Yucho Chow re-discovered

“Author and curator, Catherine Clement (left) has won B.C.’s top award for historical writing for her book about an early Vancouver photographer whose work was almost forgotten.” FULL STORY

Unmanned contends for Ryga Award

November 10th, 2014

Drones are President Obama’s weapon of choice. It’s just one of the reasons John Hill and Ann Rogers have co-authored Unmanned: Drone Warfare and Global Security

The United States has been engaging in drone warfare increasingly in recent years with almost no widespread press coverage of their effectivess or the extent to which such deadly targeting has incited radical responses from victims of the technology.

John Hill and Ann Rogers have consequently co-authored Unmanned: Drone Warfare and Global Security (Between the Lines) to examine how drone aircraft as globalized war technology is changing international conflict in unpredictable ways.

Unmanned is one of forty titles by B.C. authors that have been entered in this year’s George Ryga Award for Social Awareness. A full list of entries is provided below.

[The following text is excerpted from Unmanned, by Ann Rogers and John Hill, with permission from Between the Lines Books, 2014]

The arrival of drones on the international stage has been both slow and rapid: slow in as much as experiments with the idea have been going on for over a hundred years without it becoming mainstream, and rapid in that since the technology caught up with the concept at the end of the twentieth century the growth in UAV use has been explosive. The US military’s inventory increased 40-fold between 2002 and 2010, and upwards of 70 countries now possess UAVs in one form or another. They have also been controversial, both because of how they have been used – most notoriously as tools for assassination – and because of what may be a fundamental public suspicion towards the idea of robotised warfare. It is with the connection between these aspects that we are most concerned here: does the nature of this technology have an impact on how it is used, and does this usage constitute a step change in how we carry out our global affairs?Hill, John Unmanned

The essence of the question lies in the uniquely ‘unmanned’ nature of this technology. In general, contemporary unmanned aerial systems consist of one or more vehicles linked by satellite to a ground station. On the face of it, they can do what manned aircraft can do, and indeed they carry out the same kinds of missions using the same kinds of surveillance equipment or weapons that manned aircraft carry. But by creating a profound separation between operator and target, drones remove the physical risk to the side using them, and this leads to a change in perception about how they can be deployed. The corollary of removing physical risk is a corresponding diminution of political risk – political fallout is minor compared to what it would be if bodies, not machines, were on the line. Drones solve the ‘Gary Powers problem’ – Powers was the CIA’s U-2 pilot shot down by the Russians in 1960 and sentenced to ten years in prison for espionage (he was eventually traded in a spy swap in 1962).

Less risk, both material and political, allows drone performance to be optimised: they penetrate into spaces and territories where humans cannot or will not go; not bound by physical needs like rest or food, they are an enduring presence over their target area. Although the weapons and sensor suites they carry may be no better than those of manned systems, in combination with these qualities of access and persistence, their intelligence gathering and targeting abilities are greatly enhanced. More curious, however, is that drones are also viewed as less problematic by the states they are in operation against. Drones seem to manifest a less obvious trespass than a manned incursion, making a lower imposition on national sovereignty. The fact that they are tacitly tolerated further enhances their ability to access areas that manned aircraft can’t or won’t go.

This nexus of access–persistence–accuracy is the core of drone warfare: it facilitates what we call here nano-war, that is, the ability of states to bring military-scale force to bear on specific individuals in situations where the delivery of such force would otherwise have been difficult or unacceptable. The low imposition and the relative disposability of the UAV allows force to be used where in the past it would not be used (or only much more rarely). Thus we now regularly see the search for, and pursuit of individuals in territories where otherwise the pursuing state’s writ does not run. The relatively tight focus of contemporary precision guided munitions (PGMs) then allows the use of this technology for the killing of such individuals. It is not that states have not done this sort of thing before – it is that UAVs are normalising it. This is a change. Military action is now substituting for normal security/policing operations, or being taken where previously there would have been no action because there was no ‘opportunity’ for it. Thus, for example, we are seeing extrajudicial killings rather than the due process of law or the conventional military operation. The arrival of the UAV has dangerously lowered the threshold for the application of military-scale violence, both in terms of crossing borders and in terms of scale of target.

Ann Rogers teaches international relations and media studies at Royal Roads University.

