Skip to main content

In the Shadow of the Autopilot


Throughout the history of man, conflict has yielded incredible advances in technology. The necessity of war is advantage. He who holds the tallest hill the longest prevails. Ages beyond civilized history, hominids surely banded together on occasion to brutalize each other with sticks, rocks and bones. As the last Ice Age thawed, upright man emerged in the East, first with arrows and spears, then with swords and shields, and before long, with gun powder and cannon. At each phase in the history of weaponry, the human narrative changed in dramatic ways. Everywhere the next-best-thing went, traditions were extinguished and age-old systems of government fell. Lifestyles evolved to suit the ways of conquerors. Rations and wealth were appropriated to feed and compensate victorious soldiers. And always, counter-measures evolved in stride.

Wounded nationalism promoted rivalry and tension, yielding xenophobia. Generations of stagnant cultural aversion that follow the cruelty of war result in breeding grounds for the rapid spread of hostile sentiment.What the assassination of Archduke Ferdinand1 and the sinking of the Lusitania2 have in common is the illustration of the profound impact a single shot can have on world history. JFK3 and Abraham Lincoln4 would agree, however, that rarely do generals count on such meager odds. The twentieth century revealed the true human potential for destruction as the Atomic Age washed across modern shores. From Chernobyl5 to Hiroshima and Nagasaki,6 the human race learned that it is not, in fact, invincible, and furthermore, not capable on any individual basis of assuming responsibility for the lot. Autocratic power shifted permanently from the dead hands of the last Russian Tsar7 to the leading competitors in an epic arms race.

As the twentieth century drew to a close, those competitors and their allies had among themselves achieved feats of warfare technology that were unprecedented in the history of armed conflict. Nuclear warheads ran in the tens of thousands, and were scattered to the four winds.8 Complex airborne delivery systems such as cruise missiles and F-18 fighter jets, along with the ever-silent specter of nuclear superiority, brought the U.S. to center stage in global politics.Somehow, the human race, having surveyed everything from the electron to the Gamma Ray Burst, has yet to decide on a single universal narrative.

As a consequence of this, and also of U.S. technology and tenacity, the story of America has become the story of the human race. Concurrent with this wild hyperbole, so too proceeds the story of drones, not just of “unmanned aerial vehicles,” but of wars fought without soldiers, and of neighborhood streets transformed into battlefields. It is the story of how a country became convinced that it could afford to endow its own citizens with the niceties of due process and civil protection at the expense of those luxuries on the part of others.Whether or not the example set by the U.S. in the theater of unmanned combat could not be tolerably embraced by any respectably democratic society without unfavorable results remains to be seen.

The authority to wage secret wars and assassinate anonymous foreigners with impunity is arguably ill suited to the Executive and incompatible with democratic principles. Nonetheless, the U.S. has assumed the preeminent role in international security matters with its show of force in Afghanistan and Pakistan. As leader of the pack, in terms of technical and diplomatic mobility, the U.S. is writing the first chapters in a completely new volume of human history. The precedents set from 2004 to 2014 will echo through centuries of human evolution as the rest of the world gradually catches up.In a sense, however, only the first move has been made on the chessboard. Inevitably, other countries will reach technological parity with the U.S., or will find ways to buy, beg, borrow, or steal from those that do.

Like the Catholic Church in medieval history or the British Navy in the American Revolution, the U.S may someday face a serious competitor in the unmanned skies it patrols. On that day, the Drone Wars will begin. They will be colored and shaped by the arguments being waged even at the time of this writing, and by the decisions those arguments produce. This technology has matured alongside what is often referred to as “Generation X,” safely not the most politically active generation in American history. This unfortunately coincides with the international arrival of unparalleled forms of mass distraction, in the guise of social media and portable gadgetry. It is anyone’s guess how this volatile story will unfold, but the following is an attempt to pin down the state of things.

What are the arguments for and against drones? Who are the beneficiaries, and who are the victims of this technology? How does technological progress impact foreign and domestic policy? What are the unintended consequences, and how can a population hold itself accountable for deeds it won’t permit itself to witness? Has America, or the world for that matter, benefited from this technology or merely suffered? Have the citizens of the global politi-sphere become merely a border-less collage of suspects and bystanders? Or has the U.S. made legitimate headway in the war on terror?Readers will benefit from a brief review of some fundamental constitutional concepts, specifically the fourth, fifth, and sixth amendments, and are encouraged to retain these aspects of American legal culture and history in mind while examining the role of UAV's in the War on Terror as well as in domestic applications which have yet to even be fully conceived.The first clause of the Fourth Amendment establishes protection for all U.S. citizens against unlawful detention and confiscation.

