Thursday, January 7, 2016

Courage Under Joystick

Finally acknowledging that drone attacks take a psychic toll on the people performing them from afar in airless little trailers, the Pentagon plans to recognize these operators with the same military honors accorded to soldiers who kill in more direct physical proximity to their targets.

Since President Obama has made drone operators "increasingly important," according to the New York Times, it's only right that the folks fulfilling his Kill Wish List should be given some long-overdue recognition. Whether Obama and his successors will have the chutzpah to give out Medals of Honor to joystick operators in televised East Room ceremonies remains to be seen, however. It seems highly doubtful, given that the president has steadfastly refused to divulge the names and details of the "enemy combatants" he chooses to obliterate in this highly secretive program. The fact that up to 90 percent of the drone targets turn out to be innocent civilians might make the award ceremonies a bit fuzzy too.

Instead of his eyes welling up and overflowing with tears over wedding parties turned into funerals by his predator drones, Obama would probably have to be satisfied with getting just a little misty...  at the very least, he'll play Misty for us.

Michael S. Schmidt writes that computer geeks who launch cyber-attacks will also be eligible for the bright shiny medals.
“It’s way past time,” said David A. Deptula, a retired three-star Air Force general who pushed the military to embrace drones. “People should be acknowledged and rewarded for their contributions to accomplishing security objections regardless of where they are located.”
Current and former military officials had been deeply divided about whether to recognize the drone pilots. An initial Pentagon plan in 2013 to honor them with a “Distinguished Warfare Medal” was criticized by some veterans’ groups, which feared that the award would rank higher than combat medals like the Bronze Star and the Purple Heart.
Ousted Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel scrapped the first plans for the drone and cyber medals, but now that he's gone, the proposal to honor the office-based warriors of Obama's "smart" foreign policy during his last year in office is gaining new life. 
“As the impact of remote operations on combat continues to increase, the necessity of ensuring those actions are distinctly recognized grows,” said a Pentagon document outlining changes to how the military gives awards and other decorations.
The use of drones has been widely credited with diminishing Al Qaeda and other terrorist groups. But civilians have also died in drone attacks, fueling anger toward the United States among Muslims across the Middle East.
Nothing will tamp down anger like the sight of Obama awarding medals to remote-control geeks who turn Muslims into pink mist at his explicit direction, right?

The Pentagon also plans to award more medals to soldiers who are still alive, so that they might at least get some personal enjoyment from them.

And, given that the wars are now permanent, medal recipients will no longer have to wait as long before collecting their shiny objects from the Commander in Chief. It will be a virtual assemblyline of medals, ribbons and plaques.

As war is modernized, so must its rewards be modernized. When all else (like public support) fails, bring out the symbols and put on a show. CNN, Wall Street investors, Hollywood, and Silicon Valley will love it and even help direct it.

Just as the Oscars help sell movie tickets, just as the movies in their turn help sell video game tie-ins, just as the video games help hone the skills of the drone and cyber-espionage geeks of the future, so too will military awards shows and brand new acting categories help to further enrich the war profiteers.

They'll cry for American children killed by guns, but revel in the billions of dollars in lethal weaponry that they manufacture, sell and deploy against other people's children, all around the world.


Jay–Ottawa said...

Once upon a time, an East Coast boss decided to put out a contract on a West Coast boss. (That happened on a Tuesday.) So the East Coast boss hired a hit man to waste the West Coast boss, then the East Coast boss took a long vacation on Martha's Vineyard. Shortly after, the hit man traveled to LA and wasted the West Coast boss from half a mile away with a high power rifle and scope.

If the syndicate decides to issue medals to its murderers on the next 4th of July, how many medals will we need to decorate the deserving in the above story?

Clueless It Seems said...

... and don't forget how we lionize Silicon Valley types who know more than we do about computers and the like...

Jay–Ottawa said...

Take a look at the blog roll. Karen hasn't tossed the "Obama Scandals list" (OSL) down the memory hole, even though its last post was six years ago. A nation given to amnesia needs every old crutch it can find to support a failing civic memory.

Obama's presidential library is on the drawing boards. One more year and the bulldozers will be carving its foundation. Maybe the architect Santiago Calatrava will be hired. He specializes in buildings that move, no kidding. For #44s legacy and reliquary (yes, most of them are eventually buried in their libraries), I would suggest a building that spins and smiles every time the wind shifts in Chicago.

Today, over at the Pox Amerikana blog, Greg Maybury has drawn up a long list of particulars (5,000 + words) to help us keep Obama's record up to date. On first read, it appears well argued, tempered, yet (here's the most damning aspect imaginable) forthright, which means it's one of the most unflattering comprehensive assessments of Obama's record to date.

Along the way Maybury speaks to the matter of Karen's post here about the issue of criminality. Marbury with the help from other writers he quotes goes deep into that aspect of #44's legacy.

"Insofar as terrorism itself goes, Daniel Lazare points out that Obama has a “selective view” of what terrorism is, and it would seem to go well beyond mere semantics. Whilst noting, “everyone agrees” that setting off a bomb on a crowded bus is terrorism, he rightly asks,

‘…what about using an F-16 to deposit a bomb in the middle of a Yemeni wedding party—is that terrorism too? If shooting up health workers [in San Bernadino] is terrorism, then what about using an AC-130 gunship to bomb and strafe hospital workers in Afghanistan? What is the difference?’ "

Could it be that the OSL had to be abandoned because #44, by the end of his first year in the White House, had moved beyond scandals and into something much heavier?

annenigma said...

Great post, Karen.

The first thing I thought of is when I read this is the policy of giving all children an award in school, no matter their actual effort or achievement, so they'll all feel special. We're Exceptional!

It also occurred to me that those new heroes with medals have families whose children will be impressed with those medals and might be more likely to grow up wanting to be a hero too = early recruitment tool.

Oh, God, when is The Obomber is going to fade away? The closer he gets to the end of his term, the more he injects himself everywhere for the camera. His crying stunt was more of that - photos for the Presidential shrine. He's so in love with himself that it's sickening!

Btw, it's a good thing Obama can only cry out of one eye at a time and sheds those few drops from the outer corner where there's no tear duct, otherwise he might actually get a reddened nose and have to blow it with a handkerchief like real 'folks'! The old finger trick is much more tidy.

Pearl said...

After reading Krugman's garbage "The Obama Boom" I was dismayed to see readers' comments mostly praising his article, lambasting the Republicans and glorifying Obama's record. Only a few wrote the truth. Where were the progressives on this one?

Bernie, we are facing desperate times.

Pearl said...

Strangely, the report above was for the readers' comments section for Krugman's column. When I read the ALL column, that is where the criticism of Krugman and why came in. Interesting. Maybe they read the readers' comments and responded.