America as a Shining Drone Upon a Hill;
On Staring Death in the Face and Not Noticing

by Tom Engelhardt

[We wish to thank Jim Nesbit of St. Louis for
bringing this valuable article to our attention]


PREFACE

It is absolutely amazing how Americans – especially American Christians - are unable to see what their country has become: a PREDATOR NATION; a nation the Bible calls a "BEAST NATION" (Dan. 7:7); a country that is "DREADFUL" and "TERRIBLE," and "STRONG EXCEEDINGLY" with "great iron teeth;" one that "DEVOURS" and "BRAKES IN PIECES" the rest of the nations of the world (Daniel 7:7); an empire of greed Isaiah describes as an "OVERFLOWING SCOURGE" (Is. 28:18) that has gained mastery over the entire earth and established a ONE-WORLD EMPIRE that is bringing ruin and poverty to the peoples and nations of the world. [Please see our article, "The Third World as a Model for the American New World Order System."]

THE AMERICAN COLOSSUS

The fact of the matter is,

"America's presence today fills the world like some hideous colossus. She stands as a giant in a world filled with midgets. Her existence shatters the pretense of all those who have gone before her - of Egypt, Assyria, Persia, even of ancient Rome - and she inhabits and diffuses the earth with her omnipotence and Titan-like bearing."  [Again, please see our article, "The Third World as a Model for the American New World Order System."]

Those Christians who think that America can be "restored to Christ and the church" are making a huge mistake: AMERICA WAS NEVER THERE in the first place, and the Christianity (so-called) that she has purveyed to the world has always been a Christianity that exalts the rich and demeans the poor. [Please see our articles, "Capitalism and Christianity," "The Deceitfulness of Riches and the Marxist Paradigm" and "The American New World Order System Must Give Way to the Kingdom of Heaven;" please also read Howard Zinn's book, A People's History of the United States which may be purchased on Amazon.com.]

Truly it can be said of American Christians:

"This people's heart is waxed gross, And their ears are dull of hearing, And their eyes they have closed; Lest, haply they should perceive with their eyes, And hear with their ears, And understand with their heart, And should turn again, And I should heal them." (Acts 28:27)

-- Antipas

__________________________________________

Here's the essence of it: you can trust America's crème de la crème, the most elevated, responsible people, no matter what weapons, what powers, you put in their hands.  No need to constantly look over their shoulders.

Placed in the hands of evildoers, those weapons and powers could create a living nightmare; controlled by the best of people, they lead to measured, thoughtful, precise decisions in which bad things are (with rare and understandable exceptions) done only to truly terrible types.  In the process, you simply couldn't be better protected.

And in case you were wondering, there is no question who among us are the best, most lawful, moral, ethical, considerate, and judicious people: the officials of our national security state.  Trust them implicitly.  They will never give you a bum steer.

You may be paying a fortune to maintain their world –

  • the 30,000 people hired to listen in on conversations and other communications in this country,
  • the 230,000 employees of the Department of Homeland Security,
  • the 854,000 people with top-secret clearances,
  • the 4.2 million with security clearances of one sort or another,
  • the $2 billion, one-million-square-foot data center that the National Security Agency is constructing in Utah,
  • the gigantic $1.8 billion headquarters the National Geospatial Intelligence Agency recently built for its 16,000 employees in the Washington area

- but there's a good reason.  That's what's needed to make truly elevated, surgically precise decisions about life and death in the service of protecting American interests on this dangerous globe of ours.

And in case you wondered just how we know all this, we have it on the best authority: the people who are doing it -- the only ones, given the obvious need for secrecy, capable of judging just how moral, elevated, and remarkable their own work is. 

They deserve our congratulations, but if we're too distracted to give it to them, they are quite capable of high-fiving themselves.

We're talking, in particular, about the use by the government of a growing armada of remotely piloted planes, a.k.a. drones, grimly labeled Predators and Reapers, to fight a nameless, almost planet-wide war (formerly known as the Global War on Terror).

Predators and Reapers

Its purpose: to destroy al-Qaeda-in-wherever and all its wannabes and look-alikes, the Taliban, and anyone affiliated or associated with any of the above, or just about anyone else we believe might imminently endanger our "interests."

In the service of this war, in the midst of a perpetual state of war and of wartime, every act committed by these leaders is, it turns out, absolutely, totally, and completely legal.  We have their say-so for that, and they have the documents to prove it, largely because the best and most elevated legal minds among them have produced that documentation in secret. (Of course, they dare not show it to the rest of us, lest lives be endangered.)

By their own account, they have, in fact, been covertly exceptional, moral, and legal for more than a decade (minus, of course, the odd black site and torture chamber) -- so covertly exceptional, in fact, that they haven't quite gotten the credit they deserve. 