The very essence of democracy opposes tyrannical behavior on the part of legislators and law enforcers. Certainly, no American has ever been promised a rose garden, as the saying goes, but the promise of being able to walk from one end of a street to another, or to attend a wedding or a birthday party, or to simply leave one’s home at all without being subject to the pervasive sense of vulnerability that comes with living in a hostile environment where human rights are not recognized or protected, that promise is still clearly written in the U.S. Constitution. No state or federal agent may enter a private residence or exploit private property without either the permission of the owner, or a warrant from a standing judge, or evidence of clear and present danger to other citizens.

The requirement for an Oath or Affirmation ensures a written record of the words and actions of those authorities who chose to intervene in the affairs of a citizen. An effective chain of accountability in governing systems is a deterrent to fraud, waste and abuse. It is arguably as vital to the success of a democratic institution as the system of checks and balances that divide power and oversight between the branches of the American government. Life, liberty, and property were the three sacred assets worth protecting, and they reflect the values, principles, and priorities of the Founders’ intentions. Life, above all else, is universally cherished by all cultures, irrespective of what governing authority may reign at any given point in history. The instinctive urge toward self-preservation is not unique or novel to the American, no more in the twenty-first century than in colonial times. Life is precious to all who live and breathe.

To arbitrarily deprive another human being of life, especially on a systematic basis, is an agreeably appalling offense in every court. Liberty, roughly translated, refers to freedom from arbitrary control. The most obviously vital element of Democratic philosophy is the self-determining nature of socialized legislative control. The French and American Revolutions were dramatic early examples of the innate human tendency toward autonomous self-government. Such an institution has yet to be perfected by any race of men, but even representative democracy is still democracy, in a meritocratic society, and is perhaps the better for the competitive personalities it elects.

Property is the last horn on the hydra of a civilized system of justice, and it too, is not the unique consideration of Americans. All humans require shelter and supplements, but they require some sense of certainty above all else. One cannot expect to teach a child the values of Jesus and Gandhi in land where thieves and vandals loot and pillage. One cannot obtain economic independence with no safe place to place his or her savings. “Thou shalt not steal” and “I have not stolen” predate all modern institutions. A man who has nothing may not begin to crave everything until he has gotten something.

There are six crucial luxuries guaranteed to all citizens of the United States by Sixth Amendment. The first guarantees witnesses to judicial actions of the State. This effectively wields the force of public opinion as a shield against abuses and crimes committed in the name of public safety, or in the modern sense, national security. Without this safeguard, defendants do not have the benefit of the public eye, and may thus be subject to violence, intimidation, bribery, and all manner of cruelties of which history has proven humans capable. Justice must not be an arbitrary weapon, but a public redress of grievance.The second clause has its historical basis in the remote leadership style of the British during the American colonial period- the years leading to the Revolution and the Constitutional Conventions. The intention is that justice not be administered by foreign powers on a summary basis. In the context of the American Revolution, without representation in Parliament, colonists rejected efforts of taxation in colonial harbors, as well as being judged in criminal cases by British courts, of which attendance was often impossible, and by British laws, which had little frame of reference for the social landscape of colonial concerns. History demonstrates that authority must be present to lead, and cannot govern by autocratic decree from across the planet.The third clause guarantees the defendant the actual right to participate in the judicial proceedings, and to be made formally aware of the charges, prior to being sentenced. No defendant can reasonably be afforded the means of due process if the offense is not presented prior to sentencing. It is commonly accepted in all cultures as both unfair and unwise to pass judgment in conflict without hearing all sides, which is why the fourth clause naturally follows the third.A plaintiff may not control the docket, and prosecution must concede equal time to defense. Witnesses may be required to testify, not for or against a party, but about the events and circumstances as they experienced them, and generally speaking, only when relevant to the case. If denied the opportunity to invoke the testimony of others, one must defend oneself in a vacuum.The fifth clause protects the illiterate, and the incompetent from “rail-road” trials, and provides immigrants and non-English speaking visitors appropriate access to the protection of the law. Beyond this, “assistance of council” applies to all citizens willing to concede unfamiliarity with the complex body of law which governs American society. Competent doctors and competitive engineers can’t prosper in an environment that requires a lifetime of rigid legal study prior to setting the first foot in civilization itself.The last and most important component of the Sixth Amendment, however, is the first four words: “In all criminal prosecutions.” In this simple clause, the founding fathers vested the authority in the federal government to establish a single standard for legal protection from sea to shining sea. Because of the one word, “all,” every living man, woman, and child born on U.S. soil is guaranteed the right, not the luxury, or the privilege, but the RIGHT to each of these considerations whenever, and wherever, their paths pay cross with law enforcement on U.S. soil.

