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Friday, September 30, 2016

WASHINGTON — The age of the drones has arrived. It’s not possible to uninvent these Orwellian devices, but we can — and must — restrain their use.

As instruments of war, pilotless aircraft have already become essential. The Washington Post reported last year that more than 50 countries had developed or purchased drones to use in surveillance — and that many of those nations were working to weaponize the aircraft. Deadly missiles fired from drones are among the most effective U.S. weapons against the Taliban and al-Qaeda.

There has been far too little discussion of the moral calculus involved in using flying robots as tools of assassination. At the very least, the whole thing should leave us uneasy. Collateral damage — the killing of innocents — can be minimized but not eliminated. And even if only “bad” people are killed, this isn’t war as we’ve traditionally understood it. Drone attacks are more like state-sponsored homicide.

But similar complaints were raised when tanks replaced horses on the battlefield, and nothing stopped the mechanization of war. Drones allow governments to achieve military objectives without putting the lives of soldiers, sailors and pilots at risk. Robots do not bleed and do not vote, so they will do much of the fighting for us.

The thing about drones, though, is that the technology required to deploy them is nowhere near as daunting as is needed, say, to develop nuclear weapons. As they become more commonplace in the arsenals of the world, we will surely begin seeing them used by “rogue” nations — or even by non-state actors such as terrorists and drug smugglers.

If Colombian cartels are able to build dope-smuggling submarines, when will Mexican crime lords begin sending up surveillance drones to identify unpatrolled sectors of the U.S. border? Soon, I reckon, if it’s not already happening.

So maybe — maybe — there might be a role for surveillance drones in patrolling the border. Perhaps there’s a role in search-and-rescue missions and the like.

  • old_blu

    War is going to have casualties, so if we are going to have war we are going to have casualties, but I think the good outweigh the bad on these, there are always going to be paranoid people that think big brother is watching. (like they don’t have enough on their plate)

  • tom_billesley

    These are not robots. They are remotely piloted by a human who is in a chain of command that decides whether and when to attack a target. Ethically it is no different than attacking an enemy with an artillery barrage or a smart bomb or torpedo, just more effective in certain circumstances. The alternative would often be a special forces operation like the one that killed Osama bin Laden.
    “….like state-sponsored homicide”.? War is state sponsored homicide.

    • onedonewong

      Except its against the law, remeber the dems passed a law against state sanctioned political killings??

      • Sand_Cat

        So you believe in state-sanctioned political killings?

  • One of the most fascinating parts of watching Tea Party Republican behavior is to see how they switch from one extreme to another without batting an eye. A few months ago, they were condemning President Obama decision to get involved in Lybia, and were criticizing his decision to strike Al Qaeda targets in Pakistan and Yemen claiming he was starting WWIII; today they are taking credit for the use of drones! It reminds me of Romney’s opposition to the auto bailout, and his claim a few days ago that he was instrumental in saving the auto industry! Talking about unreality shows focused on instant metamorphosis…
    The alternative to President Obama’s use of drones to destroy Al Qaeda targets was the use of special forces and other military deployments to the targeted areas, with potential loss of life and the likelihood of new wars. War should always be a solution of last resort, but whether we like to admit it or not our leaders and our government only have to choices when it comes to the advancement of American global interests: they either support them, or their political careers are doomed.

    • onedonewong

      Yea I do agree wasn’t the Dems who passed a law against political assignations and now love the drone. Wasn’t it the Dems and Obama who were against the patriot act but who have now unilaterally incorporated it so that any US citizen in the US can be help without charges in US detention camps??
      Yea the auto bail out was a huge success GM now makes 7 out of every 10 vehicles over seas and have moved their R&D to China….yet what a guy

      • What does political assassinations have to do with striking terrorist targets in Pakistan and Yemen? Would you have preferred the ambivalence of former President Bush and what happened as a result of it? If you are a foreigner I understand, but I think it is truly unbelievable for an American to condone terrorism after what happened to us on 9/11/01 and criticize actions taken to guarantee the security of our country. Political disagreements, having a different opinion about how to accomplish something, and debating issues of importance to our society should always be encouraged as the best solutions as those reached by consensus after a problem or goal has been thoroughly analyzed, reckless criticism designed to demonize our leaders and undermine our credibility as a nation only satisfies the person making the outlandish claims. When it comes to foreign policy, President Obama has shown great restraint, respect towards others, but has not hesitated to do whatever needed to be done to keep us safe and bring justice to those who harmed us.