John Hill is Writing Centre Coordinator at Vancouver Island University. He was formerly the China Watch editor for Jane’s Intelligence Review and has reported widely on security matters for a range of Jane’s publications.

BOOKS ENTERED IN THE 2014 GEORGE RYGA AWARD FOR SOCIAL AWARENESS COMPETITION, LISTED ALPHABETICALLY BY AUTHOR

Ellen in Pieces (HarperCollins) by Caroline Adderson / fiction

On Being Here to Stay: Treaties and Aboriginal Rights in Canada (University of Toronto) by Michael Asch

Spilt Coffee (Solstice Publishing) by Greg Bauder / fiction

Killer Weed: Marijuana Growers, Media and Justice (University of Toronto Press) by Susan Boyd and Connie I. Carter

Buckley-with-new-book

Michael Buckley

Meltdown in Tibet (Raincoast) by Michael Buckley

The Delusionist (Anvil) by Grant Buday / fiction

The Outer Harbour: Stories (Arsenal Pulp) by Wayde Compton / fiction

Invisible Girl (filidhbooks) by Cherise Craney

dream/arteries (Talonbooks) by Phinder Dulai / poetry

High Clear Bell of Morning (D&M) by Ann Eriksson / fiction

Shore to Shore: The Art of Ts’uts’umutl Luke Marston (Harbour) by Suzanne Fournier

Chaos Inside Thunderstorms (Ronsdale) by Garry Gottfriedson / poetry

Worth Dying For: Canada’a Mission to Train Police in the World’s Failing States (Random House) by Terry Gould

What Makes Olga Run? (Random House) by Bruce Grierson

In Praise of Mixed Religion: The Syncretism Solution in a Multifaith World (McGill-Queens) by William H. Harrison

The Voyage of the Komagata Maru: The Sikh Challenge to Canada’s Colour Bar (UBC Press) by Hugh J. M. Johnston

Eve Joseph

Eve Joseph

In the Slender Margin (HarperCollins) by Eve Joseph

Back to the Red Road: A Story of Survival, Redemption and Love (Caitlin) by Florence Kaefer and Edward Gamblin

Heart and Soil: The Revolutionary Good of Gardens (Harbour) Des Kennedy

The Force of Family: Repatriation, Kinship and Memory on Haida Gwaii (University of Toronto) by Cara Krmpotich

How Does a Single Blade of Grass Thank the Sun? (Nightwood) by Doretta Lau / fiction

Listen to the Squawking Chicken (Random House) by Elaine Lui

Things I heard about you (Nightwood) by Alex Leslie / poetry

Writing with Grace: A Journey beyond Down Syndrome (D&M) by Judy McFarlane

Happy City: Transforming Our Lives Through Urban Design (Anchor/Random House) by Charles Montgomery

Poachers, Polluters and Politics: A Fisher Officer’s Career (Harbour) by Randy Nelson

Miles Olson

Miles Olson

The Compassionate Hunter’s Guidebook: Hunting from the Heart (New Society) by Miles Olson

North of Normal (HarperCollins) by Cea Sunrise Person

Patient Zero: Solving the Mysteries of Deadly Epidemics (Annick) by Marilee Peters

The Dark Side of the Rainbow (CAP Publishing) by Caren Powell / fiction

What I Want to Tell Goes Like This: Stories (Nightwood) Matt Rader / fiction

Welcome to Resisterville: American Dissidents in British Columbia (UBC Press) by Kathleen Rodgers

Unmanned: Drone Warfare and Global Security (Pluto/Between the Lines) by Ann Rogers and John Hill

Pedal (Caitlin) by Chelsea Rooney

Pluck (Nightwood) by Laisha Rosnau / poetry

Gender Failure (Arsenal Pulp) by Rae Spoon and Ivan E. Coyote

Ancient Pathways, Ancestral Knowledge: Ethnobotany and Ecological Wisdom of Indigenous Peoples of Northwestern (McGill-Queens) by Nancy J. Turner

Base Camp: 40 Days on Everest (Caitlin) by Dianne Whelan

Cycling with the Dragon (Nightwood) by Elaine Woo / poetry

Our Ice is Vanishing / Sikuvut Nunguliqtuq: A History of Inuit, Newcomers, and Climate Change (McGill-Queens) by Shelley Wright

 

 

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