John Oliver, Ben Affleck and the Game of Drones

I’m a big fan of John Oliver, always have been.  He’s witty, insightful and has a keen sense of irony.

Ben Affleck did a great job as Daredevil and I think he’ll be a pretty good Batman, although Michael Keaton has been my favorite, so far.

Oliver and Affleck have one thing in common that may not be obvious at first glance.  They are both on the wrong side of this thing we call  the war on terror and they’re on the wrong side of history.  Maybe that’s two things.

Oliver and Affleck are both, not surprisingly Liberals.  I consider myself a Liberal, at least when it comes to social issues.  The term “bleeding heart” may have even been bandied about from time to time and my pal, Mitch refers to me as “Liberal Bob.”

For the most part, I wear the label proudly, but I do not follow anyone’s party line blindly.  I am pro-guns, pro-military and very anti-(fill in your favorite description of someone who wants to kill you and destroy your country).

To keep the record straight, we need to remind ourselves that John Oliver is not an American.  He is a citizen of Britain or the United Kingdom or whatever they call it.  In the old days we’d just call him a Limey bastard.  But in a good way.

Now, I have nothing against the British-that’s not entirely true, but that’s not relevant to this story-and, as I’ve indicated, I think Oliver is a stitch.  Or a hoot, if you prefer.  I think he blows away  Monty Python.

I take exception to Oliver, though when he addresses his American audience with the inclusive plural pronoun, “we.”   No matter how much I like you, John, we’re not a “we”, you’re a “they” and you should address us as “you.”

My real problem with Oliver, though is that he has a problem with us, and by us I am referring to the group known as Americans, a group of which he is not a member.

John’s specific problem is with our drone program, something which is as much his business as Prince Charles’ underwear are my business.  See the clip  here.

Did you know that Prince Charles only wears underwear once, and then it is laundered and donated to someone who is either homeless or underwear-less.  I’m not sure which, it’s really none of my business.

In President Obama’s six years in office, he’s ordered about eight times as many drone strikes as his predecessor did in eight years in office.  Apparently, not everyone thinks that’s a good thing.

One of Oliver’s problems with our drone program is the difficulty we sometimes have identifying our victims.  Like all military missions-like all things in life-we act on the best information we have.  It’s not always possible to know exactly who is in some mud hut on a barren hillside in Pakistan, but if your intel seems reliable, you have to go with what you have.

To do otherwise would be negligent.  A positive identification isn’t always possible.  I hate to run up the 9/11 flag all the time, but I don’t think anyone was checking ID’s in the twin towers before they flew a couple of planes into them.

Lines get blurred in war and, make no mistake we are at war.  Whether we like it or not.  We have enemies who are well-armed, well-funded and have a singular mission in their lives.  They want to destroy America and establish an Islamic world government (caliphate).

We can quibble about the exact meaning of “imminent threat”, split hairs on the difference between civilians and enemy combatants and demand more precise body counts.  In the end, does it really matter if the death toll of a drone strike was 20 or 22?

Oliver got a couple of things right.  Drones are cheaper than manned aircraft and they avoid putting air crews at risk.  He was wrong though, that they kill a lot of people.  Compared to some of the bombing methods we could be deploying-remember “carpet bombing?”-drone strikes are surgical, with careful consideration for collateral damage.

Oliver’s not happy with the lack of transparency of our drone program.  I don’t see how it’s any of his business.  He said his crew got only vague answers from the government after a week of inquiry and then wailed,  “we consistently let the government get away with answers like that.”

Again, John, you are not part of we.

I don’t understand why someone doesn’t send the Queen to a retirement community and turn Buckingham Palace into low income housing.  Then again, it’s not my business.

Oliver went on to show how the American drone program is ruining the lives of children in Pakistan, Yemen and Waziristan.  They live in fear, never knowing when fire will rain down from the sky.  Isn’t that the point?

He didn’t mention the young lives shaped in the madrases across Pakistan, children molded into sociopaths and killers.  Schools of death funded by Saudi Arabia, Iran and even donations from so-called charities here in America.

These people can strike us anywhere and anytime.  Shouldn’t they be looking over their shoulders, hiding in alleys, scurrying in the dark?

As I’ve used up my (self-allotted) time and space, I’m going to respond to Mr. Affleck’s comments in the next installment.  After all, I wouldn’t want to be accused of droning on.

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