Why Drones are Different

A great article by Doug Nobel on the significance of killer drones such as the Reaper and Predator. The use of drones by the CIA has dramatically increased under the Obama administration, and they are overwhelming used in sovereign nations where the US military does not have ‘boots on the ground’, such as in Pakistan, Yemen, and Libya. Aside from their Playstation aesthetics, this means that drones operate under a fundamentally different remit than traditional weapon systems: intervention from ‘nowhere’ and ‘nobody’ in a legal shadow that leaves tens of thousands vulnerable.

Journalist Jane Mayer, who has studied the use of Predator drones extensively, insists they represent not just an extension of conventional warfare, but instead “a radically new and geographically unbounded use of state-sanctioned lethal force.” Noam Chomsky, in a recent talk in Syracuse, reminded us that US leaders during World War II identified what they called a “Grand Area,” spanning the entire Western Hemisphere, the Far East, and the former British Empire (including the Middle East), all of which the U.S. would dominate in perpetuity. Within this Grand Area, the U.S. would maintain unquestioned power, enabling US military intervention at will to ensure unimpeded access to key resources and to shape events that affect US security. The unbounded use of killer drones for targeted killing in the manner of Rambo, justified as self-defense and deterrence in the so-called war on terror, carries this global strategy of world domination with impunity into the present moment.

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