UNMANNED is an in-depth examination of why seemingly successful wars never seem to end. The problem centers on drones, now accumulated in the thousands, the front end of a spying and killing machine that is disconnected from either security or safety.
Drones, however, are only part of the problem. William Arkin shows that security is actually undermined by an impulse to gather as much data as possible, the appetite and the theory both skewed towards the notion that no amount is too much. And yet the very endeavor of putting fewer human in potential danger places everyone in greater danger. Wars officially end, but the Data Machine lives on forever.
Throughout his career, Arkin has exposed powerful secrets of so-called national security and intelligence. Now he continues that tradition. The most alarming book about warfare in years, UNMANNED is essential reading for anyone who cares about the future of mankind.
Intelligence expert Arkin (American Coup) argues that the digital revolution, combined with a reluctance to suffer casualties, is ushering in what military planners see as "perfect" endless, casualty-free warfare in this ingenious, if depressing, work. The U.S. military's use of drones is burgeoning, yet of America's more than 11,000 drones, only about 5% are of the large, armed "Predator-style" variety. An obsession with information technology has produced a zoo of "unarmed aerial vehicles" (UAVs) that includes everything from the 15-oz. Wasp Micro Air Vehicle to the seven-ton Global Hawk. Arkin also points out that "88 other nations operate drones," with over 90% of drones worldwide being "small, short-ranged, and unarmed." Meanwhile, the need for fighting personnel has shrunk as the need for civilian data analysts has grown. Thanks to "increasingly infinite stockpiles of data," high-value targets can be tracked almost anywhere, and since "the Data Machine doesn't care where it is fighting," Arkin insists that we must contemplates the "cost to society and humanity for even operating in this seemingly near-perfect way." Readers will have to navigate a minefield of technical details, acronyms, and political and military infighting, but Arkin makes worthwhile the effort of understanding both the extensive transformations modern militaries are experiencing and their far-from-perfect consequences.