that droning noise

I notice that apart from the widespread complaint that the German pilotless planes ‘seem so unnatural’ (a bomb dropped by a live airman is quite natural, apparently), some journalists are denouncing them as barbarous, inhumane, and ‘an indiscriminate attack on civilians’.

After what we have been doing to the Germans over the past two years, this seems a bit thick, but it is the normal human response to every new weapon. Poison gas, the machine-gun, the submarine, gunpowder, and even the crossbow were similarly denounced in their day. Every weapon seems unfair until you have adopted it yourself. But I would not deny that the pilotless plane, flying bomb, or whatever its correct name may be, is an exceptionally unpleasant thing, because, unlike most other projectiles, it gives you time to think. What is your first reaction when you hear that droning, zooming noise? Inevitably, it is a hope that the noise won’t stop. You want to hear the bomb pass safely overhead and die away into the distance before the engine cuts out. In other words, you are hoping that it will fall on somebody else. So also when you dodge a shell or an ordinary bomb—but in that case you have only about five seconds to take cover and no time to speculate on the bottomless selfishness of the human being.’

George Orwell, 30 June 1944


“Said a day laborer, “I can’t sleep at night because when the drones are there … I hear them making that sound, that noise. The drones are all over my brain, I can’t sleep. When I hear the drones making that drone sound, I just turn on the light and sit there looking at the light. Whenever the drones are hovering over us, it just makes me so scared.” Added a politician, people “often complain that they wake up in the middle of the night screaming because they are hallucinating about drones.”


Would you have nightmares if they flew over your house?


“When children hear the drones, they get really scared, and they can hear them all the time so they’re always fearful that the drone is going to attack them,” an unidentified man reported. “Because of the noise, we’re psychologically disturbed, women, men, and children. … Twenty-four hours, a person is in stress and there is pain in his head.”

‘Every Person Is Afraid of the Drones’: The Strikes’ Effect on Life in Pakistan

Dirty Wars

Some of the camera work and hushed voiced commentary in this Oscar nominate documentary nearly drove me demented. Also the fact that what most seemed to shock Jeremy Scahill was that the US would assassinate US citizens. He was shocked that the US would kill Yemeni and Afghan women and children but once it was a US citizen it seemed to really shocked him. Why is this particularly beyond the pale?
It tells the story of how the US fights covert wars using JSoc (Joint Special Operations Command ) which seems to be an unaccountable hit squad who have to answer no one except the President himself. They are assassins, covert secretive Special Forces who can take out targets in the middle of the night. If they get things wrong they don’t have to face the music because they are doing it in secret They have struck in over 70 countries. 70 countries! In a way they are like Obama’s paramilitary or death squad. What happens if the guy after Obama is even worse than Obama? What happens when they couple this with the intelligence gathering from the NSA? Someone who voices dissent about the US and stirs up trouble (trouble as defined by some secretive people we know nothing about) could find themselves in deep trouble.

I have no time for Obama or the US Government and pontificating about Ukraine and the Crimea or international law. Putin is creepy, Obama is creepy as well.To blow up women in children with cruise missiles in countries or drone strikes or to tell foreign presidents to keep journalists locked up for telling the truth is wrong. The Navy SEAL’s etc aren’t modern day folk heroes, they’re men who kill their enemies and killing isn’t something to be proud of.
So I recommend the film if you can stick with the camera work.

Blessed are the Munitions Makers

A new year and new start so it was time bite the bullet and pay my library fine. (And it was fine… £4..90). The first book I’ve borrowed is a book about war protests in the 20th century. It is full of testimonies from people who objected to conflict for different reasons. 

‘At nineteen, I found my standards of conduct obsolete, my ideals shattered. I had lost faith in all institutionalised religion. My church had authorised me to break the sixth commandment in the name of patriotism. The ‘Love Thy Neighbour as Thyself’ part didn’t fit in; ‘Blessed are the Peacemakers’? No! Not in 1917. Blessed are the War Winners, Yes. Blessed are the Munition Makers, Yes. Twice blessed, for they lined their pockets and kept their skins intact at one and the same time. These are the thoughts that I couldn’t dismiss from my mind during those dreadful months. I wouldn’t have stuck a label on myself as belonging to any category – then. But I know what I had become now. It’s a word that is distasteful to many. Pacifist.’

J.R. Skirth, NCO, 239 Siege Battery, Royal Garrison Artillery, Battle of Messines, June 1917, from his memoir