Friday, June 27, 2014

Armed Drones Over Iraq: A Force Multiplier (Which Is Precisely Why They Are So Dangerous)

It happened faster than I expected.  Armed U.S. drones are being used over Iraq.

The U.S. has committed "just" 300 "advisors" -- of which about half are already on the ground. The foot in the door . . . .

Today came the announcement that armed drones are now "supporting" the work of those advisors in Baghdad -- "protecting" them.

In other words, the U.S. can get more "bang for the buck" out of each pair of boots it puts on the ground, because -- through the magic of robotics -- it can back up those boots with Hellfire missiles and 500-lb. bombs.

For the folks back home, it helps maintain the illusion that the U.S. isn't really intervening in a way that risks escalation.

(Feelin' lucky?)
For the population of the affected areas of Iraq, it helps maintain the balance of terror -- because those armed drones are just part of a much larger fleet of drones that is patrolling the skies over Baghdad.  ("Is that drone overhead aiming . . . or just 'looking'?" From the ground, one has to assume they're all aiming . . . . )

Make no mistake: whereas the Bush administration went into Iraq without a clue about how it was all going to play out, the Obama administration knows exactly what it's doing. When you see "advisers . . . oh, yes, er . . . advisers supported by drones" piling into Iraq, you can be sure the U.S. is setting itself up to be there calling the shots for a long time to come.

Related posts

In my opinion, the reason to focus on drones is this: when we focus on drones, the general public is able to "get," to an unusual extent, the degree to which popular consent has been banished from the process of carrying out state violence. (Sure, it was banished long ago, but the absence of a human in the cockpit of a drone suddenly makes a light bulb go off in people's heads.) It takes some prodding, but people can sense that drone use somehow crosses a line. And that opens up the discussion about how our consent has been eliminated from the vast range of US militarism.

(See "Why focus on drone attacks?")

Isn't "adviser" just another word for "pre-escalation"?

(See Military Advisers to Iraq: What Could Go Wrong? )

The United States perpetuates a state of permanent war. The names change -- hell, sometimes they change by just a single letter -- but the result is the same. Call it "permawar."

(See #Permawar)