The Black Swan Is a Drone

Predictably, the mainstream media is serving up heaping portions of reassurances that the drone attacks on Saudi oil facilities are no big deal and full production will resume shortly. The obvious goal is to placate global markets fearful of an energy disruption that could tip a precarious global economy into recession.

The real impact isn’t on short-term oil prices, it’s on asymmetric warfare: the coordinated drone attack on Saudi oil facilities is a Black Swan event that is reverberating around the world, awakening copycats and exposing the impossibility of defending against low-cost drones of the sort anyone can buy.

(Some published estimates place the total cost of the 10 drones deployed in the strike at $15,000. Highly capable commercially available drones cost around $1,200 each.)

The attack’s success should be a wake-up call to everyone tasked with defending highly flammable critical infrastructure: there really isn’t any reliable defense against a coordinated drone attack, nor is there any reliable way to distinguish between an Amazon drone delivering a package and a drone delivering a bomb.

Whatever authentication protocol that could be required of drones in the future–an ID beacon or equivalent–can be spoofed. For example: bring down an authenticated drone (using nets, etc.), swap out the guidance and payload, and away it goes. Or steal authentication beacons from suppliers, or hack an authenticated drone in flight, land it, swap out the payload–the list of spoofing workaround options is extensive.

This is asymmetric warfare on a new scale: $20,000 of drones can wreak $20 million in damage and financial losses of $200 million–or $2 billion or $20 billion, if global markets are upended.

If it’s impossible to defend against coordinated drone attacks, and impossible to differentiate “good” drones from “bad” drones, then the only reliable defense is to ban drones entirely from wide swaths of territory.

So much for the lightly regulated commercialization of drones.

What sort of light bulbs are going off in the minds of copycats? It doesn’t take much imagination to see the potential for mayhem–and without sacrificing your own life. I won’t elaborate on the possibilities here, but they’re obvious to us all.

The range and payload of low-cost drones is limited. The big drones can fly hundreds of miles and carry hundreds of pounds of weaponry, but these can be targeted by radar and conventional ground-to-air missiles. So-called hobby drones skimming over the rooftops (or deserts or forests) are difficult to shoot down, especially if the attack is coordinated to arrive from multiple directions.

Small hobby drones may only carry 3 KG (roughly 6 pounds), but how much damage can 3 KG of high explosives cause? The answer is “considerable” if the target is flammable, or lightly shielded electronics.

Larger commercially available drones can carry up to 20 KG or 40 pounds–more than enough explosive capacity to take out any number of targets.

Defense and intelligence agencies have no doubt war-gamed the potential for coordinated drone attacks, and the world’s advanced militaries are already exploring the potential for self-organizing “drone hordes” of hundreds or even thousands of drones overwhelming defenders with sheer numbers. The success of the oil facilities attack proves the effectiveness of much smaller scale drone attacks.

Put yourself in the shoes of those tasked with securing hundreds of miles of pipelines carrying oil and natural gas around the world. What’s your defense against drone attacks? A.I.-controlled or remote-operated gun towers every few hundred yards, along thousands of miles of pipelines? Human patrols covering the entire pipeline 24/7? The cost of such defenses would burden the defenders with enormous costs without providing 100% reliable security. (Guards can be bribed, remotely operated guns can be overwhelmed by an initial wave of cheap unarmed hobby drones, etc.)

It’s obvious there are no low-cost, effective defenses of thousands of miles of pipelines. (Recall that the Saudis depend on seawater being piped hundreds of kilometers into the desert to inject into oil wells to maintain production. Taking out these water lines and pumps would cripple production, too.)

The only effective way to limit drone attacks is to ban all drones and institute a shoot-on-sight policy in restricted areas. But that will not negate the potential for coordinated drone strikes or drone attacks on remote facilities.

The mainstream media will be under permanent pressure to downplay the consequences of this attack, but the cat is out of the bag: the Black Swan is a drone. What was “possible” yesterday is now a low-cost proven capability, and the consequences are far from predictable.

This unpredictability alone should unsettle markets, as the risk of future asymmetric warfare drone strikes just increased to a degree that is difficult to measure or hedge.

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Video: StrikeDC for Climate and Peace

Video: StrikeDC for Climate and Peace

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Why Would Iran Attack the Saudis NOW?

U.S. officials claim that the attacks against Saudi oil facilities were launched from Iranian soil.

Are they right?

