The highlighted area shows the position of the latest report confirming that President Barack Obama has authorized use of Predator drones in Libya. The Newsmap is based on online reading of news material as aggregated by Google. It is constantly updated and provides a reasonably accurate picture of news interest at any given point in time.
The settings for this screenshot is US readership only. For comparison both the recent WikiLeaks debacle and the pinnacle of the Arab Revolt captured more than 50% of US news readers. About 60-65% at the highest point was red.
This piece of news about US drone attack on Libya drowns in the shallow water, with business stealing the major portion of reads.
But it shouldn't: Anyone remotely informed about these affairs should recognize that this is a crucial turn of events.
Even when the scope is limited to Libya a lot will rest on the accuracy of the attacks, and what degree of respect for human lives and for civilian infrastructure is displayed by the commanders and handlers of the remote controlled war-machines.
"This all takes place in a tense political environment with a possible cultural clash awaiting, and in a situation where the world economy is edging on a massive crisis, and where the environmental damage from industrialization threatens every nation with sudden death."Killing With Impunity
Even worse, the drone war concept is set to back-fire, not just on a limited regional scale, but as the trigger of a grand geo-political melt-down:
As I point out in this article about NATO's diastrous role in the campaign it marks a decisive moment in the intervention, because it effectively puts NATO on the sideline for bungling the affair, whether this was expected by Pentagon or even calculated - with NATO only serving as a forerunner for a Western imposed regime change.
The move is ominous for several reasons:
The effects of killer drones when comes to civilian casualties are unknown, since the US Department of Defense does not keep count. Scores have been killed in the border region between Pakistan and Afghanistan, Waziristan, since the unmanned bombers were deployed. Barack Obama authorized his first UAV attacks only 72 hours after being sworn in as president
On top of it, the very concept of unmanned attack whether from the air or from the ground creates an invisible enemy, further fuelling the type of extremism that spills over into agression against civilians. Drone war effectively removes a military target, while allowing the handler of such weaponry almost unlimited capacity for destruction at a zero casualty rate within his own force.
Aside from the "terrorist producing effect" the deployment of killer drones has two other devastating effects, one socio-political and one more narrowly psychological. The socio-political effect is that it will grow infinitely more difficult to raise protests against war in America due to the lack of US casualties.
As shown in this illustration, futher explained in the previous article, the American public will tolerate an immense amount of foreign civilian casualties compared to US troops. The ratio is about 1:150.
Absolute asymmetric warfare
This estimate changes completely with the application of killer drones:
The illustration signifies that war weariness set in with about 5000 US soldiers dead and almost a million civilians sacrificed as "collateral damage", even in "unpopular" wars or wars not clearly justified by self-defense.
Without any US casualties, however, we may see the tolerance grow to near infinite. Even if the public does respond to mismanagement of the US and NATO military forces, it will likely not be due to reports of civilian deaths but some larger destructive mega-events resulting from it.
I call this so far hypothetical scenario absolutely assymmetric warfare.
We all know that a war cannot be won from the air. Airpower is critical, but there has to be boots on the ground to claim victory.
Even a significant reduction of US casualties as can be expected with use of drones will stretch public tolerance for war so far it may become impossible to conduct effective war protests.
That is one effect.
The Zeus Complex and Deterrents
The other effect is called the Zeus Complex. It is invented by the British historian, journalist and author, Paul Johnson, and goes to describe the kind of hubris that rises from absolute power, including power over life and death and the capacity for indiscriminate use of mass destruction.
In a situation, where there are no effective restraints to power - deterrence, as it was called in the days of MAD - the temptation to turn to violence can quickly grow into compulsion. To illustrate it, this is what happened or happens in cultures, where men were not only physically stronger, but also the owners of property and the only individuals with defined legal status: Domestic abuse is the rule rather than the exception.
There are three viable restraints to power:
- Risk of retaliation or cost of retaliation
- Risk of provoking third party sanctions
- Conscience, decency and foresight
The Drone War scenario effectively stretches the public tolerance for war, rendering conscience, decency and foresight obsolete.
The same goes for risk of retaliation and cost of retaliation, for as much as the player is capable of insulating itself with security measures, which politically leads directly to draconian measures and authoritarian regime. Much of this is already at work.
The Set-Up for WWIII
"China is already the leading trade nation in the world, as it surpassed Germany on export in 2010 and the second largest economy since current year, where it surpassed Japan."The last barrier is a hedge of players stacking enough combined power to deter unbridled aggression. The problem with this deterrent is that it is also a prelude to increased armed conflict, since aggressions will rise on both sides of a new axis, in this case possibly involving Russia and China.
This all takes place in a tense political environment with a possible cultural clash awaiting, and in a situation where the world economy is edging on a massive crisis, and where the environmental damage from industrialization threatens every nation with sudden death.
The combined effect of these critical geopolitical problems can either drive powers to cooperate or drive them towards more unilateral (selfish) action.
For the United States, however, the view to the future is one of imminent reduction, perhaps collapse: As soon as 2020 according to some projections and 2025 according to others China could take the lead as the dominant economy on Earth, and it is entirely possible that China takes the lead on scientific research even sooner.
This would leave USA as muscle only, having its main strength in a highly tuned military apparatus that might last as long as ten years, even if its efficiency would naturally fade out with reduced economic capacity and subsequently less accomplishment in other areas as well, including R&D.
To some extent this is already the situation: China is already the leading trade nation in the world, as it surpassed Germany on export in 2010 and the second largest economy since current year, where it surpassed Japan.
In such circumstances a global player might choose to make use of its weapon's arsenal to improve its position and secure dominance. It might do it hazardously or even nefariously, as it is desperate, and with little concern even for the deterrence factor.
The projections are all public at this point. It is unlikely that USA, if she should choose to venture down this path, would sit around and wait until 2020 or 2025.
It's time to protest against drone war now, or there may no longer be a viable peace movement.
If you found this article interesting, we recommend you read: US introduces armed Predator drones in Libya and The Danger of a Faceless Enemy: How Drone War Turns Citizens Into Prey