Now, they would like to make the latest version of their exceptional mission to the world known to the rest of us.  It is finally in our interest, it seems, to be a good deal better informed about America's covert wars in a year in which the widely announced "covert" killing of Osama bin Laden in Pakistan is a major selling point in the president's reelection campaign.

No one should be surprised.  There was always an "overt" lurking in the "covert" of what now passes for "covert war." 

The CIA's global drone assassination campaign has long been a bragging point in Washington, even if it couldn't officially be discussed directly before, say, Congress.  The covertness of our drone wars in the Pakistani tribal borderlands, Somalia, Yemen, and elsewhere really turns out to have less to do with secrecy -- just about every covert drone strike is reported, sooner or later, in the media -- than assuring two administrations that they could pursue their drone wars without accountability to anyone.

THE CIA'S COVERT ASSASSINATION PROGRAM:

And it is not just foreign nationals that are being targeted: JFK - MLK - RFK - Carnahan - Wellstone. [Please see our articles, "The Evil in Our Midst" and "As in the Days of Noah;" for a more complete list of those the CIA has targeted for assassination over the years, please see our article, "Buy Oil for Your Lamps While There Is Still Time."]

A Classic of Self-Congratulation

Recently, top administration officials seem to be fanning out to offer rare peeks into what's truly on-target and exceptional about America's drone wars. In many ways, these days, American exceptionalism is about as unexceptional as apple pie.  It has, for one thing, become the everyday language of the presidential campaign trail.  And that shouldn't surprise us either.  After all, great powers and their leaders tend to think well of themselves.  The French had their "mission civilisatrice," the Chinese had the "mandate of heaven," and like all imperial powers they inevitably thought they were doing the best for themselves and others, sadly benighted, in this best of all possible worlds.

Sometimes, though, the American version of this does seem... I hate to use the word, but exceptional.  If you want to get a taste of just what this means, consider as Exhibit One a recent speech by the president's counterterrorism "tsar," John Brennan, at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars.  According to his own account, he was dispatched to the center by the president to provide greater openness when it comes to the administration's secret drone wars, to respond to critics of the drones and their legality, and undoubtedly to put a smiley face on drone operations generally.

Ever since the Puritan minister John Winthrop first used the phrase in a sermon on shipboard on the way to North America, "a city upon a hill" has caught something of at least one American-style dream -- a sense that this country's fate was to be a blessed paragon for the rest of the world, an exception to every norm.  In the last century, it became "a shining city upon a hill" and was regularly cited in presidential addresses. [Please see our article, "American Dystopia."]

Whatever that "city," that dream, was once imagined to be, it has undergone a largely unnoticed metamorphosis in the twenty-first century.  It has become -- even in our dreams -- an up-armored garrison encampment, just as Washington itself has become the heavily fortified bureaucratic heartland of a war state.  So when Brennan spoke, what he offered was a new version of American exceptionalism: the first "shining drone upon a hill" speech, which also qualifies as an instant classic of self-congratulation. [Please see our article, "The Tribulation, Part 5: The Gog / Magog War and the Merchants of Tarshish."]

Never, according to him, has a country with such an advanced weapon system as the drone used it quite so judiciously, quite so -- if not peacefully -- at least with the sagacity and skill usually reserved for the gods.  American drone strikes, he assured his listeners, are "ethical and just," "wise," and "surgically precise" -- exactly what you'd expect from a country he refers to, quoting the president, as the preeminent "standard bearer in the conduct of war."

Those drone strikes, he added, are based on staggeringly "rigorous standards" involving the individual identification of human targets. Even when visited on American citizens outside declared war zones, they are invariably "within the bounds of the law," as you would expect of the preeminent "nation of laws."

The strikes are never motivated by vengeance, always target someone known to us as the worst of the worst, and almost invariably avoid anyone who is even the most mediocre of the mediocre.  (Forget the fact that, as Greg Miller of the Washington Post reported, the CIA has recently received permission from the president to launch drone strikes in Yemen based only on the observed "patterns of suspicious behavior" of groups of unidentified individuals, as was already true in the Pakistani tribal borderlands.)

Yes, in such circumstances innocents do unfortunately die, even if unbelievably rarely -- and for that we couldn't be more regretful.  Such deaths, however, are in some sense salutary, since they lead to the most rigorous reviews and reassessments of, and so improvements in, our actions. "This too," Brennan assured his audience, "is a reflection of our values as Americans."

"I would note," he added, "that these standards, for identifying a target and avoiding... the loss of lives of innocent civilians, exceed what is required as a matter of international law on a typical battlefield.  That's another example of the high standards to which we hold ourselves."

