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Washington's Imperial Attitude: We Talk About Countries Like We Own Them

It's the norm for U.S. civilian and military leaders to talk about what other countries "must do" -- but it's a radical and dangerous mindset.

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"We need to call off the drones... Since 2006, we've killed 14 senior Al Qaeda leaders using drone strikes; in the same time period, we've killed 700 Pakistani civilians in the same area. The drone strikes are highly unpopular. They are deeply aggravating to the population. And they've given rise to a feeling of anger that coalesces the population around the extremists and leads to spikes of extremism... The current path that we are on is leading us to loss of Pakistani government control over its own population."

Sage advice. If President Obama temporarily suspended the Bush-era drone war, which his administration has recently escalated, it would represent a start down a different path, one not already strewn with the skeletons of failed policies. And while he's at it -- and here's a little touch of extremism by American standards -- why not declare a six-month moratorium on all drone research of any sort, a brief period to reconsider whether we really want to pursue such "solutions" ad infinitum ?

Why not, in fact, call for a six-month moratorium on all weapons research? A long Pentagon holiday. Militarily, the U.S. is in no danger of losing significant military ground globally by shutting down its R&D machine for a time, while reconsidering whether it actually wants to lead the planet into a future filled with Spikes and Avengers.

If, however, nothing else was done, at least the president should order his national security team to calm down, skip those crisis meetings on Pakistan, tamp down the doomsday scenarios, and try to take a few minutes to imagine what the world looks like if you're not in Washington or the skies over our planet. Are there really no solutions anywhere that don't need to be engineered first in our national capital?

Tom Engelhardt, editor of, is co-founder of the American Empire Project and author of The End of Victory Culture .

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