Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Drones, ISIS, and Permawar

 Let's be clear: there will always be an "ISIS" out there.

The Obama administration had no sooner re-entered the Iraq War, ordering air strikes in northern Iraq against ISIS, than it announced that it "needed" to send the military into Syria.

Oh, we're not doing anything "risky" in Syria - just having a look. In other words, using spy planes and drones to get visual control over even more of the Middle East.

The U.S. narrative goes something like this:

* Somebody "bad" (e.g. ISIS) is doing bad stuff.

* The U.S. wants to "help" -- without overcommitting. We'll just start with a few advisers (to instruct, not to fight) and a few drones (to survey, not to kill).

* One thing leads to another and there's yet another fight. (Lucky we were there . . . )

Does it every occur to us that we've got the narrative (and the causality) backwards? That the truth is something like this?

* Permanent war is what suits us.

* All we need is the next excuse for more war.

* To find an excuse, we need "eyes" there. (Send in the drones.)

* Any bad actor will do as a reason for drone surveillance.

Once again, I return to the wisdom of Michel Foucault. Total surveillance is not just playing an incidental or supporting role in total state control and permanent war. Total surveillance is the infallible and essential heart of total state control and permanent war.

Related posts

In the old order of things, power places itself on display, and hopes that the population sees fit to obey. In the new order of things, power compels every member of the population to display himself or herself . . .  In the new order of things, the courts are bypassed and the instruments of discipline -- observe, classify, examine -- run rampant.

(See "Surveiller et Punir" Indeed!)

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. 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 . . . . )

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

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

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