Drone strikes eliminate U.S. casualties

January 26, 2010 — by Kim Tsai

Over the past months, the usage of drones as a weapon of war has become increasingly popular, most notably against Taliban leaders in Pakistan. Drones, unmanned aerial vehicles, are shipped out to Pakistan while being remote-controlled from locations such as the Creech Air Force Base, a location not far from Las Vegas, Nevada. This poses quite a gamble when it comes to human life; namely, the mass destruction of the weapon.

Last year, President Obama allowed the increased usage of drones in Pakistan. Since the beginning of Obama’s presidency, the number of deaths by drones has climbed steadily higher. In 2009, the total number of deaths was estimated to be over 700 compared to the 221 deaths from 2004 to 2008 according to MediaMouse.
It is not difficult, however, to understand and empathize with the logic behind drone strikes. These vessels can be used to enter dangerous areas, un-navigable by piloted vehicles. The versatile and relentless nature of drones could very well be a match for the Taliban’s violent and degenerate ways. It is also important to note that with the incorporation of drones in the army, fewer military personnel would need to be trained when using drones.

With the rapid production of new and deadlier weapons, sending virtually defenseless troops into unfriendly territory becomes an extremely risky decision. Thus, by replacing troops with drones or other remotely controlled mechanisms, the worry of fighting to the death is eliminated and American casualties on the battlefront have been and will be greatly lessened. With this in mind, more men and women could go about their lives normally. One can readily sympathize with an attempt to decrease the number of widows in America, the number of orphans.

New technology also means that conflicts will be resolved faster due to the advantages it brings. All in all, drones are just another mechanism to help achieve a goal by no uncertain means. But while the detrimental effects of drones today may pale in comparison to the advantages they provide, the unmanned aircrafts will have a dramatic effect on the wars to come. Psychologically, drones dehumanize the acts of war and cause increasingly violent attacks. The disturbing scenario of non-army personnel sitting in lounges and gunning down civilians with a remote, their eyes glued to an LCD screen, cannot readily be justified. Killing civilians should not be reduced to the equivalent of a late-night Halo game.

While the drones will limit unnecessary deaths on the United States’ side, civilians in Pakistan are being killed, left and right in these attacks. An opponent of drone strikes, Robby Diesu, says that for each terrorist suspect killed, there are an additional 100 civilians murdered. The U.S. may have become more effective in rooting out Taliban leaders, but it does so at a staggering collateral expense.

On the other hand, war rarely comes without civilian deaths. Deaths are a significant factor in wartime and cannot be exchanged for other alternatives. More caution should be considered when dealing with drones, but in the end, the possibilities drones bring are endless.

In a few decades, robots could very well be fighting all the wars over the world. But this advancement toes a very fine line between genuine warfare and needless murder. Drones are a force to be employed, but not to be misused.

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