The media helps the military cover up the horror of drone strikes

The headline reads “American Drones Winning Air War from Afar.” In this article, Jim Michaels of USA Today (4/18/17) writes that in the Mediterranean country of Libya, a “handful of drones” remotely controlled by soldiers seven thousand miles away in Nevada is able to play a “decisive role in defeating the Islamic State.”

He notes that the “495 airstrikes conducted in the densely packed city of Sirte [were]…literally across the street from friendly forces.” David Deptula, a retired air force general, purported that the drones were the “most precise and effective means of applying force” that “highlight[s] the effectiveness of a remote-controlled operation”.

Mr. Michaels’ article celebrating drones is a continuation of that global power elite’s master narrative of neoliberalism’s politics of hyper-expansion and hyper-militarism. It is a demonstrable example of the unhealthy, anti-democratic and interconnected relationship of government, corporate and media industrial complexes, and the public relations propaganda corporations that orchestrate, spin, and whitewash basic truths about world events. And it disguises distance—humans are not imaginary avatars on video games.

This article negligently omits the true social reality. It speaks nothing of the innocent lives inevitably lost in the bombings of “densely packed” urban areas. It says nothing of the Human Rights Watch report entitled “unacknowledged deaths” that detailed “eight specific incidents where at least 72 Libyan civilians perished as a result of NATO bombing campaigns, a third of which were children.”

It says nothing of the civilian death toll of 380-801 in 2016 alone, due directly to drone usage.

It says nothing of the turmoil set in motion from perpetual war that produces shock waves if disruptions through neighborhoods, the adverse childhood effects that reverberate through generations, or the long-term collateral consequences of environmental degradation from destroyed cities, polluted land, and contaminated aquifers.

And it fails to mention the government and corporate interests that exist in having a geopolitical stronghold on a destabilized foreign “market” engaged in perpetual war.

These omissions are strategic. They purposefully omit these truths because they know that man is not inherently evil. We cannot oppress another person for such trivial reasons as corporate interests, economic expansion, and oil. If we are going to annihilate a people, we need rationalization. So the media indoctrinates us with ideologies such as “value” in battle, “honor” in government, and “patriotism” towards country. This is done until, as Noam Chomsky says, “imperial ambitions”, oppression becomes so psychologically inherited that the oppressor is the victim who is defending himself: defending himself against military threats and military trespassers.

In a “language older than words,” Derrick Jensen states that, like “layers of an onion, under the first lie, is another and another and they all make you cry.”

Well, cry! Because this master narrative of manufactured enemies has been force-fed to the masses throughout the course of the history of the United States of America. These manufactured enemies are visible everywhere: it was the Red Russian of the Cold War. It was the Happy Pacifist of the Sixties. It was the Uppity Negroes of the Civil Rights Movement. It was the out-of-place woman in the feminist movement. It was the Thieving Jew. It was the Savage Indian. It was the Drug Dealing, Economically-Destabilizing Hispanic Immigrant. It was the Red Commie Chinese. Blame always lay elsewhere. The enemy was always somebody else.

Jensen states, in his book “Walking on Water,” that, “it is only through the most outrageous violations of our hearts, minds, and bodies that we are inculcated into a system where it can be made to make sense to some part of our twisted and torn psyches to perpetuate a way of being based on the exploitation, incarceration, and elimination of everyone and everything we can get our hands on.”

The current system—political and economic—is broken. It feeds on mechanisms that alienate, divide, and belittle people around the world. We must realize that we are an active constructor of this system, not just a byproduct or a reproducer. We must educate our citizens to read information critically and in multiple formats, to create and advocate mechanisms that question hierarchies of power, systems of stratification, and social norms of injustice. We must become the agents of change and relearn what every child knows instinctively—that when you have to resist violence to win, you have already lost. #TotalSolidarity.

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Ghalil Oliveira is serving a sentence at the Rhode Island ACI.

One response to “The media helps the military cover up the horror of drone strikes”

  1. Greg Gerritt

    Right on.

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