Drone warfare's deadly civilian toll: a very personal view | James Jeffrey A US Predator drone in Afghanistan. The strike in Somalia means armed drones are operating in six countries. Photograph: Joel Saget/AFP/Getty Images I find myself caught between the need to follow the drone debate and the need to avoid unpleasant memories it stirs. I used drones – unmanned aerial vehicles – during the nadir of my military career that was an operational tour in Afghanistan. After returning from Afghanistan at the end of 2009, I left the British army in 2010. Political theorist Hannah Arendt described the history of warfare in the 20th century as the growing incapacity of the army to fulfil its basic function: defending the civilian population. Drones are becoming the preferred instruments of vengeance, and their core purpose is analogous to the changing relationship between civil society and warfare, in which the latter is conducted remotely and at a safe distance so that implementing death and murder becomes increasingly palatable. Hyperbole?
Researcher: U.S. Tested and Perfected a "Tsunami Bomb" January 2, 2013 | Like this article? Join our email list: Stay up to date with the latest headlines via email. As if global warming isn’t posing a great enough challenging to low-lying regions, New Zealand author recently uncovered evidence that the United States perfected a “tsunami bomb” that can flood whole coastal cities decades ago. The blasts from a series of these tsunami bombs can create waves up to 33 feet high, which can wipe out small towns or villages along the coast. New Zealand author Ray Waru discovered these secret tests, known as “Project Seal,” while doing research in the national archives for his new book Secrets and Treasures, which first revealed information on this bomb testing. "It was absolutely astonishing,” he told the AFP. The United States ultimately dropped the nuclear bomb, rather than the tsunami bomb, on Japan at the close of World War II. Tsunami Bomb later became the name of a short-lived California punk band in the late ’90s and early 2000s.
US Drone Pilot: 'I Feel No Emotional Attachment' A drone pilot at the base at Hancock Field, near Syracuse, working the controls of a craft flying over Afghanistan. (Heather Ainsworth for The New York Times)In a profile piece in the New York Times on Monday, interviews with military operators of US drones operating in the skies over Afghanistan and Pakistan reveal a class of pilots who remotely control the targeted killings of human beings thousands of miles away. “I see mothers with children, I see fathers with children, I see fathers with mothers, I see kids playing soccer,” says Colonel Brenton, one of the pilots profiled who works out of a dark control room in the suburbs of Syracuse, New York. But, when it comes to engaging the target and after stipulating this means that the children and mothers away from the fire zone -- for example, "out at the market" -- he says: "I feel no emotional attachment to the enemy. I have a duty, and I execute the duty.” The full profile, A Day Job Waiting for a Kill Shot a World Away, here.
Our Intolerable Risk by PETER G. COHEN In a 2012 Status of World Nuclear Forces report, The Federation of American Scientists (FAS, founded in 1945 by many of the original group of scientists who invented and built the first atomic bombs and who later came to oppose them) estimates that 1,800 Russian and U.S. nuclear warheads are on “high alert,” ready to strike at the push of a button. This, two decades after the Cold War ended. While it is difficult to ascertain how many nuclear warheads exist in each nation without access to classified information, based on publicly available information, the FAS counts approximately 16,200 stockpiled nuclear warheads, of which almost 4,000 are “operational.” That this level of risk is holding the people of the world hostage is intolerable. If a small fraction (as few as 50, according to the American Geophysical Union) of those 1,800 “high alert” warheads were to detonate on either of our nations, Russia or the U.S., such a detonation would cause a worldwide catastrophe.
'I count the bodies and watch the funerals': Disturbing look inside the mind of a drone pilot By Hugo Gye Published: 03:27 GMT, 9 June 2012 | Updated: 04:06 GMT, 9 June 2012 As controversy rages around the U.S. military's use of drone strikes to assassinate terror suspects, one author has given an unprecedented look at the mindset of a drone pilot. One of the criticisms frequently aired by opponents of drones is that their pilots might become more trigger-happy and even bloodthirsty when they are able to drop bombs from the comfort of an American base. But an experienced pilot angrily denied that accusation in a conversation with a government lawyer, and claimed that he was keen to avoid civilian casualties. When faced with the suggestion that he had 'a PlayStation mentality', the pilot described his anguish at watching the relatives of strike victims 'weeping and in positions of mourning'. Drone: The app tells users when a strike has occurred and where He aggressively told the pilots, who are mostly civilians formerly in the Air Force: 'I hear you guys have a PlayStation mentality.'
US-Australia plans for war on China A newly published book by journalist David Uren has revealed that the Australian government’s 2009 Defence White Paper contained a “secret chapter” that assessed “Australia’s ability to fight an air-sea battle alongside the United States against China.” The chapter was omitted from the public version as it contained references to Australian forces assisting the US military to impose a naval blockade of China’s trade routes, and likely Chinese retaliation against targets on Australian soil. The existence of the confidential chapter was prominently reported on the front page of the Australian newspaper on Saturday under the headline “Secret ‘war’ with China uncovered.” Labor’s Defence Minister Stephen Smith was questioned about the revelation on Sunday. While he attempted to dismiss as “nonsense” the report that Australia had plans for war with China, he confirmed that there were both public and secret versions of the White Paper.
Exclusive: Skunk Works Reveals SR-71 Successor Plan Ever since Lockheed’s unsurpassed SR-71 Blackbird was retired from U.S. Air Force service almost two decades ago, the perennial question has been: Will it ever be succeeded by a new-generation, higher-speed aircraft and, if so, when? That is, until now. Guided by the U.S. A vehicle penetrating at high altitude and Mach 6, a speed viewed by Lockheed Martin as the “sweet spot” for practical air-breathing hypersonics, is expected to survive where even stealthy, advanced subsonic or supersonic aircraft and unmanned vehicles might not. Although there has been evidence to suggest that work on various classified successors to the SR-71, or some of its roles, has been attempted, none of the tantalizing signs have materialized into anything substantial. But now Lockheed Martin believes it has the answer. In the midst of these developments, as part of a refocus on space in 2004, NASA canceled almost all hypersonic research, including work on the X-43C combined-cycle propulsion demonstrator.
Gang Rapes and Beatings, Brothels Filled with Teenage Prostitutes -- The Depths of American Brutality in Vietnam January 19, 2013 | Like this article? Join our email list: Stay up to date with the latest headlines via email. The following is an excerpt from Nick Turse's new book, Kill Anything That Moves: The Real American War in Vietnam (Metropolitan Books, 2013). In 1971, Major Gordon Livingston, a West Point graduate who served as regimental surgeon with the 11th Armored Cavalry Regiment, testified before members of Congress about the ease with which Americans killed Vietnamese. Among those whom Livingston counted in the 90 percent who regarded the Vietnamese as subhuman was his commander, General George S. Some soldiers hacked the heads off Vietnamese to keep, trade, or exchange for prizes offered by commanders. “There was people in all the platoons with ears on cords,” Jimmie Busby, a member of the 75th Rangers during 1970–71, told an army criminal investigator. Norman Ryman, of the 173rd Airborne Brigade, was one of these souvenir-collecting soldiers.