And that's just a taste of the tone and substance of the speech given by the president's leading counterterrorism expert, and in it he's no outlier.  It catches something about an American sense of self at this moment.  Yes, Americans may be ever more down on the Afghan war, but like their leaders, they are high on drones.  In a February Washington Post/ABC News poll, 83% of respondents supported the administration's use of drones.  Perhaps that's not surprising either, since the drones are generally presented here as the coolest of machines, as well as cheap alternatives (in money and lives) to sending more armies onto the Eurasian mainland.

In a February Washington Post/ABC News poll, 80% of respondents supported the administration's use of drones.

Predator Nation

In these last years, this country has pioneered the development of the most advanced killing machines on the planet for which the national security state has plans decades into the future.  Conceptually speaking, our leaders have also established their "right" to send these robot assassins into any airspace, no matter the local claims of national sovereignty, to take out those we define as evil or simply to protect American interests.  On this, Brennan couldn't be clearer.  In the process, we have turned much of the rest of the planet into what can only be considered an American free-fire zone.

We have, in short, established a remarkably expansive set of drone-war rules for the global future ... Looking in the mirror, [our leaders] are incapable of seeing a mask of death ...

In reality, however, it's not so hard to imagine what we increasingly look like to those others: a Predator nation.  And not just to the parents and relatives of the more than 160 children the Bureau of Investigative Journalism has documented as having died in U.S. drone strikes in Pakistan.  After all, war is now the only game in town.  Peace?  For the managers of our national security state, it's neither a word worth mentioning, nor an imaginable condition.

AMERICA: a predator nation

In truth, our leaders should be in mourning for whatever peaceful dreams we ever had.  But mention drones and they light up.  They're having a love affair with those machines.  They just can't get enough of them or imagine their world or ours without them.

What they can't see in the haze of exceptional self-congratulation is this: they are transforming the promise of America into a promise of death. And death, visited from the skies, isn't precise. It isn't glorious. It isn't judicious. It certainly isn't a shining vision.  It's hell.  And it's a global future for which, someday, no one will thank us.

They are transforming the promise of America into a promise of death. And death, visited from the skies, isn't precise. It isn't glorious. It isn't judicious. It certainly isn't a shining vision. It's hell. And it's a global future for which, someday, no one will thank us.

  • Tom Engelhardt, co-founder of the American Empire Project and the author of The American Way of War: How Bush's Wars Became Obama's as well as The End of Victory Culture, runs the Nation Institute's TomDispatch.com. His latest book is The United States of Fear (Haymarket Books).

________________________________________

God bless you all!

S.R. Shearer
Antipas Ministries

***

IN ADDITION, WE URGE YOU TO DOWNLOAD THE NEW ANTIPAS PAPERS, PRINT THEM OUT YOURSELF, AND STUDY THEM CAREFULLY; SHARE THEM WITH YOUR FRIENDS.

YOU MAY DOWNLOAD THEM FREE!

***

FINALLY, WE URGE YOU TO DOWNLOAD AND PRINT OUT THE FLYER WE SENT TO YOU RECENTLY.

YOU MAY DOWNLOAD THE FLYER HERE

Then make copies and take these copies out to the campuses where you live; pass them out; OR if that seems too "daring" for you right now, post them on telephone poles, the sides of buildings, on campus bulletin boards; post them in union halls, in the neighborhoods of the poor and downtrodden, near employment offices, wherever you can.


Once again, we URGE you to read (or re-read):

We need your help to spread the word concerning Antipas Ministries and the eschatological viewpoint it represents; WE NEED YOUR HELP BECAUSE WE DO NOT "LINK" WITH OTHER SO-CALLED "CHRISTIAN" WEBSITES which are, for the most part, "in the tank" insofar as their loyalty to the United States is concerned - a loyalty that has made them partners in the BLOODY trail the American military has left in its TERROR-RIDDEN rampage throughout the world, as well as making them partners in the abject poverty that American corporations have imposed on the peoples and nations the American military machine has ravaged - A BLOODY, TERROR-RIDDEN RAMPAGE THAT HAS TO A LARGE DEGREE BEEN CARRIED OUT IN THE NAME OF THE "PRINCE OF PEACE." [Please see our articles, "The Third World as a Model for the New World Order," Inside the American New World Order System" and "The American Empire: The Corporate / Pentagon / CIA / Missionary Archipelago."]

YOU CAN HELP BY EMAILING THIS ARTICLE TO
YOUR FRIENDS AND NEIGHBORS

PRESS HERE


HOME | ARTICLES | ABOUT US | SUPPORT US | CONTACT US
© Antipas Ministries