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Drone Warfare is Mind-Blowingly Expensive
Teal Group's 2012 market study estimates that UAV spending will almost double over the next decade from current worldwide UAV expenditures of $6.6 billion annually to $11.4 billion, totaling just over $89 billion in the next ten years.
"The UAV market will continue to be strong despite cuts in defense spending," said Philip Finnegan, Teal Group's director of corporate analysis and an author of the study. "UAVs have proved their value in Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan and will continue to be a high priority for militaries in the United States and worldwide."
"The Teal Group study predicts that the US will account for 62% of the worldwide RDT&E spending on UAV technology over the next decade, and 55% of the procurement," said Teal Group senior analyst Steve Zaloga, another author of the 574-page study.
"Various media reports cite a per-unit cost from $4 million to $5 million. They are quite incorrect," Wheeler wrote on Tuesday in the second part of his five-part series. Using the example of the MQ-9 Reaper drone, which entered service in 2007, he estimated the true cost of the aircraft at a stunning $120.8 million dollars.
Even if Washington isn’t directly selling drones to foreign governments via Foreign Military Sales, one way or another, drone technology is already being exported.
On Monday, the US embassy-based Office of Security and Cooperation in Iraq (OSCI) announced “Iraq's Navy has purchased U.S. drones to protect the country's oil platforms in the south, from where most of Iraq's oil is shipped."
However, the OSCI was not forthcoming about the number or type of UAVs provided to Baghdad.
Several companies have in fact already been granted the right to sell drone-related equipment by the State Department, including L-3 Communications, Dream Hammer, and Broadcast Microwave systems...
Despite an expected 25 per cent bump in domestic sales from $35 to $40 million for next year, Vanguard’s CEO Michael Buscher says the future is abroad.
“I don’t see the domestic market as being such a boom,” said Buscher. “Our bread and butter is still going to be overseas foreign military sales,” the daily quotes him as saying.
Drones Kill the Wrong People All the Freaking Time
TBIJ reports that from June 2004 through mid-September 2012, available data indicate that drone strikes killed 2,562-3,325 people in Pakistan, of whom 474-881 were civilians, including 176 children. TBIJ reports that these strikes also injured an additional 1,228-1,362 individuals. Where media accounts do report civilian casualties, rarely is any information provided about the victims or the communities they leave behind. This report includes the harrowing narratives of many survivors, witnesses, and family members who provided evidence of civilian injuries and deaths in drone strikes to our research team. It also presents detailed accounts of three separate strikes, for which there is evidence of civilian deaths and injuries, including a March 2011 strike on a meeting of tribal elders that killed some 40 individuals...
The strikes have certainly killed alleged combatants and disrupted armed actor networks. However, serious concerns about the efficacy and counter-productive nature of drone strikes have been raised. The number of “high-level” targets killed as a percentage of total casualties is extremely low—estimated at just 2%. Furthermore, evidence suggests that US strikes have facilitated recruitment to violent non-state armed groups, and motivated further violent attacks. As the New York Times has reported, “drones have replaced Guantánamo as the recruiting tool of choice for militants.” Drone strikes have also soured many Pakistanis on cooperation with the US and undermined US-Pakistani relations. One major study shows that 74% of Pakistanis now consider the US an enemy.
In both Yemen and Pakistan, the CIA is allowed to launch a strike based on the target’s “signature” — that is, whether he appears to look and act like a terrorist. As senior U.S. officials have repeatedly confirmed, intelligence analysts don’t even have to know the target’s name, let alone whether he’s planning to attack the U.S. In some cases, merely being a military-aged male at the wrong place at the wrong time is enough to justify your death.
“What I found most striking was his claim that legitimate targets are a ‘threat that is serious and not speculative,’ and engaged in ‘some operational plot against the United States,’ That is simply not true,” emails the Council on Foreign Relations’ Micah Zenko, who has tracked the drone war as closely as any outside analyst. “The claim that the 3,000+ people killed in roughly 375 nonbattlefield targeted killings were all engaged in actual operational plots against the U.S. defies any understanding of the scope of what America has been doing for the past ten years.”
Drones are Neither Ethical Nor Legal
A third point — that an American citizen is given the “protections of the Constitution” before he’s approved for unmanned killing — is dubious. Yes, there is a process that the White House uses to vet proposed drone targets. Several government officials review a suspected terrorist’s dossier before an attack on that person is okayed. This is an internal review by presidential aides, not subject to any kind of independent authority, and obviously not one in which a target’s representatives can contest the case. It’s enough to condemn someone to death. The Obama administration has argued that this is the same as the “due process of law” guaranteed in the Bill of Rights.
