- Politics and Social Issues
drones lead the way
These are tough days for ethics and morals. Were it not for the fact that the human race has over time divided into various factions organized by conflicting ideologies there would be no need for sophisticated weaponry. But that is clearly not the case. Naturally, the admonition to turn the other cheek still holds in personal matters and normal decorum. But hostiles today seek to destroy based on next to nothing. To some, an American, and whoever so much as has cordial relations with him or her, is fair game. It is complicated, to say the least, and basically makes no sense. Yet with every passing day, the peace table and its stark array of little else besides bottled mineral water looks more and more irrelevant. Simply put, there are these intangibles that are held collectively sacred beyond which no discussion whatsoever can be admitted. Enter the drone.
The July/August issue of Foreign Affairs presents the pros and cons of drones in two articles, one by Daniel Byman, the other by Audrey Kurth Cronin. This contraption is something relatively new in warfare, which, despite the cold war thaw, has become a permanent presence. The "pro" article emphasizes how drones assist in decapitation, meaning killing off al Qaeda or other terrorist organizational leaders. Now, in addition to all else, terrorists must think hard and fast how to avoid unmanned vehicles flying overhead. To be apprised of as much is encouraging. Drones may well represent entry into true 21st century warfare. Pilots are somewhere else at a control panel, safe and sound. If a drone is shot down, a few million dollars get burnt up. But there is no American or ally bloodshed. Furthermore, terrorists do not like drones. It stresses them out. So much the better. They deserve no less. The "con" article elaborates on how drones stir up unnecessary and dangerous hostilities, but citizens must decide for themselves if placating an enemy's fears and discomforts is really a viable strategy.
it sees/it delivers
Drones are already ubiquitous. Many are used only for surveillance. But the plain fact is that they are here to stay.
Drones on trial
Are drones useful?
Obviously, it is impossible to get the lowdown on drones. Only the privileged have access to the requisite information needed to actually form a knowledgeable answer as to whether or not drones should be either phased out or multiplied. Common sense seems to dictate that manufacturers should produce tons more drones. Other robotics or remote controlled instruments of war should also be experimented with. One need only have a sketchy historical awareness of what transpired in World War II to decide. Many met their death in harm's way, the odds stacked well against them. The casualties then were numerous and often unmentionable. The ways in which soldiers ended their lives were for the most part unsavory and tragic. This was the case in both theaters. With drones, pilots can avoid both injury and capture, and everyone else involved will, as a result, know more about what is going on when face to face encounters are called for.
polls mostly pro
Most polls suggest that substantial amounts of Americans support the use of drones, but with serious reservations. Huffington Post's relatively recent poll indicates that, Republican or Democrat, better than fifty percent of those contacted approve of drones. All, however, are concerned about the use of drones to kill either the innocent or American citizens. The Obama administration has used drones much more quantitatively than the previous administration. The results are muddled, at least as handed down from reporters, who may or may not have access to fully accurate information. There has been ample success but disturbing talk of collateral damage. Fox moves the amount of support to nearly 75%, with many caveats. American citizens wisely object to the summary execution of American citizens via these kinds of aircraft. Gallup claims that 65% favor the use of drones, generally, against suspected terrorists. All examples failed to test the polled on the material damage unmanned aerial vehicles can produce. They are equipped for pinpoint tasks, though limited insofar as impact is concerned, compared, that is, to F16s and the like.
the mummy factor
Think of the computer graphics of The Mummy pix, beginning in 1999, in which skeletal mummies, resurrected and re-animated, go after the tame, over-intellectual archeologists who awakened them in huge, synchronized packs. It owes its magic to computer graphics from Industrial Light and Magic. Now think of unfriendly foreign skies filled with drones, some real, some dummy replicants, perhaps, chasing anti-Americans, scattered to the four winds in various states and degrees of panic and hysteria. It is something to reflect upon, at any rate. The point is, drones have a future. Naturally, no fear of them and how they might be deployed is without merit. Both articles allude to extra-military purposes that, one hopes, will be religiously shunned. But as an aid to military conflicts that seem, at present, hopelessly mired, they could be both game-changers and -winners. A million drones could not possibly be anything a hostile country would want buzzing above.
flying the unfriendly skies
a force for good
They have names like Vulture and Phantom Sentinel. Others include the NASA Pathfinder, Lockheed Martin Stalker and Dark Star, Northrop Grumman Global Hawk, and General Atomics Avenger, Warrior, Reaper, and Predator. These are not nice cognomens. But they are impressive. They both take and save lives. It all depends upon one's perspective, and in wartime, perspectives tend to become more and more sharply defined. They also deal effectively with reality, something peace talks have failed to grasp. Many in the international community do not like America. They learn to hate America and Americans from their cradles. It is the drones' mission to bring the active portion of this hatred to a standstill. They are free to despise us. They are well advised, however, to refrain from doing anything about it.
an engineering accomplishment
Drones are certainly a marvel. No doubt, space shuttles are much more fascinating. But drones may well be able to help sort things out down below. There is so much tension on earth at present that the only viable remedy would have to entail force. The saving grace of the drone is that it is not a mindless creation, but totally controlled by accountable and responsible parties. True enough, drones have many uses. But the main objective for people round the globe is the elimination of those who threaten their existence. And it is reasonable to add that if any group is actively engaged in hunting down another group of people for whatever reason, it is an enemy of all mankind. As it turns out, Israel, ever mindful of survival, is also into the creation, manufacture, and export of drones.
Foreign Affairs mag from the Council on Foreign Relations
- Foreign Affairs | Political and Economic Insights | Articles, Interviews, Videos & Information
Foreign Affairs — The leading magazine for analysis and debate of foreign policy, economics and global affairs.
The Next Economic Miracle?
The Post-Silicon Valley Era
The future is uncertain. But the item cited above, namely, drones, might actually prove their worth economically. Should they be needed in number, there is no telling how many jobs would be created and investments generated. Drones cannot be taken anything but seriously. In a more perfect world, they would not be tolerated. In the present global environment, however, they have already established a place. How big remains to be seen. This is just an afterthought, if practicable, to enable a somewhat harsh article to finish on a more positive note.