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Drone: Remote Control Warfare

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Drones are changing the conduct of war. Deployed at presidential discretion, they can be used in regular war zones or to kill people in such countries as Yemen and Somalia, where the United States is not officially at war. Advocates say that drones are more precise than conventional bombers, allowing warfare with minimal civilian deaths while keeping American pilots out of Drones are changing the conduct of war. Deployed at presidential discretion, they can be used in regular war zones or to kill people in such countries as Yemen and Somalia, where the United States is not officially at war. Advocates say that drones are more precise than conventional bombers, allowing warfare with minimal civilian deaths while keeping American pilots out of harm's way. Critics say that drones are cowardly and that they often kill innocent civilians while terrorizing entire villages on the ground. In this book, Hugh Gusterson explores the significance of drone warfare from multiple perspectives, drawing on accounts by drone operators, victims of drone attacks, anti-drone activists, human rights activists, international lawyers, journalists, military thinkers, and academic experts. Gusterson examines the way drone warfare has created commuter warriors and redefined the space of the battlefield. He looks at the paradoxical mix of closeness and distance involved in remote killing: is it easier than killing someone on the physical battlefield if you have to watch onscreen? He suggests a new way of understanding the debate over civilian casualties of drone attacks. He maps "ethical slippage" over time in the Obama administration's targeting practices. And he contrasts Obama administration officials' legal justification of drone attacks with arguments by international lawyers and NGOs.


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Drones are changing the conduct of war. Deployed at presidential discretion, they can be used in regular war zones or to kill people in such countries as Yemen and Somalia, where the United States is not officially at war. Advocates say that drones are more precise than conventional bombers, allowing warfare with minimal civilian deaths while keeping American pilots out of Drones are changing the conduct of war. Deployed at presidential discretion, they can be used in regular war zones or to kill people in such countries as Yemen and Somalia, where the United States is not officially at war. Advocates say that drones are more precise than conventional bombers, allowing warfare with minimal civilian deaths while keeping American pilots out of harm's way. Critics say that drones are cowardly and that they often kill innocent civilians while terrorizing entire villages on the ground. In this book, Hugh Gusterson explores the significance of drone warfare from multiple perspectives, drawing on accounts by drone operators, victims of drone attacks, anti-drone activists, human rights activists, international lawyers, journalists, military thinkers, and academic experts. Gusterson examines the way drone warfare has created commuter warriors and redefined the space of the battlefield. He looks at the paradoxical mix of closeness and distance involved in remote killing: is it easier than killing someone on the physical battlefield if you have to watch onscreen? He suggests a new way of understanding the debate over civilian casualties of drone attacks. He maps "ethical slippage" over time in the Obama administration's targeting practices. And he contrasts Obama administration officials' legal justification of drone attacks with arguments by international lawyers and NGOs.

30 review for Drone: Remote Control Warfare

  1. 4 out of 5

    Ken

    This is the most important book I've read in a while. It is highly readable and informative, and offers as balanced a report on the history, contemporary issues and potential futures involved in Drone warfare. This is a topic that is only going to matter more in the coming years, and it is one about which we all need to be more informed. This book does a great job getting that important information out in as easy-to-comprehend a way as possible. This is the most important book I've read in a while. It is highly readable and informative, and offers as balanced a report on the history, contemporary issues and potential futures involved in Drone warfare. This is a topic that is only going to matter more in the coming years, and it is one about which we all need to be more informed. This book does a great job getting that important information out in as easy-to-comprehend a way as possible.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Stephen Case

