Weeks after the 2002 American invasion of Afghanistan, Medea Benjamin visited that country. There, on the ground, talking with victims of the strikes, she learned the reality behind the "precision bombs" on which US forces were becoming increasingly reliant. Now, with the use of drones escalating at a meteoric pace, Benjamin has written this book as a call to action: "It is meant to wake a sleeping public lulled into thinking that drones are good, that targeted killings are making us safer."
Drone Warfare is a comprehensive look at the growing menace of robotic warfare, with an extensive analysis of who is producing the drones, where they are being used, who "pilots" these unmanned planes, who the victims are, and what the legal and moral implications are. In a vivid, accessible style, the book also looks at what activists, lawyers, and scientists are doing to ground the drones and considers ways to move forward. In reality, writes Benjamin, the assassinations we are carrying out via drones will come back to haunt us when others start doing the same thing - to us.
Medea Benjamin is a cofounder of the peace group CODEPINK and the international human rights organization Global Exchange. She has been an advocate for social justice for more than 30 years. A former economist and nutritionist with the United Nations and World Health Organization, she is also the author-editor of eight books. Her articles appear regularly in such publications as The Huffington Post and OpEd News.
©2012 Medea Benjamin (P)2012 Blackstone
"In this remarkably cogent and carefully researched book, Medea Benjamin makes it clear that drones are not just another high-tech military trinket. Drone Warfare sketches out the nightmare possibilities posed by this insane proliferation." (Barbara Ehrenreich)
"Activist extraordinaire Medea Benjamin has documented how the US government's use of drones to murder hundreds of innocent civilians in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Somalia, and Yemen has increased the danger to our national security. Benjamin's Drone Warfare is the first book that reveals the vocal international citizen opposition that challenges the legality and morality of America's extrajudicial execution drones before they kill here at home." (Ann Wright, US Army colonel [Ret.])
Out of a concern about objectivity, I would not have bought this book if I knew beforehand that the author is a prominent left wing activist. I am very pleased to have listened to this audiobook.
The book describes the use of drones in war as killing and surveillance platforms. Considerable detail is given about the types of drones that exist or are in planning stages. Civilian use is described where drones are used or a growing number of purposes from patrolling borders to fighting forest fires.
The author then presents a long list of negative factors in the use of drones.
The chief concern is that they are proliferating at an exponential pace. Other countries and non-state entities, including terrorists, are acquiring them. The use of drones is being explored at national, state, and municipal levels.
Drones malfunction and operators are prone to error. This can lead to the killing or maiming of civilians.
Medea Benjamin devotes much of the book to legal and moral concerns associated with the use of drones. These are too numerous and complex to summarize in a review but they are well reasoned, researched, and presented. Whether you agree with Benjamin or not, you should be aware of these issues. Drones will have an increasing worldwide role in the coming years.
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