Sudden Justice: America's Secret Drone Wars

Oxford University Press
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Less than a month after the September 11th attacks, a tiny, CIA-controlled Predator drone flew over Kandahar, searching out the home of the Taliban supreme commander Mullah Mohammed Omar. A lack of understanding of the drone's capabilities combined with a messy chain of command allowed Omar to escape, but the strike on a nearby convoy vehicle became the Predator's first lethal action. Since then, the use of armed drones has become the dominant American way of war. In Sudden Justice, award-winning investigative journalist Chris Woods explores the secretive history of the United States' use of armed drones and their key role not only on today's battlefields, but also in a covert targeted killing project that has led to the deaths of thousands. The CIA nurtured and developed drones before the War on Terror ever began, seeking a platform from which it could monitor its targets and act lethally and instantly on the intelligence it gathered. Since then, remotely piloted aircraft have played a critical role in America's global counter-terrorism operations and have been deployed to devastating effect in conventional wars in Afghanistan, Iraq, and Libya. Drone crews, analysts, intelligence officials and military commanders all speak frankly to the author about how armed drones revolutionized warfare--and the unexpected costs to some of those involved. But there is another, secret war--one in which drones scour the skies of Yemen, Pakistan, and Somalia in search of militant and terrorist targets. The American government insists that this hidden war is legal. The CIA even claims that its armed drones are "the most precise weapon ever invented," so perfect that civilians are no longer killed. Sudden Justice describes the reality of this secret drone war, one in which hundreds of civilians have died, and the wider strategic interests of the United States may have been jeopardized. The ability to target its enemies from the safety of headquarters thousands of miles from the battlefield has profound implications for how America conducts its foreign policy, and for how it is seen in the world. As the first book to comprehensively assemble and analyze the facts about the U.S. drone program, Sudden Justice is the essential guide for understanding its implications.
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About the author

Chris Woods is an investigative journalist who specializes in conflict and national security issues. A former senior BBC Panorama producer, he has authored several investigations into covert U.S. drone strikes and their true effects. He was awarded the Martha Gellhorn Journalism Prize for his work, and lives in London.
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Additional Information

Publisher
Oxford University Press
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Published on
Apr 15, 2015
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Pages
256
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ISBN
9780190202613
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Language
English
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Genres
Political Science / American Government / General
Political Science / International Relations / Arms Control
Political Science / Security (National & International)
Political Science / Terrorism
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Content Protection
This content is DRM protected.
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Available on Android devices
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Eligible for Family Library

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This book is a critical exploration of the war on terror from the prism of armed drones and globalization. It is particularly focused on the United States’ use of the drones, and the systemic dysfunctions that globalization has caused to international political economy and national security, creating backlash in which the desirability of globalization is not only increasingly questioned, but the resultant dissension about its desirability appears increasingly militating against the international consensus needed to fight the war on terror.

To underline the controversial nature of the "war on terror" and the pragmatic weapon (armed drones) fashioned for its prosecution, some of the elements of this controversy have been interrogated in this book. They include, amongst others, the doubt over whether the war should have been declared in the first place because terrorist attacks hardly meet the United Nations’ casus belli – an armed attack. There are critics, as highlighted in this book, who believe that the "war on terror" is not an armed conflict properly so called, and, thus, remains only a "law enforcement issue."

The United States and all the states taking part in the war on terror are obligated to observe International Humanitarian Law (IHL). It is within this context of IHL that this book appraises the drone as a weapon of engagement, discussing such issues as "personality" and "signature" strikes as well as the implications of the deployment of spies as drone strikers rather than the Defence Department, the members of the U.S armed forces. This book will be of value to researchers, academics, policymakers, professionals, and students in the fields of security studies, terrorism, the law of armed conflict, international humanitarian law, and international politics.

This book explores whether the new capabilities made possible by precision-strike technologies are reshaping approaches to international intervention.

Since the end of the Cold War, US technological superiority has led to a more proactive and, some would argue, high risk approach to international military intervention. New technologies including the capacity to mount precision military strikes from high-level bombing campaigns and, more recently, the selective targeting of individuals from unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) have facilitated air campaigns, supported by Special Forces, without the commitment of large numbers of troops on the ground.

Such campaigns include, for example, NATO’s high-level aerial bombardment of Milosevic’s forces in Kosovo in 1999 and of Gaddafi’s in Libya in 2011, and the US operation involving Special Forces against Osama Bin Laden. The development of UAVs and electronic data intercept technologies has further expanded the potential scope of interventions, for example against Islamic militants in the tribal areas of Pakistan.

This volume examines three key and interrelated dimensions of these new precision-strike capabilities: (1) the strategic and foreign policy drivers and consequences; (2) the legal and moral implications of the new capabilities; and (3), the implications for decision-making at the strategic, operational and tactical levels.

This book will be of much interest to students of war and technology, air power, international intervention, security studies and IR.

The untold story of the birth of the Predator drone, a wonder weapon that transformed the American military, reshaped modern warfare, and sparked a revolution in aviation

The creation of the first weapon in history whose operators can stalk and kill an enemy on the other side of the globe was far more than clever engineering. As Richard Whittle shows in Predator, it was one of the most profound developments in the history of military and aerospace technology.

Once considered fragile toys, drones were long thought to be of limited utility. The Predator itself was resisted at nearly every turn by the military establishment, but a few iconoclasts refused to see this new technology smothered at birth. The remarkable cast of characters responsible for developing the Predator includes a former Israeli inventor who turned his Los Angeles garage into a drone laboratory, two billionaire brothers marketing a futuristic weapon to help combat Communism, a pair of fighter pilots willing to buck their white-scarf fraternity, a cunning Pentagon operator nicknamed "Snake," and a secretive Air Force organization known as Big Safari. When an Air Force team unleashed the first lethal drone strikes in 2001 for the CIA, the military's view of drones changed nearly overnight.

Based on five years of research and hundreds of interviews, Predator reveals the dramatic inside story of the creation of a revolutionary weapon that forever changed the way we wage war and opened the door to a new age in aviation.

Drone warfare described from the perspectives of drone operators, victims of drone attacks, anti-drone activists, international law, military thinkers, and others.

"[A] thoughtful examination of the dilemmas this new weapon poses."
—Foreign Affairs

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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