Culture-Tilt: Abortion and Drones

The main thing that concerns me about the United States right now is its political and military culture, how we seem to be pressing full steam ahead with what I think are dangerous projects (DP).

The first DP is the US use of drones, which we started about 7 or 8 years ago in the war in Afghanistan. It’s not clear to me if we use drones in Iraq, though I think we do.

Now the New York Times reports we are sending drones across the border into Mexico to spy on the drug gangs. A good way of getting information? Maybe, even probably. A violation of Mexico’s sovereignty? Perhaps.

In addition to wariness by Mr. Calderón’s government about how the American intervention might be perceived at home, the Mexican Constitution prohibits foreign military and law enforcement agents from operating in Mexico except under extremely limited conditions, Mexican officials said, so the legal foundation for such activity may be shaky.

Obama and Mexican president Calderon have agreed to continue the drone surveys for now. A bad idea in the long run? Yes.

We cannot solve Mexico’s drug dealer problem. Even if a miracle were to occur and US citizens suddenly stopped using all drugs, thus depriving Mexican drug dealers of their major market, that would not solve the problem. No, Mexicans have to solve the problem, and it is a difficult one that requires reforming government at all levels.

In addition, it is an extension of the paternalistic US approach to the Western Hemisphere. “We’re Big Daddy, and we’ll find your evil drug lords for you.”

Most important, drones used today to spy on drug lords or to assassinate alleged terrorists can be used to spy on US citizens tomorrow. Why worry about getting permission to listen in on someone’s land line or cell phone when you can send a hummingbird drone down the chimney? (Do I know of any such practices? No, though I did read about one city considering the use of drones for surveillance. Unfortunately, I can’t remember which city.)

How could we begin to solve this problem?

1. Stop using drones to meddle in other countries’ business.

2. Focus on cleaning up corruption among Mexican law enforcement and strengthening them in their fight against drug cartels.

How is this restoration?

With regard to Mexico, it’s minding our own business. I guess you could call it a restoration of sovereignty to Mexico, if we have compromised it.

With regard to US military culture, I think ending our use of drones in warfare would restore some of the ethics that have been lost since 9/11. We shouldn’t use a weapon just because we can. We should use it because it’s right.

Source: “US Drones Fight Mexican Drug Trade,” Ginger Thompson, New York Times, March 15, 2011

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The second DP is the ongoing attempt to limit or just plain remove abortion rights in the United States.

I just finished the Winter 2011 edition of Ms. magazine. One article, “Abortion Rights on the Line” by Jeanne K. C. Clark, discussed the downside and upside of the shift to the right in the November 2010 election. It mentioned a survey that found lots of support for abortion, depending on how the questions were asked. But it was this paragraph that really made an impression on me.

For decades, the strategy of anti-abortion forces has been to make women invisible in the abortion fight, and much of the time they have succeeded. Our failure to claim the moral high ground and make women and the reality of our lives the center of the debate—instead relying on legalistic language and abstract choice terminology—has played right into our opponents’ hands. That must stop.

I don’t believe pro-choicers have the moral high ground. I think there is morality on both sides of the abortion debate.

Here is my morality about abortion: Whenever I see the “Respect Life” license plate, created in Colorado after the shooting at Columbine High School, I think, “I respect the lives of women and girls.” All of us need to pay more attention to the realities of female experience. It is at least as important as the realities of the unborn child.

How could we begin to solve this problem?

1. If you’re feeling gutsy and you’ve had an abortion, talk about it. You can post a description of your abortion on the site I’m Not Sorry.

2. Reorient discussions of abortion to focus on women’s needs, on how women are not free unless they have the ability to obtain an abortion.

How is this restoration?

Talking more about women’s experiences would help balance the debate on abortion. Balancing the debate on abortion would make it easier to talk about the issue, thus restoring some civility to our “culture wars.”

Source: The article is not yet available on the Ms. website. I think it will be available after the spring issue comes out.