Recently I was asked a really good question on twitter by a follower who had just read my book AN UNQUIET AMERICAN.
“I just read Unquiet Am and wonder: how do you feel/would you write now after 4 years of same policies plus drones etc?”
I think a brief explanation of the book is in order for those who have not yet read it.
AN UNQUIET AMERICAN, is a novel based on my military experiences, and living in many countries around the world. It also traces the history of the United States Foreign policies in Korea, Vietnam, Suez and other countries around the world, tackles current foreign policy issues, torture, and the establishment and growth of Israel from 1948 to 2008. The narrative is mostly seen through the eyes of a former British Special Forces Officer who has been illegally kidnapped from his home in California and renditioned to a foreign country, but also through the eyes of others on the world stage, Jew, Roman Catholic, Muslim and politicians with the Federal Government.
I am unrepentant regarding my opposition to a pre-emptive war, that was started with false evidence by the Bush-Cheney administration and from which our men and women in uniform still suffer either physically or mentally. I oppose the establishment of states in existing countries and the genocide of the people who have lived there for a thousand years.
In the 2008 election campaign John McCain pretty much said he would attack Iran, or at least sanction an attack in support of Israel, over the Iran nuclear fuel issues, but in contrast we never prevented Israel from creating nuclear weapons, dozens of them. The election of President Obama stymied much of Israel’s plans. Had John McCain been in the White House I seriously think that right now we would be at war with Iran.
So the Obama administration inherited two very unpopular wars, an economy that had just imploded and a Republican Party who were devastated that their guy lost to an African American. Torture was off the table in the new administration. Extraordinary Rendition was off the table. And there was a promise to end the wars and bring our troops home. However there were (and are) still terrorists out there wanting to do harm. There was (and is and now even more so) a very hawkish Israeli Government who has no interest in either a peace deal in the Middle East or a Palestinian State.
For those unfamiliar with Middle Eastern history, Israel was Palestine before 1948 with a near 90% majority of Arab land ownership over Jews. European and US Jews in the Governments of the USA, UK and France ensured that Palestine was handed over to European Jews and renamed Israel. And by the way, there are many Jewish groups who are vehemently anti-Zionist and anti the State of Israel. In the recent election cycle, Neftali Bennett a right wing politician urged that a law be passed to force Orthodox Jews, a great many of whom are Anti-Zionist, to be forced to join the Israel Defence Force, thereby forcing them to defend a State to which they are opposed. He also demanded the takeover of the West Bank and all other Palestinian land.
Now before the right wing idiots get going, I am not an apologist for Terrorism. I have fought and lost men and been disabled fighting terrorism. However terrorism takes many forms and sometimes everyone should just take a step back and ask themselves ‘if I was deprived of my land, my parents, my brother and sister were slaughtered and I was forced into exile in a refugee camp which was then the subject to an attack that killed the rest of my family and friends, how would I feel.’ Reasoned discourse means knowing the real facts, not revisionist history. It means, reason, research and knowledge, not histrionics and false claims of anti-semitism.
Why the concentration on Israel? Because the establishment of the State of Israel in 1948 created a dangerous and unstable world. (Read Robert Fisk’s article http://ind.pn/11SIsIz) The truth is that almost all our entire Foreign Policy is predicated on what happens in the Middle East. Our relationship with our trading partners, with China, with Russia, with Asian countries, is threatened by our policies in the Middle East as is our economy. The philosophy of democracy is that the majority rule, and yet we are held hostage by a minority state that we created and who do not wish us well if we do not abide by their terms. To quote Uri Avnery “America controls the world, we control America. Never before have Jews exerted such an immense influence on the centre of world power.” This statement clearly states that America is a Paper Tiger. A mouth-piece for extreme Zionists. We do not decide our own fate, it is decided for us and our men and women in uniform suffer the consequences of our obsequiousness.
So to the Confirmation hearings and how this all ties together. Republicans are going to give Chuck Hagel – a Republican nominee for the job of Secretary of Defence – a hard time because of his views on Israel because he said that his duty lies to the United States of America and not to Israel. His pro Israel detractors ignore his selfless service to the country as a Vietnam Veteran and his knowledge of Military affairs. They are also going after John Brennan who has been tapped for CIA Director, because of his job in the CIA under the Bush/Cheney Administration. But only halfheartedly because they don’t want to stir up the illegal torture, illegal extraordinary rendition, and illegal wire-tap debates all over again, instead they want to ‘investigate’ the legality of Obama Administration’s Drone policy as a civil-rights issue.
Now call me stupid, but drones were around from the Clinton era, all the way though two terms of Bush and now one term of Obama. Militarily they are a way to strike at terrorists surgically. Drones have kept our troops safe. Drones allow us to reduce the number of ‘boots-on-the-ground’, and as a former combat Paratrooper, I am happy that drones are in our arsenal. If the investigation is purely about whether it is legal for drones to be employed against targets in other countries, such as Yemen and Pakistan, that is another matter altogether, but whoever is asking the question better be sure that they have their facts absolutely right and are not just on some political crusade. A great example of where a drone strike was not used, was the raid on Osama bin Laden, because the administration wanted to avoid the casualties that would be caused to women and children in the compound.
But there is another drone issue, and that is to do with surveillance drones in the USA used by Police to monitor civilian activity. We have had satellite surveillance for decades, and Police Helicopters overhead in all our major cities. So is the small quiet drone really an infringement of our civil liberties or just another tool for Law Enforcement?
We certainly bitch about helicopter spotlights turning our night-time streets into daylight, but that’s as far as our whining goes. Of course what we don’t bitch about is the infra-red also used by the same helicopters, because we can’t see infra-red. We invite millions of people into our lives thousands of times a day through Social Media on the Internet, exulting in how many hits our YouTube video got of our child singing a song and yet the very thought of a silent drone overhead freaks us out.
It seems absurd to me that there are those who piously demand a debate about drones and yet shy away from a sensible discussion about firearms.
Part of the whole problem is that we still live under the dark cloud of the Bush/Cheney Legacy of Government being able to flout the Law because it says it can. That upsets us, and rightly so.
Illegal wire-taps are just that – Illegal.
Illegal search and seizure, is just that – Illegal.
Illegal extraordinary rendition is just that – Illegal.
All Governments are accountable to the People, not to their own whims. A transparent Government is what we have been promised, and that is what I hope for and what we deserve.
To get back to the reader’s twitter question. I have thought and continue to think about our foreign and domestic policies, and am in the process of writing the sequel to AN UNQUIET AMERICAN which focuses on both, set in the 2012 election year. Too often politics and policies become sound bytes, or regurgitated press releases thrown out by a media that lives by the philosophy ‘If it Bleeds it Leads’. Sensationalism sells on TV, print, radio and the Internet. We are a ‘Fast Food Philosophy’ world, where reasoned argument and extensive research are not words people say, or actions they take. I research my books carefully, consider the arguments and put them forward in a story that I hope makes people think. It is up to the reader from that point onwards.
A big thank you to my twitter follower for the question. It made me think.