A few nights ago I fought with a loved one about drone planes.
He asked me if I had watched The State of the Union. I told him that I had not. I told him that I get too upset when I think about the difference between what our leaders say and what they do. I said I would not vote for either of the major party candidates. Basically, I am tired of public speeches that declare one reality and back room deals that create another. I said there are many things happening right now that I believe are completely unethical and amoral, one being drone planes.I explained that I don’t believe we are any safer as a nation, or world, because we have the capacity to remotely bomb one another. How could a country being bombed by a drone plane feel anything but hatred for a country that conducts war via computer, from the safety of a base on another continent? How would the United States feel if we were bombed via drone planes that had escaped radar and targeted our cities? How did we feel when planes attacked New York and Washington DC? Drone planes allow the act of war to become like a video game. When did the idea of declaring war, and abiding by rules of war, become unnecessary or quaint?
He said 911 changed everything.
I asked how can you simply explain away the innocent lives that are lost because of missed targets or wrong targets or bad information? How can the acts of a radical few make violence against an entire group of people justifiable?
He said at least they don’t have camps training those terrorists to hate anymore.
I said those camps still exist, they are just in North Africa now. I said drone planes are one of the biggest recruitment devices they have.
(I was yelling at this point and he said he would hang up if I did not stop yelling.)
He then made a point about how the technology of war always evolves. I brought up the atomic bomb and we spent a few minutes disagreeing about the necessity of dropping the bombs. (I recently heard a historian assert that the war was about to end within six months, regardless of the bomb.)
Eventually, I said we just see this completely differently. We agreed to disagree.
This whole conversation was shocking and upsetting. I was not talking to a person with whom I knew disagreement would arise. We have always voted for the same presidential candidates. We have always been Democrats. I left our discussion wondering what has happened in my country when loving people cannot agree that drone planes tear at the very fiber of humanity. Have we become so driven by fear and hate that nationalist fervor trumps sanity. If people from a relatively similar political position see drone planes in such a different light, what does that say about the debate? Where is Left and Right? Should we not be asking questions, not simply bombing from Florida?