The argument about what role drones will play in the future has two faces, from the perspective of an American citizen. They are both arguments for or against the use of drones, but what distinguishes the two arguments is setting; the one concerns the legality of domestic activity, and centers on the legality of the use of drones in foreign theater. There are countless proponents and opponents in both forums, and in most cases, the reasoning is generally sound, even when the approach is counterproductive. In order to discuss these, it is first necessary to sort out what a “drone” or an “Unmanned Aerial Vehicle” actually is. According to the language used in a 2002 hearing before International Security, Proliferation, and Federal Services Subcommittee, convening to discuss cruise missile and UAV threats to the United States, UAVs are any “unmanned systems that fly within the atmosphere and are not rocket propelled.”12

A cruise missile is “any unmanned, self-propelled, guided vehicle whose primary mission is to place a special payload on a target.”13In this hearing, Senator Akaka, who is presiding, concludes that “an armed UAV technically is a type of cruise missile.”14 The significance of this conclusion is that all further discussion of UAV’s has been preemptively relegated to the larger, older conversation about cruise missiles. In the course of the hearing, Akaka also outlined what was established as the governing authority for cruise missiles. The Missile Technology Control Regime, or MTCR “was established by the U.S. and its G-7 partners in 1987…to restrict the proliferation of long range ballistic and cruise missiles and to delegitimize their sale.”15 The speaker notes that there were 33 nations participating in the MTCR at the time of the hearing. There are two significant designations of cruise missile which can also be applied to UAVs in the MTCR framework. They are CAT I and CAT II. CAT I includes all “unmanned air vehicles capable of delivering a payload of at least 500 kg to a range of at least 300 km.”16 CAT II refers to all other hardware. According to the speakers, the MTCR had five basic approaches to controlling the proliferation of Cruise Missiles. Paraphrasing, these are Interdiction, Sanction, Intelligence, Diplomacy, and the Military.17 Interdiction refers to efforts to “investigate” or “stop” the sale or trafficking of components needed to make or arm UAV’s. Sanctions serve as a method of punishment or economic persuasion to leverage against foreign heads of state who do not comply or participate in the efforts of the MTCR. Intelligence refers to efforts at tracking the sales of and movements of dangerous or industry specific materials. Diplomacy generally implies speeches, favors, and other elements of interaction between the ruling powers. Finally, when situations progress “beyond the efforts of the State Department,” the military may be called in to deal with these situations. According to the testimony of Christopher Bolcom, “Terrorists do not need cruise missiles, because they have access to other effective methods, such as letter bombs, truck bombs, suicide bombs, hijacking, and firearms.”18

What terrorists do not currently have access to is armed UAV’s capable of threatening U.S. assets abroad, let alone at home. However, because an armed drone is little more than a remote control airplane with a hellfire missile, many of the elements needed to construct the principle hardware are commercially available in the global aviation industry. Mr. Bolcom was speaking in the capacity of an Analyst in National Defense, for Foreign Affairs, Defense and Trade Division of the Congressional Research services. At this hearing, Dennis Gormley invoked a prediction made by another important figure: “CIA director Tenet has testified that by 2010, land-attack cruise missiles could pose a threat…possibly…to the U.S. Homeland.”19 According to Gormley’s numbers at the time, “40 nations now produce UAVs.”20

