Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Drone Wars 2

I think a bit more explanation is due on why drones, executing individuals thousands of miles away from the control point, are problematic. Soldiers are taught to dedifferentiate between enemy targets and ‘legitimate’ targets of war. They look through their gun sights and make split second decisions about the target. They bring their morality and humanity into the decision although the military is training them to shoot first and ask moral questions later. And yes they sometimes make mistakes. There is a cost to these mistakes in what some soldiers call, “losing their humanity” a realization that they have made the ultimate mistake. This ‘miscalculation’ haunts many a combat vet and it is the crux of many who face post traumatic-stress syndrome (PTSD).

With drones, there is electronic medium in between decision makers and the actual humans that are the object of interest. The destruction of the target, usually human, is isolated from the decision makers by a virtual barrier. Repercussions for decisions taken have no immediate feedback loop that touches the morality of the decision maker but ironically are much more subject to the political whims of the day.

The real problem with drone wars is that they relegate ultimate responsibility for the taking of life to the virtual space where reality and abstract overlaps, thus removing immediate accountability. In a world connected through electronic medium, let us increase human connectedness, and ultimately peace, through the virtual medium, not disconnect it through one-way drone war.

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