Guest column: War cannot be humanized by drone usage

Alan Wong

Drones, as used by the United States in military operations, belong to a class of machines referred to as unmanned aerial vehicles.

The term “drone” refers to a remotely controlled aircraft.

Drone pilots are often thousands of miles away, controlling their aircrafts in a manner akin to playing a video game.

But such separation also contributes to a very inhuman character in warfare. The moral and psychological implications of these developments challenge us to question just how “personal” warfare should be.

The use of drone warfare exemplifies the United States’ position as a continuing leader in technological innovation.

In addition to the advantages their smaller size gives them, drones keep the lives of many U.S. military personnel further from the dangers of face-to-face combat with the use of unmanned technology.

Ironically, any effort to make war more humane will only have the opposite effect.

Drone warfare is a step toward making warfare at least slightly more humane. In 21st century warfare fewer lives have been lost than in previous wars and eras.

By reducing the amount of U.S. military personnel on the battlefield the implementation of drone warfare even further decreases the potential for lost lives on this side.

But cleaner bullets, more accurate explosives and more mechanized warfare do not necessarily constitute more “humane” warfare.

Standards of how “humane” warfare ought to be have long been a topic for international discussion.

Treaties such as the Hague Conventions and the Geneva Protocol have attempted to address some of the most horrendous forms of warfare seen in past wars.

The Geneva Protocol prohibits biological and chemical weapons. These agreements and discussions regarding the humanity of warfare suggest that although war is horrifying, it should only be horrifying to a certain extent.

This sentiment has been reflected in the United States in regard to post-traumatic stress disorder in which much research, efforts and funds have been invested.

Drones obviously reduce the number of men in the field and will, in turn, reduce the amount of people who are affected by PTSD.

Improvements in making warfare more “humane” should not serve as justifications for conducting war more frequently or unnecessarily.

Though reducing loss of life and making warfare as least traumatic as possible is excellent, it must not serve as an impetus to belittle the significance of the horrifying aspects of war and loss of life in general.

Conducting combat through an LCD screen does not, in any way, make war more acceptable.

If the fighting itself is necessary and drone warfare presents itself as an advantageous tool, it ought to be implemented.

But drone warfare, detaching the United States from more “personal” encounters, should not encourage increased combat engagements.

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