Wednesday, February 13, 2013

FTT Off-Topic: Drone On

Well, so long as he's friendly
As always with FTT Off-Topic, not politics and not sorry. Read or skip.

In the late 1940s, the US had a huge secret foreign policy win through the covert acts of the CIA. In it, we overthrew a democratically elected government and got a stooge of our own in a vital region. Said stooge would prove to be a bulwark for democracy and a key firewall against Communism for decades. What a win, eh? The ends justified the means. America knew best. Yay, CIA!

And then the Shah of Iran's health and regime failed, and we've spent the last 35 years with Iran as a massive trouble spot and agitator. Ends justified, not so much. (And yes, I could have said the same thing with Peru and Auguste Pinochet, and the Philippines with Ferdinand and Imelda Marcos, and a bunch of other places that would show my poly sci chops and bore you big. Moving on.)

The point is obvious: what works in the short term is not necessarily what works in the long. And that leads us to the current American foreign policy of using remote controlled robotic drones to eliminate our enemies in the field.

I get why you do it, I really do. The War On Terror is hopeless in that it's a war on a tactic, rather than a thing, and it's basically a police action in a part of the world where you can't just walk a beat and put bad guys behind bars. Hell, putting them anywhere is an issue, since the President does not add noobs to Guantanamo and no one wants our dregs in a shadow deal any more. So sending in robots to deal death from the skies in quasi-surgical moves keeps the bad guys down and doesn't get our men and women killed: win-win.

The only problem is (a) it's not really all that surgical, in that nothing can be, which means we're creating more enemies with every strike, and (b) far more disturbingly, this isn't hard or expensive tech.

Unlike nuclear weapons, the source material (an unmanned rocket would do something similar) isn't impossible to get your hands on. The added tech is stuff you can literally find at a Radio Shack.

So there's going to be a day, honestly, where enemies of the US are able to use drone tech against us. And when they do, it's going to work, short of an impossibly expensive and unlikely nuclear shield.

Because that's the problem with short term solutions. When they stop being solutions, they don't stop being problems for a really, really long time...

(Ed. Note: Oh, and it exists as a toy for toddlers. The mind reels.)

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