Obama’s Narcissistic Personality Disorder

Obama’s Narcissistic Personality Disorder

By Ben Shapiro


During the 2008 campaign, Hillary Clinton suggested that if the emergency phone rang at 3 a.m. in the White House, you wouldn’t want President Obama picking it up.

She was wrong. Obama wouldn’t pick it up in the first place. He’d let it go to answering machine. He’d be too busy chasing the nearest camera.

Obama is the “Girls Gone Wild” president: Stick a lens in front of him and he’ll take off his shirt, mince about like a coed, and babble nonsensical nothings to an audience oddly fascinated by his antics.

How else to explain Obama’s desperate injection of himself into the Oscars this past Sunday? Even as the Middle East goes up in flames, even as oil prices spike dramatically, even as the national debt skyrockets toward $19.6 trillion by 2015, Obama took time out to tackle a pressing question: What is his favorite movie song? Answer: “As Time Goes By,” from “Casablanca.” Feeling better about the world situation yet?

Obama had a busy week — at least in terms of pop culture. Thursday evening, Obama held yet another party at the White House, this time in honor of Motown music. Celebrity attendees included Stevie Wonder, Jamie Foxx, Smoky Robinson, John Legend, Seal, Sheryl Crow, Nick Jonas and Jordin Sparks. Jamie Foxx summed up the Obamas’ view of what it means to inhabit the “people’s house” in his rendition of Robinson’s “Get Ready”: “We won the election. White House, baby, so much fun!” Meanwhile, Muammar Qadafi shot people at will in the streets of Tripoli, and Americans struggled to pay their rent.

President Obama has become the Salahis of entertainment, cropping up in random places when he’s least wanted. We can’t escape him. He delayed the fifth game of the 2008 World Series, so he could broadcast a 30-minute infomercial for his campaign. He threw out the first pitch at the Major League Baseball All-Star Game in 2009. He did a 10-minute interview with Katie Couric during the 2010 Super Bowl broadcast. In both 2009 and 2010, he did interviews with ESPN to tell the world about his NCAA tournament brackets. In 2010, Obama showed up on “American Idol.” As commander-in-chief, he’s hit “The View,” “The Tonight Show,” “The Late Show” and “Jersey Shore.” OK, he hasn’t hit “Jersey Shore” … yet.

In fact, Obama is worse than the Salahis — at least the Salahis don’t use tax dollars to subsidize their antics. Obama doesn’t just crash other parties — he spends hundreds of thousands of taxpayer dollars to throw parties of his own. Not that Obama cares; as he put it, “This is a pretty big house so we get lonely. It’s hard for me to move around out there sometimes, so I got to bring the world to me.”

Poor baby.

Obama’s desperate need for attention is clearly a psychological condition. He drinks in applause like a washed-up movie star. It is usual for neglected children to develop narcissistic personality disorder (NPD), typically characterized by an inflated sense of self-importance, a strong sense of entitlement, preoccupations with utopian fantasies, elitism, manipulative tendencies and pathological need for praise.

President Obama was abandoned by his parents during childhood. Now he exhibits the textbook symptoms of NPD. He thinks his powers are godlike in import; “I have a gift, Harry,” Obama once told Sen. Harry Reid. He believes he is entitled to positions of power and prestige. He has never worked a real job in his life, yet deigns to tell the rest of us that he embodies our hopes and dreams. He is obsessed with nonsensical utopian fantasies of one-world peace and harmony in which nuclear weapons are beaten into plowshares.

Obama is an elitist through and through, disdaining ordinary Americans as “bitter [people who] cling to guns or religion or antipathy to people who aren’t like them.” He is manipulative in the extreme, seeing every crisis as an opportunity to magnify his personal power.

Most dangerous, he requires a constant stream of paeans to his persona. Radical Muslims, socialists, anti-Semites — so long as they clap, they’re worthy of his warmth. Obama strongly resembles a once-abused puppy; he doesn’t care who pets him, so long as he receives the petting.

