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A Theory of the Drone

In Matt Hawkins’ comic book series, Think Tank, the main character Dr. David Loren is a boy-genius who was recruited by the military to work for a DARPA science. In the second trade book of the comic series, Dr. Loren, who is emotionally and mentally torn about the work that he does, invents a genetic targeting weapon to be used in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict (you will find out why he does this later in the series). When presenting his work to top military officials, they were excited at the fact that this new genetic weapon only had a 4% margin of error. While the officials celebrated, Dr. Loren pointed out that the population of Israel is around 7,500,000 people making 4% of that population still around 310,000 people.

It is not irrational or erroneous to say that the imaginings of this genetic weapon in Hawkins’ Think Tank has its genealogy in the “that others may die” logic around which drones are operated. Gregoire Chamoyou’s, A Theory of the Drone, does an excellent job at illuminating all the implications of this new age in dronization of the military. His approach is a total investigation not only into how drones are affecting the enacting of “warfare” but also into the ontological changes of “warfare” as a result of the drone. In thinking about ways to counter and protest the drone, Chamayou provides an interesting source of resistance: amongst members of the military themselves. He mentions that for many in the military, the drones and their operators, go against the warrior/sacrifice ethic that many of them have invested so whole-heartedly in. In a place like Guam, where militarized masculinities have been crafted specifically to develop these warrior ethics, I can see how military members feel negatively about the drone. This led me to wonder what the possibilities are of organizing these negative feelings and making alliances with these folks into a fully developed anti-drone movement. Also, for those those military members who support the drone, is there any way to use the “warrior” ethic discursively to convince them that the drone underlies everything they stand for? I also whole-heartedly acknowledge that persuading through such gendered discourses produces its own problems, but at this point I am just imagining the openings in the military wall of obedience.

Reading this book also made me shiver at the possible militarized futures in store for us. Particularly, in chapter 6 in Chamayou’s discussion of the Kill Box, he discusses how drones are changing the geographies of war. With drones, the combat zone is simply wherever the target is as they carry their own “little zone of hostility” and later on he goes on to argue that the implications of this geographical reconfiguration for “combatant vs. non-combatant” distinctions, or shall we say non-distinctions. These are serious questions of territorial sovereignty at stake here, and one where I must admit the united states would not stand for if any other nations were engaging in the same states of violence in such an intense capacity. What if this world did exist one day? According to an article named, “All of These Countries Now Have Armed Drones,” at least 10 countries already have armed drones. What if this number rose immensely? How would we feel walking around with the buzzing of drones over our head everyday?

I remember making this joke amongst my friends. I used to tell them that I have never lost an MMA fight in my life nor have I lost a professional football game. While it may seem true, the deeper truth would reveal that I have never played football or fought professionally. This is the same logic Chamayou describes in his chapter of precision. He talks about that precise moment when some start popping champagne because their drones now had no collateral damage. It was revealed that the reason there was no “collateral damage” was because they began lumping people into the category of “combatant or militant.” If I shot three goats and called them sheep, then I may be able to get away with saying I have no killed no goats. This “guilty until proven innocent” framework is dangerous and highly unethical especially when the only window to prove innocence comes after one’s death. All in all, this book further woke me up to the horrors of drones, the all seeing-eye which is set to kill.

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