A current event for a change. Iran has come into the possession of an advanced American surveillance drone. It’s an interesting little imbroglio, and I have a number of thoughts about it, so here goes. The basic story is as follows, the USA lost a drone over Iran. Iran claimed to have downed it electronically. The USA says it suffered a mechanical failure. Iran just displayed an apparently intact drone, bolstering their version of events where they commandeered remote control of it and landed it. Much stuff and nonsense from either side.
OK, point one. Everything coming out of Tehran and Washington is suspect. Both sides have ample incentive to lie about this, and will do so casually and effortlessly if it suits their purposes. Since this is an embarrassing propaganda coup for the Iranians, clearly both sides will want to milk or minimize this. The codicil is that if the truth suits their purposes, governments often fall back on same. The truth is usually harder to refute than a lie, and doesn’t leave you defending and covering a lie down the road.
Was this an act of war by the USA? I don’t think so, though it’s clearly a violation of Iranian sovereignty. And sadly, something the USA does so routinely that it’s hardly even worth getting upset about. I just wish more Americans understood that by routinely flaunting international law, we are making enemies, not friends. And encouraging our enemies to do same. Drone technology is off the shelf technology, Hezbollah uses reconnaissance drones for God’ sake. Soon enough Mexican drug gangs will have them, if they don’t already.
One of the questions is how much of an intelligence failure is this? Well it’s not as bad as it looks. In Hollywood movies, spies are always trying to steal secret plans or prototypes. In real life, which is much less exciting, spies are primarily trying to steal … test data. If one has a prototype or a plan, one doesn’t know why the device was built the way it was, nor does one know how the device was built. Still, this is a bad thing, and Chinese and Russian drone experts are no doubt slavering for a chance to look it over, it may very well answer some key questions about US drone technology.
Speaking of technology, in a similar vein, could Iran have done as they claimed and brought the drone down electronically? Sure, why not? Anyone who thinks that Iran “couldn’t” override the USA’s vaunted technological edge in this particular instance is, well, underestimating their enemy. For centuries when western armies met non western armies in battle, they had an enormous technological edge, and they had an enormous tactical edge as well. IE they had better weapons, and better fighting styles. This started to change in the late 19th century, by the mid twentieth century there were major parts of the world where it no longer applied, and today is more mythical than real. The Serbians brought down a US stealth fighter using cell phone towers, people are clever. My guess is that the Iranians didn’t bring the drone down, but figured out they might as well say they did because the Americans and Israelis will tear their hair out trying to figure out how they did it.
I don’t think this is a terribly serious incident in that at least no people are involved. I don’t think this brings us any closer to war. The Iranians will milk it for whatever they can and the situation will carry on. Of course the current situation is really grim, with the USA and Israel engaged in almost non stop sabre rattling. If worst comes to worst and an attack on Iran does take place, I will blog about it relentlessly.
(The above image is claimed as Fair Use under US copyright law. It’s not being used for profit, etc. It’s from Iranian TV, correct me if I’m wrong, but I suspect that right now copyright violations the least of Iran’s worries. Sorry about the unpolished nature of this post, current events posts are going to be knocked off a bit quicker.)