The BBC says U.S. Drone Missiles Reportedly Kill Four In Tribal Area Of Pakistan. Similar headlines are on most other news sites.
Why is this news? Whether it’s good or bad, it has been happening twice a week for months and months. We get it. Obama loves drones. That he chose Senator Biden as his running mate should have tipped us off. Good or bad, that the U.S. has a lot of drones and uses them often, isn’t news. What would be news is the absence of drones where you might expect them, or drones doing something unusual, or autonomous drones. For example:
“U.S. Drone Missiles Reportedly Fail to Kill K’Daughy In Tripoli for the fiftieth straight day;”
“U.S. Drone Missiles Reportedly Raise Awareness of Tobacco Death Risk;”
“U.S. Drones Reportedly In Senate, House;”
“U.S. Reporter Drones On PBS.”
Okay, so I guess we do have some autonomous drones. Someone needs to tell the president about torpedoes. Upgrade the Mark 48 and sell it to whoever is in charge of the US drone war as the Mark I Sea Drone. Then we could gloss over headlines like “Drone Reportedly Kills Thirty Pirates” or “Drone Sinks Syrian Navy.”
Now I’m basically in favor of the drone strikes in Pakistan, or sinking the Syrian navy, for that matter; in for a penny, in for a pound. I mostly support the drone strikes because Pakistan says they hate them, and Pakistan is our enemy. Ergo, drones are good. On the other hand, reports say privately Pakistan supports the drones, so drones are bad, unless you believe Pakistan is our ally, then drones are good. That’s two goods to one bad, so I’m two-thirds okay with the drones.
The point is I’ve become desensitized to the headlines, and if me probably others too. AP could say “U.S. Drone Missiles Reportedly Kill Four At Meth lab in South Dakota” and people would nod vaguely: “Yeah; meth’s a big problem out there.” This lack of attention leaves President Obama an opening to use drones more extensively to support U.S. policy in general. We could defend “intellectual property” with corporate drones:
“U.S. Drone Reportedly Kills Thirteen At Fake Apple Store in Szchenzchan;”
Fight the war on drugs with DEA drones:
“U.S. Drone Reportedly Kills six At Crack House in Philadelphia;”
Support democracy with PAC drones:
“U.S. Drone Reportedly Raises Big Bucks for Its Reelection Campaign;”
And fight unemployment with econo-drones:
“U.S. Drones Debate Monetary Policy, Debt.”
But again, I guess we already have those last two.
UPDATE 18 August 2011: “In another development Wednesday, the United States sent two more Predator drones to its military force near Libya, which has helped take control of the country’s skies.” — Libyan Rebels Make Gains, And The U.S. Sends More Drones To Region
Glad to see the administration is taking my advice, and flattered they read Monday Evening. I have had doubts about President Obama’s Libyan adventure, but when he decided to change the regime there he should have done it with maximum force at the beginning and then been done. Interesting to reflect that the War Powers Act is presented as giving the president authority to do anything he wants overseas, as long as he does it in 60 days.
UPDATE 22 August 2011: Boeing tests submarine drone off Santa Catalina Island (seen here).