Legal scholars have found the argument flimsy — with no coherent standard of evidence that amounts to an instant death sentence, and no limits to where that sentence can be carried out. in a January Google Hangout — one of the few other times Obama has even mentioned the drone campaign — he said that targeting decisions were not managed by “a bunch of folks in a room somewhere just making decisions.” Actually, it appears to be something rather close to that.
As the Wall Street Journal reported Wednesday, it's not clear whether Pakistan has consented to the U.S. actions in their airspace, which also raises the question of whether the U.S. has legal authority to act there.
Similar concerns have emerged in Yemen.
The enormous expansion of drone operations has been a success in the narrowest sense of killing some bad guys. But it has come at an enormous cost: to our reputation, to our morals, to our relationship and status with countries we need to work with to contain and defuse terrorism, and in the lives of the many innocent people we've killed through either sloppiness or ignorance. Rather than asking the difficult questions of whether the success of the drone program has been worth it, though, President Obama has chosen instead to amplify its operations and thus claim victory in killing bad guys, even while he distances himself from the knowledge and personal responsibility for who these dead people are and what crimes they may have committed.
It is an absolute scandal. We owe ourselves better questions and more accountability of the drones we use to wantonly kill people around the planet.
Eradication of Firearms in Japan
The Japanese shoguns had the unusual distinction of being perhaps the only major rulers ever to eradicate firearms. In 1587, the shogun declared that all non-samurai were required to hand over weapons—both guns and swords—to the government, which had announced it was going to use the metal in the construction of an enormous statue of Buddha. All gunsmiths were ordered to take their workshops to the city of Nagahama, where the shogun could keep an eye on them and make sure they didn't make weapons. [Source: "History of Warfare" by John Keegan, Vintage Books]
The Japanese recognized the inherit instability that firearms created and they were able to get rid of them because Japan was an island country that focused on maintaining internal order and it was not threatened by any invaders. By 1706 the entire gun production of Japan was 35 large matchlocks, and only a handful of Japanese knew how to make firearms. The shoguns kept their country virtually free of firearms until Perry arrived in 1853.
And that's a problem, and not just for the obvious reasons. Since a high civilian casulaty count undermines all the community building efforts the military has invested in, we may as well be shooting ourselves in the nuts when it comes to addressing the social factors that lead to extremism
Originally posted by SLAYER69
I'll agree drone strikes are exasperating some forms of extremism but again, extremism has a very long history.
Originally posted by The GUT
Drones are as much black psyop as they are killing machine.
Extremism has been around much longer than Drones. The present POTUS has more than quadrupled drone strikes over that last and all indications are for more not less use. I'll agree drone strikes are exasperating some forms of extremism but again, extremism has a very long history.
Originally posted by The GUT
Yeah, extremism sucks. But so does blowback. And let's face it; a lot of what we're dealing with is blowback.
The psychological advantage of having high-tech impersonal killing machines will simmer in the minds of those that already hate us. It's one thing to be outnumbered and yet be able to engage your enemy. It's a whole other ballgame to have your warrior-spirit "short-sheeted" by having to deal with an impersonal killing machine.
The hatred will be exponential. They're not, Drones that is, imo, worth it. It's a moot point anyway. The die has been rolled over the great Strategy board game. Too bad for all us pawns. History, however, always has the last say so. Where will it all end?
Originally posted by Eidolon23
Absolutely. However, the central causes of extremism have a lot more to do with poverty and inequality than they do with religion. Or, I should say, unscrupulous leaders wouldn't be in a position to use religion as a means to mobilize a disenfranchised population if the social conditions that are favorable to moderation were encouraged.
Originally posted by Eidolon23
Due to the drone strikes, 74% of Pakistanis regard the US as an enemy combatant. We aren't rectifying anything, we're just giving extremists a better focal point.
Originally posted by Eidolon23
Well, yeah, I wonder about this. As has been pointed out with the TSA pornoscanners and "enhanced interrogation techniques", they are ineffective and they make the US look really, really bad.
So, is that the point? Do we blow all the credit we gained with our fellow nations after our handling of the WWII reconstruction effort, reverse our hard-earned reputation as protectors of the oppressed, and generally make ourselves look like amoral bullies in the hopes of detering would-be attackers?
It appears to be having the opposite effect, and maybe that's the whole point. Set ourselves up with an opponent who can keep throwing bodies at us to justify military expenditures.