In 2010, this threat failed to materialize. By then however, the Predator drone had assumed the singular (albeit only semi-controversial) role of war hero, and the technology was already well entrenched in domestic matters. No longer was the relevant hearing one that concerned threats to America from cruise missiles. In fact, the phrase itself had all but been forgotten. In its place, the debate of the day in July of 2010 was titled “Role of Unmanned Aerial Systems in Border Security”. In just eight short years, these machines simultaneously devastated families, structures, and organizations in the eastern hemisphere, all while reinventing the American technology industry in the west. As Henry Cuellar (presiding) observes, “…for five years now, UAVs have patrolled our northern and southern border.”21 At the time of that hearing, armed drones had been operating in foreign theater for six years. Though these two venues developed at roughly the same pace, over the same period of time, under the same over-arching legal structure, and at the expense of the same American tax payers, two remarkably different dialogues produced two completely dissimilar sets of policy.
In July of 2013, the Bureau of Investigative Journalism is reported to have obtained a classified document detailing seventy-five drone strikes in Pakistan, between 2006 and 2009. Reports indicate that of the 746 casualties involved, possibly 200 were non-combatants.22 The same report suggests that “of all attacks since 2004” only 1.5% were “valid high profile targets.”23 An article by Eric Posner in Slate Magazine in October of 2012 estimates the total running casualty list at greater than 2500, since the strikes began in 2004; the number of fatalities in Yemen is reported at greater than 350 since 2002, and Somalia has had fifty since 2007.24 These numbers are roughly consistent with the study as reported by Jack Serle.

As late as September of 2013, at least 376 separate drone strikes have been carried out by the U.S., claiming somewhere between 2,525 and 3,613 lives, of whom perhaps 200 may have been children, and more than a third were civilians.25 A study by the New America Foundation estimates at 355 strikes in Pakistan and 66 in Yemen, with between 2080 and 3428 fatalities.26 Another article in May of 2013 outlining some deliberations of European Parliament members, contains a passage quoting Hillary Stauffer, who is listed as Deputy Director of an organization called “Reprieve”; saying “...4,700 people have been killed, including only 3-4 percent of high level militants.”27 In January of 2013, a news article referenced another set of numbers from the BIJ; “between 2600-3404 Pakistanis have been killed by drones, of which 473-889 were reported to be civilians.”28 Another article published the same month describes a study conducted between NYU and Stanford, which asserts “approximately 700 [innocent civilians] since 2004, including almost 200 children.”29

One of the few details that seems to remain consistent is the estimate of 200 children. Given an estimate of 2500 kills, this would imply a child kill rate of roughly one in twelve, or 8.3%. Over ten years, that number comes close to three children every two months. Averaged among the estimated number of drone strikes (350?) the odds of a child being killed by a US armed UAV is about 50%. It is not a controversial assumption that if the United States does not even so much as acknowledge these victims in the public sphere, it will never be held accountable to the families and heirs of the bereaved, whether they were in fact guilty of terrorism or not. In the summer of 2013, in an entry in the Journal of Counter-terrorism and Homeland Security International, William Shuber explored some important topics in the history of drones. He traced the “concept of [an] unmanned aerial vehicle suitable for combat” to an article submitted by Lee deForest to Popular Science before the Great Depression30

Among other advantages to the use of armed drones, Shuber mentioned one in particular that is less often discussed, that drones “eliminate legal problems that occur with interrogation and detention.”31 Because Obama won the Presidency on a platform that included closing the facility at Guantanamo Bay that remains open six years later, the administration has drawn criticism to the point of ire. As Bob Goodlatte succinctly put it in his opening statement to the Committee on the Judiciary in a 2013 hearing called “Drones and the War on Terror,”The same president who opposes the detention of foreign terrorists, and who attempted to bring foreign terrorists to trial in New York City is now personally approving of the killing of Americans...Ironically, the detention facility in Guantanamo remains open, and Khalid Sheikh Mohammed are being tried before a military commission.32 During this hearing, the Goodlatte referred to a leaked white paper which allegedly outlined portions of the administration's carefully guarded secret policy on drone strikes. Summarizing, it supposedly asserts US authority to kill US citizens if there is an “imminent threat of violent attack,” “capture remains infeasible,” and done in a manner “consistent with the principles of war.”33 Representative Conyers from Michigan did not express confidence in this process, and was highly critical, saying “...a potential candidate appears to have little chance of meaningful due process when...nominated.”34

For foreign candidates, the Friends Committee on National Legislation ( cites press reports; “Obama personally oversees a kill list of terrorism suspects with biographies [and] pictures...putting himself at the helm of the project...”35 This presidential authority is derived from the Authorization for Use of Military Force granted by Congress to President Bush within days of the infamous 9-11 attacks. Mark Bowden simplified the matter in the Atlantic article “Killing Machines,” “When Bush branded our effort against [al-Qaeda] “war” he effectively established legal protection for targeted killings”36 Tara Mckelvey filed a report with Newsweek in February of 2011,describing the “process used to screen who dies by drone.” In simplest terms, (loosely paraphrasing) [up to] “…ten lawyers write briefs arguing why they should die. If the request is weak, then [it] is denied.”37

