Bush’s Pilotless Dream, Smoking Drones, and Other Strange Tales from the Crypt

Admittedly, before George W. Bush had his fever dream, the U.S. had already put its first unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) or drone surveillance planes in the skies over Kosovo in the late 1990s.  By November 2001, it had armed them with missiles and was flying them over Afghanistan. In November 2002, a Predator drone would loose a Hellfire missile on a car in Yemen, a country with which we weren’t at war.  Six suspected al-Qaeda members, including a suspect in the bombing of the destroyer the USS Cole would be turned into twisted metal and ash — the first “targeted killings” of the American robotic era. Just two months earlier, in September 2002, as the Bush administration was “introducing” its campaign to sell an invasion of Iraq to Congress and the American people, CIA Director George Tenet and Vice President Dick Cheney “trooped up to Capitol Hill” to brief four […]

Four Scenarios for the Next Energy Mega-Disaster  By Michael T. Klare On June 15th, in their testimony before the House Energy and Commerce Committee, the chief executives of America’s leading oil companies argued that BP’s Deepwater Horizon disaster in the Gulf of Mexico was an aberration — something that would not have occurred with proper corporate oversight and will not happen again once proper safeguards are put in place.  This is fallacious, if not an outright lie.  The Deep Horizon explosion was the inevitable result of a relentless effort to extract oil from ever deeper and more hazardous locations.  In fact, as long as the industry continues its relentless, reckless pursuit of “extreme energy” — oil, natural gas, coal, and uranium obtained from geologically, environmentally, and politically unsafe areas — more such calamities are destined to occur. At the onset of the modern industrial era, basic fuels were easy to […]

Entering the Soviet Era in America By Tom Engelhardt [Note for American Empire Project blog readers:  Tom Engelhardt here.  Steve Fraser and I started, and now co-edit, Metropolitan Books’ American Empire Project.  I also run the website TomDispatch.com.  If you’ve spent time at the AEP blog, you’ve undoubtedly been reading some of the pieces I regularly write there on Washington and its wars, as well as those of other authors you know well from the AEP series, including Noam Chomsky, Chalmers Johnson, Michael Klare, and Andrew Bacevich.  My new book, The American Way of War: How Bush’s Wars Became Obama’s, is being published this week.  From garrisoning the planet to drone warfare, “collateral damage” to Obama’s Afghan “surges,” it explores the new norm of American life: unending war and preparations for the same.  You can read the first review of it — Pepe Escobar’s “Infinite War” at Asia Times — by clicking […]

Living in a Can’t-Do Nation

Graduates of the class of 2010, I’m honored to have been asked to address you today, but I would not want to be you. I graduated in 1966 on a gloriously sunny day; then again, it was a sunnier moment in this country.  We were, after all, still surfing the crest of post-World War II American wealth and productivity.  The first oil crisis of 1973 wasn’t even on the horizon.  I never gave a thought to the gas I put in the tank of the used Volkswagen “bug” I bought with a friend my last year in college.  In those days, the oil for that gas had probably been pumped out of an American well on land (and not dumped in the Gulf of Mexico).  Gas, in any case, was dirt cheap.  No one thought about it — or Saudi Arabia (unless they were working for an oil company or […]