Archive | Vol. 8/2015 | Nr. 2
Krasmann, Susanne; Weber, Jutta [Publishing editor]
Krasmann, Susanne; Weber, Jutta
Mass surveillance, drones, and unconventional warfare
The article argues that armed drones are weapons made for unconventional warfare and have little value for conventional interstate conflict. The rise of armed drones to prominence has to be considered as an indicator for the changed nature of contemporary armed conflict that has now become focused on countering terrorism, insurgencies, transnational organized crime and fighting ‘hybrid wars’ globally. The US military is preparing for both global counterinsurgency and for civil unrest at home as they are creating a global surveillance architecture reaching from outer space to cyber space, where everything and everybody can be continuously identified, tracked and located. Unmanned systems assist in global surveillance and provide the global reach for intervening in internal conflicts without the need of deploying large ground forces. The new technological capabilities, including drones, biometrics and cyber warfare, are very useful for global manhunts in the context of the ongoing war on terror and for the control of large populations from afar. Western governments are also increasingly concerned about the spread of extremist ideologies and the possibility of mass civil unrest, which means that many of the lessons learned in the counterinsurgency campaigns in Afghanistan and Iraq could be applied within the West.
God, the Pilot, and the Bugsplat: Performance and the Drone Effect
Engaging a performance studies lens, this essay examines the role of the drone in contemporary society with special attention paid to representations of drones in popular culture. Anchored by critical analysis of three examples-George Brandt’s play Grounded; the major motion picture Good Kill; and the short film 5,000 Is the Best-I argue that the role of the drone in culture is complex and that the effects of drones are disseminated around the world in uneven amounts of good and harm. Where the drone exists and where the drone goes there is drone culture. Furthermore, drones exist in a larger context of drone states. I argue that wherever the drone goes, one constant remains: the possession, development, and deployment of drones of all kinds lead to a circumstance reminiscent of the observer effect in science: by observing a phenomenon, one changes the phenomenon. By having drones, particularly weaponized drones, the nation-state is permanently altered-for better and for the worst-by such possession: the drone effect.
The Drones of Others: An Insight into Imagination of UAVs in Germany
Unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) have come to be a central military technology in the current era and have also recently entered the civil sector. Like any technology, UAVs are not just a technical object with distinct technical qualities but also the product of social negotiations and imaginations in public discourses. This article takes the word drone as a distinct component of these negotiations and imaginations of UAVs. With an interest in the German imagination of UAVs, the article presents an analysis of what is captured in the word Drohne (drone) in a corpus generated from an established German news platform. This analysis provides insight into the meanings attached to the word Drohne, such as ‘military power’, ‘hyper-progress’ and ‘threat to extant technology’. Importantly, it uncovers the distinction between two kinds of ‘Drohnen’: actors and tool, and unveils a geography of ‘Drohne’, in and through which ‘Drohnen’ are ‘managed’. With that the analysis reveals an intriguing subtle theme in the social negotiation of UAVs in Germany. In this theme the technology ‘Drohne’ (drone) is imagined as potentially ‘game changing’ in nature. At the same time, it is symbolically ‘tamed’ and organised through a (modern) understanding of bordered social ‘containers’, in which ‘Drohnen’ are imagined to exist and are subject to ‘compartmentalised’ responsibilities.
African Drone Stories
Sandvik, Kristin Bergtora
The process of normalizing drones throughout Africa has received little scholarly attention. Discussions of drone proliferation tend to assume that the drone industry is a monolithic, geographically concentrated entity, and that drone use will look the same and engender the same controversies, regardless of geography. The article aims to think through African drone proliferation by analyzing how drones and Africa are being construed as solutions to each other’s problems, and by exploring the interface between images of Africa and the notion of the drone as a game changer for development and security. The article also reads the African drone in the context of the early deployment of surveillance drones in Africa in the 1970s, as well as the legacy of technological imperialism and colonial airpower. The perception of Africa as being in need of external drone intervention dovetails with the drone industry’s efforts to identify and promote good uses for drones—efforts that are central to increasing the legitimacy of drones in the eyes of the Global North. Hence, the article argues that the ‘African drone’ has become a vehicle for the production and distribution of norms, resources, and forms of legitimacy that have implications for drone proliferation, both within and outside Africa.
Heldendämmerung? Der Drohnenkrieg und die Zukunft des militärischen Heroismus / Bröckling, Ulrich [Autor:in] – 2015
The use of unmanned combat air vehicles challenges the established notion of military heroism, which is based on the idea of fundamental reciprocity: the power to kill and the risk of being killed. Within this logic, soldiers can become heroes if they bravely fight the enemy and put their life on the line. Drone pilots by contrast operate from a safe distance to the battlefield without any risk of injury. Hence, armed drones have been often described as the paradigmatic weapons of an upcoming post-heroic warfare. The article questions this point of view and argues that heroic interpellations are indispensable as long as there is a need for the willingness to self-sacrifice.
Flächen/Rastern. Zur Bildlichkeit der Drohne / Andreas, Michael [Autor:in] – 2015
This article provides a historiographical and epistemological reconstruction of the visuality of the contemporary drone. It will be argued that, despite an evident technical caesura between analogue images of early aerial reconnaissance in aviation (since 1911) and the digital image production of recent unmanned aerial vehicles (especially of the armed drone) since 2001, both aerial aesthetics are deeply rooted in modernity. Both are connected through a visual culture that emerged around 1910 and can be characterized with its combination of aviation and photography, a Gestalt-informed epistemology of military intelligence and gouvernemental aesthetics of space relying on ideas such as the “grid”, “resolution” and the military device of the “sight”.
Individualized and Yet Dehumanized? Targeted Killing via Drones
Within the literature on warfare and drones two observations are currently made. The first is that war is becoming individualized and personalized; the second that warfare is more and more dehumanized. This juxtaposition of individualization and dehumanization within the literature is the departure point of this article. The article engages with the simultaneous individualization and dehumanization of warfare by assessing the relatively new practice of targeted killing via drones, focusing on the US drone programmes. Offering a short overview of current US drone strike practices and a reconstructive analysis of the discourse on targeted killing via drone strikes, the article identifies three themes within the discourse on targeted killing via drones: the language of the target, the language of the body, and the language of dehumanization. Taken together these themes are constitutive of the social construction of individual human beings as dehumanized targeted bodies. The article makes the argument that this social construction allows the conduct of dehumanized warfare against individual human beings. The article therefore provides a theoretical framework, which allows analysing and understanding the practice of the targeted killing via drones from a perspective of International Relations Theory