There seems something incongruous about two recent pieces of news about the US and Drones. The first piece of news came in February as the White House announced its new policy regarding the export of military (including, and perhaps particularly armed) drones. Continue reading Get Your House in Order: On Drone Exports and US domestic anger about their use
On the 9th of April 2015 I went to see the Drone Documentary at the Doc House at the Curzon in London. I’ve been following the progress of the documentary by Tonje Hessen Schei for many months (noting the many awards it has received: Cinema For Peace award, Best of Fest, IDFA, Best doc at BIFF) and was looking forward to the opportunity not only to see it in full but also to the Q&A session with Hessen Schei and Chris Woods (a journalist who has researched and written extensively on the US drone strikes in Pakistan and who is interviewed in the documentary).
The Institute for Conflict, Cooperation, and Security (ICCS), supported by the Centre for War Studies and the Royal Aeronautical Society, is holding a workshop this September which aims to look at and discuss “Drone Research” with particular reference to “Perspectives, Practicalities and Problems” associated with this topic and sphere of interest.
For a recent Social Research Methods assignment I undertook a (brief) discourse analysis of drone pilots’ accounts of their experiences as published in the media. The question I wanted to try to answer was:
In what ways are drone pilots’ accounts of their experiences gendered?
On the 8th of May 2014, a workshop jointly organised by the University of Birmingham, University of Leicester, and King’s College London on ‘The UK and the Changing Character of Conflict and Intervention’ took place at the University of Birmingham. This ESRC funded workshop comprised a series of interesting panels with a range of speakers discussing Global Strategic Trends, the Future Operating Environment, the Changing Character of Conflict, and UK Defence’s Role in the Future.
All of the journalistic articles on drone pilots start the same way. They paint a picture of the environment in Nevada- the heat, the air conditioning, the flickering screens, the watching, waiting, and then the sudden orders to release the hellfire missiles.
In conflict situations it is important, even essential, to know who it is you are fighting against. First to consider is the issue of the identity of the individual targeted by the drone strike, their status as civilian or combatant, and how that distinction is understood. Then there is the identity of the individual conducting the strike, whether they are military, CIA, or Private Military Contractor (PMC) and what this means legally and ethically. Finally, there is the identity of the drone itself, the way it creates a relationship between the individual conducting the strike and the target. The issue of identity is important because how we construct our understanding of the enemy, of the other, impacts on how we understand their death and the foreign policy decisions which follow.