(IP) In recent weeks, a US Senate subcommittee held hearings about the use of drones and their devastation on humanity. However, missing from the congressional transcripts is the realization that the US has changed the rules of warfare, which others may claim the right to use against America in the future. The precedents set by the United States for drone warfare may have formidable consequences as other countries are quickly developing the technology.
What makes the drone proliferation dangerous is the powerful combination of efficiency and lethality spreading in an environment lacking internationally accepted guidelines on legitimate use. This technology is snowballing through a global arena where the primary example for its application is the one set by the United States. Will Americans accept the US drone policy when it is used by other countries against Americans?
Small, inexpensive, and lethal, drones enable everyone from Iran to Russia, or the Chinese People's Liberation Army to engage in what the Pentagon acknowledges is a new arms race with "alarming" consequences. More than 50 countries operate surveillance drones and increasingly are fitting them with weapons. Spy drones routinely shadow US aircraft carrier strike groups and other military exercises. Drones crisscross the Persian Gulf. Israeli drones have circled over Gaza. Experts say it is a rare conflict that does not attract spy drones.
A Department of Defense (DoD) Task Force report details the capabilities of drone technologies of other countries that could be a “very serious threat” posed to US military forces both at sea and on the ground. This changes the game for the reason that the US has not had to deal with aerial threats in generations. The report presents another threat from the proliferation of drones: The enemy could take advantage of the size of drones to flood the airspace, creating chaos and confusion in the defense and operations of US air offensives, creating a scenario similar to a flock of geese at the end of a commercial runway.
The study suggested armed drones are the equivalent of the Improvised Explosive Device (IED) -a simple, cheap and effective weapon which has forced the US to spend billions of dollars in defense, while experiencing growing casualties: 1,330 Americans have been killed in Afghanistan by IEDs.
Chinese aerospace firms have developed dozens of drones as its technology is maturing rapidly for use in surveillance and combat strikes. China's increased use of drones also adds to concerns about the lack of internationally recognized standards for drone attacks. "China is following the precedent set by the US. The thinking is that `If the US can do it, so can we. They're a big country with security interests and so are we'," said Siemon Wezeman, a senior fellow at the arms transfers program at the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute in Sweden.
At the US Subcommittee hearing, testimony included a witness to the horrifying experience of a drone attack, Farea Al Muslimi, a US educated Yemeni. Al Muslimi testified of the terrible fear he experienced when touring Abyan in Yemen, but the exponential affect of having his own village droned was life-changing: : “… I could never have imagined that the same hand that changed my life and took it from miserable to promising one would also drone my village…”.
The proliferation of drone technology has moved well beyond the control of the United States government and its closest allies. The aircraft are too easy to obtain, with barriers to entry on the production side crumbling too quickly to place limits on the spread of a technology that promises to transform warfare on a global scale. Already, more than 75 countries have remote piloted aircraft. More than 50 nations are building a total of nearly a thousand types.
All Americans should be concerned that other countries will soon slap us in the face with their own drones and targeted killings of people they deem militant to their country as they use our own debauched drone policy against us.