Foreign Policy‘s new War Issue shows how drones have transformed the war against the Taliban and fueled President Barack Obama’s counterterrorism strategy. But it’s not only the cutting-edge technology that’s evolving — the tools to build a basic drone are now available to those of us who will never set foot in CIA headquarters.
Stanford University professor Francis Fukuyama, who is better known for airy political science theories such as "the end of history," has spent the past few months building his very own unmanned aerial vehicle. As he described in a blog post over at the American Interest, it is a "quadcopter" — a helicopter with four rotors – and is equipped with a Sony flip video camera. Fukuyama has uploaded two videos filmed from his drone: The one above shows it hovering over a baseball field near Stanford and is accompanied by music from the a cappella group the Swingle Singers.
In an article for the Financial Times, Fukuyama says he was inspired to build a drone by the prospect that it would provide a new dimension to his photography. But since then, his project has taken on a life of its own as he seeks to push the limits of what’s possible in the world of do-it-yourself unmanned aerial vehicles.
But the nefarious uses of this new technology don’t fail to escape Fukuyama: Do we really want to live in a world, he asks, where private individuals have access to the destructive power of drones? "As the technology becomes cheaper and more commercially available, moreover, drones may become harder to trace; without knowing their provenance, deterrence breaks down," he writes. "A world in which people can be routinely and anonymously targeted by unseen enemies is not pleasant to contemplate."
John Arquilla earned his degrees in international relations from Rosary College (BA 1975) and Stanford University (MA 1989, PhD 1991). He has been teaching in the special operations program at the United States Naval Postgraduate School since 1993. He also serves as chairman of the Defense Analysis department.
Dr. Arquilla’s teaching interests revolve around the history of irregular warfare, terrorism, and the implications of the information age for society and security.
His books include: Dubious Battles: Aggression, Defeat and the International System (1992); From Troy to Entebbe: Special Operations in Ancient & Modern Times (1996), which was a featured alternate of the Military Book Club; In Athena’s Camp (1997); Networks and Netwars: The Future of Terror, Crime and Militancy (2001), named a notable book of the year by the American Library Association; The Reagan Imprint: Ideas in American Foreign Policy from the Collapse of Communism to the War on Terror (2006); Worst Enemy: The Reluctant Transformation of the American Military (2008), which is about defense reform; Insurgents, Raiders, and Bandits: How Masters of Irregular Warfare Have Shaped Our World (2011); and Afghan Endgames: Strategy and Policy Choices for America’s Longest War (2012).
Dr. Arquilla is also the author of more than one hundred articles dealing with a wide range of topics in military and security affairs. His work has appeared in the leading academic journals and in general publications like The New York Times, Forbes, Foreign Policy Magazine, The Atlantic Monthly, Wired and The New Republic. He is best known for his concept of “netwar” (i.e., the distinct manner in which those organized into networks fight). His vision of “swarm tactics” was selected by The New York Times as one of the “big ideas” of 2001; and in recent years Foreign Policy Magazine has listed him among the world’s “top 100 thinkers.”
In terms of policy experience, Dr. Arquilla worked as a consultant to General Norman Schwarzkopf during Operation Desert Storm, as part of a group of RAND analysts assigned to him. During the Kosovo War, he assisted deputy secretary of defense John Hamre on a range of issues in international information strategy. Since the onset of the war on terror, Dr. Arquilla has focused on assisting special operations forces and other units on practical “field problems.” Most recently, he worked for the White House as a member of a small, nonpartisan team of outsiders asked to articulate new directions for American defense policy.| Rational Security |