Magazine article New Internationalist

Kill Chain Drones and the Rise of High-Tech Assassins

Magazine article New Internationalist

Kill Chain Drones and the Rise of High-Tech Assassins

Article excerpt

Kill Chain Drones and the Rise of High-Tech Assassins

BOOKS Kill Chain Drones and the Rise of High-Tech Assassins by Andrew Cockburn (Verso, ISBN 978 17816 89462)

In February 2014 the US military announced that its iconic U2 bomber planes would be retired, as would its fleet of A-10s, in favour of the unmanned Global Hawk system. This completed a meteoric rise for the 'drone' planes, a trajectory meticulously documented by Andrew Cockburn in Kill Chain. It is both an illuminating case study of the military-industrial complex in the 21st century and a compelling shadow history of the 'war on terror'.

The technology's shortcomings - its sensors have had trouble distinguishing between men and boys, and even between helmeted US marines and turbaned Taliban forces, with predictably disastrous consequences - are often exacerbated by the trigger-happy incompetence of the soldiers tasked with using it; as one Nevada officer tells Cockburn, 'to be honest sir, everyone around here, it's like Top Gun. …

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