Zombie: Code Pink’s strange war on drones

Zombie has an essay up at Pajamas Media on “Code Pink’s head-scratching war on drones“. The article packs some amazing info (acknowledging Richard Fernandez and Wired Magazine) about what modern drones (a.k.a. UAVs) are capable of nowadays.

The Air Force Research Laboratory set out in 2008 to build the ultimate assassination robot: a tiny, armed drone for U.S. special forces to employ in terminating “high-value targets.” The military won’t say exactly what happened to this Project Anubis, named after a jackal-headed god of the dead in Egyptian mythology. But military budget documents note that Air Force engineers were successful in “develop[ing] a Micro-Air Vehicle (MAV) with innovative seeker/tracking sensor algorithms that can engage maneuvering high-value targets.”

Special Forces already make extensive use of the Wasp drone made by AeroVironment. This is the smallest drone in service, weighing less than a pound. It has an endurance of around 45 minutes, and line-of-sight control extends to 3 miles.

It might seem limited compared to larger craft, but the Wasp excels at close-in reconnaissance. Its quiet electric motor means it can get near to targets without their ever being aware of its presence.

Why a group that professes concern about casualties among innocent bystanders (“collateral damage” in milspeak) would be opposed to a technology that makes war more “surgical” appears to defy logic.

The simplest and most elegant explanation is of course: “because they’re not anti-war, just on the other side”. Simple and elegant explanations, when it comes to things human (and Code Stinkos are at least arguably human ;-)), have a way of being right some of the time, and dead wrong most of the time.

My own favorite explanation (which owes much to Dr. Pat Santy) has always been moral narcissism (a.k.a. toxic moral perfectionism): they are so obsessed with feeling good about themselves that they would be willing to see their own side lose if that were the price. (In Hebrew such people are ironically called “beautiful souls”.)

Zombie has yet another explanation in his/her article, namely that the Code Stinkers are afraid that making warfare clinical, hi-tech, and surgically precise will make their pipe dream of World Peace/”whirled peas”/”world piece-by-piece” unattainable. (S)he references (not by name) a Star Trek:TOS episode exploring the theme of a perpetual “clean” war. The trouble is, of course, that armed conflict has been a part of the human condition in all of recorded history, and will continue to be as long as people are human. Sowell’s “A conflict of visions” comes to mind: what I just described is a “constrained vision”, while the pacifist one is paradigmatically the “unconstrained vision” that assumes perfectability of human nature and external reality.

On a humorous note, one of the comments refers to this priceless cartoon:

UPDATE: additional comments here.


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