Drones Fuel Forever War

I wrote today about drone technology and how it is advancing faster than the public or the law can get a grip on it as the new weapon of choice in America’s many war zones. I mentioned how soldiers in Afghanistan will soon be able to carry drones in their backpacks and launch them from the ground there and how ubiquitous drones are in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Yemen, Libya, Somalia, etc. – some US leaders are now even calling for their use domestically with local police and border control.

Spencer Ackerman has a post up at Danger Room cataloguing drone use in various war zones and then poses the important but still unanswered question about Libya, now that Gadhafi is dead:

It took Predator drones about three weeks from the start of NATO’s war against Moammar Gadhafi toarrive in the skies over Libya. Since then, they’ve been busy: from April 21 to 9 a.m. Central European Time today, the Predators have launched 145 strikes, according to Pentagon spokesman George Little.

By comparison, that’s way more than twice the 57 drone strikes so far this year in Pakistan, the central locale for the U.S. drone war, and significantly more than 2010’s entire all-time-high of 117 drone strikes in Pakistan.

The Predators did not let up after Libyan rebels captured Tripoli in late August. By then, the U.S. drones had dropped their Hellfire missiles 92 times in four months. In the remaining two months, the Predators slightly stepped up their deadly pace during the residual hunt for Moammar Gadhafi, with 52 more strikes.

But the Pentagon will not confirm that the Predator, or any other U.S. airframe, was involved in theNATO airstrike in Sirte preceding Gadhafi’s death.

…The question that the Pentagon still won’t answer: when will U.S. warplanes — manned and robotic — leave Libyan airspace? That war, Little said, has cost $1.1 billion as of September 30.

He also reminds us that for all the sorties and drone attacks and airstrikes the US-NATO have executed over Libya, the Obama administration refuses to concede it is a war. At the beginning of the Libya intervention, Obama claimed the War Powers Resolution was inapplicable, because he wasn’t at war. With regards to drones, they claimed “they are not a form a war or military aggression, but rather a police action in cooperation with sovereign governments,” as I wrote about at the time. “So there you have it,” I continued, “the Obama administration’s official strategy for conducting war with impunity wherever and whenever they want is to classify war as anything other than…war.” Drones are fuel for that sort of delusion, and they should be recognized by the American people as facilitating continued and expanded “war with impunity” from US leaders.