With one exception: Obama has no interest in the attention or praise of Americans who challenge his radical agenda. To make himself subject to their philosophy would force him to acknowledge a fundamental truth: His parents abandoned him because they were bad parents, not because America is a “downright mean” country. Obama has told himself for decades that America’s selfishness forced his parents to make him a social outcast. To acknowledge now that the system was largely good and his parents were largely bad would fracture his fragile ego.

So expect to see President Obama on the next telecast of the next big event. He can’t stay away from the cameras, and he certainly won’t leave behind the enthusiastic hurrahs of his supporters. Mr. De Mille, he’s ready for his close-up.

Ben Shapiro

Ben Shapiro is a regular guest on dozens of radio shows around the United States and Canada and author of Project President: Bad Hair and Botox on the Road to the White House.






(When you have read what Pat Boone wrote about Obama(below), you may want to click on the link to “Snopes”, which brings up a page telling you that this is an actual letter written by Pat Boone – and very well written, I might add.)

The President Without A Country



By Pat Boone


“We’re no longer a Christian nation.” – President Barack Obama, June 2009

” America has been arrogant.” – President Barack Obama

“After 9/11, America didn’t always live up to her ideals.”- President Barack Obama

“You might say that America is a Muslim nation.”- President Barack Obama, Egypt 2009

Thinking about these and other statements made by the man who wears the title of president. I keep wondering what country he believes he’s president of.

In one of my very favorite stories, Edward Everett Hale’s “The Man Without a Country,” a young Army lieutenant named Philip Nolan stands condemned for treason during the Revolutionary War, having come under the influence of Aaron Burr. When the judge asks him if he wishes to say anything before sentence is passed, young Nolan defiantly exclaims, “Damn the United States ! I wish I might never hear of the United States again!”

The stunned silence in the courtroom is palpable, pulsing. After a long pause, the judge soberly says to the angry lieutenant: “You have just pronounced your own sentence. You will never hear of the United States again. I sentence you to spend the rest of your life at sea, on one or another of this country’s naval vessels – under strict orders that no one will ever speak to you again about the country you have just cursed.”

And so it was. Philip Nolan was taken away and spent the next 40 years at sea, never hearing anything but an occasional slip of the tongue about America. The last few pages of the story, recounting Nolan’s dying hours in his small stateroom – now turned into a shrine to the country he foreswore – never fail to bring me to tears. And I find my own love for this dream, this miracle called America, refreshed and renewed. I know how blessed and unique we are.

But reading and hearing the audacious, shocking statements of the man who was recently elected our president – a young black man living the impossible dream of millions of young Americans, past and present, black and white – I want to ask him, “Just what country do you think you’re president of?”

You surely can’t be referring to the United States of America, can you? America is emphatically a Christian nation, and has been from its inception! Seventy percent of her citizens identify themselves as Christian. The Declaration of Independence and our Constitution were framed, written and ratified by Christians. It’s because this was, and is, a nation built on and guided by Judeo-Christian biblical principles that you, sir, have had the inestimable privilege of being elected her president.

You studied law at Harvard, didn’t you, sir? You taught constitutional law in Chicago? Did you not ever read the statement of John Jay, the first Chief Justice of the Supreme Court and an author of the landmark “Federalist Papers”: “Providence has given to our people the choice of their rulers – and it is the duty, as well as the privilege and interest of our Christian nation – to select and prefer Christians for their rulers”?

In your studies, you surely must have read the decision of the Supreme Court in 1892: “Our lives and our institutions must necessarily be based upon and embody the teachings of the Redeemer of mankind. It is impossible that it should be otherwise; and in this sense and to this extent, our civilization and our institutions are emphatically Christian.”

