cover image Killing Machine: The American Presidency in the Age of Drone Warfare

Killing Machine: The American Presidency in the Age of Drone Warfare

Lloyd C. Gardner. New Press (Perseus, dist.), $26.95 (304p) ISBN 978-1-59558-918-7

Counterinsurgency flopped in Afghanistan, declares veteran policy analyst and Rutgers emeritus professor of history Gardner (The Long Road to Baghdad), in this uncomfortably shrewd analysis of America’s perpetual yearning for a high-tech, low-casualty way to win wars. Gardner delivers an engrossing blow-by-blow account of a decade of fierce debates and painful events that offer excruciating parallels with the Vietnam War. By President Obama’s second administration, pressure to withdraw from Afghanistan was irresistible. The bloom was off counterinsurgency—it required too much money, too much time, and a competent Afghan government. Drones seemed to be the solution, and, as a bonus, they could strike terrorists anywhere, from Pakistan to Yemen to Somalia. Critics declared that these targeted assassinations disturb our allies, enrage governments, feed insurgencies by killing innocent bystanders, flout the Constitution by targeting American citizens, and maintain the secretive, pugnacious, jingoistic policies of the Bush administration, which Obama vowed to abolish. Gardner concludes that drones offer a deceptively easy way to continue our seemingly perpetual war against terrorism, but at the expense of the Constitution. (Nov.)