This is an important article, especially for those who think that drone warfare — while unfortunate for its civilian victims — is good for American soldiers because of the safety it brings.
Two sections stand out. First:
“Did we just kill a kid?” he asked the man sitting next to him.
“Yeah, I guess that was a kid,” the pilot replied.
“Was that a kid?” they wrote into a chat window on the monitor.
Then, someone they didn’t know answered, someone sitting in a military command center somewhere in the world who had observed their attack. “No. That was a dog,” the person wrote.
They reviewed the scene on video. A dog on two legs?
Bryant [the drone operator being profiled] remembers the first time he fired a missile, killing two men instantly. As Bryant looked on, he could see a third man in mortal agony. The man’s leg was missing and he was holding his hands over the stump as his warm blood flowed onto the ground — for two long minutes. He cried on his way home, says Bryant, and he called his mother.
Drone warfare has been much lauded for keeping American troops out of dangerous battlefield situations, and without question there is value in that safety measure. However, drone warfare does more than remove American people from the situation: It also removes American humanity.
This is a form of warfare in which those who do the actual killing can be thousands of miles removed from their targets. It’s the ultimate bureaucracy, isn’t it? Everything we hate about the stereotypical DMV (disinterest in face to face interaction; the unwillingness to look at specific circumstances with empathy; the valuation of the plan over people affected by it) is all magnified here.
That’s why I post about drones so often, and why you should read this piece.