Did your professors have you skip over all the high-court decisions right up till the mid 1900’s that echoed and reinforced these views and intentions? Did you pick up the history of American jurisprudence only in 1947, when for the first time a phrase coined by Thomas Jefferson about a “wall of separation between church and state” was used to deny some specific religious expression – contrary to Jefferson’s intent with that statement?

Or, wait a minute: were your ideas about America’s Christianity formed during the 20 years you were a member of the Trinity United Church of Christ under your pastor, Jeremiah Wright? Is that where you got the idea that “America is no longer a Christian nation”? Is this where you, even as you came to call yourself a Christian, formed the belief that “America has been arrogant”?

Even if that’s the understandable explanation of your damning of your country and accusing the whole nation (not just a few military officials trying their best to keep more Americans from being murdered by jihadists) of “not always living up to her ideals,” how did you come up with the ridiculous, alarming notion that we might be “considered a Muslim nation”?

Is it because there are some 2 million or more Muslims living here, trying to be good Americans? Out of a current population of over 300 million, 70 percent of whom are Christians? Does that make us, by any rational definition, a “Muslim nation”?

Why are we not, then, a “Chinese nation”? A “Korean nation”? Even a “Vietnamese nation”? There are even more of these distinct groups in America than Muslims. And if the distinction you’re trying to make is a religious one, why is America not “a Jewish nation”? There’s actually a case to be made for the latter, because our Constitution – and the success of our Revolution and founding – owe a deep debt to our Jewish brothers.

Have you stopped to think what an actual Muslim America would be like? Have you ever really spent much time in Iran? Even in Egypt? You, having been instructed in Islam as a kid at a Muslim school in Indonesia and saying you still love the call to evening prayers, can surely picture our nation founded on the Quran, not the Judeo-Christian Bible, and living under Sharia law, can’t you? You do recall Muhammad’s directives [Surah 9:5,73] to “break the cross” and “kill the infidel”?

It seems increasingly and painfully obvious that you are more influenced by your upbringing and questionable education than most suspected. If you consider yourself the president of a people who are “no longer Christian,” who have “failed to live up to our ideals,” who “have been arrogant,” and might even be “considered Muslim” – you are president of a country most Americans don’t recognize.

Could it be you are a president without a country?


To all of you who love your Christian beliefs and your country, forward this message to all in your address book. We simply cannot be subjected to another term by this president!


Eric Holder Promotes UN Redistribution of Wealth to “Fight Terrorism”

Ben Johnson,The White House Watch

In the film The
Assassination of Richard Nixon
,Sean Penn’s boss advises him that Nixon
was the greatest salesman of all time,because in two successive elections he
hoodwinked the American people with the same promise:that he would end the war
in Vietnam. [1] Eric Holder must have been Penn’s understudy.

The Huffington Post reports
that the attorney general and supreme
representative of his people
told the UN
Secretary-General’s Symposium on International Counter-Terrorism Conference

“Tuesday that the Obama administration will do its utmost to close the U.S.
prison at Guantanamo Bay before next year’s presidential elections.”Bloggers on
the Left
and the Right
have noted Holder’s hypocrisy. None has yet reported that this recycled 2008
campaign promise came as part of a speech that invited the UN to create an
“international legal and policy framework”for waging the War on Terror in
“civilian courts,”and which pledged to redistribute taxpayer dollars to fight
such “root causes”of terrorism as global income “inequality.”Eric Holder vowed
to bring terrorists to the mainland,diminishing U.S. wealth to the Third
World,and UN norms to the halls of power.

As the centerpiece of this feckless conference,UN Secretary-General Ban
Ki-moon announced the creation of a new
UN anti-terrorism center —financed by Saudi Arabia

On Monday,Holder addressed
the United Nations Secretary-General’s Symposium on International
Counter-Terrorism Cooperation. Holder asserted on 9/11 world leaders agreed “to
respond to national challenges with international action,with global
solutions,and with a renewed commitment to collaboration.”