    How will the Obama presidency be remembered? However else our first African American president is valued or villainized, an important aspect of his presidency that must be recognized is the fundamental changes to how warfare is conducted, instigated by the usage of drones. This did not begin with the Obama administration, but as Hugh Gusterson recounts in the brief history of drones that begins his study, is was greatly expanded and continually transformed under the outgoing administration. Drone How will the Obama presidency be remembered? However else our first African American president is valued or villainized, an important aspect of his presidency that must be recognized is the fundamental changes to how warfare is conducted, instigated by the usage of drones. This did not begin with the Obama administration, but as Hugh Gusterson recounts in the brief history of drones that begins his study, is was greatly expanded and continually transformed under the outgoing administration. Drones—the unmanned aerial vehicles used in conjunction with ground forces and survalience but more and more commonly used for targeted strikes against assumed militants—has fundamentally changed the way warfare is conducted, even the nature of warfare itself. For most of us, these developments are on the edges of our media consciousness. Most of us probably have vague notions that technology is allowing new types of strikes in the borderlands of Pakistan and the airspace of Yemen, through ships piloted by personnel thousands of miles away and beyond any real danger of retaliation. Drones have been used for years, but today they are being utilized by our military in ways many of us don’t fully understand. Hugh Gusterson’s short, accessible study of drones aims to explain and analyze what’s happening: how this technology is causing slippage in how strikes are conducted and in the boundary between fundamental distinctions underlying our definitions of warfare, including concepts like civilian and combatant and the boundary between what is and what is not a war zone. Gusterson’s book is a quick study, and the author avoids polemic, not coming down hard for or against the technology. Rather, Gusterson wants to outline the transformative nature of this technology to conflict itself. Proponents of drone usage, including President Obama, cite the benefits of long-term observation and reconnaissance this technology affords, of the ability for surgical targets against known militants that spare collateral damage or non-combatant life (and have zero risk for American servicemen). In a war against a state-less enemy, the argument goes, drones provide important tactical advantages. On the other hand, drones—when used in places that are not formally war zones—strain our current categories of warfare and blur the line between military and police intervention. And, as the author takes time to examine, the limits of the technology itself impose certain costs: surveillance is not perfect, and a “god’s-eye-view” allows dangerous reductions, especially when (as is often the case in drone strikes) this view is divorced from actual intelligence from the ground or cultural understanding. Our military, Gusterson points out, has confused killing with winning, and various third party groups have cited the high civilian casualty counts of drone strikes. In addition, Gusterson highlights what the threat of drone attacks does to societies to under constant danger of unseen, striking power and the antithesis this poses to winning hearts and minds. Again, Gusterson’s treatise is not an impassioned argument for or against drones, which adds to its value. Rather, the book is a nuanced analysis of the implications of drones for conflict. Though he makes a compelling case for the ways in which use of drones causes ethical and procedural slippages in warfare, Drone: Remote Control Warfare is a scholarly work aimed at examining how drones are deployed in combat (including a brief but illuminating history of drone warfare) and what the implications and possible future ramifications are. Whether you’re a technology buff interested in learning more about what and how these machines are actually used, or someone more interested in the philosophy of technology or foreign policy, this is a quick, accessible, and piercing analysis of something that has framed Obama’s presidency and current US foreign interventions, for better or worse.

  3. 5 out of 5

    David M

    Mostly a polemic against the use of drones outside combat. Deals with the stress RPA crews are under, the volume of data they have to process, the difficulty of killing then going home to a normal life the same day, etc.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Paul

    Gusterson's book is a really interesting discussion of the uses of drones in warfare. It is largely based on available literature by those who have piloted drones for the military, or by other observers, both social scientists and the press. It isn't clear if Gusterson did anything we might call "fieldwork" among either those using drones or those targeted by them. I found it a bit puzzling when Gusteron critiqued those who divided the turf into good guys and bad guys and then spoke of good jour Gusterson's book is a really interesting discussion of the uses of drones in warfare. It is largely based on available literature by those who have piloted drones for the military, or by other observers, both social scientists and the press. It isn't clear if Gusterson did anything we might call "fieldwork" among either those using drones or those targeted by them. I found it a bit puzzling when Gusteron critiqued those who divided the turf into good guys and bad guys and then spoke of good journalists, listing a few by name. The picture painted is of the worst cases. The cases where drone use might follow the rules and have the intended results don't make the press. What is the norm? We have no way of knowing. The book came out in 2016 and has much to say about the expanded use of drones in the Obama administration and the seeming inconsistency with Obama policy on other means of war making. It will be interesting to see a new edition which will comment on the Trump administration and its policies. One would suspect drones are used more often and played a part in the destruction of Mosul. But with a government prone to secrecy how can we know for sure?

  5. 4 out of 5

    Kevin Warman

    Timely and important. Gusterson crafts a wholly satisfying book that is full of research. I recommend this book to any and all curious about war,technology, and democracy.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Bella Pascal Zionts

  7. 5 out of 5

    Mike B

  8. 5 out of 5

    CSL

  9. 4 out of 5

    adrestia

  10. 4 out of 5

    christopher

  11. 5 out of 5

    Sawyerg

  12. 5 out of 5

    Beau

  13. 4 out of 5

    Annie Chen

  14. 4 out of 5

    Tristan

  15. 5 out of 5

    Francisco Vale

  16. 5 out of 5

    Charlotte

  17. 5 out of 5

    Katie Brennan

  18. 4 out of 5

    Selin

  19. 4 out of 5

    Stephen Schneider

  20. 4 out of 5

    Zish

  21. 5 out of 5

    Alasdair

  22. 5 out of 5

    Julia

  23. 5 out of 5

    Roberto Gamito

  24. 4 out of 5

    Ben Gochanour

  25. 4 out of 5

    Bryce Goodale

  26. 4 out of 5

    Laurie Calhoun

  27. 5 out of 5

    John Pappas

  28. 4 out of 5

    Michael Messner

  29. 4 out of 5

    Anar Badalov

  30. 5 out of 5

    Paul

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