It would seem that one can only rejoice at such an initiative! However, from the content of the article it becomes clear that the rights of victims of deadly drone attacks or the definition of a framework for reconnaissance and paramilitary operations by the United States drones are not discussed. The author cares more. First, many countries have drones. Yes, these machines cannot act globally, but only near their territories (read, for defense purposes), but they can pose a threat to the US military and allies (as events in the East China Sea have shown). Secondly, the American UAVs themselves may be attacked or captured. Everything is clear with manned military aircraft - their actions and, accordingly, actions against them are regulated by hundreds of formal and informal international rules. But what if an American drone is shot down? How is this different from neutralizing, say, a cruise missile? And if, for example, a Chinese drone collided with a Japanese manned fighter? How to determine the guilt of the parties? Finally, who is to blame for the fact that the drone launched a missile attack on the ground target, and took off not from the territory of the state to which it belongs?
There is one more subtlety. When subjected to air invasion or air attack, the party does not want to escalate the conflict, it can “consider” (this informal rule is valid from World War II) as the culprit of the pilot and, having shot down the plane, she “closes the question”. But what to do in case of a drone attack? Often it is impossible to determine who was the “pilot” who controlled the drone remotely, as well as the place from which the control was exercised. The latter today very rarely coincides with the place from which the drone took off. Moreover, many modern UAVs do not need “pilots” at all - they are controlled by embedded computer systems. How to be?
Aaron Stein proposes to make, by definition, a guilty (that is, a potential target for retaliation) the base from which the UAV took off in order to prevent the allies of the likely enemy from providing their runways and airfields for drones ... And then the “refined” logical maneuver is made: since the same reasoning can be applied to the bases of allies of the United States, it is necessary to ensure the protection of these bases. At the same time, the problem of airspace violation by American drones is proposed not to pedal.
Most of all, this article is struck by a calm, reasonable tone and the absence of any kind of aggression. It is as if you are reading a legal bulletin in which a certain law professor expresses his opinion on a certain complex issue of pre-trial settlement and gives appropriate recommendations for those who have encountered such a question.
It becomes clear that today we live in a completely different world. A world where not only total surveillance, but also the total vulnerability of everyone from the deadly airborne flotilla ever-improving drones are becoming everyday reality.
But the article described above poses at least some quasi-legal problems. De facto, the use of drones for any kind of operations anywhere in the world today is generally not subject to the laws. Meanwhile, it is this component of American military power that becomes increasingly frightening and inevitable.
How “we have come to such a life,” says our regular author Vladislav Vladimirov.
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The “killer machines”, smashing the US enemies somewhere in Pakistan or Yemen with thunder from the sky, have become almost a routine tool for punitive operations of the White House. And the tool is very convenient. Firstly, there is no direct contact with the enemy, so that American society is not “annoyed” by the coffins arriving at home, covered with a star-striped flag. After all, even the excellent training of special forces cannot exclude numerous victims - as in the disastrous operation in Mogadishu 3 of October 1993 of the year.
Secondly, unlike previously used cruise missiles as the main tool for distance warfare, drones provide higher accuracy of destruction, which is important for public reaction, both Western and “native”, which is sometimes no less important. The newspaper The New York Post wrote about this:
“The first strike in Yemen, delivered by order of the Obama administration in December 2009 ... ended in disaster. Cruise missiles with cluster munitions destroyed dozens of civilians, including a large number of women and children. In the course of the second strike, struck six months later, the deputy governor, popular among the people, perished, which provoked angry protests and led to the terrorist attack, which resulted in the important [for the US] oil pipeline being closed. ”
There are other reasons why the use of drones is more attractive to their owner. One of them is financial. The A-10 Thunderbolt attack plane costs 18,2 million dollars, and the MQ-9 Reaper combat drone, which has similar flight data and firepower, has 6,4 million, i.e. almost three times cheaper. The use of robots turns out to be cheaper and living soldiers in a land war, the 60-thousandth group of which in Afghanistan cost the US $ 51 a billion dollars every year. It is more profitable to send a drone to a mission, rather than a platoon of soldiers, each of whom stands outside the borders of the fatherland to the 850 government thousands of dollars a year.
