Focus on Syria

This blog has made a dedicated effort to emphasizing the non-military applications of unmanned aerial vehicles (“UAVs” and drones), however this week focuses on the aviation technology in the Middle East given recent events and a potential buildup to military action in the area.

Some interesting words from Vladimir Putin some time ago about the use of drone technology – he favors the use of international law.  Apparently:

Gunpowder was originally invented in China, and no one has managed to keep it from spreading ever since. Then came nuclear arms, and they also started to spread. Modern means of warfare keep evolving, and they always will. I doubt if it’s possible to simply ban it all. But you certainly can – and should – introduce certain rules and exercise control. I’m sure the United States does not target civilians on purpose. And the drone operators you’ve mentioned are people, too, and I think they understand all those things. But you still need to combat terrorism. I know they are currently debating this issue in the United States, and a notion is being advocated increasingly often within the UN framework that you need to put drones under control, you need to lay out certain rules of engagement in order to prevent or minimize collateral casualties. It is extremely important. I don’t know whether our [Western] counterparts will choose this option, but I would suggest it would be in their best interest. However, there are other threats, too. For example, they are presently debating the option of using non-nuclear ballistic missiles in the United States. Can you imagine how potentially dangerous that is? What if such a missile were to launch from somewhere in the middle of an ocean, and get spotted by a nuclear power’s early warning system? How should that nuclear power react to a missile coming its way? How are they supposed to know whether that missile comes with a nuclear warhead or not? What if the missile impacts right next to its border, or inside its territory? Do you realize how perilous that can be? Or take the notion of low-yield nuclear weapons – do you realize how badly it can blur the very notion of using nuclear arms, or how low it might bring down the threshold for authorizing such a strike? Can you imagine the possible implications? Where are the limits for lowering that threshold, and who is setting them? There are many threats in the world of today, and there is only one way to address them efficiently: that is, working together within the boundaries of international law.

In any event, it would seem that Iranian drones are occupying the skies in Syria alongside American resources.  All this underscores what is as stake should the U.S. intervene in Syria, including perhaps a direct (or indirect, as the case may be) confrontation with other powers.