Sunday, November 10, 2019

Drone Technology Has Disintermediated the Imperial Sovereign Murder Monopoly


technologyreview |  Sophisticated weapons systems have one drawback: the enemy must expose himself within the effective killing range in order for the weapon to work as intended. The smart combatant, of course, rarely exposes himself. So when we do home in on enemy fighters, we use a $30 million aircraft to drop a JDAM (joint direct attack munition) and kill a dozen guys living in tents on the side of a mountain. What has that $30 million technological advantage bought us? The highly (and expensively) trained aviator piloting a beautifully complex flying and killing machine just extinguished some men living under canvas and sticks, men with a few thousand rounds of small arms ammo at their disposal. The pilot will return to his expensive air base or carrier. He will have a hot shower, eat hot chow, Skype his wife and children, maybe play some Xbox, and hit the gym before he hits the rack. He will not, nor will he be asked to, concern himself with the men he killed a few hours ago. And in a draw or valley a few klicks away from where the pilot’s munitions impacted, there is another group of men living under extremely basic circumstances, eating boiled rice and maybe a little roasted meat. They will ambush an American convoy or attack a government-friendly village in the morning. Native grit debases our technologically superior forces and materiel. Native grit wins a war.

asiatimes |   Houthi striking capability – from drone swarms to ballistic missile attacks – has been improving remarkably for the past year or so. It’s not by accident that the UAE saw which way the geopolitical and geoeconomic winds were blowing: Abu Dhabi withdrew from Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman’s vicious war against Yemen and now is engaged in what it describes as a  “peace-first” strategy.

Even before Abqaiq, the Houthis had already engineered quite a few attacks against Saudi oil installations as well as Dubai and Abu Dhabi airports. In early July, Yemen’s Operations Command Center staged an exhibition in full regalia in Sana’a featuring their whole range of ballistic and winged missiles and drones.

 The situation has now reached a point where there’s plenty of chatter across the Persian Gulf about a spectacular scenario: the Houthis investing in a mad dash across the Arabian desert to capture Mecca and Medina in conjunction with a mass Shiite uprising in the Eastern oil belt. That’s not far-fetched anymore. Stranger things have happened in the Middle East. After all, the Saudis can’t even win a bar brawl – that’s why they rely on mercenaries.

Orientalism strikes again

The US intel refrain that the Houthis are incapable of such a sophisticated attack betrays the worst strands of orientalism and white man’s burden/superiority complex.

The only missile parts shown by the Saudis so far come from a Yemeni Quds 1 cruise missile. According to Brigadier General Yahya Saree, spokesman for the Sana’a-based Yemeni Armed Forces, “the Quds system proved its great ability to hit its targets and to bypass enemy interceptor systems.”