Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Drone Jobs, Drone Bubble, Drone Distraction

The reflections below on the penetration of drones activity into Ohio by business and government is excerpted from Challenging Dronotopia, by Nick Mottern, director of the Know Drones project. The report followed a tour of Dayton/Springfield and Columbus in September, 2012. (Download the full "Challenging Dronotopia" report.)

by Nick Mottern

Classified ads for UAV (drone) positions in the
Dayton/Springfield area. ( - retrieved 10/24/12)
Drones are being promoted by the Dayton Development Coalition and the State of Ohio as jobs makers. But, as we pointed out on the tour, a 2009 report from the University of Massachusetts (Amherst) finds that spending on weapons produces fewer jobs than spending on green energy, health, education and other non-military work.

As indicated in the statement of [Ohio] Congressman [Michael] Turner, the prospect of drone jobs is a big deal in the Miami Valley. The of July 30, 2012 estimated that 30,000 people in the Dayton area lost their jobs between 2006 and 2012 because of the closing of the General Motors Moraine assembly plant and other business and public-sector layoffs.

We found that Miami Valley people with whom we spoke were willing to consider our arguments about better alternatives for job spending. But the reality is that there are about 29,000 people employed at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base with more in drone and aerospace businesses clustered around the base. Criticism of the drone attacks was most often rejected because of the view that drones are keeping Americans and America safe, but one suspects that this was also a surrogate argument for keeping jobs safe.

At the same time, it is very possible, if not probable, that the hype for drone business and drone jobs is generating an unsustainable bubble of drone expectation.

The Stanford/NYU study finds that drone attacks are almost certainly creating more enemies for the US. It is also becoming very obvious that drone warfare in Afghanistan and Pakistan are not curbing attacks against US military forces or helping to “win” the war for the US in Afghanistan.

The weapons-loaded surveillance drone can be an extremely powerful weapon of threat and intimidation, but it can quickly become, it has become, a hated symbol of the desire by the US for dominance. Moreover, drones cannot seize and hold ground or control populations. So while the drone may lead the US into war with the expectation of easy victory at minimal cost, it appears that, as in Afghanistan, it can create fantasies of easy triumph that are militarily and politically impossible. Libya is also a case in point. Drones are said to have contributed mightily to the overthrow of Muammar Gaddafi, but Libya remains in conflict, and US drones are going back into play there.

Alberto Munoz from the AFSC
Windows and Mirrors exhibit
US military action is directed at securing zones of safety and profit for US and other western corporations in resource-rich parts of the world where there is little government or where governments have been destroyed. But people in these lands are knowledgeable and resistant. Drones will not cow these people. In addition, the movement for an international ban on weaponized drones and drone surveillance will grow. As this becomes clear, and the military limitations of drones become clear, enthusiasm for drone investment may dim and with it, the prospect of a surge in drone jobs.

Drone business on the US domestic side may also be less than anticipated. We found that the overwhelming majority of people with whom we spoke do not want drone surveillance or weaponized drones in US airspace, nor do they feel comfortable with drones flying in the company of airliners.

Talking about alternatives to drones at Wright:
(l-r) Philip Logan; Steve Fryburg (Veterans for Peace, Dayton);
George Guerci and Nick Mottern (Know Drones)
Phillip Logan, a political science major at Wright State University, just outside of Dayton, who arranged for us to speak there, told us that rather than look to drones to “save” the local economy, attention should be focused on basic issues like: the need for a major jobs program (high tech jobs like work on drones is likely to leave out many in the African-American and Hispanic communities); the need to move away from property taxes as the main support for local education to make education more equal among neighborhoods and districts; national health care; reducing student debt; development of a high-speed rail link between Cincinnati and Cleveland (a project killed by Governor John Kasich); development of green technology.

To read the rest of the report, download "Challenging Dronotopia: A report of the 2012 Know Drones Tour to Ohio, Pennsylvania and Virginia and suggestions for further action" from the Know Drones website.

Additional excerpts available at:
No Drones Network: Challenging Dronotopia: Part One - What We Experienced On the Road
No Drones Virginia: Discussing the Deep Issues of Drones in Charlottesville with Nick Mottern from Know Drones

Read more about the 2012 Know Drones tour in Ohio:
Know Drones Tour to Visit Dayton and Springfield Sept. 13-16
Know Drones Tour to Highlight Choice: Green Energy or Non-Stop War for Resources?
Ohio Congressman Michael Turner: Stop the Drones!
Wittenberg to Perform Gilroy's "The Predator" September 16
Wright State, Wittenberg to Participate in No Drones Education
Columbus: Saying No Drones at Ohio Legislature, Ohio State, Columbus Law - AND to BARACK OBAMA!

* * * * *
Image by Alfonso Munoz, from Windows and Mirrors: Reflections on the War in Afghanistan: The aftermath of war is rarely envisioned by the powers that trigger such events. Such views are usually blinded by greed and massive egos. Those who survive will continue to live with a lifetime's worth of emotional damage beyond the healing of physical wounds. Photography has captured more images than I can mentally handle (and I am the lucky one living removed from such places). I wanted to convey the atrocities like an investigator who outlines the bodies on the scene of a crime, leaving behind a silhouette on the ground where the horrific events have taken place.


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