“A Theory of the Drone is, at its core, a contribution to political theory, raising concerns too often elided in both legal academics’ treatment of drones and computer-science departments’ angling for Defense Department grants. At present we have no reliable sense of whether U.S. drone strikes are guaranteeing security or temporarily disabling some bad actors while enraging a generation subject to an aerial version of foreign occupation. Is the war futurists’ dream — a persistent Pax Americana underwritten by insuperable technological advantage — actually possible, or one more marketing campaign from wealthy defense contractors? Mired in ignorance, we would do well to challenge our present drift toward hyper-technologized foreign policy.
As Andrew Bacevich has argued, maturely grappling with the need for cooperation in an unmasterable world is a viable alternative to arms races. At present, though, the military-industrial complex is speeding us toward the development of “human out of the loop” drone swarms, ostensibly because only machines will be fast enough to anticipate the enemy’s counterstrategies.”