Sunday, February 19, 2017

Drone

Drone
©  2013
432 pages



In El Paso, Texas, the raging narco-wars between drug trafficking gangs in Mexico has bled over into American streets -- claiming the life of the American president's son.  Having run on a platform of balancing the budget and reversing foreign-policy foul-ups that have lost countless American lives and money overseas, President Meyers nevertheless realizes something has to be done. After diplomatic and above-board covert ops fail to produce results, she turns to an ex-CIA spook named Pearce, who is now the head of a private military contractor that specializes in combat drones. His deadly campaign against one drug cartel will stir up a hornet's nest of woes, because several factions within Mexico are being manipulated by an Iranian who is involved in a multinational conspiracy.  More an intelligent technothriller than a Duke Nukem action-American novel, Drone offers speculation as to how drones might be employed -- and legally justified -- in the near future.  Drones are depicted here not just providing recon and a platform to launch missiles, but sniping targets using facial-recognition software.  Maden's presidential figure is an interesting character, a populist who achieved office by running against her own party and vowing to end endless foreign wars;  she struggles to keep her desire for justice and order in line with a firm commitment to Constitutional government.  A downside of the novel, but a necessary part of its drama, was the domestic chaos that erupts from Meyer's  new policies toward Mexico. After the narco-gangs strike back and the border is functionally militarized,  the media casts Meyers as an anti-Mexican tyrant, creating 'a day without immigrant' labor strikes, etc.  Maden has a good mind for the diverse kind of political chaos imaginable in the United States today, but -- alas for those of us who read this presently -- that sort of chaos is going on now, so it's not enjoyable in the least to read about.   Everyone in this novel has a little schmutz on their face, including the principled executive who can only take the least-worst option of a list of bad choices.

3 comments:

  1. I'm guessing that I would be gritting my teeth through the whole book... [grin]

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  2. I thought you would like the technical aspects given how much you read about military robots, actually!

    Politically Meyers can't be that offensive to anyone:
    what's not to like about wanting to avoid Iraq fiascos, or officially ending the 'war on drugs' and the police-prison state? She does build a fence between the US and Mexico, but in the novel a Mexican cartel has sent a lot of action cells into the US to commit various acts of terrorism; this same cartel effectively owns the Mexican president, so the fence is part of a military strategy against the nascent "narco-state". Immigration isn't her concern at all.

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    Replies
    1. Maybe I was thinking it sounded a bit too much like Tom Clancy or that sort of thing... I am indeed interested in military robots (especially as they're probably going to responsible for a lot of deaths around the world in the coming decades) but the present use of drones I find deeply disturbing at best.

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