Drones give preview of troubling future for warfare


United States Army

United States Army unmanned MQ-1C Eagle aircraft makes its way down an airfield at Camp Taji, Iraq before a surveillance mission in the Baghdad region.

A decade ago, the United States reported possession of a mere 60 unmanned aerial vehicles, better known as drones. Today, under the Obama administration the pentagon boasts an armory of well over 6,000 mission ready drones.

Drone technology has become a source of controversy in recent months. As far away as Somalia and as close to home as Alameda county, questions concerning the moral implications of drones have begun to surface.

Supporters of drone activity say that continued bombings will help strengthen homeland security, but in actuality these are the types of military actions that can increase terrorist activity among those affected by drone attacks.

It’s hard to accurately calculate the civilian casualties resulting from drone strikes. According to data compiled by the Bureau of Investigative Journalism, there has been anywhere between  474 to 871 civilian deaths caused by drone strikes since 2002 in Pakistan alone.

According to a report commissioned by the Council of Foreign Relations, the U.S. military has a methodology for calculating this type of collateral damage. They call it “bug splat.”

The idea that the U.S. military can be as cruel as to refer to the loss of innocent lives as mere “bug splat” should bring chills down the spine of every American.

When did the deaths of innocent men, women and children become an acceptable consequence in the fight to protect American shores?

It should surprise no one if such a disregard for human life by the U.S government produces animosity in those that have seen their loved ones murdered.

The U.S. military is handing terrorist organizations a 5-ton tool for recruiting potential members. Seeing a family member or friend executed by a shadowy death machine can be a powerful motivator. For people with nothing to lose, and the fresh memory of death caused by U.S. sponsored drones, Al-Qaeda may be the lesser of two evils.

The United States should be doing everything in its power to avoid this scenario.

I don’t know about you, but I can think of better ways for the United States to use the multi-billion dollar budget used on drone related affairs. Especially if this is what the American people are footing the bill for.

As of today, only the signature of the president is needed to carry out a drone mission, most of them happening in secret, without the knowledge of congress or even members of the Obama administration.

I hope that the lawmakers in Washington make the effort to stop and question the image that they want the United States to have on the world stage.

Do we want to be seen as the beacon of peace and prosperity; the land where good things happen to those who work hard and earn their keep? Or do we want the United States of America to be known as the type of country that would allow others to live in constant fear of a wayward bomb courtesy of the good ole’ U.S. of A?

Let’s not add fuel to the stereotype of the gun toting, American imperialist. Security is important, and there are threats that need to be addressed by our armed forces, but the costs need to be properly weighed before action is taken.

The United States of America is supposed to be one of the best countries on the planet. Let’s act like it.