Cassandra has moved. Ugo Bardi publishes now on a new site called "The Seneca Effect."

Saturday, January 4, 2020

Leader Assassination in the Age of Drones: A Suggestion for an Invulnerable President

Captain Birds Eye and his fish sticks. He is a reassuring, fatherly, positive presence. Why don't we elect him as president? The advantage is that he can't be assassinated since he doesn't exist. 

Long ago, leaders used to fight on the frontline with their troops. Everything changed with the invention of firearms, when the leaders discovered that they were magnets for enemy fire and they had to distance themselves from the frontline. Napoleon used to stay at a safe distance from the battlefield, although close enough that he could see what was going on. More than a century later, during WW2, Adolf Hitler spent most of his time secluded in his bunker in Berlin. In 2003, Saddam Hussein barely managed to survive the American bombing by moving frequently and hiding in bunkers.

But the life of the leaders is dangerous also in peacetime. 4 US presidents out of a total of 45 have been assassinated while in office. It corresponds to a probability of about 9%. As a comparison, American soldiers in Iraq had just a 0.4% probability to die during the 2003 invasion. Most high-level leaders take extreme precautions nowadays to avoid all risks, rarely appearing in public, if ever.

But, with the arrival of drone technologies, things have changed for the worse for leaders. The recent assassination of Commander Qasem Soleimani in Bagdad is a case in point. Targeting him using a drone was surprisingly easy and it carried almost no risks for the people who had planned the assassination. Drones are inexpensive and accurate weapons: no government in the world has a monopoly on military drone technology. It doesn't even need to be a drone belonging to a specific armed force: it could be bought, hired, or hacked. So, what would happen if a drone were to "take out," say, President Trump while he plays golf in Palm Beach?

The assassination in Bagdad has suddenly made the life of all high-level government officers a nightmare. They are not safe anywhere from rogue drones targeting them. Will they have to spend their life hidden in bunkers? Maybe, but perhaps there is a better way: go into secrecy. Imagine that nobody really knows for sure who is the president of the United States. It is rumored that he might be someone named Donald Trump, but most people think it is highly improbable that such a person could really be the US president. So, what sense would it make to drone him?

Farfetched? Maybe, but think about this: it is the way mafia works. You never know who the real mafia bosses are, although there are rumors about this or that person being one of them. That means they are hard to target. Are governments different from the mafia? I would say not. They are mostly criminal organizations dominated by powerful economic lobbies. So, why not to adopt the strategies that the ancient mafia has honed to near perfection over centuries of struggle?

If governments are shady organizations dedicated to criminal activities, then it makes sense for the high profile bosses to quietly disappear from the public view, just as mafia bosses do. It is already likely that most of our leaders are just front men for powerful forces hiding behind, then why not go one step further and turn them into virtual leaders? Yes, something like Captain Birds Eye, the mascot of fish sticks. Actually, he would make an excellent figure for a president: he looks fatherly, dependable, charismatic, and more. And he would be impossible to assassinate since he doesn't exist. At best, you could assassinate one of the actors playing him, but by using deep-fake technologies you don't even need actors. The president can be completely virtual.

Now, you may think that people will never accept to be ruled by a virtual president. Maybe, but consider that most people, especially in the US, are used to take orders and counsel from a non-existing being. It would take very little to convince them that a virtual president is the best for them. You could even tell them that they can choose their president they like. How about Captain Birds Eye pitted against Ronald McDonald in the next presidential elections?

Eventually, most government officers could become virtual. Maybe it wouldn't be a worse world than the present one, although it might be a little confusing. But it already is, anyway. Don't you have the sensation that you are living in a videogame? Yes, one of these games where a monster appears every time you turn a corner. And now that I think about that, see, I was discussing about virtual leaders created by deep fake technology. So, about Donald Trump. . . .


The name "Captain Birds Eye" is a registered trademark of Birds Eye, an international brand of frozen food. The use of this term in this post is not intended to indicate an association with or sponsorship by Birds Eye, nor is it intended to disparage their fine products. (and I hope you read Kurt Vonnegut's novel "Breakfast of Champions." (1973). If you didn't, do it, it is worth reading)


  1. Despite his dominating presence in the novel 1984. Big Brother makes no actual appearance. His image is on posters and telescreens. His voice is heard over telescreens only one time in the whole book.

    Big Brother is here. Donald Trump has a face and a voice, but Trump is without substance it appears. Inhuman, phony, insubstantial, and without honor. A caricature of a real man.

    A figurehead, as you suggest.

  2. Seems to fit - Eye in the sky:

  3. Being in a prime United States location to observe the Solar Eclipse of August 21, 2017, I decided to travel to the Georgia Guidestones, camp overnight there, and watch the Eclipse from that location. Little did I realize, so did hundreds of other people, and the roads were jammed with cars and the Eclipse had become a Big Tent Circus Event. On my way, I somehow became lost and wound up at the start of the Appalachian Trail, turned around and saw many of the impoverished areas of Appalachia. I wound up sleeping at a South Carolina Rest Area and the next day I drove to Sullivan’s Island SC, where I viewed the Eclipse.

    The Georgia Guidestones stand as a tribute to Technocracy, whose vision isn’t as dark as most might think; instead it is: Our Vision is to create and share working models and processes that encourage people to use energy, resources, and processing of waste in the most efficient and sustainable ways possible.

    Technocracy INC.

    From the Georgia Guidestones:

    A message consisting of a set of ten guidelines or principles is engraved on the Georgia Guidestones in eight different languages, one language on each face of the four large upright stones. Moving clockwise around the structure from due north, these languages are: English, Spanish, Swahili, Hindi, Hebrew, Arabic, Chinese, and Russian.

    Maintain humanity under 500,000,000 in perpetual balance with nature.
    Guide reproduction wisely — improving fitness and diversity.
    Unite humanity with a living new language.
    Rule passion — faith — tradition — and all things with tempered reason.
    Protect people and nations with fair laws and just courts.
    Let all nations rule internally resolving external disputes in a world court.
    Avoid petty laws and useless officials.
    Balance personal rights with social duties.
    Truth — beauty — love — seeking harmony with the infinite.
    Be not a cancer on the earth — Leave room for nature — Leave room for nature.

    I believe that the rules are logical and make sense. I chose to not marry or have children.

    Links and pics here:

    As for Technocracy and M. King Hubbert - FYI :

    I served with the USAF at Monte Vergine Italy - met many local Italian friends there - and actually was discharged in Germany - and lived for 6 months in Monte Forte. What a wonderful time!

  4. We might recall that the Duke of Wellington declined to fire upon Napoleon at Waterloo when informed by an artillery officer that he had him in range.

    And that Italians were, throughout Renaissance Europe, recognised as the most dangerous of poisoners - reading a history of Venice, I was shocked by how many personalities may have met heir end that way (so hard to tell, isn't it?). Delightfully ambiguous, poison....

    The killing of the Iranian general is nothing in itself, violent death is the risk that serving generals must take, and he had taken many lives himself: but the consequences are everything......



Ugo Bardi is a member of the Club of Rome, faculty member of the University of Florence, and the author of "Extracted" (Chelsea Green 2014), "The Seneca Effect" (Springer 2017), and Before the Collapse (Springer 2019)