While many believe drones keep American soldiers out of harm's way, Turse argues, "the drone increasingly looks less like a winning weapon than a machine for generating opposition and enemies."
Drone attacks on Pakistan, Englehardt and Turse write, have created an unknown number of "new militants in search of revenge" and "alienated almost the entire population of 190 million" in a country that has been a longtime American ally.
Several recent studies focus on how such attacks generate local resistance, such as "Dying to Win: the Strategic Logic of Suicide Terrorism," by Robert A. Pape.
Engelhardt and Turse also argue that air attacks over recent decades never break down targeted populations, but increase their unity, such as German bombings in London during the World War II and American bombings in North Vietnam.
Drones are also cheaper.
Each F-22 fighter plane costs the U.S. government $350 million today, while drones cost between $4.5 million and $15 million.
The Pentagon, Engelhardt writes, plans to increase the amount of money spent developing and producing drones by 700 percent over the coming decade.
Engelhardt, Turse and other analysts stress the failure of the White House to seek any Congressional approval for the increasing robotic bombings.
Peter W. Singer, a Brookings Institution director and author of several books including "Wired for War: the Robotics Revolution," recently wrote in The New York Times that democracies have always promoted close ties between their citizens and their wars.
"In America, our Constitution explicitly divided the president's role as commander-in-chief from Congress's role in declaring war. Yet these links and this division are now under siege as a result of a technology that our founding fathers never could have imagined."
Singer, who supports most drone attacks, believes the strongest appeal of the new technology is that our government can send fewer of its young people into direct military battles.
"Yet this operation has never been debated," Singer writes. "More than seven years after it began, there has not even been a single vote for or against it. ...
"The Constitution did not leave war, no matter how it is waged, to the executive branch alone. In a democracy, it is an issue for all of us," Singer writes.
During the 1990s, Engelhardt points out, the U.S. military "began to be privatized -- fused, that is, into the corporate way of war and profit."
Recent years have also seen a dramatic growth of government-paid private military contractors working for companies like: Lockheed Martin, Haliburton, KBR (Kellogg Brown and Root), DynCorp and Blackwater, which recently changed its name to Xe, then to Academi.
During the past 20 years, the U.S. has faced "a paucity of real enemies of substance," compared to enemies during the Cold War years, Englehardt argues.
Yet trillions of tax dollars continue to flow into the "military industrial complex, as well as a new mini-homeland-security-industrial complex and a burgeoning intelligence-industrial complex."
And increasingly dependent on drones, today's military has become "staggeringly expensive ... profligate it its waste and ... remarkably unsuccessful."
Today's imperial age, Engelhardt writes, arose centuries ago when Great Britain, Holland and other European nations became "armed to the teeth to subdue the world at a profit."
But today's wars, led by the United States, could prove to be "the perfect formula for the last global empire on its way down."
Reach Paul J. Nyden at pjny...@wvgazette.com or 304-348-5164.