It’s been a long time, I shouldn’t have left you. Without a piss poor hiphop reference to step to. Think of how many weak blogs you slept through– time’s up, sorry I kept you.
No, seriously, I apologize for going months without a single post. I’m currently kneeling in shame to my extremely small readership. Together, we are little a little Appalachian snake handling church, up in a dilapidated tent, isolated from civilization. You likely know better than to fuck with me by now, but to those who don’t, know that this is the lord’s work. It’s been over half the year, and the majority of the wait was due to laziness, I just refused to blog while in Rio De Janeiro. There are much better things to do in this world than blog, but don’t tell that to anyone living in Bushwick(little gentrified Brooklyn loves to blog joke for ya). Now that we’re here, it’s time to produce.
Today’s alienated labor will be a post about drones. To be more specific, a post about the United States use of drones, my disagreement with, and some reference to the academic literature on unmanned aerial vehicles. That last bit is important to point out because scholarship is rarely mentioned when making the case against. This post would like to help build the bridge for this gap, not bridge it completely. Aint nobody got time for that. None of that ambitious shit going on with this blog– don’t care what zines are watching.
Before we get started, lets preface the hell out of this post, because both sides of the debate are host to passionate, bitter losers. Personally, I feel there are no monsters on the side against drones. The side for or ok with drones, absolutely littered with some real life heels.When I say I am against drones, I do not mean the tool. I am not against the use of unmanned air-crafts to eliminate bad guys. What I am against is the current US drone program, the bitch is without accountability or transparency, as it accumulates untold amounts of collateral damage during its crab-walk towards a goal post that is in perpetual motion. This echoes the majority of drone opponents, but unlike many of them, I do keep my eye on the scholarship pertaining to the eradication of militants. I’m usually interested in making empirically supported arguments, so I try to take these things seriously. Interestingly enough, drone scholarship finds itself to the right. It also finds itself lacking objectivity, blind to humanitarianism and published without the rigorous intellectual scrutiny by peer reviewers that a pacifist may find. Could this have something to do with IR’s biggest hub being the beltway, the advent of “advice to the hegemon” pieces in hopes of justifying NSF funding? Don’t ask me, I’ll just Kanye shrug.
What I do know is, an article finding its way into the journal International Security is serious business. Whatever it says is pretty much right because most of us will read the abstract, accept, and move on. It’s enough for me to spot a political science professor say there’s growing ACADEMIC evidence that drones work. He said he was an opponent, but was very much upset and prepared to accept this reality. Accompanying his comment was this link, so I decided to check it out. Perfect, an academic review of 2 academic pieces on drones? All I have to do is read this one thing to kill like three birds with one stone(lazy logic). The papers aren’t actually on drones, but the act that predator drones hang their hat on… Killing folks dead.
The first paper was by Bryan C. Price “Targeting Top Terrorists: How Leadership Decapitation Contributes to Counter terrorism.”
First, according to Price’s analysis, two conditions are necessary in order for
leadership decapitation to be effective. Terrorist group leaders must be
important to the success of the organization and leadership succession must be
This is groundbreaking work in the world of cartoons. The extermination of Shredder, Cobra Commander and Skeletor would easily cause their respective forces to collapse. Unfortunately we live in the real world where organizations of any ilk, know better. Groups looking for longevity moves towards a more bureaucratic structure as quickly as possible. Those who fail to properly organize hardly need UAVs to be taken apart, they’ll splinter on their own. destined to find resurgence with more disciplined members. Still, Bryan may be right about leadership decapitation, but what we are dealing with in Pakistan, Yemen, and Somalia does not meet his conditions. Understand that Price is not a bad guy for writing this– the person who knows better and uses this paper exclusively, as an excuse for the death of children in Northern Waziristan, is.
The other paper is Patrick B. Johnston’s “Does Decapitation Work? Assessing the Effectiveness of Leadership Targeting in Counterinsurgency Campaigns.”
My response to this is short and simple, the dataset doesn’t apply to what we are experiencing now. It also ends in the year 2003 and only applies to the decapitation of top leaders. If you’d like to know a whole nudda set of issues with the dataset, just read Jenna Jordan’s review(linked earlier). You don’t even need to read my shit, she does all the intellectual leg work , it’s also short and easy to understand so don’t be afraid.
Now that we’ve barely looked over two huge papers on targeted killings, we can be certain that they do not apply to the US drone program. It’s time to move on with the debate, knowing we currently have no empirical basis for saying the US drone program is working. Drone strikes aren’t enough, in conjunction with current counterinsurgency programs, to destroy our perceived threats in the AFPAK region within my lifetime. That’s not acceptable when there are so many questions about casualties of war– when you are killing an unknown number of civilians because this administration has changed the definition of “enemy combatant’ to something a young Genghis Khan would be familiar with.
The problems that come with the current US drone program are from this administration. They have looked at this technology, saw what seems to be a blind spot in international governance with the reporting of casualties and the response to extrajudicial killings, then took advantage of this tool. They noticed extended usage required zero increase in transparency. There’s so little accountability that the infamous “We’ll continue saying the bombs are ours, not yours.” wikileak is made possible. I ask opponents of drones to take this account, and push for the international framework needed to make the Obama administration and others to follow, think twice about their use of drones. I’ve used the term “current drone program” repeatedly, to stress the fact that a future drone program could actually be fruitful while respectful to the lives of innocent people and people who aren’t actively attacking us. I also did it because I don’t know many words, I’m literally a child. I’m twelve years old.
This post deserved more specific on the drone programs failings, but I didn’t think there would be so many words. I don’t believe in long-winded blog posts. I think I’ll wait til a good accompanying link pops up. Cya.