In this work,the United Nations has led the way – by developing an
international legal and policy framework to foster collaboration and information
sharing,to promote the rule of law,to protect civil liberties and – ultimately –
to enhance our capacity to identify and combat terror threats. Let me be very
clear:The United States is firmly committed to the rule of law approach
enshrined in this framework and to strengthening the capacity of civilian courts
around the world,which have time and again shown their effectiveness at bringing
terrorists to justice.

Holder added,in addition to trying the perpetrators of international
terrorism,the United States must “just as importantly,endeavor to eliminate its
causes as well.”

The UN cannot even agree on a definition of
,slightly complicating efforts to eradicate it. If it could,vast
segments of its membership believe in systematically targeting civilian
populations for political ends,rendering nominal opposition to terrorism

Yet they vigorously and sincerely approve of redistributing U.S. taxpayer
dollars under UN auspices,whether in the guise of stopping environmental
or ending terrorism.

Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon himself stated:“Effective
counter-terrorism requires a combination of social,educational,economic and
political tools that target those factors that make the terrorist option appear
attractive. The strategy also recognizes that human rights are an intrinsic part
of the fight against terror,not an acceptable casualty of war.”

The globalist socialist agenda is described in greater detail in the
documents promoted at the conference:the UN Global Counter-Terrorism
Strategy,adopted five years ago,and the Comprehensive Convention against
Terrorism,which Ban Ki-moon urged members to complete then ratify.

The Global Counter-Terrorism Strategy and its lengthy Annex focus
on expanding UN authority into virtually every aspect of human endeavor. The
Strategy instructs nations to….


Will Scandal Drive Obama Off the 2012 Ticket?

Will Scandal Drive Obama Off the 2012 Ticket?

By Monty

(See also:
the Democrats’ Obama Problem

President Obama will not run in 2012.  That prediction
seems reasonable in light of the following:

  1. His presidency is in shambles, shriveling up before
    our eyes.
  2. His political poll numbers continue to weaken.
  3. Unemployment remains stubbornly high for a period of
    time not seen since the Great Depression.
  4. The economy is listless, consumer sentiment is in the
    sewer, foreclosures are ratcheting up, and the next financial crisis appears
  5. No economic variable has improved; some continue to
  6. The nation risks sovereign bankruptcy as a result of
    Obama’s out-of-control spending.
  7. Obama is out of ideas and obviously well beyond his

Every time Obama speaks, he shows himself as more out
of touch with the country, its people, and their needs.  He is an obvious
embarrassment to many.  He has alienated independents and even some liberals.
He now appears to have adopted a strategy to appeal to the most radical in his

Either he is trying to avoid a shut-out in the coming
election by locking up some small number of votes or he is delusional.  Seasoned
Democrats are dumbfounded by his performance, seeming to believe the delusional
possibility.  Radicals have already rejected him and threaten to run a candidate
in the primaries.

Despite everything above, Obama intends to run in
2012.  None of this fazes the Narcissist-In-Chief.  He needs the spotlight like
most of us need oxygen.  The “messiah,” or the self-proclaimed “One,” does not
see these problems.  If he does, they are mere details, trivialities, nothing
that cannot be silver-tongued away.

The reality is that Obama is spent.  His false magic
is no longer.  He has become a cartoon figure to many Americans and more
foreigners.  Familiarity has produced contempt.  He is a fraud, a man who never
was anything other than a carefully scripted and wonderfully executed marketing

The product, however, doesn’t work.  Marketing made
the first sale, but success is repeated only if the product performs.  Snake oil
is never purchased a second time.  Instead of the brilliant problem-solving
uniter much of the nation believed they were buying, they got an incompetent,
small, and not likeable mountebank.

