The Drone That Killed My Grandson

I’ve covered the death of Anwar al-Awlaki and his 16 year old son Abdulrahman previously. They were both American citizens killed without a trial using our latest preferred war toy, drones. While Anwar was on the U.S. “kill list,” his teenage son was not and he was killed by a drone in an entirely separate incident two weeks after the death of his father. The U.S. government has never explained his murder, and all I can recall hearing is Eric Holder statement that he wasn’t “specifically targeted.” Last week, his grandfather wrote a powerful and impassioned Op-Ed in the New York Times. Here are some excerpts:

SANA, Yemen — I LEARNED that my 16-year-old grandson, Abdulrahman — a United States citizen — had been killed by an American drone strike from news reports the morning after he died.

The missile killed him, his teenage cousin and at least five other civilians on Oct. 14, 2011, while the boys were eating dinner at an open-air restaurant in southern Yemen.

I visited the site later, once I was able to bear the pain of seeing where he sat in his final moments. Local residents told me his body was blown to pieces. They showed me the grave where they buried his remains. I stood over it, asking why my grandchild was dead.

The attorney general, Eric H. Holder Jr., said only that Abdulrahman was not “specifically targeted,” raising more questions than he answered.

Abdulrahman was born in Denver. He lived in America until he was 7, then came to live with me in Yemen. He was a typical teenager — he watched “The Simpsons,” listened to Snoop Dogg, read “Harry Potter” and had a Facebook page with many friends. He had a mop of curly hair, glasses like me and a wide, goofy smile.

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The Permanent Militarization of America

Only an alert and knowledgeable citizen can compel the proper meshing of the huge industrial and military machinery of defense with our peaceful methods and goals – so that security and liberty may prosper together.

- Dwight D. Eisenhower in his famous speech on the dangers of the Military-Industrial Complex

Good Op-Ed yesterday from the New York Times about how dangerous our cultural fascination with war and aggressive foreign policy is for the health of the nation – both economically and spiritually.  That said, I do take one major exception with the author’s premise that we have moved beyond a time “when commercial interests influenced military action.”  To think this takes a naivety of the highest order, and he clearly does not understand how the global financial system operates and what the petro-dollar is.  Nonetheless, some very important points are made.  From the NY Times:

In his farewell address, Eisenhower called for a better equilibrium between military and domestic affairs in our economy, politics and culture. He worried that the defense industry’s search for profits would warp foreign policy and, conversely, that too much state control of the private sector would cause economic stagnation. He warned that unending preparations for war were incongruous with the nation’s history. He cautioned that war and warmaking took up too large a proportion of national life, with grave ramifications for our spiritual health.

Like all institutions, the military works to enhance its public image, but this is just one element of militarization. Most of the political discourse on military matters comes from civilians, who are more vocal about “supporting our troops” than the troops themselves. It doesn’t help that there are fewer veterans in Congress today than at any previous point since World War II.

Eisenhower understood the trade-offs between guns and butter. “Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired, signifies, in the final sense, a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, those who are cold and are not clothed,” he warned in 1953, early in his presidency.

In this strange universe where those without military credentials can’t endorse defense cuts, it took a former chairman of the Joint Chiefs, Adm. Mike Mullen, to make the obvious point that the nation’s ballooning debt was the biggest threat to national security.

That which is left unexamined eventually becomes invisible, and as a result, few Americans today are giving sufficient consideration to the full range of violent activities the government undertakes in their names.

Watch a brief but powerful clip of Eisenhower’s famous speech below.

Read the entire NY Times Op-Ed here.

In Liberty,
Mike