Time to Settle Accounts
June 17, 2011: One boss same as the next.
I’m at my desk checking Salon and the latest from Glenn Greenwald when I see this headline: “Yet another illegal war – now in Yemen.” What the fuck? I’m three days behind – this story is from Tuesday. How in the hell did this slip past me? I start reading.
“Both The Wall Street Journal and The Washington Post report today that the Obama administration is planning to exploit the disorder from the civil war in Yemen by dramatically escalating a CIA-led drone bombing campaign. In one sense, this is nothing new. Contrary to false denials, the U.S., under the 2009 Nobel Peace Prize winner, has been bombing Yemen for the last two years…”
“Rob,” I yell to Rob in the other room, “are we really bombing Yemen?” He walks over and I show him the story.
“Yep, really happening,” he says.
“How are we getting away with this?”
“What do you mean?” And then, before I can tell him, “There’s no ‘getting away with it.’ If we want to do it, we do it,” he says. “The only thing that stops us is political pressure or a worthy adversary. You know, we can’t bomb Iran because that would stir up the Middle East. We can’t bomb North Korea because they have the bomb, and because we don’t want to piss off China. We can bomb Pakistan because they give us tacit permission.”
“And Yemen?” I ask.
“It boils down to the War Powers Act. Every president has to deal with the real world and all the mess that comes with it. He always likes as many tools as he can to deal with situations, like the CIA, drones, secret ops, and so on. Congress has the responsibility to check the president but they have never shown the desire to actually get involved in such chaos. Stopping drones in Yemen will not get Mark Kirk re-elected in Illinois, you know?”
“So on and on we go.”
“Pretty much,” he says.
“But you say ‘We can’t bomb Iran because of the Middle East, and we can’t bomb North Korea because they’d bomb us back…’ That makes it sound like the president wakes up in the morning thinking, “So, who can we bomb?”
Rob shrugs, as if to say, “Yeah, and?”
“So, seriously, why Yemen?”
“Oh, right,” he says. “There are terrorist training camps there. Apparently.”
“So more War on Terror stuff.”
“In other words, when it comes to wanting to blow some shit up, Obama is pretty much the same as Bush.”
“As much as I want to say no, yes.”
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