Mr. Obama lives in his own world, surrounded by
sycophants.  They undoubtedly know his run is over and that he no longer fools
most of the people.  Yet they are afraid to tell him.  We are witnessing a
modern-day political tragedy, not unlike the one that occurred with Richard

Obama sees none of this.  It probably has never
entered his mind that he is a failure or will not run.  His supporters, namely
the Democrat Party and the mainstream media, will intervene.  Their survival and
credibility demands it.  There will come a “meeting with Nixon” moment.  If that
fails, and it is very likely, Obama will be destroyed by one or both of these
two groups.

Interests of the Democratic

The political environment is horrible for Democrats.
Obama’s policies, ineptitude, and unpopularity are responsible for much of
this.  Many elected Democrats are afraid for their political careers.  Obama is
increasingly seen as an albatross in the coming election.

Previously unthinkable election “upsets” have occurred
— the loss of the “Kennedy Seat” in Massachusetts was the first.  The 2010
election was a rout.  Subsequent special elections affirmed that the trend
continues.  Jonah Goldberg
commented on the most recent result: the seat that once belonged to Geraldine
Ferraro, Chuck Schumer, and Anthony Weiner went to Republican Bob Turner — the
first time it has gone Republican since 1923.

The idea of Obama resigning for the good of the party
has been raised.  Steve Chapman of
the Chicago Tribune said:

Obama might do his party a big favor. In hard times,
voters have a powerful urge to punish incumbents. He could slake this thirst by
stepping aside and taking the blame. Then someone less reviled could replace him
at the top of the ticket.

About a year ago I predicted  political cannibalism:

The next two years will be hard on Obama. As much as
he is hated by freedom-lovers in the country, it is likely that he will be hated
more by his remaining Democrats. The Party is in tatters. It is in danger of
disappearing as a political entity as a result of following this false prophet.
This Pied Piper, instead of getting the American people to follow,  led Democrat
politicians to their political death. The survivors will not forget, nor will
they continue to march to the tune of this false

We are about to witness politics at its ugliest.  It
will be Republicans against Democrats of course.  But that will be less
intriguing than the Democrats against Obama.  Political survival trumps
loyalty.  If Obama is as ineffectual as I believe he will be, he will be
devoured by angry Democrats anxious to avenge the political deaths of their

We have reached this point.  Democrats have the motive
to get rid of Obama, but do they have the means?

The Solyndra Affair

Solyndra, the “green energy” failure, is an example of
how Obama could be leveraged out of office.  Chicago-style politics suggests
that there may be other “Solyndras” in the closet.

described Solyndra as follows:

The bankruptcy of solar-panel maker Solyndra neatly
encapsulates the economic, political and intellectual bankruptcy of Barack
Obama’s Big Idea. It was the president’s intention back in 2009 to begin
centrally reorganizing the U.S. economy around the supposed climate-change

Even after getting the loan, Solyndra spent $187,000
on lobbying efforts, according to Bloomberg,
including trying to get the White House to push government agencies to install
its panels on the rooftops of federal buildings and  extend “buy American” rules
that favor U.S. companies.  Instead of revenue-seeking, Solyndra was
“rent-seeking,” which means trying to make money by manipulating

Andrew C. McCarthy
described Solyndra as criminal fraud:

The Solyndra debacle is not just Obama-style crony
socialism as usual. It is a criminal fraud. That is the theory that would be
guiding any competent prosecutor’s office in the investigation of a scheme that
cost victims – in this case, American taxpayers – a

The magnitude of the Solyndra loss needs
investigation.  The mood of the country demands it.  Taxpayers are furious about
Washington wasting their money and indebting their children.  This company
represents one half-billion wasted, under questionable circumstances.  How many
other similar “deals” might be heading for the same fate?

