Friday, March 15, 2013

Robots Making Robots (Made In The USA)

      For those of you who know me personally, you probably know how I feel about drones.  I got into some hot water on Facebook because a friend of mine is in the military.  She has a different point of view, or from what I gathered, misinterpreted my view.  My original statement had to do with a simple question: "Why is it that when another country attacks us from the sky, it's terrorism, but when the US attacks another country from the sky, it's 'National Defense'?"  Then a big discussion took place about how the US are not terrorists and that we're justified and blah blah blah.  Her take on the comment was, would I rather risk a team of six or seven American soldiers on a mission in hostile territory, or send in a robot to take out the target?  Of course I wouldn't want to risk American lives.  But we shouldn't be there in the first place.  No WMDs, Bin Laden is dead, Saddam is dead, why are we still there?  

      Is the collateral damage worth it?  Look at Pakistan.  "60 cross-border predator strikes in the period from January 2006 to April 2009 killed 14 wanted al-Qaeda leaders and 687 Pakistani civilians."  So for that time period, and only in Pakistan, the US killed  about 49 innocent people per terrorist.  Innocent people are getting blown up in the streets, in their homes, in the marketplace...if that's not terrorism than I don't know what is.   I don't like loss of life.  I was upset that they killed Bin Laden.  Before I start getting hate mail, I want to clarify that statement.  Bin Laden deserved to sit in prison for his crimes against humanity.  Is it a fitting end for his body to be eaten by fishes? Sure, why not.  I believe he'll face consequences in the next life for the things that he's done, because that's what I believe in.  But I also believe that he deserved to face justice in this life by sitting in prison.  No matter how screwed up our fellow humans are, they are still humans, not mosquitos.  But unlike mosquitos, they can be punished for their crimes through the monotony and solitude of prison, reflecting on the decisions they made that landed them there.  Even if he thinks what he did was right, he will know the reason his personal freedoms have been taken away, are because he killed innocent people.

      Back to the drones, though.  Apart from civilian casualties, another of the most alarming things about America's obsession with drones is that the government is  killing people in countries that we are not at war with.  And in an action that parallels the infamous "Patriot Act" (have to love their word choice for such a despicable display of ignoring inalienable rights), the executive branch has taken upon itself the war time powers that are reserved for, you know, war.   The powers extend even to targeted killings of American's abroad that could possibly be terrorists, though little to know intelligence is required to confirm the validity of terrorist activity.  So if you're an American traveling abroad, and you attended a meeting of anarchists in college one night because you thought it would be funny, that's enough grounds to have you blown up as you walk outside of your hotel.  

    So why are we still there?  You ask a Washington insider, they'll say it's national defense.  Get them before they get us.  "Good guy with a gun vs a bad guy with a gun" scenario.  But is that really it?  Is it because of oil and special interest groups?  Is it the military industrial complex?  Is it because manufacturing of weapons provides jobs in a failing economy?  Is it a personal vendetta?  Maybe the US just can't let go.  Maybe we have too much aggression.  Maybe we do it to prove to countries that can actually defend themselves that we are a force not to be reckoned with.  Maybe we like to prey on the weak.  Maybe it's to show North Korea what will happen if they try anything.  Maybe we're bored.  Maybe it's because we care so little about our own people that we enjoy being distracted by explosions.  Maybe we watch too many Michael Bay films.

     This topic has been on my mind for a long time.  In fact, I tried several times to write about it before scrapping what I had in frustration because I couldn't quite say what I wanted to say about how upset it makes me.  So here it is, attempt number whatever number this is.  And after listening to a lot of Rage Against the Machine and the Flobots, I put together a string of couplets that I named Robots Making Robots (Made in the USA), that says a lot of what I want to say but can only say while rhyming, apparently.  So, here it is:

Robots Making Robots (Made In the USA)

we are machines making machines
running on electric caffeine
designed only for the construction
of new age tools of destruction
we've been programmed to make clones
of each new batch of master's drones
we bid farewell to our new brothers
and if they die, we'll build some others
programmed to rain hellfire from the sky
and film the casualties of those who die
program them to feel no remorse
or to flinch at the sign of a corpse
be it the target, a woman, a child
store it away in a federal file
we machines build machines for our machine king
fueled by power, greed, and political caffeine
--Jake Garrett

So remember kids: eat dessert first; you never know when you might be a casualty in a drone strike.


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