Wednesday 06 Oct 2021 | 22:35 | SYDNEY
Wednesday 06 Oct 2021 | 22:35 | SYDNEY

Reader riposte: Drones and morality

3 November 2011 10:04

Roger Fortier writes:

Crispin is certainly entitled to his own opinion, but not his own facts. The Predator Unmanned Aerial Vehicle program he cites is operated from Nellis AFB, but is merely one of many drone systems in use by the US. The trailer containing the ground control system can be deployed anywhere there is a usable runway. Most drones are in fact flown and serviced in the operations theater by troops that did say the long goodbyes to families and friends.

In addition to the CIA and the US Air Force, the US Army now operates its own armed drones designed to destroy targets crtitical to the tactical and operational fight. In other words, drone operations are a complex and de-centralized affair run by many agencies serving different requirements. It's ludicrous to claim that one man controls it all, as Crispin implies with CIA director David Petraeus. And if drone operations are 'completely out of the public eye,' why did the Obama administration tout its killing of al-Alawi, a US national who's death certainly raises legal and moral issues as well as political fallout with the president's progressive base?

As far as driving to the office to 'kill large numbers of people,' precision munitions like the Hellfire missile actually kill less people than dumb bombs: that is, in those rare instances when intelligence, communications and sensors align on a fleeting, critical target. Even then, command posts at all levels have lawyers adjudicating the trigger pull; something unimaginable when Curtis LeMay was firebombing Tokyo and killing tens of thousands of Japanese in a single day.

As he laments the transformational leap creating today's 'permissive political environment,' I wonder which Crispin prefers: The precise killing of those who would do us harm made possible by smart weapons, or the good old days of incinerating Yokohama and Dresden?