Political chicanery of this magnitude and in these
times will not be ignored.  The FBI jumped in early.  According to
other investigations are underway:

There are at least four investigations running on the
legal, political and financial ties between the Obama administration and the
California solar company that filed for bankruptcy protection last

It is likely that Solyndra contains enough
incriminating information for Congress to force Obama from office (see
especially the slide show).  Potentially there are other Solyndras out


Congressional investigations are typically held for
little more than Washington tourists.  When a president is suspected of extreme
stupidity or a crime, it is conventional for his party to do everything possible
to thwart the investigation.  Bill Clinton was an example of

Democrats would like to rid themselves of Albatross
Obama.  Under normal circumstances it might not be possible without risking the
alienation of key constituencies.  A criminal investigation, however, provides
the opportunity for modern-day regicide.

The Solyndra investigation(s) will be different,
because congressional Democrats view their situation as worse if they protect
the man than if he is dumped.  So Solyndra or a counterpart will be a bipartisan
investigative effort.  Democrats might have incentives to be even more
aggressive in pursuit of the truth than Republicans.  None of this will be
driven by the pursuit of justice or the Rule of Law.  It will be driven by
political self-interest.

Appearing tough in the investigation would serve to
distance Democrats from their titular head.  If there is a smoking gun,
Democrats will pursue it.  If they see an opportunity to take out the king, they
may go for it.  If there is a “smoking gun,” this will end more like a Richard
Nixon than a Bill Clinton.

The Media

Barack Obama won the Democrat nomination because the
mainstream media adopted him and went out of their way to ensure that he, rather
than Hillary Clinton, won.  As expressed by the Rex

American journalism will have to look back at the
period starting with Barrack Obama’s rise, his assumption of the presidency and
his conduct in it to the present, and ask itself how it came to cast aside so
many of its vital functions. In the main, the establishment American media
abandoned its critical faculties during the Obama campaign  and it hasn’t
reclaimed them since.

As a result, the press gave the great American
republic an untried, unknown, and, it is becoming more and more frighteningly
clear, incompetent figure as president.  Under Obama, America’s foreign policies
are a mixture of confusion and costly impotence.  They are increasingly bypassed
or derided; the great approach to the Muslim world, symbolized by the Cairo
speech, is in tatters.  America’s debt and deficits are a weight on the entire
global economy.  And the office of presidency is less and less a symbol of

To the degree the press neglected its function as
watchdog and turned cupbearer to a styrofoam demigod, it is a partner in the
flaws and failures of what is turning out to be one of the most miserable
performances in the modern history of the American presidency.

A tipping point appears to have been reached in the
last month or so.  The myth of Obama has ended.  There is now open talk from the
media that Obama cannot win in 2012.

Just as Democrats don’t want a pariah at the top of
the ticket, many in the media do not want to continue plugging what is obviously
a failed candidate.  The protective shield that existed is being dismantled.
The press is more interested in saving what credibility they have left, rather
than justifying an increasingly indefensible and broken

Investigative reporting, so obviously missing when
Obama was The Next Coming, is likely to be cranked up.  The media will fully
cover any official investigations.  Furthermore, entrepreneurs within their
ranks and within the internet community are likely to focus on filling in the
blanks in Obama’s missing past.

The attraction of being the next Woodward or Bernstein
is strong.  Now that it is acceptable to attack, if not destroy, the fallen
hero, look for lots of new information to come out.  The chance to “change
history” is an overpowering incentive for cub and seasoned

This is a very dangerous time for the president.  Two
of his two biggest supporters have incentives to remove him from

Any investigations are likely to be real.  That does
not mean that President Obama is not getting a fair shake.  His problem is that
justice, for all the wrong reasons, will be getting a fair shake.  That is
usually fatal for politicians under investigation.

Loyalty in politics starts and stops with personal
self-interest.  The old saying, “If you want a friend in Washington, get a dog,”
still holds.  Obama has few friends, even in his own party.  Fortunately he has
a dog.  I hope it likes him, because most of the country no longer

How does it end?  My guess is that investigations go
forward and are used to leverage Obama out of office.  He will “choose” not to
run for reelection.  He understands Chicago-style politics, even when he is on
the wrong end.

