I’m still on vacation — stay-cation, actually. It’s great! I get to listen to The Current every morning. Anna-Marie Tremonti’s radio news magazine has been one of my fave shows since it launched, and she’s one of my fave CBC people.
Today, a segment on her show got one thing right and one thing very badly wrong.
The Current’s segment, which you can hear here, was about remote-controlled U.S. assasination drones, which are killing terrorists, bystanders and miscellaneous wedding parties in Pakistan and Afghanistan and elsewhere. The thing the show got right: interviewing Glenn Greenwald, a U.S. constitutional lawyer and kick-ass writer who’s one of the best reasons to read Salon. Greenwald is smart, articulate and extremely well-informed, and his scathing condemnation of the United State’s illegal bad-guy-murder-robot-fun-party is a mandatory listen. Dude’s sharp.
After that, for some reason (pressure from management to bring on right-wing sources regardless of the merits, morality or legality of their position, and credibility be damned?), The Current rolled out a troll from the American Enterprise Institute to offer the pro-extrajudicial killing perspective.
Yes, this is where we’re at now. If you write columns about how killbots and weekly presidential assassination meetings are good things, you don’t get shunned as a sociopath. You get invited on the CBC to defend state-authorized killbot assassination.
What more can be said? Well, a lot.
First: the American Enterprise Institute is not, as it’s charitably called, a “think-tank”. It’s a corporate-funded propaganda factory. AEI flacks have supported invasions in Iraq (stupid, bloody, expensive and illegal) and Afghanistan (same), nit-picked at climate science to delay government action, defended tobacco companies, battled public health care and, well shit. You name it. Typical extremist right-wing corporate criminal-loving stuff.
Bottom line: AEI fellows are shills at best and ideologues and extremists at worst. They probably shouldn’t be invited on reputable radio shows and treated like experts with legitimate opinions.
The AEI’s Rajiv Jayaram is a great apologist for remote-control assassination, though. He eloquently describes Greenwald’s points as alarmist (they’re not) and exaggerations (ha, nope), he mischaracterizes Greenwald’s points to benefit his own weak arguments, and he drops the word “war” into the interview a lot. But this is not war. The U.S. is not at war with Al-Qaida. Al-Qaida is not a country. Only countries fight wars. Al-Qaida is essentially a criminal organization. It’s not okay to recklessly kill innocent people when you’re fighting criminals. No one would drone-bomb a gang hang-out in a Montreal residential neighbourhood as part of a police investigation.
And let’s be clear: the “war on terror” is not comparable to World War Two (which Jayaram name-checks), though I can see how the sleazy comparison might persuade some people to support Jayaram’s pro-robobomb agenda. One must compare apples to apples.
At one point, Tremonti asks, “is it okay to kill 15 people to get one [terrorist]?” Should be an easy question. Jayaram’s response: “Depends on who the 15 are. If the 15 are, if the 15 are — if it’s a question of taking your judgement over that, verses the people who are doing the targeting, I’ll take the judgement of the people who are doing the targeting.”
Yes, we must always trust Leader. Leader knows best. Yikes.
Yeah, this guy’s real credible. How silly of me to think that defending the use of killbots that blow up innocent bystanders is something only a depraved moron would do.
You know, I’ll bet there are a ton of people (retired military?) who would have interesting and nuanced things to say about drones (which are the future, like it or not). Armchair generals from the American Enterprise Institute are not a substitute for these sources. Giving Jayaram a platform was a blunder. Ugh.