This is a relatively new and relatively relevant (whoa) issue, and it’s featured in the prompt very deliberately. Therefore, I shall blog about it.
Before getting into the meaty controversy behind drones, it’s good to know what those weird robot-airplane-things are. This here blog provides a very simple-to-understand definition:
Unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVS), also known as drones, are aircraft either controlled by ‘pilots’ from the ground or increasingly, autonomously following a pre-programmed mission.
Thank you, WordPress Blog Completely Dedicated to Drones.
Anyway, the brewing controversy mostly concerns the moral value of using drones. In the U.S., the military and the CIA both have their own squadron of drones to control, and these drones can be used for either reconnaissance/surveillance or actual bombing/destroying things.
The really interesting part about these things (and also one of the points of contention) is that the pilot doesn’t have to be anywhere near the drone while piloting it. In fact, most of the drones flying over the Middle East right now are being controlled by pilots sitting comfortably in the U.S., most likely somewhere in the desert outside Las Vegas.
On This Hand:
To those in support of drones, more drones means less soldiers that have to put their lives at risk killing terrorist leaders and whatnot. Not so much “morally right” as “more moral than an invasion force… right?”
Drones are also cheap, or at least cheaper to build than manned aircraft.
On The Other Hand:
Drones are scary. So far, they’ve been used by the CIA for targeted killings, which creep a lot of people out in their implication that the government has the power to deploy flying robot assassins.
The morality of operating a flying death machine from the other side of the world has also been questioned. Some think that picking off little people-shaped blips on a computer screen like it’s a poorly-designed video game is desensitizing, and that it’s dangerous to get used to this kind of warfare since the operator seems to be detached from the suffering. While no evidence confirms this, some evidence shows that drone operators can still suffer from PTSD and similar ailments.
There’s another argument floating around that drones kill innocent civilians like there’s no tomorrow. Whether it’s drones or some other branch of the military, innocent civilians always end up killed, usually in unpredictable numbers, because war has a tendency to do that (war is bad).
So, are drones any better than manned aircraft/military units? Are they any worse?
Depending on what you think of drones (I personally regard them as soul-less, life-destroying deathcopters), this issue may or may not be of great import to you. The government (and notably the CIA) seems to have taken to the use of predatory drones to the point where it’s become routine.
If you’re against the use of drones, this isn’t good news. It means that changing the way things are right now is going to take some work, because in order for the government to change, it needs to be told by its people that change is needed, and in order for the voice of the people to be heard, the people need to stop engaging in the collective shrug. The collective shrug doesn’t do anything.