His psyche is such that he must be loved, if not
worshiped, and that will never be again, at least not in this

Good News: Obama Lets Biden Loose on Campaign Trail

Good News: Obama Lets Biden Loose on Campaign Trail

By Doug Powers  •  September 21, 2011 12:08 PM

**Written by Doug Powers

Have the presidential election rules been changed to “party with the most foot-in-mouth incidents by November 6, 2012 wins”?

If so, Team Obama might now have a leg up:

Vice President Biden has been unleashed on the campaign trail, he said Tuesday night, telling a crowd at a Chicago fundraiser “we are going to win this race.”

Biden joins President Obama in the new phase of the 2012 reelection campaign, targeting Republicans in Congress while batting down unflattering reports from a new book.

Addressing the 200 people gathered at the fundraiser, Biden appeared to be in his classic, convivial form, saying, “The president said, ‘Look, Joe, just go be Joe.’ So he let me loose.”

The Joe Biden we’ve seen up to now is the constrained version? This could get good!

**Written by Doug Powers

A future for drones: Automated killing

A future for drones: Automated killing

By , Published: September 19

One afternoon last fall at Fort Benning, Ga., two model-size planes took off,
climbed to 800 and 1,000 feet, and began criss-crossing the military base in
search of an orange, green and blue tarp.

The automated, unpiloted planes worked on their own, with no human guidance,
no hand on any control.

After 20 minutes, one of the aircraft, carrying a computer that processed
images from an onboard camera, zeroed in on the tarp and contacted the second
plane, which flew nearby and used its own sensors to examine the colorful
object. Then one of the aircraft signaled to an unmanned car on the ground so it
could take a final, close-up look.

Target confirmed.

This successful exercise in autonomous robotics could presage the future of
the American way of war: a day when drones hunt, identify and kill the enemy
based on calculations made by software, not decisions made by humans. Imagine
aerial “Terminators,” minus beefcake and time travel.

The Fort Benning tarp “is a rather simple target, but think of it as a
surrogate,” said Charles E. Pippin, a scientist at the Georgia Tech Research
Institute, which developed the software to run the demonstration. “You can
imagine real-time scenarios where you have 10 of these things up in the air and
something is happening on the ground and you don’t have time for a human to say,
‘I need you to do these tasks.’ It needs to happen faster than that.”

The demonstration laid the groundwork for scientific advances that would
allow drones to search for a human target and then make an identification based
on facial-recognition or other software. Once a match was made, a drone could
launch a missile to kill the target.

Military systems with some degree of autonomy — such as robotic, weaponized
sentries — have been deployed in the demilitarized zone between South and North
Korea and other potential battle areas. Researchers are uncertain how soon
machines capable of collaborating and adapting intelligently in battlefield
conditions will come online. It could take one or two decades, or longer. The
U.S. military is funding numerous research projects on autonomy to develop
machines that will perform some dull or dangerous tasks and to maintain its
advantage over potential adversaries who are also working on such systems.

The killing of terrorism suspects and insurgents by armed drones, controlled
by pilots sitting in bases thousands of miles away in the western United States,
has prompted criticism that the technology makes war too antiseptic. Questions
also have been raised about the legality of drone strikes when employed in
places such as Pakistan, Yemen and Somalia, which are not at war with the United
States. This debate will only intensify as technological advances enable what
experts call lethal autonomy.

The prospect of machines able to perceive, reason and act in unscripted
environments presents a challenge to the current understanding of international
humanitarian law. The Geneva Conventions require belligerents to use
discrimination and proportionality, standards that would demand that machines
distinguish among enemy combatants, surrendering troops and civilians.

“The deployment of such systems would reflect a paradigm shift and a major
qualitative change in the conduct of hostilities,” Jakob Kellenberger, president
of the International Committee of the Red Cross, said at a conference in Italy
this month. “It would also raise a range of fundamental legal, ethical and
societal issues, which need to be considered before such systems are developed
or deployed.”

