In one of this week’s top bad ideas, the U.S. is selling unarmed surveillance drones to Iraq. Let me list the reasons why this is something we should not do.
1. Drone use is ethically questionable to start with, and there isn’t much of a step, technologically-speaking, from surveillance drones to the ones used for warfare. The drone industry has been spitting out PR right and left, but saying that “existing laws provide sufficient protection” to citizens against illegal drone use is a little naive, considering the recent legal turns. If the Patriot Act can pass and we can detain people at Guantanamo without due process, I don’t have much faith in laws preventing invasions of privacy.
2. Sticking our nose where it doesn’t belong (i.e., meddling in the Middle East) doesn’t lead us anywhere good. After all, we facilitated the creation of an authoritarian regime in Iran. And after a war we started on false premises in Iraq, we’re clearly still trying to mold the Middle East into our preferred image.
3. Iraq and Iran have never been particularly friendly. Now, an advisor to Iraq’s prime minister is quoted as saying, “Whether Iran has concerns or not, we’re OK with that.” Um. Correct me if I’m wrong, but isn’t this pretty antagonistic?
4. Selling weapons is stupid. Yes, stupid. Especially when those weapons are sold to an unstable government. Remember when we helped arm Saddam Hussein? Oh, yeah. We’ve been trying to forget about that.
And, finally, to quote directly from the USA Today article…
5. “The drones will allow Iraq’s military to keep a continuous watch over its oil terminals within Iraqi territorial waters of the Persian Gulf, where a significant portion of the world’s oil originates and which Iran has occasionally threatened to blockade.”
That’s right. We’re selling drones to Iraq so that we can be ensured a continuous supply of oil.
I used to scoff at anyone who named the main motivation for war in Iraq as American energy interests, but now I’m not so sure. How far is the U.S. going to go to make sure that we can keep burning dead dinosaurs?