From Drones to Nerve Gas

A tour through the dark side of history.


There is no doubt in anyone’s mind that the nerve-gas attacks in Syria are an evil equal to Nazi gas chambers. But when the rebels are lining up their captives, shirtless and trembling on the ground, and shooting them in the head, it’s really hard to divide the wheat from the chaff, the “good guys” from the “bad guys.” America alone demonstrates an unnatural confidence. We are the good guys. We are exceptional. We have the moral high ground. We can do no wrong.

. . . but what about what is being done in our name behind closed doors at the CIA headquarters, at the Pentagon, NSA and the White House?

White House officials meet every week on “Terror Tuesdays” to go through rosters of candidates for kill lists. President Obama peruses the faces of young Somali, Pakistani and Yemeni males as if he were looking at baseball cards. Then, based on the stats, he decides if this guy or that guy should be put into the “kill” pile, or not. If the person is a military-aged male, living in a certain region, and has been at one time or another in contact with someone believed to be a terrorist . . . then Obama pre-emptively believes that person to be a threat to America, and sends out a sniper-drone or assassination squad to kill them.

These are called “signature strikes.” As Jeremy Scahill suggests, this is a form of pre-crime, like in the sci-fi film Minority Report. These kill lists are drafted, and the assassinations are carried out, in total secret ... and without oversight from the courts, Congress or judicial branch.

And though drone strikes have these “high-value suspects” as their targets, they often err and take down civilians with them (even innocent children are dubbed “collateral damage”). Just years ago the ratio of soldier to civilian deaths in a Middle-East war zone was 9:1. Today, it has inverted ... thanks to drones.

Who has the moral high-ground? Are kill-lists and drone strikes more or less immoral than what Assad is doing in Syria?

Go back through the dark side of history, part 1 and part 2.