        • onedonewong

          How can they be terrorists?? Obama has said that enemy combatants can’t be tortured or invoke rendition. And without a trial how does he know??
          Ahhh so you want to compare the 2 realllly….You have no problem with record US casualties under Obama every year he has been in office via his “rules of engagement” that places more value on mooslims lives rather than our troops.
          i can understand if you were a foreigner that maybe the right thing to do but what happened on 9/11 who in their right mind would ask our troops to fight with both hands tied behind their backs
          When to comes to foreign policy Obama doesn’t have one, be have become the laughing stock of every tin pot dictator from Iran to Venezuela, from Peru to Pakistan

          • The targets of our drone attacks, especially those in Yemen, made public calls for Jihad against the USA via mediums such as Al Jazeera. The sad part of this ridiculous argument is that people like you would be the first ones to accuse President Obama of negligence and appeasement if he ignored threats like that and a major attack on U.S. soil or against our interests took place. Ambivalence, and inadequate coordination between our intelligence agencies, contributed to 9/11. We do not need a sequel, regardless of how hard the Tea Party tries to defend out enemies to score dubious points against our President. Regarding trials, don’t forget that President Obama proposed bringing the most dangerous prisoners in Gitmo to the USA to stand trial, and he was attacked and maligned by the GOP who accused him of endangering our national security. As for his foreign policy, you have to go no further than watch the enthusiastic welcomes he gets when he travels abroad, and compare them to former President Bush’s reluctance to travel abroad for fear that he may be arrested and taken to The Hague. Under President Obama the U.S. is respected, under President Bush we were feared.

          • onedonewong

            Gee for 6 years all we heard from the dem’s and left wing nuts was how W’s treatment of enemy combatants was so horrible but killing them without a trial in the lefts yes now is that its more humane???
            Will there be a sequel to 9/11?? that’s a given if brak and climton serve another 4 years. W so decimated the enemy that a 3rd grader could keep them under control for a few years. However with the Arab spring the loss of 10’s of thousands of ground to air hand held missiles and WMD’s the disaster is just around the corner.
            Barak wanted to bring the prisoners from Gitmo to the US and the taxpayers said no for 2 reasons the cost and the likelihood that Holder would just let them go.
            Barak ‘s enthusiastic welcomes?? Sure he was on an apology tour handing out bags of $$ and telling the world that the US was an evil country and was no longer the shining star to be emulated. Heck the Russian presidents won’t even shake his hand because they view him as inferior

          • I feel compelled to remind you that a Republican President, and a GOP-controlled Congress, were in charge when the 9/11 tragedy took place. Former President Bush did not go after the Saudi Wahhabist terrorists that planned and financed 9/11, in ffact, he sold out the memory of the 9/11 victims when he declared Saudi Arabia a Most Favored Nation for trade purposes in exchange for lucrative contracts, and then took our eyes off the ball with the Iraq distraction. Yes, many Democrats condemned and continue to criticize the decision to invade Iraq, a country that had nothing to do with 9/11, not only because of the deceitful tactics to justify that war but because it allowed the people responsible for 9/11 to continue their nefarious activities (Madrid, London, Bali…). President Obama refocused our attention where it should have been all along, and not only ended the Iraqi crusade, he also ordered the raid the ended the miserable life of OBL as well as drone attacks in Pakistan and Yemen against important Al Qaeda target. Judging by the essence of your comments you would have preferred to let people like Musharraf continue to play a cat and mouse game with us, well, some of us prefer more decisive and focused action when our country is attacked and our people are killed. President Obama has done a splendid job in the Persian Gulf area, in the war on terror, in keeping us safe; hopefully the next step is to withdraw our troops from Afghanistan now that all our objectives have been met.

