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A Laputan Lullaby

By Fred Bethune on Monday October 4, 2010 11:19 AM

The Globe and Mail recently ran a good piece on the Drone War in Pakistan:

The same President who pulled combat troops from Iraq, and promises to start reducing forces in Afghanistan next year, appears to view Hellfire missiles as the best alternative to soldiers. Drone strikes have quadrupled during his term, and the military plans to double production of drones next year.


If drones are the future, Pakistan’s tribal areas offer a look ahead at the dystopia that emerges when mechanical hunters drift overhead.

It’s a dark and confusing picture, making it hard to say whether the missile strikes reduce, or increase, the number of terrorists.

People who sleep under the buzzing of the drones say it’s hard to settle down for the night, listening to the sound of armed machines nearby.

Muhammad Amad, executive director of Idea, an aid group that works in the tribal areas, was telling a visitor that the drones are counterproductive because they stir up local anger, when he was interrupted by one of his local staffers from Waziristan, interjecting in broken English: “Mental torture,” said the bearded man, with sun-weathered skin. He repeated himself, struggling to enunciate: “Mental torture.”

“Yes, it’s mental torture,” Mr. Amad said. “When we lie down under the noise of the drones, nobody sleeps.”

Several people from the tribal areas said the same thing. Sleeping pills and anti-depressants have become a regular part of the diet, they said, even in poor villages where few people can afford meat.

“They come here with headaches, insomnia, anxiety,” Dr. Shafique said. “They lie down at night and they don’t know if they will get up again. Especially at night, they are seized with anxiety.”

The doctor paused as a Pakistani fighter jet thundered past, so loud that it set off car alarms in the street. Drones are not the only thing that can kill you in the tribal areas, but Dr. Shafique said their omnipresence gets under your skin.

“I understand the U.S. has a job to do, but this 24-hour buzzing in the sky gives people a fear that’s worse than dying,” he said.

That sounds delightful.

How long can it possibly be until we get the civilian version? An LAPD procurement committee has probably already ordered a few Protector drones, the premier platform for the deployment of 21st century law enforcement systems like the LRAD acoustic torture machine, the Raytheon ADS skin-microwaving device, and if current research proves fruitful, a heat ray that lights people on fire.

Comments (3)


"a heat ray that lights people on fire "

a McSizzler

"How long can it possibly be until we get the civilian version?"

You know it's inevitable. If it works so well at cowing foreign populations then it'll be irresistable to those who aren't sufficiently satified with how deeply cowed the American population is.

And we're already pretty damn well cowed.


Jim Long:

Drone strikes have not yet quadrupled during the course of the President's administration, although the year is not over yet. Tripling is a more apt figure: http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/26315908/ns/msnbc_tv-rachel_maddow_show/#39511132

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