However, robots do not guarantee against errors. There are frequent cases when, for example, weddings were attacked instead of congregations of militants ... However, if you take extremely cynical intonation, it can be assumed that in Pakistan, where drones are used quite regularly, the difference between two goals and a person is not easy to determine - in the form of a crowd of bearded men of warlike appearance, scorching into the air from small weapons.
According to data compiled by the New America Foundation, from the beginning of 2004 to mid-December, 2013 was attacked by drone attacks in Pakistan from 2077 to 3424 (approximate figures, because, of course, no corpses on the ground count forces), of which from 1620 to 2783, that is, four out of five, were militants. Similar figures for Yemen (albeit combined with victims of other air strikes, including cruise missiles) are from the beginning of the 2002 year to mid-December 2013 of the year from 715 to 923 killed, of which from 605 to 790 were militants. And here the accuracy seems to be higher, but after all, the “point” targets are not the Afghan-Pakistani borderlands, where the Taliban actually rule, and the “enemies” from the “peaceful Afghans” are difficult to distinguish.
There are other, higher ratings of those killed by the blows of “killer cars” from the sky. According to the Bureau of Investigative Journalism, in February 2013, the total number of people killed by drones in Pakistan, Yemen, and Somalia was 4756 people. The same figure was called in a public speech and Republican Senator Lindsay Graham.
The New America Foundation notes that the real “boom” of using drones began when Obama came to power. In Pakistan, of the total number of 369 drone attacks, only 47 occurred during the Bush administration, and in Yemen, 96 of 97 machine-killer strikes were carried out during the 44 president.
Under Bush, at the very beginning of whose presidency, 16 February 2001, the first successful test of the Armed Predator drone MQ-1B Armed Predator, which launched the Hellfire air-to-ground missile, was held, drones were still a rare “piece” product. With the help of the 16 UAV, November 2001, in Kabul, Mohammed Atef, who was involved in the September 11 terrorist attack, 3, November 2002, was destroyed in Yemen by Abu Ali Al-Khariti, one of the organizers of the terrorist attack against the American destroyer Cole in the Gulf of Aden 12, killed in Kabul. And as follows from the figures above, the strike in Yemen was the only case when Americans used combat drones up to the 2000 year.
It was under the current president that the United States began to actively create overseas bases for drones. In 2011, such a base appeared in Saudi Arabia for "operations against al Qaeda in Yemen." The very first drone that took off from it in September 2011, Anvar al-Awlaki, who headed this international terrorist network after the death of Osama bin Laden, was killed. At the same time, the UAV bases were equipped in the Seychelles and in Ethiopia to attack Somalia, where Al-Shabab, a terrorist group close to Al-Qaeda, operates. In January, 2013 reported on the upcoming creation of a drone base in Niger, for strikes against the Islamists operating in West Africa, which was also sanctioned by the government of this African country. Actively used for the basing of drones and the NATO air base Sigonella in Sicily.
However, the newest models of shock drone airfields are no longer needed. 10 July 2013, the X-47B combat drone, successfully carried out several take-offs and landings on the deck of the aircraft carrier George Bush. And in the period from 9 to 19 in November, the Theodore Roosevelt practiced simultaneous takeoffs and landings of two drones.
Given that the X-47B's flight range is about 4 thousands of kilometers, at a speed of 1035 kilometers per hour (this is the speed of the best modern commercial passenger airliners), almost the entire surface of the globe will be accessible to these “winged lizards of Washington”.
There are other successfully tested drone launch projects related to the US submarine fleet. 5 December this year, the drone was launched from under the water from a nuclear submarine of the type "Los Angeles" (SSN-719). From time-lapse photography it is clear that the underwater launch was carried out with respect to the old drone model, however, the new models have their own advantages.
