Can a People’s Movement Ground U.S. Drones?

Book Review: Killing by remote control is no game, peace activist Medea Benjamin argues in “Drone Warfare.” We know that drones kill civilians and inflame hatred against the United States—but can we stop them?
Drone Warfare Cover

Drone Warfare: Killing by Remote Control
by Medea Benjamin, published by OR Books, 2012.

In her latest book, Medea Benjamin, peace activist and co-founder of Code Pink, offers a critical guide to the dramatic increase since 2001 in the U.S. military’s use of hunter/killer drones. She also covers effective strategies for resisting this disturbing shift in modern warfare.

Under President Obama, who Benjamin calls the “peace candidate turned war president,” the military has shifted strategies “from boots on the ground to assassins in the air.” Drones have delivered bombs in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iraq, Somalia, Libya, and Yemen—often killing civilians and inflaming hatred against the United States.

Drone Warfare lifts the curtain on the proliferation of models of killer hardware and the arms manufacturers who profit from them: General Atomics, Lockheed Martin, Raytheon, Northrop Grumman, Boeing, and AeroVironment. It also calls out the domestic law enforcement agencies already monitoring citizens with drones.

The proliferation of drones is backed by powerful forces. But Benjamin inspires with her description of a global movement to ground the drones. “More and more, people of conscience are calling for international guidelines to curb robotic warfare, as the world community has done in the case of land mines and cluster bombs,” she writes. She describes protests from Nevada to New York that make it difficult for the military and arms manufacturers to conduct business as usual under the radar of public awareness.

After years in which drone warfare was underreported, Benjamin is one of several authors who are looking into the subject. But her perspective as a peace activist is unique. Some journalists reporting on military robots and drones seem almost intoxicated by the new technology. For Benjamin, killing by remote control is no game.

“With the U.S. military now using thousands of drones and the FAA opening domestic skies to drones, the conversation is long overdue,” she writes. Drone Warfare contributes to making that conversation better informed and anti-drone activism more effective.

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