Saturday, November 29, 2014

War by remote control

Look out below!

“The Unblinking Stare” by Steve Coll in the New Yorker for November 24, 2014, is a chilling reminder that there are places in the world where the United States is an angry god — sending death from the skies to those sinners who have incurred its wrath. As described by Coll in the article:
“Being attacked by a drone is not the same as being bombed by a jet. With drones, there is typically a much longer prelude to violence. Above North Waziristan [Pakistan tribal area], drones circled for hours, or even days, before striking. People below looked up to watch the machines, hovering at about twenty thousand feet, capable of unleashing fire at any moment, like dragon’s breath. “Drones may kill relatively few, but they terrify many more,” Malik Jalal, a tribal leader in North Waziristan, told me. “They turned the people into psychiatric patients. The F-16s might be less accurate, but they come and go.”
All I have to do is use my imagination and think what it would do to me if I saw a drone in the sky over my house. Psychiatric patient, indeed.

The idea of a pilotless aircraft able to attack enemy forces is not new. It was shown in this page from the January 9, 1956 Life magazine. Despite being attached by a wire, even the wingless craft shown here seems fairly sophisticated. I don’t know how far this particular project went, or if there were other projects before it that led to the one in the photo. I can surmise that for decades the American military has been working on just such a project. Right now a pilot can sit at a location in the United States and fly a craft halfway around the world. It then can be then used to bring death and destruction. As with all weapons, sometimes it takes out the innocent as well as the guilty.


Kirk said...

I find it puzzling that they've been able to send unmanned spacecraft to other planets since at least the 1970s, but only recently figured out how to make an unmanned airplane that can fly to another continent. Must me different technologies, but it still seems odd to me. But then, that they had trains but not automobiles in the Old West also seems odd to me.

Postino said...

Kirk, I assume it was a matter of will. I'll bet they were working on the technology even during the early days of the race for space. Maybe they wouldn't devote the funds needed for it. They were pouring tremendous amounts of money into spy satellites and spy planes like the SR-71 Blackbird. There probably just came a time when the powers that be deemed it worth building such craft as drones and deploying them. More bang for the buck, as the old saying goes.