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Kill Chain: Drones and the Rise of High-Tech Assassins

Surveillance, technology, war, and the failed US policy of remote killing
Kill Chain is the essential history of drone warfare, a development in military technology that, as Andrew Cockburn demonstrates, has its origins in long-buried secret programmes dating to US military interventions in Vietnam and Yugoslavia. Cockburn follows the links in a chain that stretches from the White House, through the drone command center in Nevada, to the skies of Helmand Province.

The book reveals the powerful interests—military, CIA and corporate—that turned the Pentagon away from manned aircraft and boots on the ground to killing by remote control. Cockburn uncovers the technological breakthroughs, the revolution in military philosophy, and the devastating collateral damage resulting from assassinations allegedly targeted with pinpoint precision.

Vivid, powerful and chilling, Kill Chain draws on sources deep in the military and intelligence establishment to lay bare the failure of the modern American way of war.

Reviews

  • “This brilliant book tells us how computers kill soldiers and civilians, and explains with bone-chilling clarity how generalship gave way to microchips from Vietnam to Afghanistan. A blood-curdling account of the rise of robot warfare, a great story, and a prophecy to be read and heeded.”
  • “A compellingly readable book that not only tells us why drones cannot live up to the overblown expectation of politicians but lucidly explains the vulnerability of intelligence, either robotic or human, better than any book I have ever read.”
  • “Sharp-eyed and disturbing, especially Cockburn’s concluding assessment that, nourished by an unending flow of money, ‘the assassination machine is here to stay.’”
  • “In this first-rate history, Andrew Cockburn takes readers from the Pentagon’s mainframe-driven dreams of the Vietnam War era through today’s visions of stealth super-drones, exposing the dark realities of twenty- first-century robotic warfare. Richly informative, superbly researched, and utterly illuminating, Kill Chain shines much-needed light on the shadowy theories and theorists, secret military and intelligence programmes, and classified technologies that spawned our current age of remote-controlled assassination.”
  • “Fascinating and original investigation.”
  • “In this riveting book, Cockburn puts the reader in the pilot’s seat as kill teams go on their deadly hunts before dashing home for their children’s soccer games. Wrapped in enormous secrecy, the only way past the armed guards and cipher-locks and into this new world of Hellfire diplomacy is Cockburn’s great new read. Rather than voter IDs, people should prove they have read this book before being allowed to vote in the next election.”
  • “Provides the ammunition for believing that everything you ever feared or suspected about drone warfare is true.”
  • “Persuasive, punchy and revelatory.”

Blog

  • The Militarization of Everything: A Reading List

     

    Obama had a dismal record of expanding the US drone program and killing civilians in the name of US security. His expansion of executive power to authorize drone attacks around the world has set a dangerous precedent for Trump to continue the US policy of war from above, in which innocent civilians are seen as collateral damage. The defense budget of the US ($622 billion spent on the military in 2016) accounts for almost 40 percent of the global total. 

    From Trump’s further militarization of our borders, trying to build a wall between the US and Mexico, banning people from seven predominantly Muslim countries from entering the US, and increasing funding to militarize local police departments, now more than ever the administration’s embrace of military tactics at home and abroad must be resisted.

    Start by learning about the history of US imperialism and militarization with 40% off all books on the Militarization of Everything Reading List, with bundled ebooks where available and free shipping worldwide.

    The sale ends Sunday, February 12 at midnight UTC. 

    Click here to activate the discount.

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  • Patrick Cockburn: 'Britain is on the verge of entering into a long war in Syria based on wishful thinking and poor information'

    Jeremy Corbyn invited Patrick Cockburn to brief MPs on the facts about today’s Common’s vote on air strikes in Syria. He wrote a briefing for the public in the Independent.

    Britain is on the verge of entering a conflict in Syria in which its political and military strategy is based on wishful thinking and poor information. British air strikes in Syria will be too few to make much difference to Isis, but are important because they signal Britain’s entry into what may be a long war.

    In one crucial respect, David Cameron’s approach is similar to that which saw Britain fight two small but unsuccessful wars in Iraq and Afghanistan since 2003, in both cases without an effective local partner on the ground. Similarly in Syria, Britain will be at the mercy of events which are being shaped by the numerous other players in the conflict, all of whom have their own highly contradictory agendas. 


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  • The war must go on... Sebastian Budgen on the West's strategy after Paris

    The attacks on Paris last Friday, 13th November, have prompted a predictable response: bombs abroad and a further restriction of civil liberties at home, not to mention a ratcheting up of Islamophobia. Sebastian Budgen analyses the wisdom of this approach.



    This is perhaps the moment to take a step back to review the brilliance of West's counterrorist strategy, which we can then admire in all its strategic and tactical coherence:

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