Sunday, February 01, 2009

P.W. Singer with Jon Stewert discuss : Wired for War

Video Below

Peter W. Singer is a Senior Fellow at the Brookings Institution where he is Director of the 21st Century Defense Initiative. Singer served as coordinator of the Defense Policy Task Force for Barack Obama's 2008 presidential campaign.

At 34 years old, Dr. Singer was the youngest scholar named a Senior Fellow in the ninety-year history of Brookings. He is considered one of the world’s leading experts on changes in 21st century warfare and has written for many of the world's major media and journals, including the Boston Globe, L.A. Times, New York Times, Washington Post, Foreign Affairs, Current History, Survival, International Security, Parameters, Weltpolitik, and the World Policy Journal. He has been quoted in every major U.S. newspaper and news magazine and delivered talks at venues ranging from the U.S. Congress and Pentagon to more than 40 universities around the world.

And last week he was interviewed by Jon Stewert of the Daily Show (on Comedy Central) about his new book:

Wired for War: The Robotics Revolution and Conflict in the 21st Century" (Penguin, 2009) is Singer's latest book. It explores what happens when science fiction starts to play out on modern day battlefields, as robots start to be used more and more in war. For the book research, Singer interviewed hundreds of robot scientists, science fiction writers, soldiers, insurgents, politicians, lawyers, journalists, and human rights activists from around the world. Even before publication, the work had already been featured in the video game "Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots", as well as in presentations to audiences as diverse as the U.S. Army War College, Air Force Institute of Technology and the National Student Leadership Conference. Singer's 2009 book tour will take him to the opening of the TED conference, and presentations at 25 venues around the country.

His other books include:

"Corporate Warriors"

His first book Corporate Warriors: The Rise of the Privatized Military Industry (Cornell University Press, 2003) was the first to explore the new industry of private companies providing military services for hire, an issue that soon became important with the use and abuse of these companies in Iraq. [2] The book, originally planned for a 500 copy print run, has sold over 40,000 copies, gone through three print runs and a paperback version, as well as being translated into Japanese, Korean, Urdu, and Italian. It was named best book of the year by the American Political Science Association, among the top five international affairs books of the year by the Gelber Prize, and a “top ten summer read” by Businessweek. It is now in the assigned texts at venues ranging from Yale Law School to the Army War College.

"In the years that followed, Singer was feted as one of the only knowledgeable experts on the subject who would speak to the press (PMFs loving their secrecy, almost as a matter of course), but was also threatened with assault, lawsuits, and even death by people who would have preferred he kept everything he learned to himself. Also, Iraq—just a gleam in a neo-con’s eye back when Singer was writing the book—happened.

Singer adds a Chapter: “The Lessons of Iraq.”

Five years into the Iraq War, Cornell Press has republished Corporate Warriors, which would have been a welcome thing even if they hadn’t done anything to the book besides fix a few typos. But fortunately, Singer has gone back and added a terse but heavy-hitting afterword on what has transpired since the book’s original publication: “The Lessons of Iraq.” When Singer first wrote Corporate Warriors he was trying partially to start a debate on the good and bad aspects of the PMF phenomenon, but mostly just trying to shed light and analysis on an incredibly secretive field that had been little studied. By the time he revisited the subject for this new edition, the situation appears to have grown to include an even larger part of the American military infrastructure, and with almost just as little reflection as there was before the first missile hit Baghdad.

For all the alarms that Singer raises about this issue, though, he’s no Chicken Little. The idea of hiring mercenaries to fight our wars may rankle many Americans (particularly those of a liberal disposition), but Singer scrupulously explains that the 19th and 20th century tradition of nation-states waging war with vast armies of conscripted or volunteer citizens is actually an aberration in the history of warfare, not the norm. For much of human history, warfare was in fact more likely to be waged by small of units of professionals who hired themselves out to the highest bidder. One of the reasons was that many governments didn’t have the means or ability to maintain large standing armies of men who could take the time to master the intricacies of warfare."

Children at War

Dr. Singer’s next book, Children at War (Pantheon, 2005), explored the rise of another new force in modern warfare, child soldier groups. Dr. Singer’s “fascinating” (New York Post) and “landmark” (Newsweek) work was the first book to comprehensively explore the compelling and tragic rise of child soldier groups and was recognized by the 2006 Robert F. Kennedy Memorial Book of the Year Award. His commentary on the issue was featured in a variety of venues ranging from National Public Radio and Fox News to Defense News and People magazine. Dr. Singer has served as a consultant on the issue to the U.S. Marine Corps and Congress, and the recommendations in his book resulted in changes in the UN peacekeeping training program. An accompanying A&E/History Channel documentary entitled Child Warriors was broadcast in 2008.

His site:

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