These decisions had been exclusively under the authority of the CIA, and classified beyond review in spite of the FIA, for the entire course of armed unmanned assault until May of 2013, when Obama “decided to give the Pentagon control over some drone operations.” This move was probably prompted by, among other things, criticism that began in 2008 regarding the CIA's so called “signature strikes.” It best explained by Chris Coker, cited in an article published about six weeks prior to the shift, entitled “U.S. Drones Under Scrutiny.” Coker says “The military can only take out someone if they know 100% that it is a bad guy...The CIA will take you out on the basis that your behavior leads them to suspect you might be a bad guy.”38

CIA director John Brennan defended the agencies methods, saying “I think that any Americans who did that [read: “were suspected of having joined terror groups”]should know well that they are in fact part of an enemy against us, and the United States will do everything possible to destroy that enemy to save American lives.”39 In February of the same year, an article referred to a statement made by White House Press Secretary Jay Carney, in which he “claimed the guidelines for targeting Americans in drone strikes are fully consistent with the constitution.”40 US Congressman Dennis Kucinich expressed a different view in March, directly challenging that the U.S. is “violating international law” because “Pakistan isn't attacking us.”41 Quoted in the McKelvey article, Gary Solis, a professor at Georgetown, claims “drone operators at CIA are civilians engaged in armed conflict, unlawfully and prosecutable.”42 In July, the U.S. Military weighed in, claiming that Al Qaeda was “being slowly routed” and that the Taliban was “addled and confused.”43

These groups, along with the notorious Haqqani Network along what is known as the Al Qaeda Arabian Peninsula or AQAP, form the basic triad of principle “enemies” in the modern U.S. political worldview. Bush (Jr. or Sr.) would have referred to them (and probably did) as the “Axis of Evil,” no doubt deliberately to invoke World War imagery in the minds of audiences. An article in the Washington Post in the summer of 2014 by Craig Whitlock claims that “since November of 2011, the U.S. Has been flying drones from Incirlik Air Base in Turkey” and that the Pentagon “has amassed more than 400” [presumably CAT I and II, from the MTCR perspective, though by the time of this writing, their influence in the conversation has long faded] from such companies as General Atomics, Northrup Gruman, and Aerovirnoment.”44 The FCNL (mentioned above) also mentioned that the “Fiscal Year 2012 budget included $5b for [research and development].”45 All told, since 2001, the U.S. Government has spent in excess of seven trillion dollars for the cause of defense. At present rates, that sum would be comparable to 46 years of federal funding for education.

A Hellfire missile weighs roughly the same as a crate of food. A CAT I standard UAV could theoretically carry ten crates of food and a parachute from Turkey to Pakistan and return safely. If a crate of food could feed a family for two weeks, then 365 trips could have fed over 7,300 families. Instead, the U.S. chose to kill about a third to half that many people, and has thus defined its genuine role as a “peacekeeper” as one premised on authoritarian control of a bureaucratic machine, rather than upon soft footsteps toting large sticks.Nawaz Sharif, who came to power with the PLM-N (Pakistani League of Muslims) in the spring of 2013, has consistently and vocally denounced the U.S. for the drone strikes.46

Of the three major groups battling for power in Pakistan, (the PLM-N, the Tahreek-e Taliban, or TTP, and the PTI, which is casually referred to as the 'workers party') what they all have in common is that they have each agreed that the U.S. must end the drone strikes in Pakistan. Ahmed Karzai, the leader of Afghanistan is generally a little coyer about accepting U.S. Military aid, however the issue of drone strikes targeting civilians in rural areas, and of raids by armed U.S. personnel into people's homes led to an impasse when a security deal was to be signed in the fall of 2013. Karzai stated “for as long as such arbitrary acts and oppression of foreign forces continue, the security agreement…will not be signed.”47

The deal would have extended the U.S. presence (presumably in the form of continued raids and drone strikes) in Afghanistan beyond the previously stated commitment to leave in 2014. That this extension would have been the result of a decision essentially made by Karsai, and not the American people, seemed to go generally unnoticed in the west. Regarding drone strikes, other nations have weighed in also. In May of 2013, the British Foreign office reported “for the first time, that the ...proportion of respondents who believed the drone strikes were “never justified” had risen from 59% to 63% in 2011.”48 The source containing this reference included a particular quote that perfectly describes the root problem with U.S. foreign policy: “The U.S. should understand that [drone strikes] have only further intensified the hatred against Americans.”49 The long term psychological effects of living in this kind of environment are completely lost on the west.