The main difference between new flying robots is that they are equipped with "artificial intelligence". The ABC News channel in 2013 year reported:
“Unlike drone type Predator or other UAVs that are remotely controlled by people, X47-B is autonomous. The computer system receives the GPS coordinates of the target and flies to the specified location. ”
What the “computer system” does in the “specified place” is not hard to guess.
In March, 2010, when X-47B was still in the final stages of development, expert on combat robots (robotic warfare) Peter Singer said at a congressional hearing on behalf of the Brookings Institute:
"Predator drones are only the first generation of UAVs, the equivalent of the Model T at the Henry Ford plant or the Wright brothers."
And he was right. Following the X-47B was followed by the RQ-170 Sentinel, the design of which was implemented technology Stealth. True, the 170 was a very unlucky model. In December 2011, he was either bewildered, or forcibly planted by the Iranian Air Force using active radio-electronic interference, "confusing" the drone's GPS system.
But the US military-industrial complex did not grieve for long. In December of this year, Aviation Week weekly published a full-format test report on the newest drone RQ-180, which has a higher degree of protection from external influences, as well as a new generation artificial intelligence system.
It is alleged that new flying robots do not carry weapons. But this is only for the time being ...
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Many of the above quotes were taken from the voluminous Human Rights Watch NGO Report on Case against Killer Robots published in November 2012. Its authors ask a reasonable question:
“If the murder was carried out with fully autonomous weapons, then who is to be held responsible for this? Response options include: a warlord, a programmer, a manufacturer, and even the robot itself, but none of these options is satisfactory ... There will not be any fair and effective way to impose legal responsibility for illegal actions committed with fully autonomous weapons, endowed with full control over the adoption decisions that undermine all civil rights protection mechanisms. ”
Similar concerns were raised in December 2013 by the representative of the Vatican to the United Nations in Geneva, Archbishop Silvano Tomasi, speaking at a meeting of representatives of the countries that signed the "Convention on the Prohibition or Restriction of Weapons, which may be considered to cause excessive damage or exercise indiscriminate effects." He declared:
“Automated and programmed technical systems are not capable of thinking in terms of moral judgments about life and death, respect human rights and abide by the principles of humanity ... When the battle drone is in the air thousands of kilometers away, who is responsible for the humanitarian violations committed when using it? ! When important information about drones is excluded from verification by [international organizations], how can you verify compliance with international humanitarian law and ethical standards? And would not such a war “without human participation” make it more attractive and easy to decide to unleash this war? ”
And the archbishop is right even on formal grounds - a fundamentally new type of weapon that appeared at the beginning of the century is at least in the “gray zone” of legislation.
University of Massachusetts professor Brian Glyn Williams explains:
"From the point of view of American laws, there is an important aspect in the application of drones: non-participation of the judiciary ... This area is entirely within the purview of the CIA and the president, who, in a sense, are here as if above the law."
And this is exactly the same thing that Peter Singer said in 2010, about combat UAVs - Congress never discussed any aspect of using them. Only in 2013, against the backdrop of scandals around the NSA and the possibility of using drones in the United States, the Senate began a meticulous interrogation of officials involved in the program of flying robots.
And here one more unpleasant circumstance became clear. More than once, Singer mentioned by us stated that
“75% of the service and weaponization of vehicles like the Predators were transferred to private firms, including such“ ambiguous ”as Blackwater, while other army command systems in Iraq were described as“ state-controlled ”.
Well, really! If private companies, as a matter of fact, conducted combat operations in the course of the US wars, why should they, if necessary, not transfer the control functions of UAVs? After all, the main effect - the removal of responsibility from the government - in this case is achieved.
But international military legislation, including regulating the actions of robots, was adopted when robots seemed fantastic.
So today the world, as Peter Singer warned, has entered the era of new wars, and their “universal soldiers” are still above the law - in every sense of the word.