Drones flew into our lives and consciousness straight out of some futuristic robotic Armageddon. News coverage of shadowy figures moving around on grainy backgrounds leave viewers wondering. If that is what the drone operators, in their secure bunkers hundreds or thousands of miles away, were looking at how could they ever be at all sure that they were not attacking civilians.
No doubt. Drones used in combat and war were rolled out full force with the Operation Iraqi Freedom and ramped up as the wars drew out a decade after “Mission Accomplished” was declared. The argument was simple, surveille and attack without committing American lives, then the American people will love us. Or at least not notice a war, occupation, is still going on.
By anyone’s standards, it really didn’t work. It is still too hard to tell the good guys from the bad guys, or what is really going on on the ground in all but a few situations. It has also been difficult to know the real civilian casualty statistics. Is it 4% like some conservative researchers beiece, or the 35% that others groups have put out. How does this compare to the same campaign on ground only? Does it matter?
In the meantime, like is true with many technologies that started with a mainly military application, drones have branched out. They now deliver packages and supplies, which is helpful especially in remote or war-torn areas where the delivery food and medical supplies save lives. They take pictures, which helps the study of agricultural areas and rainforests. They are playthings for children and drone hobbyists. There are even drone racing circuits.
Last month drones helped restore satellite and internet capability to a majority of Puerto Rico and to the people who had been isolated since the hurricanes of September and October 2017. Last week Los Angeles firefighters used data from drones to enhance their view on hotspots in the devastating fires so that they can combat the fires more effectively.
For years now regular vigils have taken place outside the gates of Camp Douglas, Wisconsin, where the Air Force is believed to house some of its drones. The vigils are called drone vigils or anti-drone vigils.Last year I bought drones as gifts for a niece, nephew, and grandson.
As a member of Veterans for Peace, Chapter 25, does that bother me. Do I feel some discordance? Not a bit. The anti-drone protests are targeted at combat or war-related uses, drones don’t kill people-people kill people, and we can’t put the drone back in the box anyway.