Tag Archives: US

Saudi Arabia joins the killer drone arms race

Saudi Arabia joins the killer drone arms race

The US is still responsible for the vast majority of drone strikes, but that may have more to do with politics than capability. A GAO report from 2012 found that more than 75 countries have some form of drone system. Most are unarmed but some, like the systems used in Australia, Japan, and Singapore, could be retrofitted for military purpose. More importantly, the US’ use of drones — more than 50 strikes in 2013 alone— seems to have whetted a global appetite for combat drones. ‘If you think of this as part of a broader trend of the proliferation of military robotics, then the idea that we were going to have a monopoly on this kind of technology was always a bit far-fetched,’ says University of Pennsylvania political scientist Michael Horowitz. ‘The American monopoly on drones is over and probably never really existed.'”

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CIA’s Pakistan drone strikes carried out by regular US air force personnel

CIA’s Pakistan drone strikes carried out by regular US air force personnel

“Brandon Bryant, a former US Predator operator, told the film he decided to speak out after senior officials in the Obama administration gave a briefing last year in which they said they wanted to “transfer” control of the CIA’s secret drones programme to the military.

Bryant said this was disingenuous because it was widely known in military circles that the US air force was already involved.

‘There is a lie hidden within that truth. And the lie is that it’s always been the air force that has flown those missions. The CIA might be the customer but the air force has always flown it. A CIA label is just an excuse to not have to give up any information. That is all it has ever been.'”

 

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Homophobia: Africa’s new apartheid

Homophobia: Africa’s new apartheid

“The construction of sin and categorical notions of sexuality over the past four centuries on the continent are inextricably linked to colonialism, the Church and the ambitions of the state. And ‘independence’ from the colonial powers, as it came, was a shame, for it often did little to inspire independent thought. If anything, the struggle for gay rights in so many African countries today tells us about a continent still battling the demons of colonialism, a continent that is still in the process of negotiating an identity – as articulated, again, through the lens of the colonial master. Among the greatest challenges many African democracies face today are the continued existence of one-party states and the lack of strong civil institutions.”

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The empathy gap: from the Iraq war to drone warfare

The empathy gap: from the Iraq war to drone warfare

“What is striking to me about the drone debate and the consideration of civilian casualties in Iraq is the pattern of attention. The infamous line of General Tommie Franks, “we don’t do body counts” (regarding, in that instance, Afghanistan, but equally applicable to Iraq), signaled a stubborn resistance on the part of the military to provide an account of the human cost of the war. The U.S. government was opaque, not only with regard to individual incidents, like the Haditha massacre, but about the overall picture of human insecurity in Iraq. When violence against civilians was discussed, it was typically attributed to Iraqis themselves, a ‘blaming-the-victim’ convenience. No statistical account was pursued by the government. The same has been true of drones, in which the program remains unacknowledged or at least not discussed officially, civilian ‘collateral damage’ denied, and an implicit attribution of blame to the ‘terrorists’ being targeted.”

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Can Iraq be saved?

Can Iraq be saved?

“Oil money pours in abundance to both the government budgetary allocations and the coffers of the feuding factions. The money allows the parties to guarantee funds to buy off opponents, and it helps maintain prosperity and supports a massive internal security apparatus. Iraq is experiencing what is called ‘conflict resources‘, a complex phenomenon which argues that while revenues from resources extracted in conflict zones may delay or stop the collapse of the state, it perpetuates the fighting. In other words, Iraq might be able to survive the chaos as long as oil prices remain high. Yet, there is no guarantee that different dynamics would not leave it in a freefall. “

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New recruiting tools for militants?

New recruiting tools for militants?

“Civilian governments also know that the US has historically not been shy of supporting military regimes in Pakistan as long as they serve its interests. This was evident in the US’ support for General Zia ul-Haq’s regime during the cold-war period, and for Musharraf’s regime in the post September 11 period.

Additionally, US aid historically goes up when Pakistan is under military rule rather than a democratic government. Keeping the US on its side is thus seen to be critical by the government to ensure their survival against a potential military coup. Thus, the two mainstream political parties, namely Pakistan Muslim League (PML, also known as Nawaz group) and Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP), may raise a hue and cry about US policies, but they don’t push too far because of their domestic vulnerability. They know that an ever eager military is always waiting in the wings, for external encouragement, to get back into power.”

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The lie of ‘women and children’

The lie of ‘women and children’

My first question: Why invoke ‘womenandchildren’ when condemning the use of chemical weapons by Assad?  Chemical weapons cross a line of human decency – although one might argue that all weapons do so. Calling for the protection of “womenandchildren” allows leaders to frame wars as matters of national security, under the assumption that women and children must be protected for nations to be secure. “

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