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From TomDispatch: Engelhardt, Droning On

Posted by Tom Engelhardt on November 10th, 2009

From TomDispatch this afternoon: Armed drone aircraft in Afghanistan and Pakistan are only the latest wonder weapon to promise us the world; here’s why, even if they don’t perform as advertised abroad, they’ll be a military-industrial success at home — Tom Engelhardt, “Drone Race to a Known Future, Why Military Dreams Fail — and Why It Doesn’t Matter”

An audio interview with me about wonder weapons accompanies the piece and can be checked out here:

Drones are just so hot in Washington today! The vice president is a drone-atic. Critics hail them as the de-escalatory option in the Afghan War. In Afghanistan and Pakistan, they seem to be the only thing that “works.” They are this moment’s wonder weapon, hailed as a panacea for America’s war-fighters, while robot war is increasingly considered the royal road to future success in our conflicts abroad.

They are, however, by no means the first wonder weapon or wonder technology so hailed. In my latest post, I consider a range of such weapons, including the atomic bomb, Vietnam’s electronic battlefield, Ronald Reagan’s Strategic Defense Initiative (which was to put an “impermeable” anti-missile shield over the country), the “smart bombs” of the Gulf War, and Donald Rumsfeld’s “netcentric warfare.” All failed to deliver as advertised in their moment, just as the drones will in ours — and, in a sense, it made no difference. After all, they all “succeeded” at home; they all embedded themselves deeply in our American world.

As I write: “Rarely do wonder weapons or wonder technologies disappoint enough to disappear. Each of these is, in fact, now surrounded by its own mini-version of the military-industrial complex, with its own set of corporate players, special lobbyists in Washington, specific interests, and congressional boosters. Each has installed a typical revolving door that the relevant Pentagon officials and officers can spin through once their military careers are in order. This is no less true for that wonder weapon of our moment, the robot drone. In fact, you can already see the military-industrial-drone-robotics complex in formation.”

Consider this post a new way to explain just why drone warfare will prove a disaster. It, of course, puts the American nation into the 24/7 assassination trade — “The drones put wings on the original Bush-era Guantanamo principle — that Americans have the inalienable right to act as global judge, jury, and executioner, and in doing so are beyond the reach of any court or law.” — but it is also paving a longer, even darker road to hell.

Don’t miss this one.

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