Drones flying over Afghanistan, Pakistan and Yemen can already move
automatically from point to point, and it is unclear what surveillance or other
tasks, if any, they perform while in autonomous mode. Even when directly linked
to human operators, these machines are producing so much data that processors
are sifting the material to suggest targets, or at least objects of interest.
That trend toward greater autonomy will only increase as the U.S. military
shifts from one pilot remotely flying a drone to one pilot remotely managing
several drones at once.

But humans still make the decision to fire, and in the case of CIA strikes in
Pakistan, that call rests with the director of the agency. In future operations,
if drones are deployed against a sophisticated enemy, there may be much less
time for deliberation and a greater need for machines that can function on their

The U.S. military has begun to grapple with the implications of emerging

“Authorizing a machine to make lethal combat decisions is contingent upon
political and military leaders resolving legal and ethical questions,” according
to an Air Force treatise called Unmanned Aircraft Systems Flight Plan 2009-2047.
“These include the appropriateness of machines having this ability, under what
circumstances it should be employed, where responsibility for mistakes lies and
what limitations should be placed upon the autonomy of such systems.”

In the future, micro-drones will reconnoiter tunnels and buildings, robotic
mules will haul equipment and mobile systems will retrieve the wounded while
under fire. Technology will save lives. But the trajectory of military research
has led to calls for an arms-control regime to forestall any possibility that
autonomous systems could target humans.

In Berlin last year, a group of robotic engineers, philosophers and human
rights activists formed the International Committee for Robot Arms Control
(ICRAC) and said such technologies might tempt policymakers to think war can be
less bloody.

Some experts also worry that hostile states or terrorist organizations could
hack robotic systems and redirect them. Malfunctions also are a problem: In
South Africa in 2007, a semiautonomous cannon fatally shot nine friendly

The ICRAC would like to see an international treaty, such as the one banning
antipersonnel mines, that would outlaw some autonomous lethal machines. Such an
agreement could still allow automated antimissile systems.

“The question is whether systems are capable of discrimination,” said Peter
Asaro, a founder of the ICRAC and a professor at the New School in New York who
teaches a course on digital war. “The good technology is far off, but technology
that doesn’t work well is already out there. The worry is that these systems are
going to be pushed out too soon, and they make a lot of mistakes, and those
mistakes are going to be atrocities.”

Research into autonomy, some of it classified, is racing ahead at
universities and research centers in the United States, and that effort is
beginning to be replicated in other countries, particularly China.

“Lethal autonomy is inevitable,” said Ronald C. Arkin, the author of
“Governing Lethal Behavior in Autonomous Robots,” a study that was funded by the
Army Research Office.

Arkin believes it is possible to build ethical military drones and robots,
capable of using deadly force while programmed to adhere to international
humanitarian law and the rules of engagement. He said software can be created
that would lead machines to return fire with proportionality, minimize
collateral damage, recognize surrender, and, in the case of uncertainty,
maneuver to reassess or wait for a human assessment.

In other words, rules as understood by humans can be converted into
algorithms followed by machines for all kinds of actions on the battlefield.

“How a war-fighting unit may think — we are trying to make our systems behave
like that,” said Lora G. Weiss, chief scientist at the Georgia Tech Research

Others, however, remain skeptical that humans can be taken out of the loop.

“Autonomy is really the Achilles’ heel of robotics,” said Johann Borenstein,
head of the Mobile Robotics Lab at the University of Michigan. “There is a lot
of work being done, and still we haven’t gotten to a point where the smallest
amount of autonomy is being used in the military field. All robots in the
military are remote-controlled. How does that sit with the fact that autonomy
has been worked on at universities and companies for well over 20 years?”

Borenstein said human skills will remain critical in battle far into the

“The foremost of all skills is common sense,” he said. “Robots don’t have
common sense and won’t have common sense in the next 50 years, or however long
one might want to guess.”