Saturday, December 10, 2011


Remember when one of the primary -- and most hilarious -- rationales given for invading Iraq was the idea that Saddam might have a squadron of nucular-tipped drones that would only take 45 minutes to get London or Washington? Somewhat ironic, considering how much we've depended on drones in the Afghan campaign (and the amount of diplomatic grief some of their more "erroneous" misfires have caused.

The commentary over Iran's pursuit for nuclear capability has been uniformly paranoid. Not that the mullahs are nice guys, and they very well could cause some trouble with the capacity for nuclear weapons, most notably by dissemination through surrogate independent terrorist cells.

But the simpler and more prevalent explanation is that Iran simply needs to keep up with its neighbors at this point. If you live in a really dangerous neighborhood to begin with, and all your neighbors have AR-15 assault rifles, and all you've got is a 12" Buck knife, are you gonna want a gun or what, just in case?

Anyway, this whole snafu plays right into China's hands, at least as much as Iran's. Between the Osama copter and now this, their reverse-engineering crews have just gotten a huge upsurge in projects to work on. And the tech monkeys can downplay this all they want, talk about how the Sentinel's tech is already been surpassed, but the fact is the plane has only been declassified for four years, and therefore is almost certainly less than ten. For a country that's still playing catchup on 70-year-old nuke tech, they'd settle for being just ten years (or less) behind on surveillance drone tech, since that is a huge future branch of warfare.

It might be useful if, just once in a while, our insect overlords considered their projected anxieties about certain weapons and tech, and see if that helps them empathize a bit more with other countries that are nervous over our capabilities with those weapons. Rational-actor theory aside, a scary weapon is still just that.

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