No better illustration exists than the child who reflected that a beautiful day was a cloudy one, because drones don't fly when it rains. In the states, however, drones remained for the most part a novelty, shrouded more in mysticism than illuminated by public debate. What is shocking is the extent to which this technology has caught on with every single federal and state agency concerned with any form of investigation or law enforcement. Henry Ceuller outlined the problem in his opening statements in a hearing of the Committee for Homeland Security (CHS) before the Subcommittee on Border, Maritime, and Global Counter Terrorism. From 2004 to 2010, the U.S. has doubled the number of border agents, and for the last five of those years, UAVs have assisted as a “force multiplier...against unlawful activity along [the] border.”50 Specifically, “unlawful activity” refers to the smuggling of drugs, migrant workers, cash, and firearms back and forth across about 1200 miles of the 2000 mile southern border.51 According to testimony by Representative Candice Miller of Michigan, in the same hearing, “border patrol [only has] about 32 miles under effective control for the north border, which is about 4000 miles.”52 According to R Adm. Vincent Atkins, the U.S. Coast Guard assumes responsibility for “over 95,000 miles of coastline.”53 Nancy Kalinowsky, speaking on behalf of the Federal Aviation Authority, attempted to review the unenviable work of managing the U.S. skies between the needs of commercial, civilian, and government aircraft.

Among these myriad responsibilities, taken for granted daily aboard millions of U.S. flights, are overseeing “100k operations per day,” “238 general aviation aircraft,” from “500 Air Traffic Control Facilities” and “19k airports.” Her contributions to the hearing are vital, for it is essentially her acquiescence that the USCG and the BCBP are seeking to leverage from these hearings. According to her testimony, each flight in National Airspace (NAS) requires an individual certificate of authorization, the hotly coveted COA which currently governs the UAV flights on a case-by-case basis, with priority given to emergency personnel. Hobby craft are currently confined to 400 feet. Cameras (i.e. surveillance and voyeurism) are basically permitted in any public thoroughfare and virtually anywhere not subject to a “reasonable expectation of privacy.” Domestic applications are not limited to border patrol and snooping, thankfully. Thoughtful (and uncontroversial) uses include disaster response and damage assessment, search and rescue, topological and geological survey, and a plethora of scientific and academic tasks once considered impossible or impractical.

Drones have already proven themselves in a wide and diverse variety of fields. These uses are limited only by the imagination, and the potential value cannot be measured in any currency. The profound impact of this new world of machines is long yet to be fully realized upon the course of human development. While the convenience they offer is alluring, so too is the siren's song. The implications of pilot-less warfare may not yet be fully visible, but the notion that one people have chosen to honor their own freedoms and civil liberties by denying the same amenities to another suggests that plenty of conflict waits in the wings. Not a single consideration is given to the rights of any of the targets of U.S. drone strikes. No rights apply to foreigners in the mind of the American, certainly not those rights that protect Americans. The foreigner may be assassinated on suspicion or association, or just on a whim for all anyone really knows. In movies about Vietnam, Hollywood often portrays American soldiers shooting wildly and gleefully from moving helicopters at defenseless farmers and peasants.

Images brought home from that war dramatically affected public opinion in ways that the U.S. government had never dealt with, and arguably led to some pretty important reforms, such as the War Powers Act. The AUMF served to update the WPA, to bring it around to the twenty-first century, but the difference is that the images coming back are not of square-jawed boys charging hills and planting flags. It is of the bodies of children, mangled and torn by shrapnel from missiles fired from aircraft whose pilots don't even have the heart to show up anymore. While the west persists in its apathetic, consumer-driven narco-coma, the east is being slowly radicalized by western policy. A generation is being raised in the twenty-first century that knows absolutely nothing more about the U.S. than to duck and cover.

