Monday, March 6, 2017

Drone Warfare by Medea Benjamin - Book Report #172

This book tied in nicely with The Next 100 Years and Wikileaks.

It was also just as depressing.

Drones, also called UAVs are remotely controlled pilot-less aircraft.  For the most part they are used for surveillance and intelligence gathering.  But they are becoming more common as hunter-killer, weaponized platforms.

It was a well-researched book and touched many aspects of their development, their use and the effects on the people in the gun sights as well as those pulling the triggers thousands of miles away.

Some of it can be quite horrifying; not only for the targeted but for the innocents that happen to be nearby to a strike. Collateral damage is much more common than we are lead to believe.

But what really strikes the heart cold is how many international laws the use of this technology breaks.  The Obama government cared little of the many extra-judicial killings it sanctioned.  With seemingly indifferent disregard to sovereign air space and laws of the domestic country it goes about targeting and killing people with impunity.  When does protection of domestic security become state sponsored assassination and, in turn, become murder?

The United States used to stand for adherence to the rules of law.

There is no doubt that the people being chased and killed are bad people and need to be stopped.  But mistakes are happening and innocent people are being killed through bad or weak intelligence and by the excessive use of force. Missiles are not bullets, they are not as precise and therefore many non-combatants are left killed, injured or maimed by being in proximity of a target.

I found the book to be one-sided.  Even though you cannot argue with the research and the facts that were revealed, the author's ultimate goal is to get UAVs banned.  The argument being that they are just like land mines, cluster bombs and poison gas; far too many innocent non-combatants are killed by their use.  I agree completely.  That said, I would like to be allowed the chance to make up my own mind on the subject.

If you're going to report on something let it be balanced.  My complaint is more about the construction of the book rather than it's content.  But Benjamin is not a reporter.

Google the author and you cannot be surprised that she spends a lot of time promoting activist groups that are campaigning against the use of UAVs.  Had she been a reporter these groups would certainly have been written about in a dedicated chapter but it would have been presented as just another aspect of the subject.

Do I recommend the book?

Absolutely.

There are so many details revealed that were surprising and frightening that I am thankful for being made aware of it. The next time I cross a border I will be sure to look up to see what is looking down on me.

Medea Benjamin - https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Medea_Benjamin

Medea Benjamin co-founded the anti-war group Code Pink: Women for Peace - http://www.codepink.org/

Medea Benjamin


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