SPEAKING FREELY The sea rises in age of drone terror
By Dallas Darling
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"If the mainspring of popular government in peacetime is virtue, in revolution it is both virtue and terror: virtue without terror is fatal; terror without virtue is powerless." - Maximilien Robespierre speaking to France's National Convention, 1794
If the French Revolution gave the world a new and enlightened but terrorist means of killing, so did America's Global War on Terror. But fortunately, more sensible heads are prevailing and
challenging America's drone policies, "killing lists," and "execution courts".
The most recent defiance of de-enlightened and unequal drone warfare is originating out of Peshawar, Pakistan. A high court just declared CIA drone strikes illegal. Like other activists, they believe such technological terrorism consists of "war crimes" and peace can only be agreed on and achieved when in a position of equality.
Akin to America's lethal aerial killing machines, and since they were also thought to be swift and painless, guillotines were invented to be an efficient and "enlightened" mode of killing suspected enemies of the state. Intermingled with this new kind of political terrorism and irrational technological determinism - sometimes only partially decapitating its victims causing immense pain and suffering-was the "general will".
Since an accord among citizens created a state, that state was endowed with a higher political wisdom and all citizens had to agree. In times of revolutionary wars, political terrorism could be used.
The Obama administration's Age of Drone Terror with killing lists and execution boards are also reminiscent of France's National Convention and Committee of Public Safety's "Reign of Terror." Revolutionary and wartime courts were established to protect the Republic from internal and external enemies. Innocent victims were routinely guillotined, mainly where political uprisings and rebellions occurred. Those who questioned the authority of the National Assembly were considered either a threat or traitors. Individual rights and freedom of thought were suspended as thousands were unjustly executed.
The Age of Drone Terror, with its deadly, stealth and remote technologies, also reflects the values of a society. It mirrors an unfair distribution of power. Above all, it change the conductors of warfare and how it is passively conducted. Unconstrained and transitional democracies (France's National Assembly and the United States Republic) reveals the dangers of a zealously armed citizenry and the mass mobilization for war.
What used to be, "every citizen must be a soldier and every soldier a citizen," is now: "every corporate entity (including tech laborers) must be a soldier and every soldier a corporate entity".
To prevent more needless killings of thousands of innocent civilians, including children, Peshawar's High Court is calling on Pakistan to control America's unbridled warfare and irrational aerial killing machines. They are trying to end America's terrorist drone policies and assassinations, even if it means using force. The high court recognizes too how new advanced weaponry can be more bias and terrifying than before. It operates with political disparity and above the rule of international law, killing remotely, indiscriminately and without due process. There will be no peace in the Age of Drone Terror because it imposes inequality with military force.
America's foreign policy and justice in the Age of Drone Terror is absurd. Drone strikes have caused wide-spread anti-American sentiment. Targeted killings of Americans and others have evoked vast fear. Kill lists, execution courts, and the US Navy's first drone squadron exposes a transitional democracy filled with passive citizens immersed in a technocratic mass-based society. Corporate-political technocrats dominate the general will, including the freedom to think and empathize. It is easy for remote transitional and technocratic democracies to rationalize terror. The means always justifies the ends.
Revolutionary and wartime courts are never established to properly grant justice in repressive techno-environments. They are used to quickly sentence and execute political opponents and challengers. Under a statue of Justice, holding scales in one hand, and a sword in the other, thousands of the falsely condemned were marched up the scaffold during the French Revolution. Securing their necks, they were guillotined by a weighty knife. The amused crowd watched the conductors toss the body into a red basket, while another threw the head after it. A clerk meticulously recorded the name of each victim.
In the Age of Drone Terror, or America's remote and technocratic and virtuous republic, the scaffolds have been moved to faraway places like Peshawar, Afghanistan and Yemen. While crowds are still amused and in awe of these technologically endowed killing machines and their "swift" executions, they never think about the consequences. They seldom evaluate the mass carnage and bloodletting. There is not even a clerk, no record of the murdered, including the children. But at least President Obama's Committee of Public Safety is keeping America safe through virtuous acts of technological terror.
Like the guillotine, the modern drone will someday prove to be too slow, too insufficient at terrorizing, decapitating and killing. As a new enlightened and technocratic butchery machine is invented, it will again be left to the dogs too lick up innocent blood.
Dallas Darling is the author of Politics 501: An A-Z Reading on Conscientious Political Thought and Action, Some Nations Above God: 52 Weekly Reflections On Modern-Day Imperialism, Militarism, And Consumerism in the Context of John's Apocalyptic Vision, and The Other Side Of Christianity: Reflections on Faith, Politics, Spirituality, History, and Peace. He is a correspondent for www.worldnews.com.
Speaking Freely is an Asia Times Online feature that allows guest writers to have their say.Please click hereif you are interested in contributing. Articles submitted for this section allow our readers to express their opinions and do not necessarily meet the same editorial standards of Asia Times Online's regular contributors.