For several thousand years police officers were able to combat crime without the use of aerial technology such as helicopters and drones. Is crime really that pressing to necessitate the use of drone technology? Or could it be that defense corporations who manufacture drones are only interested in creating more markets, American (and international) privacy be damned?
It seems quite clear that drones are not so much the outward expression of fear and security, but instead instead the symbols of deeply perverted capitalism.
“The potential … civil market for these systems could dwarf the military market in the coming years if we can get access to the airspace,” said Ben Gielow, government relations manager for the Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International. Ah, yes, cash money.
Drone manufacturers such as Northrup Grumman have apparently been quite vocal about international drone sales being a matter of critical business interest.
“Export restrictions are hurting this industry in America without making us any safer,” Wesley G. Bush, Northrop’s chief executive, speaking at a defense conference this year. “The U.S. is struggling to sell unmanned aircraft to our allies while other nations prepare to jump into the marketplace with both feet.” Security is the smokescreen here. Profit is the operating principle.
A Congressional Research Service report echoed the defense industry’s perspective, saying, “Much new business is likely to be generated in the market, and if U.S. companies fail to capture this market share, European, Russian, Israeli, Chinese or South African companies will.” The report also stated, “As part of its defense and foreign policy oversight, Congress may examine whether a balance must be struck between supporting legitimate U.S. exports and curbing the spread of [drone] technologies to dangerous groups or countries.”
Why can’t the same be true here in the United States? Indeed, if defense contractors like Northrup, Raytheon and Lockheed Martin can’t sell their war products abroad because of US laws (let the lobbying commence!), then the next best option is to push the drones on the nation’s 19,000 police forces.
The FAA Modernization and Reform Act of 2012 legalized the use of drones in America’s skies, so it stands to reason that a lucrative symbiotic relationship will be established between the defense industry and the police. You know, because crime is just growing out of control and the terrorist threat here in the US incredibly dangerous.
As the LA Times reported in July, Rep. Howard L. Berman (D-Los Angeles), ranking Democrat on the House Foreign Affairs Committee, said, “It’s crazy for us to shut off sales in this area while other countries push ahead. A very significant part of this economic recovery depends on exports. We need to take advantage of where our strengths lie.” And, naturally, domestic sales, although one isn’t likely to hear a politician or a defense contractor speak of such a reality.
If the defense industry is hurting financially because of restricted drone sales, and if they and certain US politicians believe their success could be the country’s economic success, then perhaps they should be honest about their motives. At least then we could have an honest discussion about whether or not Americans really want drone technology patrolling their neighborhood skies.