The outcome of U.S foreign policy will be decided by those children, likely, to the blind-side misfortune of a totally oblivious generation of American kids. The political struggle for the West in the twenty-first century is finding a middle path. The U.S. and its global interests face many difficult security challenges. The efforts in Pakistan and Afghanistan have merit, and may arguably be necessary. Relative to other wars, the casualty rate is remarkably low among those designated as “enemies”. That much is beyond debate. The absence of a single loss of a U.S. soldier’s life makes for a difficult argument against drone warfare. However, that same loss may also illustrate a peculiar talent for warfare that may cause more problems than it solves. A perpetual state of conflict is debilitating to all parties exposed. Global economic problems are forcing entrenched politicians out of the fox-holes and into matters of supply and demand, perhaps prematurely. Radicalism and nationalism are unmanageable forces, and demonstrably contagious. Like the flu, they grow stronger in the face of persistent aggression, but their influence could fade if the world refused to acknowledge terrorists on terrorists’ terms. A hellfire missile is an arguably poor surrogate for leadership.

1 Michael Duffy: “Who’s Who: Archduke Franz Ferdinand.”, (accessed April 3, 2014).
2 “Lost Liners: Lusitania.” PBS Online, (accessed April 3 2014).3 “November 22, 1963: Death of the President.” John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum, (accessed April 3, 2014).
4 “Abraham Lincoln.”, (accessed April 3, 2014).
5 “Chernobyl Accident 1986.” World Nuclear Association, (accessed April 3, 2014).
6 “Children of the Atomic Bomb: A UCLA Physician’s Eyewitness Report and Call to Save the World’s Children.” Hiroshima and Nagasaki, (accessed April 3, 2014).
7 Robert K. Massey: Nicholas and Alexandra: The Classic Account of the Fall of the Romanov Dynasty. (New York: Random House, 2011).
8 Rachel Maddow: Drift: the Unmooring of American Military Power. (New York: Crown Publishers, 2012).
9 U.S. Constitution, 4th Amendment.
10 U.S. Constitution, 5th Amendment.
11 U.S. Constitution, 6th Amendment.
12 U.S. Senate. Committee of Government Affairs. Cruise Missiles and UAV threats to the United States: Hearing before the International Security, Proliferation, and Federal Services Subcommittee. 107th Cong., 2nd sess., June 11, 2002.
13 Ibid.
14 U.S. Senate. Committee of Government Affairs. Cruise Missiles and UAV threats to the United States: Hearing before the International Security, Proliferation, and Federal Services Subcommittee. 107th Cong., 2nd sess., June 11, 2002.
15 Ibid.
16 Ibid.
17 Ibid.
18 U.S. Senate. Committee on Government Affairs. Cruise Missiles and UAV threats to the United States: Hearing before the International Security, Proliferation, and Federal Services Subcommittee. 107th Cong., 2nd sess., June 11, 2002.
19 Ibid.
20 Ibid.
21 US House Committee on Homeland Security. The role of unmanned aerial systems in border security: Hearing before the Subcommittee on Border, Maritime, and Global Counterterrorism. 111th Cong., 2nd sess., July 15, 2010.
22 Chris Woods: “Leaked Pakistani report confirms high civilian death toll in CIA drone strikes,” Bureau of Investigative Journalism. (accessed April 01, 2014).
23 Ibid
24 Eric Posner: “Next in Libya: Drone Attacks?” (accessed April 01, 2014).
25 Jack Serle: “U.S. Covert Actions in Pakistan, Yemen, and Somalia.” (accessed April 01, 2014).
26 New America Foundation: “Drone Wars: Pakistan Analysis,” (accessed April 01, 2014).
27 The Financial Daily: “Drones are harmful to U.S. interests, EU MPs,” (accessed 01 April, 2014).
28 . The Express Tribune: “U.S. Drone Strike kills Mullah Nazir: Sources,” (accessed April 01, 2014).
29 . Keith Ellison: “Time for congress to build a better drone policy.” (accessed 01 April, 2014).
30 William Shuber; “Lethal Skies: When Drones Attack” Journal of Counter Terrorism and Homeland Security. Vol. 19 No. 2. Summer 2013.
31 Ibid.
32 U.S. House Committee on the Judiciary. Drones and the war on terror: When can the U.S. target alleged American terrorists overseas? Hearing before the Committee on the Judiciary. 113th Cong., 1st sess., February 27, 2013.
33 Ibid.
34 U.S. House Committee on the Judiciary. Drones and the war on terror: When can the U.S. target alleged American terrorists overseas? Hearing before the Committee on the Judiciary. 113th Cong., 1st sess., February 27, 2013.
35 FCNL: “Understanding Drones.” Friends Committee On National Legislation, (accessed April 01, 2014).
36 Mark Bowden: “The Killing Machines,” The Atlantic, (accessed 01 April, 2014).
37 Tara Mckelvey: “Inside the Killing Machine,” Newsweek, (Accessed 01 April 2014).
38 Henry Ridgwell: “U.S. Drone Strikes Under Scrutiny,” New America Foundation. (accessed April 01, 2014)
.39 Tom Curry: “CIA Nominee Brennan defends Obama targeted killing policy,” NBC News, (accessed April 01, 2014)
.40 Amie Parnes: “Carney: Drones strikes are fully consistent with the constitution.” The Hill, (accessed April 01, 2014)
.41 “U.S. warned about sending troops to Pakistan: Congressman terms Bush’s decision an election issue.” (accessed April 01, 2014.)
42 Tara Mckelvey: “Inside the Killing Machine,” Newsweek, (accessed 01 April, 2014).
43 Greg Miller: “U.S. missile strikes said to take heavy toll on Al Qaeda,” LA Times, (accessed 01 April, 2014).
44 Craig Whitlock: “U.S. military drone surveillance is expanding to hot spots beyond declared combat zones” Washington Post, (accessed April 01, 2014).
45 FCNL: “Understanding Drones.” Friends Committee On National Legislation, (accessed April 01, 2014).
46 “Pakistan calls for end to drone strikes.” Business Recorder, October 26, 2013; Pakistan seeks complete end to drone strikes: Sartaj.” Business Recorder, December 13, 2013; Rod Nordland. “Afghan Leader Lashes Out After Report of Drone Strike.” New York Times. November 29, 2013
.47 Rod Nordland. “Afghan Leader Lashes Out After Report of Drone Strike.” New York Times. November 29, 2013.
48 Jamie Doward: “UK Poll in Pakistan on US drone attacks,” The Guardian, (accessed April 01, 2014).
49 The Express Tribune: “Drone Strike Survey,” (accessed April 01, 2014).
50 U.S. House Committee on Homeland Security. The role of unmanned aerial systems in border security: Hearing before the Subcommittee on Border, Maritime, and Global Counterterrorism. 111th Cong., 2nd sess., July 15, 2010
51 Ibid.
52 Ibid.
53 Ibid.

