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November 08, 2002

Warfare by Remote Control

The Chinese had gun powder long before Marco Polo brought it back to Europe. But the Chinese used it simply for entertainment, fireworks. The Europeans realized it's value as a weapon, and thus rockets, guns and bombs were introduced to warfare. As Europeans and Americans made their way westward across the Pacific and met the Chinese and Japanese, the concept of killing an enemy from a safe distance was considered too dishonorable and cowardly for the Chinese and Japanese to abandon their ancient swords, although both used bows an arrows as well as spears. Eventually in the face of lost battle after lost battle, both cultures abandoned their antiquated concepts of battlefield honor and embraced the use of firearms in warfare.

Last weekend the US government used an unmanned RQ-1A Predator drone to blast a group of six known Al Queda terrorists into tiny little greasy specks. The complaints are abundant about the ethics of using this new type of warfare -- remote controlled drones. But the harsh reality is, it works, it's effective, and it's war. Just as Japan and China were forced to embrace firearms in spite of their view of its lack of honor, the nations of the world will have to embrace the use of remote controlled drones.

Personally I see it as a good step. Both European, Asian and African histories show warfare as the use of hordes of expendable foot soldiers as cannon fodder in an effort to win battle by attrition. At least now we can send save lives by using these drones as our front line, in both assault and defense. As is obvious to those who care to be honest, America takes great effort in minimizing civilian deaths and injury in battle. Most of our enemies, these days, not only don't care, they use our compassions as weapons against us in either staged 'accidents' riddled with innocents they have killed, or using women and children as shields for their military equipment and troops. Our compassion is our weakness, but it's a weakness we can't afford to lose. Our determination, and our ingenuity are our strengths, and the unmanned drones are the result of that.

The drones have been used solely for reconnaissance and surveillance. But now they are being equipped to carry out attacks. Understand by unmanned, the drones have no people on board, but are controlled by a pilot located on an aircraft carrier or some base. The piloting and the ultimate decision whether to, and who to strike is a human decision, made like it always has been. The argument that this further separates the soldier from the reality of his actions is unwarranted. The only way to really make sure the soldier is aware that he's taking life, would be to put him in hand to hand combat with each enemy he's to kill. That would put us right back to the archaic wasting of foot soldiers. Our enemy sees us, both soldiers and civilians, both adults and children as worthy of death, anytime, in any manner. We see them as misled fanatics, and strive to protect ourselves, and their civilians and ultimately bring about peace and prosperity for both cultures. After 9/11 the individuals in our military have been made keenly aware of two important things -- 1. We must fight to protect the innocent and 2. The enemy are the terrorists, not the civilians, and one of the reasons we are the good guys is that we try our best not to kill the innocent. Accusations of the military indiscriminately killing civilians because they are distanced from them is nonsense. Nine-one-one brought home to us all the reality of the atrocity of killing innocent bystanders, and in the spirit of 9/11 our military works hard at protecting innocent life.

Unmanned drones are a reality, and will be the future.


Posted by Jack Lewis at November 8, 2002 10:20 AM