Meanwhile, Michelle Obama was off on her annual Aspen ski vacation, hosted once again by billionaires Jim and Paula Crown, who own and control a big chunk of defense/security contractor General Dynamics. The Crowns, as you may know, are prominent Obama campaign bundlers, having helped to finance Obama from the very start of his career in Illinois state politics. The General Dynamics arm of their vast corporate empire now has major contracts with every single one of this country's intelligence agencies. Although it has reported a paper loss in profits since the winding down of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars and the looming budget sequester, the prospects of an endless drone war and Orwellian spy state have them champing at the bit.
And why not? The use of drones under Obama is skyrocketing, as is the growth of military bases throughout the world. Africa is all set to be re-colonized by American corporate interests. Therefore, an annual ski junket for the Obama women, along with a few relatively paltry donations to his continuing campaign apparatus is the least the Crown family can do. It is the slim price they have to pay to remain full-fledged and well-compensated partners in the state-sponsored terror campaign that constitutes Obama's foreign policy, euphemistally described as the disposition matrix of pre-emptive self-defense. In other words, an illegal campaign of murder-by-drone of civilian "pre-criminals."
Nicolas Davis has written an exhaustive, detail-oriented account of the tangled relationship of the Obamas and the Crowns. It is well worth a read. His chilling conclusion:
Benjamin Ferencz, who wrote the preface to my book on the U.S. war against Iraq, is the last surviving prosecutor from the Nuremberg war crimes trials. He has described how the lead defendant at the Einsatzgruppen trial, SS-Gruppenfurher Otto Ohlendorf, Ph.D., defended the massacres of tens of thousands of civilians with an argument that is all too familiar today: preemptive self-defense. Ohlendorf told the court that Germany invaded other countries to prevent them from attacking it; that Jews had to be killed because “everyone knew” they supported the Bolsheviks; and that Jewish children had to be killed because, if they grew up and found out what the Germans had done to their parents, they too would become enemies of Germany.
As Ferencz explains, this illegitimate principle of preemptive self-defense is the same one by which Presidents Bush and Obama justify their war crimes today: our fear entitles us to attack countries and kill people to prevent them doing the same to us or our allies at some point in the future. Ohlendorf never showed any remorse for his crimes, even as he went to the gallows at Landsberg Prison in 1951. He was the highly educated product of a political system dominated by military-industrial interests and extreme nationalism that made war crimes seem justifiable, rational or even necessary. By selecting its senior officials through “legalized bribery” within a superficially democratic system, the United States has developed a more sophisticated way to institutionalize and justify ever-expanding plutocracy, militarism and war crimes. This may be more sustainable and palatable—but that does not necessarily make it less dangerous.General Dynamics, meanwhile, has a brand new gadget it wants to sell to Obama for some of that civilian spying and pre-emptive killing. Called the Micro Air Vehicle (MAV), it is capable of perching, hovering, flying, spying -- and killing you. Conor Friedersdorf, who cadged a copy of a promotional video that General Dynamics produced for the Air Force, has posted it on his Atlantic blog. He calls it the "most terrifying drone video yet." (I hadn't realized there were apparently a whole series of scary drone videos out there terrorizing Americans. The real enchilada, of course, is terrorizing and bug-splatting whole neighborhoods in Pakistan).You can watch the video here. It has all the hallmarks of state-sponsored dread: dystopian urban graphics, a doomsday soundtrack, the constant drumbeat of paranoia. It is perfectly designed to boost the adrenaline and checkbook-grabbing urges of every procurement official who watches it, instilling fear of all the dangerous civilian populations who walk, breathe and eat, both at home and abroad. Writes Friedersdorf:
When I watch that simulation I am horrified. I also think to myself, this technology is more likely to diminish American security than to enhance it. In a world without micro-drones, our military remains overwhelmingly powerful. But what about a world where micro-drones are pervasive? Who knows? Sure, we have a technological advantage right now, but micro-drones sure seem like a disruptive technology that will eventually help rather than hinder attempts at asymmetric warfare.
Yet the U.S. government is making no effort to enlist other powerful nations with the most to lose and establish international norms against the use of drones (in the way we've stigmatized biological weapons) -- rather, we're continuing to fuel a drone arms race that guarantees widespread proliferation. Perhaps such an effort would fail, but to never even try seems shortsighted.
How far ahead is President Obama thinking?He might have asked what President Obama is thinking, sending his wife and daughters to frolic on the largesse of war profiteers and weapons manufacturers at the same time he is pretending to campaign for domestic gun control. But perhaps I am being unfair. The Crown Family is like family to him. He said so himself at their home last year at yet another of their many
.... actually the Crown family from the grandpas all the way to the grandkids, they supported me when I ran for State Senate; supported me when I lost a congressional race; supported me when I won my Senate race; and then supported me in my run for the presidency. These guys have been friends for a really long time. And Michelle and I love them to death, and to see how remarkable their children have turned out, watching them grow up, is a great thing to see. So please give the Crowns a big round of applause. (Applause.)
So I am not going to give a long speech. This really is family. You guys know me.And know him they should. The Crowns are part of the shadow government, not only supplying the state with its weapons and the politicians with their money, but essentially dictating policy at the same time. Grandpa Lester Crown has reportedly even served as a personal envoy between Israeli hardliners and the president over a potential attack on Iran.
Just like family. The Crowns are also major shareholders in JP Morgan Chase, that too-big-to-fail, too-big-to-jail bank the size of a country that has enjoyed continuous deregulation and immunity from prosecution in the Obama administration. Jim Crown, who heads the bank's risk policy board, recently became embroiled in the London Whale Fail scandal, in which billions of dollars were mysteriously "lost." No indictments, no investigation.
Just like family. One big, happy, fat, incestuous family. The old name for the corporatization of government was fascism. Now they prefer to call it Public Private Partnership. Euphemisms are the sugar that helps the propaganda medicine go down.