Kathy Kelly, at AntiWar.com, has written a meditation on the ominous emergence of drone warfare. Excerpts:
One question Fazillah cannot answer for her son is whether anyone asked the question at all of whether to kill his father. Forbes reports that the Air Force has 65,000–70,000 analysts processing drone video surveillance; a Rand review states they actually need half again that number to properly handle the data. Asked to point to the human who actually made the decision to kill her husband, she can only point to another machine.
So who does Fazillah blame? Whom does one blame when confronted with the actions of a machine? Our Pakistani friend asks, “What kind of a democracy is America where people do not ask these questions?” Becoming an actual democracy, with an actual choice at election time between war and peace rather than between political machines vying for the chance to bring us war, seems to many Americans, if some of the less-reported polls are to be believed, a nearly unachievable goal. The United States has become a process that churns out war — today Afghanistan and (in any real sense) Iraq; tomorrow Iran and Pakistan, with China securely, however distantly, on the horizon — and for those of us with any concern for peace, a principled opposition to war ultimately requires a determination to make the United States at long last into a democracy, striving as Dr. King enjoined us, in “molding a recalcitrant status quo with bruised hands until we have fashioned it into a brotherhood.”
It must begin with compassion — powerless compassion perhaps, perhaps only the ghost of dissent, but compassion for people like Fazillah and Aymal — and with deciding to be human, maybe only the ghost of a human, but alive in some way and alive to what our assent and perhaps especially our silence are accomplishing in the world. Humanity is the first thing to be won back — and then, if we have the strength, relentlessly defended — against indifference, complacency, and, above all, inaction. If enough of us refuse to be machines, if enough of us refuse enough, can democracy, and even peace, not be at last achieved? But first comes the refusal.