Popular posts from this blog

Review: The Black Side of Shreveport, by Willie Burton

Burton, Willie. The Black Side of Shreveport. Shreveport : Southern University of Louisiana, 1983, 159. Reviewed by Steven Harkness. With the Emancipation Proclamation, Abraham Lincoln set a race of people free from the indignity of slavery. With the Union victory over the Confederate states, the government promised reform via Reconstruction. With the contentious election of Rutherford B. Hayes though, the political will to carry those reforms forward in earnest fell subordinate to the need for compromise and continuity. Within a generation, the cause of the black citizen passed from pipe dream to political controversy to conflagration to compromise to catharsis. The white man would not help, and would not keep his promises, and could not be counted on for meaningful change. All truth existed on a continuum, and this truth was more true in the south than in the north, more true in the cotton belt than in many other southern areas, and perhaps nowhere at all more true th

Modernization and the Ottoman Empire

The Ottoman Empire is famous for its size, scope, and influence upon the histories of nearly every major European country. Why then, did the concurrent attempts at modernization seem to fail for Turks, where the Egyptians succeeded? In short, the Turks, who wielded so much power and authority, failed to solidify their gains. One argument, and a strong one, is that they bit off more than they can chew. Another argument, equally compelling, is that they were simply beaten into bankruptcy. And yet another argument contends that reforms failed for Ottomans because of an insurmountable surge of internal resistance, from basically every direction.

Cyber Bully: the Self-Perpetuating Cycle

The internet has evolved into a cradle-to-grave platform for social abuse. From the exploitation of small children by sexual deviants, to the pervasive bullying of students, to the radicalization and recruitment of young adults, to the global networks of hate groups and terrorist organizations which receive them, the digital age has failed to achieve the utopian ideals of enlightenment, social justice, and civility. Bullies, of all ages, races, and creeds, flock to the web to find easy targets to victimize, and to locate organizations of like-minded individuals to lend legitimacy and validity to their toxic worldviews. The net also provides them anonymity, and the tools to protect their identities from their victims, from the communities where they live, and from law enforcement agencies who would hold them accountable. And for many groups, the internet offers opportunities to finance those malevolent agendas. What all of these hate groups and bullies have in common is the desi