Drone warfare — does America want to live in the world it is creating?

Scott Shane writes: the Zhuhai air show in southeastern China last November, Chinese companies startled some Americans by unveiling 25 different models of remotely controlled aircraft and showing video animation of a missile-armed drone taking out an armored vehicle and attacking a United States aircraft carrier.

The presentation appeared to be more marketing hype than military threat; the event is China’s biggest aviation market, drawing both Chinese and foreign military buyers. But it was stark evidence that the United States’ near monopoly on armed drones was coming to an end, with far-reaching consequences for American security, international law and the future of warfare.

Eventually, the United States will face a military adversary or terrorist group armed with drones, military analysts say. But what the short-run hazard experts foresee is not an attack on the United States, which faces no enemies with significant combat drone capabilities, but the political and legal challenges posed when another country follows the American example. The Bush administration, and even more aggressively the Obama administration, embraced an extraordinary principle: that the United States can send this robotic weapon over borders to kill perceived enemies, even American citizens, who are viewed as a threat.

“Is this the world we want to live in?” asks Micah Zenko, a fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations. “Because we’re creating it.”

What was a science-fiction scenario not much more than a decade ago has become today’s news. In Iraq and Afghanistan, military drones have become a routine part of the arsenal. In Pakistan, according to American officials, strikes from Predators and Reapers operated by the C.I.A. have killed more than 2,000 militants; the number of civilian casualties is hotly debated. In Yemen last month, an American citizen was, for the first time, the intended target of a drone strike, as Anwar al-Awlaki, the Qaeda propagandist and plotter, was killed along with a second American, Samir Khan.

If China, for instance, sends killer drones into Kazakhstan to hunt minority Uighur Muslims it accuses of plotting terrorism, what will the United States say? What if India uses remotely controlled craft to hit terrorism suspects in Kashmir, or Russia sends drones after militants in the Caucasus? American officials who protest will likely find their own example thrown back at them.

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3 thoughts on “Drone warfare — does America want to live in the world it is creating?

  1. Christopher Hoare

    He who lives by the sword…comes back in spades, doesn’t it? Anwar al-awlaki’s relatives and friends will hire a drone strike from the Mob to pay back Obama…merely an eye for an eye. When the SAM missile battery is installed in the Rose Garden Americans will understand what a vile world their administrations have created. Where’s Qaddhafi? Is he away somewhere using what’s left of his pile of Libyan oil money to buy assassination drones?

    I can only say, “It serves you right, America.”

  2. Nigel Gibson

    And this is already happening – Israel controls Gaza and the West Bank with drone technology that is a field trial for the US. Of course, Israel is a ‘friend’ of the US, even though it controls US foreign policy, and is also at the forefront of drone usage, that is then ‘sold’ back to the US with the $3bn a year funding it receives. In the uk, the police in Kent last year mooted the use of drones to monitor for misbehaviour – is this what we really want the world to become? 1984 revisited with moving monitors, not just the ones stuck on people’s walls.

  3. dickerson3870

    RE: “Drone warfare — does America want to live in the world it is creating?” ~ Woodward

    DAVID BYRNE SEZ: “Same as it ever was…Same as it ever was…Same as it ever was…
    Same as it ever was…Same as it ever was…Same as it ever was…
    Same as it ever was…Same as it ever was…”

    Talking Heads: Once In A Lifetime (VIDEO, 05:19) – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-io-kZKl_BI

    ALSO, CONSIDER THIS (the hint of the century*): The CIA and The Muslim Brotherhood: How the CIA Set The Stage for September 11 (Martin A. Lee – Razor Magazine 2004)

    (excerpts) The CIA often works in mysterious ways – and so it was with this little-known cloak-and-dagger caper that set the stage for extensive collaboration between US intelligence and Islamic extremists. The genesis of this ill-starred alliance dates back to Egypt in the mid-1950s, when the CIA made discrete overtures to the Muslim Brotherhood, the influential Sunni fundamentalist movement that fostered Islamic militancy throughout the Middle East. What started as a quiet American flirtation with political Islam became a Cold War love affair on the sly – an affair that would turn out disastrously for the United States. Nearly all of today’s radical Islamic groups, including al-Qaeda, trace their lineage to the Brotherhood…
    …For many years, the American espionage establishment had operated on the assumption that Islam was inherently anti-communist and therefore could be harnessed to facilitate US objectives. American officials viewed the Muslim Brotherhood as “a secret weapon” in the shadow war against the Soviet Union and it’s Arab allies, according to Robert Baer, a retired CIA case officer who was right in the thick of things in the Middle East and Central Asia during his 21 year career as a spy. In Sleeping with the Devil, a book he wrote after quitting the CIA Baer explains how the United States “made common cause with the Brothers” and used them “to do our dirty work in Yemen, Afghanistan and plenty of other places”. This covert relationship; unraveled when the Cold War ended, whereupon an Islamic Frankenstein named Osama bin Laden lurched into existence…

    SOURCE – http://goo.gl/gpK3j
    * “What if all these [CIA] fantasies come flailing around?” ~ R.E.M. (Losing My Religion)

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