Singer recalls asking a drone
pilot “what it was like to fight insurgents in Iraq while based in Nevada. He
said, `You are going to war for 12 hours, shooting weapons at targets,
directing kills on enemy combatants, and then you get in the car and you drive home.
And within 20 minutes, you’re sitting at the dinner table talking to your kids
about their homework.” Meanwhile, somewhere in Iraq (or Afghanistan, Pakistan, Libya,
Somalia, Yemen, or another country yet to be identified), families are
picking through the rubble of their homes in the rapidly evaporating hope that
their own children have somehow survived this most recent act of imperial
Dietrich Bonhoeffer, whose heroic
resistance to the Nazi regime was a product of his unconditional commitment to
God, would almost certainly admire the character and courage displayed by the
atheist Bradley Manning in exposing war crimes. He would likewise see something familiar in the effort to cultivate a population of polite, punctual, dutiful, thrift, orderly collaborators in institutionalized evil.
In 1933, many of Bonhoeffer’s pious friends chided him
for his insistence on opposing the Nazi regime. The Third Reich was an
irresistible tide, Bonhoeffer was told; it was better to “ride the wave”
than to stand against it and be overwhelmed.
Choosing a different metaphor,
one that would acquire grim connotations within a few years, Bonhoeffer gently
but firmly dismissed the idea of collaboration: “If you board the wrong train,
it is no use running along the corridor in the opposite direction.”
Dum spiro, pugno!