problem that the collaterals have the bad luck to be living too near a real target, it is instead that the humans ordering and operating the robots fuck up completely and kill innocent human beings out of sheer stupidity. Or is it policy to terrorize everybody?
One of the Times' articles asked a question, which it pointed out was an old question about the issue of just acts and the likelihood a person, given a guarantee of immunity from reprisal (say by being completely inaccessible to the poor people he's remotely killing with a robot) will more readily commit an unjust act? In a sense, it is the old question of do the ends justify the means, but also do the means lose any moral relevance if we cannot be held accountable for the means we choose?
The ancient example the article gave was the tale told by Plato in The Republic, of the rise of a young Lydian shepherd, Gyges, who becomes king of all Lydia by the use of a magic ring he had found. Plato tells this story in an effort to answer a question: given the power to commit any act, just or not, and get away with it, what will people choose to do?
Gyges discovers a magic ring that will make him invisible. Travelling to the court of the king of Lydia, Gyges wastes little time using the magic power of the ring (sound familiar?) to commit unjust acts, first seducing the queen, and then convincing her to help him murder the king. Not providing the details of how exactly it was achieved, Plato tells us Gyges “took the kingdom.”
Plato then asks what would happen if you had two such rings, and placed one on the finger of a just man, and one on the finger of an unjust man? Would the two men act differently from one another, given that they were both empowered to act “like a God among men”?
And Plato answers:
A man is just, not willingly or because he thinks that justice is any good to him individually, but of necessity, for wherever any one thinks that he can safely be unjust, there he is unjust.This has always been an argument when it came to discussing powers of warmaking, especially those which are held exclusively by one nation, such as the USA, and no other. The exclusive power, for example, to fly robot killers into any country and kill whomever we desire, and risk nothing in the perpetration of this murder but the loss of a machine (which almost never happens), has affirmed the unparalleled killing power of a president of the United States as being “like a God among men”.
We are told we should thank a vet today.
But if you really want to thank a vet, for the surrender of their brains and bodies to the robotic task of killing and destroying in the name of the American people, maybe you should task yourself to challenging your dangerously lazy assumptions about what constitutes true national strength, national rights to use that strength, and national morality to measure the rightness of American policy decisions.
Regarding the latter, Mitt Romney had a very simple response—“no apologies”—as in none should be required by Americans for any act, no matter how unjust. Along with a lot of other absurd things Romney claimed were true, Americans rejected that one on Tuesday as well.
Yet, at least Romney was talking shit about something he had never actually done—ordering the killing of human beings as commander of the US military.
|Just one of many collateral victims of US war policy, this little Pakistani girl was injured by an American drone strike.|
Is there one baby in Afghanistan, or Pakistan, or in so many other poor places in the world, blown to pieces by some American idiot driving a drone, that does not rate more concern and regret and hatred of war, than all the babbling nonsense about veterans that the nation indulges in for two holidays every year?
When is Victims of Veteran’s Day in the USA, a day to remember all the people unjustly killed, and maimed, and made homeless and destitute by the USA in its heinous war-mongering?
It should be every day—especially this one.