Title: Predators - the CIA's Drone War on al Qaeda –
Author: Brian Glyn Williams
Review: As a professor of Islamic history at the University of Massachusetts-Dartmouth, Brian Glyn Williams uses his expertise to masterfully explain the drone war against al Qaeda. He uses a historical, thorough and unbiased approach in his book Predators: The CIA War on al Qaeda. From the history of the Federally Administered Tribal Agencies (F.A.T.A.) to the arguments for and against the use of drones, Williams clearly examines the history and reason for using combat drones against al Qaeda. He addresses their effects on the lives of civilians and militants, and how the drone war on al Qaeda is changing how America and its allies are preparing for future battles.
This book opened my eyes as to what I thought drones were being used for in Afghanistan and Pakistan. For example, I didn’t know that predator drones have been used since 1994. I also was unaware that the original Predator Drone was not armed. What was most eye opening for me, was to learn that neither the Air Force nor the CIA wanted anything to do with an armed predator drone prior to September 11, 2001. That fact alone made me pause and wonder “would the drone program be anything like it is today if it wasn’t for al Qaeda’s attack on 9/11?”
Williams will surely cause you to question what you thought you understood about the drone war on al Qaeda. He uses news stories from US and Pakistani sources as well as eye witness accounts to explain the precision and capabilities drones have in killing al Qaeda members. Raw data of the attacks are presented to show just how lethal drones can be on militants and how few civilians are actually killed. As you begin to feel that the use of drones is justified, and may even be the best option for this conflict, Williams flips the table, using news stories and eye witness accounts to tell a very different tale about how drones are killing women and children while also helping in the recruiting efforts of the same al Qaeda the predators are supposed to destroy. I swayed back and forth on my opinion of the use of drones against al Qaeda. While I work for a company who builds systems for drones, children being killed in drone strikes cannot be justified as just “collateral damage.”
Predators: The CIA War on al Qaeda will open your eyes to the predator’s amazing technology, both strengths and weaknesses. You will learn about the backroom deals being made by politicians in the US and Pakistan, as both sides attempt to control the war and those who protest against it. You will discover the successes and failures of drone strikes from firsthand accounts of civilians and militants in the strike zone. This is not a history textbook. It is a fascinating story of history in the making that will keep you turning pages.
Thanks Randy for this review.
Published: Published July 1st 2013 by Potomac Books Inc.
Page Count: 256
Quick Review: 5 out 5 stars –
Why I Read this Title: An interest of mine.
Synopsis: "Predators" is a riveting introduction to the murky world of Predator and Reaper drones, the CIA s and U.S. military s most effective and controversial killing tools. Brian Glyn Williams combines policy analysis with the human drama of the spies, terrorists, insurgents, and innocent tribal peoples who have been killed in the covert operation the CIA s largest assassination campaign since the Vietnam War era being waged in Pakistan s tribal regions via remote control aircraft known as drones, or unmanned aerial vehicles.Having traveled extensively in the Pashtun tribal areas while working for the U.S. military and the CIA, Williams explores in detail the new technology of airborne assassinations. From miniature Scorpion missiles designed to kill terrorists while avoiding civilian collateral damage to "prathrais," the cigarette lighter size homing beacons spies plant on their unsuspecting targets to direct drone missiles to them, the author describes the drone arsenal in full.Evaluating the ethics of targeted killings and drone technology, Williams covers more than a hundred drone strikes, analyzing the number of slain civilians versus the number of terrorists killed to address the claims of antidrone activists. In examining the future of drone warfare, he reveals that the U.S. military is already building more unmanned than manned aerial vehicles. Predators helps us weigh the pros and cons of the drone program so that we can decide whether it is a vital strategic asset, a frenemy, or a little of both.
Author Information: Seeauthors site here.
Small War Journal - 5 stars