The Art of Deflection

We all are aware that two alleged terrorists, Anwar Al-Aulaqi and Samir Khan, were killed in Yemen by Hellfire missiles launched by two hovering predator drones. In this country, while Obama took center stage bowing before his media audiences for this courageous action, the question as to whether his decision to summarily murder a U.S. citizen was constitutionally and internationally legal was hotly debated, at least on a few moments, on the television and radio stations.

Perhaps the more important question, however, is whether anyone in this country cares if the U.S. violates international law. Most Americans don’t trust international principles of justice and human rights, or believe in them. As a matter of fact, as to targeted drone killings, most Americans don’t believe that anything is wrong with them either.

The media announced that although there has been no declared war, Congress has, in fact, funded the wars and therefore, the media pundits argue, to kill the two men is appropriate (and legal).

Rather than struggle over thorny questions about the law, Americans would prefer to accept the standards and decisions of our fearless leaders: that way we don’t have to bother ourselves concerning rules of engagement, justification or standards, authorization of force, charges, oversight, or complicated judicial processes – all we need is a list from on high as to who is to be targeted. Such killings have become routine along with torture and renditions.

The matter is now settled. Every media channel gloated about the killing:  two more terrorists dead; drones are efficient and the military can use them to bomb civilians or whomever in any foreign country. It is a sanitary, clean and quick way to conduct war. There are a couple of problems, though. When mercenaries and/or soldiers drop bombs indiscriminately, occasionally even hitting their planned targets, a kind of traumatic stress syndrome is set in place. It remains submerged at the beginning, but it does spiral and eventually emerge as a viral mental and physical disease. The soldiers become victims along with those whom they kill. The suicide rate among U.S. soldiers is astronomically high and climbing higher every day – and it is not merely the reality that soldiers must face on the battlefield, or the frequent deployments (stop-loss), or the lack of down-time. No, it also derives from high altitude indiscriminate murder.

The second problem is that when the terroristic use of drones becomes the weapon of choice by the president of the U.S., it is inevitable that police departments in such places as Miami, Florida, and Ogden, Utah, will also seek authorization to operate surveillance drones in their own states to use against American citizens. The next states seeking permission most likely will be Alabama and Arizona to target Hispanics. It is so easy and profitable for the weapons manufacturers to develop domestic uses for the products first employed against alien enemies.

Nations want U.S. technology, but might not be so pleased when their sensitive drone computer guidance centers are hacked, as was recently done at Creech Air Force Base in Nevada. Also, as is occurring on the Mexico/U.S. border and in the Middle East, they can be shot down. Wait until they can be turned around to go after the host nation.

The fact is that the real enemy of the American people is a crumbling economy. How convenient it is for the mouthpieces to mask this reality with reports from one of our numerous war zones, focusing on killing terrorists, fancy technology, military abbreviations, codes and operational names. It is not a coincidence that at the same time the drone attack was being carried out in Yemen, the media quietly informed the public about the economic disaster that was published in the latest quarterly report. The quarter ended with massive financial losses, shares plunged almost 44 percent, stocks fell 32 cents (1.5 %) to close at $20.64, and the stock market overall was down 56%. It is not surprising that the media ignored these announcements regarding the failing economy and, instead, piped the steady non-stop crowing about the drone attack, justifying it, hour after hour.

A clean kill overrides the messy state of our economic predicament. The killing of terrorists is a coup for the commander-in-chief, his economic advisors and allies because they see that the American people are headed for an out-and-out depression. And, as the economic problems hasten, who better to deflect our attention than Muslims and Arabs? These people will be the necessary scapegoats for America’s economic downfall. Islamophobia will have to remain part of our political life for years to come.

It is necessary for our corporatized government to keep our minds off “problems” with the economy, the loss of our homes and livelihood. The masses can become rowdy; the 99% can become a wave of immense power. Certainly the oligarchs and their media cohorts must be careful and precise in re-directing people’s hearts and minds toward supporting never-ending, permanent wars. It is easy for the American people to forget that we have not “won” a war since WWII, and that the reason they have no jobs and are losing their homes is because our economy is spent on useless weapons of destruction and unnecessary military forays around the world.

The drone attacks will continue. The economic crises, to the extent that the politicians and the Pentagon are successful, will remain in the background –overshadowed by the calculated murders of countless innocent civilians and “terrorists.” Keep your eyes out for those drones flying overhead, though. They are pesky little devils for those who think they live in a democracy. And be aware that an ever-increasing number of people throughout the world don’t particularly appreciate our dedication to endless slaughter.

Luke Hiken is an attorney who has engaged in the practice of criminal, military, immigration, and appellate law. Marti Hiken is the director of Progressive Avenues. She is the former associate director of the Institute for Public Accuracy and former chair of the National Lawyers Guild Military Law Task Force. Read other articles by Marti Hiken and Luke Hiken, or visit Marti Hiken and Luke Hiken's website.