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Friday, January 03, 2014

The Pope should condemn drone warfare

In his New Year's address, the Pope issued an emotional call for peace:
“What on Earth is happening in the hearts of men? What on Earth is happening in the heart of humanity?” the pontiff decried to tens of thousands gathered in St Peter’s Square, Rome, earlier this week.

“It’s time to stop!” he added in anguished tone and urged the world to “listen to the cry for peace”.
Laudable. But writer Finian Cunningham wants something more -- a condemnation of "U.S. warmongering."
It’s not just Washington of course. The US plutocracy is but the head of a cabal of Western imperialist powers and their regional proxies, such as the Zionist Israeli regime and despotic Saudi Arabia.

Together, this US-led Axis of Evil is the main wellspring of war in the world. These are the names that the Pope needs to mention, and the system that he needs to specify is imperialism in the service of global capitalism.
This asks too much. I don't think that the Pope can, or should, point the finger at specific governments and call them a cabal or an axis of evil. If the Pope did as Cunningham asks, conservative and even moderate Catholics would stampede toward sedevacantism. And who would be left in the church? Very few. The kind of people who feel comfortable tossing out terms like "imperialism in service of global capitalism" aren't usually the kind of people who wear Miraculous Medals and listen to a lot of Bruckner.

(That said, Cunningham is correct to note the strange convergence of Israeli and Saudi interests in Syria and Iraq. But that's a topic for another post.)

What the Pope can do, I think, is speak against drone warfare.

If he issued such a statement, he would not be condemning a nation or an economic system or a foreign policy. He would de-legitimize a method of murder. Such a declaration has precedence: The Church has already denounced chemical and biological warfare.
According to the Vatican Radio account of the meeting, Pope Francis repeated his firm denunciation of the use of chemical weapons, first pronounced in an Angelus address of Sept. 1, and affirmed that "these armaments have no place in the world."

"The international community must continue its efforts to eliminate them and to ensure that they can't ever reemerge," the pope told Üzümcü, according to Vatican Radio...
The Pope has a unique ability to place the debate over drone warfare on a new level. For Catholics -- and even for many non-Catholics -- he possesses the moral authority to force mankind to re-assess this weapon.

So far, Americans have avoided the main issue. We have debated whether drones have hit their intended targets, whether the intelligence has been faulty, whether the war on terror justifies the civilian casualties, whether we can trust the government's pronouncements, whether non-combatants may be killed without trial, and whether drone strikes create more enemies than they eliminate. These are important questions, but they are not the question.

We need to ask whether we should place drone warfare in the same category as chemical warfare.

I say that we must make a "psychological re-assignment" of the drone. For roughly a century, civilized people have agreed that some weapons have an intrinsic evil. The drone belongs in that category.

The next time Pope Francis speaks out against chemical weapons, let him also decry the drone. Let him place that weapon outside the confines of "just war" doctrine. With that single gesture, he can ignite a new conversation. He can force us to face the unpleasant truth of our recent history.

I can't think of anything more useful for the Pope to do.

Drones cannot kill unless someone pushes a button. Violence cannot occur without the compliance of a functionary sitting well out of harm's way -- a cola-slurping "warrior" who has become inured to the sight of dead and maimed bodies on a computer screen. If that person was raised a Catholic, he or she should be made to understand that he spits on his faith if he presses that button. The "Hellfire" threat should work both ways.
Benedict the conservative condemned the Iraq War as immorally pre-emptive.
But only a minority of conservative American Catholics
heeded him, as far as I could tell.
Well said, Joseph.
A drone is just a remote controlled aircraft. What is the difference between a hell-fire missile being fired from a manned aircraft verses an unmanned aircraft. The effect is the same. The real question is the use of the hell-fire missile. Is it justified, legal and effective in accomplishing the goals? Firing missiles on civilians with whom we are not at war is not legal, justified nor effective. The USA justifies the use of these weapons by claiming we are at war, we target terrorists who are a threat to America and any civilian casualties are unintended collateral damage.
I am for Drone Rail Technology.

Could Drone Rail Technology be the Next Big Thing?
Well, Pope Francis did condemn the possible bombing of Syria while the drumbeat for blowing stuff up was downright deafening. IMHO, Obama did a good thing, the right thing when he made the pivot away from war. If we begin to hear more grisly stories of kids and wedding parties being blown to smithereens by 'The Eyes in the Sky', the Pope may very well make a comment. The video you included in the last thread was effective and damning. I've watched about half of it so far.

But Pope Francis is only one man despite his moral authority and platform. We need more than the head of the Catholic Church demanding an end to perpetual war, drones or not. We need all the religious leaders and people of moral conviction blasting the US government and transnational corporations for their disregard, their willful blindness regarding human life and welfare.

The drones personally creep me out. Bad enough with distance guidance but the idea of autonomous drones is like something from a nightmare or bad horror film. Still, they are the new, hot thing both for foreign and domestic use and Congress has shown little concern with all these FAA approvals for in-country surveillance.
And who knows what else.

There's way too much money to be made. It's always the money.

I think Pope Francis is doing a great job reminding people that Jesus was not a Libertarian, did not preach from the Prosperity Gospel and would not have buddied up with Ayn Rand.

In my estimation, the Pope is making all the right people squirm. I look forward to his 2014 declarations.

This is a Pope who almost makes me want to return to Mother Church. Almost :0)

I cannot think of anything more useful for the Pope to do either, Joseph. Excellent post!
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