          • onedonewong

            I feel compelled to remind you that Sudan offered Clinton Osama Bin laden who they had in custody and he refused to take him becase he was so involved with Monica.
            Iraq was a distraction?? sorry everyone both Dem’s and republicans agreed that saddam had to be removed and voted to go to war.
            Obama had nothing to do with the execution of bin laden if anything he delayed the military action for more than 5 months, one can only assume he felt leaks would alert him to go to ground even further.
            Obama has done a splendid job in Afghanistan and Iraq??? By who’s judgement certainly not the troops. Who have sustained record casualties every year barak has been in office because his rules of engagement places more value on the lives of moooslims than our troops and is 1 of the largest causes for suicide in or troops

          • Sand_Cat

            I feel compelled to point out that you haven’t the slightest clue what you’re talking about.

          • Sand_Cat

            Your spelling is almost as bad as your reasoning. I was wondering what was meant by “political assignations” until I read Dominick’s reply.
            So you are another “patriot” who supports torture and makes up his own facts. Obama has a ways to go to catch up with the number of people W killed in Iraq and possibly in New York by his complacently negligent response to intelligence warnings. Yes, more people died in Afghanistan under Obama. So exactly how are the soldiers in Afghanistan asked “to fight with both hands tied behind their backs”? Let’s hear the details, if you can get your head out of your rectum long enough to provide them.

      • BDD1951

        Tell me where you got your information. From emails?

        • onedonewong

          I realize that its beyond your scope but its called a newspaper. They aren’t free unless you go to a library so as a Progressive you haven’t seen one unless the govt provides it FREE of charge

  • TheOldNorthChurch

    So if this President loves his drones – what happened to the peaceful loving guy?

    When drones are used in war or for national security then they make sense. But as all things in the hands of this Political Class Aristocracy run wild – they are most often misused and an invasion on personal liberty and freedom.

    There is only one solution that will protect all of us liberal or conservative – dissolve the Politic Class!

    Revolution 2012 – The American Fall

    • you do realize you are talking anarchy do you not against the USA??????????? You keep it up and they wont need a drone to find you they already monitor the internet

      • TheOldNorthChurch

        I am not talking anarchy against the United States. I am talking about regaining independence from a Political Class who is engaging in Tyranny.

        “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.–That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, –That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness.”

        Less than 22% of Americans believe this Federal Government currently has their consent to govern!

  • howa4x

    Drones are new in the advent of war and will become more popular as wars with enemys that have no battlefeid army exist. In war they are the perfect weapon since the alternative is to commit ground troops. So the question arises if they are not used, who will tell the mother of a fallen soldier that we could have used Drones but decided to use him instead. We already have drone equipment being used by police called red light cameras, and of course satillites that watch us. Drug Cartels used drones(unmaned aircraft) since the 70’s
    The civil liberty issue has to be addressed, but if you’re really concerned with that, than don’t have a patroit act. If we give power to our government to watch us than technology will perfect ways to do it As for other governments who use them, we have no control over that ,but if they want to kill their people they will do it drones or not.
    So welcome to the future everyone!

  • nomaster

    Given the high degree of technology, the drone concept is wonderful however we must remember the moral costs and the abuses possible by an intrusive government against the free will of its populace. As always there is the good and the bad and the perception of the ones enforcing or employing their use. Pray tell that none but the moral of mind would use them but then Human is Human. As a military tool it saves lives, of the ones that sacrifice in war to preserve our nation and its freedoms.

  • michaelnola

    The whole point of using drones is to make war less costly so we can have more of them. These wars, and certainly our ever growing military budgets, are here to stay.

    It should be apparent to anyone still thinking that since the Vietnam war, the whole arc of military/government thinking is to distance the American populace from both the costs and experience of war by first moving to an all volunteer army supplemented by mercenaries(“contractors”) and video gaming it by increased use of drones and similar technology, leaving the American people free to watch reality TV and go shopping.

    • Sand_Cat

      Well put.

  • ClydeMcWhorter

    @ $35-$50 million are they worth it? how many in con_gress will get $millions from that?