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From Draft NOtices, January-March 2012

Proxy War

— Rodrigo de la Rosa

Throughout history, human lives have been improved by technology in many ways. Tools facilitated hunting, the wheel increased the speed of travel, and the industrial revolution greatly increased the production of goods. Thanks to globalization, we now have ease of communication throughout the world via cell phones, computers and the Internet. Because of these desirable improvements, we tend to believe that more technology makes a country superior to others — for example, a first-world country has more advanced technology than third-world countries. No matter where we live, people enjoy the benefits that technology has brought us. But while we look at technology in a positive manner, we should also take into consideration some negative ways in which it has been employed.

One of these is the increasingly widespread use of automated machinery. It was first primarily used for manufacturing such products as cloth, automobiles, washing machines and sealing products. It has greatly increased the efficiency of production and has saved money for companies because fewer workers are needed. As our technology expands, automated machinery has spread into other sectors such as educational institutions, hospitals and the military. Automated warfare is now a key component of the U.S. military, with its new line of unmanned war machines like the Predator, armed with hellfire missiles, or the ATVs that are loaded with heavy-duty firearms and missile launchers.

A perceived advantage of these automated drones is that they can be controlled from far away using remote control, which creates a safer and more secure environment for the people operating them. More military personnel are being trained to control these mini-tanks and Predators, which are being deployed in distant areas like the Middle East. This helps reduce the loss of military personnel for the U.S., but it devastatingly increases the death rate of people in the areas being attacked. Some say that it costs less to use drones because it reduces the expense of pilot training for air missions. But according to an official website of the United States Air Force, the cost of creating these Predators is approximately $20 million each! It is without a doubt a great expense for the military and ultimately to the taxpayers, who have no say in whether to support this or not.

Drones such as the Predator are also being used in order to enforce the border between the United States and Mexico. The Department of Homeland Security is currently using eight Predators (a total cost of $160 million) to prevent people from crossing into the U.S. to find a better life for themselves.

The drones also serve another purpose. As the use of remote-controlled airplanes and tanks increases, the need for soldiers to be on the actual battlefield is reduced, meaning they have less direct contact with their enemies. This creates emotional detachment for the operator from the suffering of the people being killed by these war machines. The desensitization to war has already increased with all the electronic war games that the youth are playing, and the implementation of automated warfare is taking this even further. Eventually this machinery will increase our tolerance toward killing. The destruction and bloodshed will become trivial in our daily lives. Even though the drones used by the Border Patrol are for detecting people rather than killing them, it still contributes to the problem of desensitization toward other human beings. The military personnel operating these devices will become less and less humane and more like the machines they are controlling. Is our society ready for this type of technology? Or are we doomed if we allow this to continue to expand? Logically it might make sense to use these types of devices, but it condemns us ethically. We must take a step back and realize what we are doing. Hundreds of thousands of lives and homes can be destroyed with one flick of a switch, one press of a button, from thousands of miles away, without the remorse or guilt that comes from killing.

This article is from Draft NOtices, the newsletter of the Committee Opposed to Militarism and the Draft (


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