Blowing them away

It is easy to understand the attraction of high-tech killings, by the U.S. military and its more advanced rivals. For, although it is not often acknowledged, murder can be difficult for most people. This makes it unpopular in opinion polls. “High tech,” by contrast, makes it easy. The technical details had traditionally contributed to┬áthis awkwardness, allowing moral hesitation to get started up. The intended victim may move too much, or scream out in an alarming way, or be armed himself and ready to retaliate. Even if one catches him by surprise, one’s own gun may make an appallingly loud noise.

But imagine a helicopter drone or similar device, that launches highly explosive missiles. There is no pilot, and at most a television camera. The operator, miles away, does not have to dwell on what he has done. Within moments, his screen is blank, and so is his conscience.

The “strike” was in Afghanistan, say, but the “striker” most likely among the computers in an army base in, say, formerly rural Florida. The morning’s work, tapping instructions into his finger-board, having concluded, the officer can step out for a pastry and a coffee. The only risk he has taken is in his diet. He may have driven up his blood-sugar levels, and might some day be diagnosed with “diabetes two.” Then, finally, he will discover what moral criticism is like.

From some reports, it appears that the majority of U.S. drone strikes are misdirected. Wedding parties appear to be their principal target, followed by other school and family outings. Islamic terrorists seem to be repeatedly overlooked. However, we must bear in mind that when drone strikes can be so casually ordered, they can be more easily lied about, and our sources of information are leftist and unreliable.

I have no better sources myself, and must take for granted that little, or nothing, can be known about this kind of obscenity. It is now the preferred way of eliminating unwanted people — accurately, or by mistake — and I would expect it, like other devices of military and paramilitary technology, to be provided for police work soon.