Wednesday, February 08, 2012
Obama, the Drones, and Canada's Secret War
The other day Obama, in his favourite role as Commander in Chief of The Great War on Terror, claimed that his Darth Vader fleet of deadly drones was on a "tight leash."
Mr. Obama, in an unusually candid public discussion of the Central Intelligence Agency’s covert program, said the drone strikes had not inflicted huge civilian casualties. “We are very careful in terms of how it’s been applied,” he said. “It is important for everybody to understand that this thing is kept on a very tight leash.”
But now we find out that the drones may be on a tight leash, but the people who fly them while sitting in an air conditioned trailer near Las Vegas, are apparently out of control.
A three month investigation including eye witness reports has found evidence that at least 50 civilians were killed in follow-up strikes when they had gone to help victims. More than 20 civilians have also been attacked in deliberate strikes on funerals and mourners.
Now look I don't know what's true or not eh? In The Great War on Terror you never do. But if that account is true, it might explain this.
A new Pentagon study shows that almost 30 percent of drone pilots surveyed suffer from what the military calls "burnout." It's the first time the military has tried to measure the psychological impact of waging a "remote-controlled war."
Unlike traditional pilots flying manned aircraft in a war zone, the pilots operating remote drones often stare at the same piece of ground in Afghanistan or Iraq for days, sometimes months. They watch someone's pattern of life, see people with their families, and then they can be ordered to shoot.
Because even when you're sitting in an air-conditioned trailer, munching on a cheeseburger, and pulling the trigger in your real-life video game, a war crime probably looks like a war crime eh?
Even if only you and your superiors get to count the bodies. And the American public has no idea what's going on. Just like almost nobody in Canada knew what our soldiers were doing.
Well-informed, Canadian officers refer, quietly, to 100-to-one kill ratios, suggesting that far more than 10,000 Taliban fighters may have been killed by Canadians over more than five years of counter-insurgency operations in Kandahar.
“I won’t show you the messy bits,” Gen. Leslie used to tell audiences. That sort of effective soldiering was repeated hundreds and hundreds of times, mostly hidden from and unknown to ordinary Canadians.
Great eh? They killed more than 10,000 people, and we never knew it. Or saw a single body.
And for what?
Oh never mind. That question is way to too hard, and far too late. Just repeat after me as per usual.
One, two, three, four.
Stephen Harper is our Warrior Leader.
Oh what a lovely war...