We have no idea at this point, as the U.S. government hasn’t released any evidence.

But given that the U.S. and 23 other countries have ADMITTED to carrying out false flag attacks before – including – it’s worth asking whether Iran or another country had more to gain from this attack …

Indeed, U.S. officials have admitted to twice carrying out false flag attacks intended to frame Iran and justify regime change:

(1) The CIA admits that it hired Iranians in the 1950′s to pose as Communists and stage bombings in Iran in order to turn the country against its democratically-elected prime minister.

(2) CIA agents and documents admit that the agency gave Iran plans for building nuclear weapons … so it could frame Iran for trying to build the bomb.

And neocons have been planning on further regime change in Iran for more than 25 years.

So it’s worth questioning this, at least in the absence of real evidence.  This is especially true because – until a couple of days ago – it seemed like the U.S. and Iran were moving towards diplomatic talks.

And Trump just fired the head “bomb Iran” cheerleader, John Bolton. So the odds of a peaceful solution to tensions with Iran seemed higher than they had been in years

So why would the Iranians “torpedo” the momentum towards diplomacy, and hand the U.S. a casus belli on a silver platter?

Why now?

Of course, the Houthis have claimed responsibility for the attack, while the Iranians have denied it.    But the U.S. isn’t paying any attention to their statements.

It’s possible it really was the Iranians … but given the history of fake “justifications” for war (like Iraq), it’s worth asking questions.

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Every Peace Group and Activist Should Join Strike DC for the Earth’s Climate

Peace activists and organizations have worked for years to bring environmental and peace activism together. When an environmental campaign includes the peace movement, it’s time to join in and show up and take part.

Listen to how Russell Gray of Extinction Rebellion talks about peace and the climate. If we want to build the coalition of peace and environmental movements that we’ve dreamed of, this is how we do it.

World BEYOND War is joining with StrikeDC to nonviolently shut down DC for the climate on September 23. We are organizing in affinity groups.

Sign up here to be in the World BEYOND War affinity group. Or start your own. Or endorse or donate to StrikeDC here and promote World BEYOND War’s affinity group to everyone you can with this link: http://bit.ly/wbwaffinity

Strike DC will be posting on its website statements from each affinity group, including the following from World BEYOND War:

War and preparations for war are not just the pit into which trillions of dollars that could be used to prevent environmental damage are dumped, but also a major direct cause of that environmental damage.

The U.S. military is one of the biggest polluters on earth. Since 2001, the U.S. military has emitted 1.2 billion metric tons of greenhouse gases, equivalent to the annual emissions of 257 million cars on the road. The U.S. Department of Defense is the largest institutional consumer of oil ($17B/year) in the world, and the largest global landholder with 800 foreign military bases in 80 countries. By one estimate, the U.S. military used 1.2 million barrels of oil in Iraq in just one month of 2008. One military estimate in 2003 was that two-thirds of the U.S. Army’s fuel consumption occurred in vehicles that were delivering fuel to the battlefield.

A major motivation behind many wars is the desire to control resources that poison the earth, especially oil and gas. In fact, the launching of wars by wealthy nations in poor ones does not correlate with human rights violations, or lack of democracy, or threats of terrorism, or scarcity of resources, but does strongly correlate with the presence of oil.

As the environmental crisis worsens, thinking of war as a tool with which to address it threatens us with the ultimate vicious cycle. Declaring that climate change causes war misses the reality that human beings cause war, and that unless we learn to address crises nonviolently we will only make them worse.

DEMAND:

Immediately move half the $1.25 trillion spent annually on militarism by the U.S. government to fund a Green New Deal, including a just transition for all workers impacted.

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Talk Nation Radio: Russell Gray on Plans to Shut Down Streets for Climate

Russell Gray grew up in Kansas City, graduated from college in 2017 and took a banking regulation job with the U.S. government. He left that job in November 2018 to help start the climate group Extinction Rebellion ( https://extinctionrebellion.us/ ) in the United States. He’s now working to shut down DC on September 23rd ( see http://strikedc.org ) as a follow up to the September 20th global climate strike and a lead up to further climate strike actions around the globe. Join World BEYOND War’s affinity group for Strike DC at http://bit.ly/wbwaffinity

See also: This Is Really Not a Drill

This Is Really Not a Drill

and: Nonviolence Denial Is As Dangerous As Climate Denial

Nonviolence Denial Is As Dangerous As Climate Denial

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