By Robert J. Burrowes
I sometimes read that drone strikes are counterproductive to western security interests because each person killed by a drone results in more new ‘terrorists’. See, for example, ‘The more civilians US drones kill in the Mideast, the more radicals they create’.
However, this analysis completely fails to understand what is driving elite military policy, carried out by the United States elite and key elite allies within NATO and elsewhere. In brief: drone strikes work precisely because they provoke violent responses which help elites to ‘justify’ their perpetual war to secure control of the world’s diminishing supplies of fossil fuels, water and strategic minerals while tightening control of domestic populations through expansion of the security and surveillance state.
Elites want more violence. They are unconcerned that innocent civilians are killed. In fact, they kill civilians deliberately. See, for example, ‘Israel “directly targeted” children in drone strikes on Gaza, says rights group’ and ‘41 men targeted but 1,147 people killed: US drone strikes – the facts on the ground’.
Violence, particularly by demonised ‘others’ who often have to be seriously provoked into responding with violence, makes it easier to scare domestic populations into accepting restraints on their civil liberties, massive military expenditure at the cost of domestic social and environmental programs, military attacks against innocent ‘foreigners’ and massive profits for those few corporations and individuals who benefit from military spending.
Attacks by drones on innocent civilians, such as wedding parties in Afghanistan, serve the purpose of provoking retaliatory responses brilliantly. And by not mentioning the violence that provokes the retaliations while emphasising the retaliations themselves, elites and their agents are able to ‘justify’ western military policy for those not paying much attention or gullible enough to believe the warped perspective presented by compliant academics and the corporate media.
So do elites want to kill people just to make a profit? No. It’s not that simple. Elites want to kill people because they are insane. See ‘The Global Elite is Insane’.
If you think this is overstated, it is only because you have spent a lifetime unconsciously adjusting to absurd and dysfunctional behaviours that you could not explain: an outcome of suffering the ‘invisible’ and ‘utterly invisible’ violence that adults inflicted on you during your childhood. See ‘Why Violence?’ and ‘Fearless Psychology and Fearful Psychology: Principles and Practice’.
Until we participate in comprehensive strategies to resist elite (and other) violence exclusively with strategically applied nonviolence, we will continue to be their ‘complementary doubles’, and thus victims, in the use of violence. Activists, scholars and others who do not realise this are simply playing into elite hands.
Of course, having the emotional and intellectual capacity to resist violence with strategically applied nonviolence is a big ‘ask’ of anyone. But while our fear gets in the way of us learning how to intelligently analyse and strategically resist the psychology that drives violence, we condemn ourselves to perpetual victimhood and assist elite efforts to victimise us even further.
While we play the game by elite rules and rely on violence to confront them, we ensure our own defeat: the military-nuclear-industrial complex is under their control and the smaller weapons we have at our disposal are only useful as tools for them to use to scare us into fighting each other or to justify their violent attacks, including by their police, on us.
If you are interested in devoting your emotional and intellectual capacities to a strategy that makes violence irrelevant in the medium term, you might consider signing the online pledge of ‘The People’s Charter to Create a Nonviolent World’ and participating in ‘The Flame Tree Project to Save Life on Earth’. And if you want to develop nonviolent strategies to resist elite military violence, see The Strategy of Nonviolent Defense: A Gandhian Approach.
We might fail. But I would prefer to implement a strategy that can work rather than repeat, for the umpteenth time, a strategy that history teaches us never works. And history does teach us that violence never works although elites work hard to convince us that, in this or that context, violence succeeded.
This is a delusion. Violence always sows the seeds for the next bout of violence (World War I led to World War II which led to …) and/or shifts the violence to the structural domain (where, for example, economic structures cause poverty) and/or the cultural domain (so that, for example, ‘ending’ slavery in the US gave way to institutionalised racism).
So I invite you to consider participating in a comprehensive strategy that is designed to undermine violence, in all of its manifestations, and to break the cycle that is driving us to extinction.
The Reverend Martin Luther King Jr. once said: ‘The enemy is violence.’ But I believe the true enemy is our fear: the fear of nonviolently resisting violence, in all of its manifestations. Are you afraid?