The All-American Hit Squad

March 17, 2013 | Revolution Newspaper |


"Panetta Announces Medal for Drone Pilots"—NBC News headline, February 13, 2013

The U.S. military personnel directly responsible for murdering people on the other side of the planet by remote control bombing are now eligible for special military honors.

U.S. "Defense" Secretary Leon Panetta announced that the soldiers sitting in air conditioned comfort at dozens of control rooms in the U.S. and around the world, staring at a computer screen and clicking a mouse that can cause death to rain down on people in Pakistan, Afghanistan, Yemen, and other countries, "contribute to the success of combat operations, particularly when they remove the enemy from the field of battle."

And now, if they attain what Panetta called "extraordinary achievement," they will be awarded a red, white, and blue "Distinguished Warfare Medal."

Thousands of people have been killed in drone attacks. Millions of people live in the terror of a drone buzzing overhead for weeks at a time, never knowing when or where it will strike. Panetta did not announce if the award would be given ex post facto to those valorous soldiers who have already demonstrated their extraordinary ability at murder from afar.

Some military traditionalists objected to this new medal, because the drone killers never place themselves in mortal danger. In fact, the U.S. military has a long tradition of honoring those who commit mass murder of civilians from a safe distance. A few examples:

  • General Curtis LeMay—planned and organized massive U.S. bombing and mining attacks on 67 Japanese cities in World War 2, including a March 1945 attack on Tokyo, one of the largest cities in the world, that was the most deadly and destructive bombing attack of the entire war. 100,000 civilians were killed. LeMay was rewarded with the "Distinguished Service Medal," the "Medal for Humane Action," and 21 other medals by the U.S. military.
  • Paul W. Tibbets—bomber captain of the U.S. Air Force, dropped an atomic bomb on the Japanese city of Hiroshima. 80,000 people were killed immediately, tens of thousands more died in the months and years afterward from trauma and radiation poisoning caused by the bombing. Tibbets was given the "Distinguished Service Cross," the "Legion of Merit," and 11 other medals.
  • John McCain—Air Force pilot who participated in "Operation Rolling Thunder," a three-and-a-half year bombing campaign of over 150,000 attacks on North Vietnam. In 1968, the C.I.A., in a secret report, acknowledged that 90,000 people were killed in these attacks, 72,000 of them civilians. McCain received the "Air Medal," the "Legion of Merit," and several other awards for his participation in mass murder.
  • General Julian Ewell—relentlessly championed the use of the "body count" of Vietnamese people to gauge how the U.S. was doing in its criminal war in Vietnam. The "Butcher of the Mekong Delta" ordered helicopter gunships, massive amounts of napalm, B-52 bombing raids, and navy artillery hurling "Volkswagen-sized shells" on a heavily populated area, for years. Ewell's medals included the "Distinguished Service Cross," the "Legion of Merit," and the "Air Medal."
  • General Norman Schwarzkopf—commander of the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq in 1991. A demographer in the U.S. Commerce department was fired from her job in 1992 when she issued a report indicating that 13,000 civilians had been killed "directly" from the U.S. onslaught, and 70,000 from damage deliberately caused to Iraq's water supply, medical facilities, and electrical power grid by the U.S. Schwarzkopf was awarded the "Army Distinguished Service Medal," the "Defense Superior Service Medal," and many other military honors.

When Panetta announced the medal for drone murderers, he also said that the most prestigious awards handed out by the U.S. military will continue to be given to "those who display gallantry and valor in actions where their lives are on the line." Meaning, those who kill for U.S. imperialism using more "traditional" methods.

Panetta was speaking of people like Chris Kyle, "American Sniper," an assassin for the Navy Seals in Iraq. Kyle's claim to fame and stardom in America was that he had killed more people than any other sniper in U.S. military history—160 confirmed dead and 255 claimed. The first person Kyle shot down was an Iraqi woman he claimed was carrying a grenade. After Kyle was himself recently shot dead by one of his followers, a service for him was held at Texas Stadium, home of "America's team," the Dallas Cowboys, and attended by thousands of military and police personnel. Kyle had received over a dozen military honors.

Drone warfare brings a terrifying, high-tech, remote control element to something that has long been a core component of "the American way of war"—massive death poured upon civilian populations. The U.S. armed forces are the brutal enforcers of a capitalist-imperialist system that exploits and devastates people across the earth, and plunders and destroys the planet itself.

The mass murderers it honors are its fitting representatives.

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