, Corbin, KY


August 27, 2012

Drones on the loose

CORBIN — Though our troops are withdrawn and have come home, the war goes on. Daily we are engaged in battle by striking and killing the enemy, al Qaeda terrorists. A marvel of modern warfare, drone air strikers reduce our causalities to nearly zero. With President Obama personally approving drone targets, United States now routinely directs drone attacks in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Somalia and Yemen. Our drones are on top of al Qaeda wherever they are identified. This new high-tech weaponry delivers an effective blow against the enemy without putting a single soldier in harm’s way. It is a new day for the battlefield, where not one of us gets hurt. Even without dirtying our hands we continue to deliver deadly devastation to terrorist enemies.

However, this smooth-running and seemingly painless warfare has three mounting difficulties. High altitude surveillance to identify and target the enemy is far from accurate; easily confusing any gathering of people as al Qaeda. Hundreds of innocent civilians are regularly killed. Secondly, we may get some of our own medicine. Drones are no longer an exclusive American military tool. Fifty countries now have drones! How long will it be before demented rogues and terrorist conspirators will have drones over our heads?

The third difficulty has to do with breaking the international law forbidding military strikes on neutral territories. Obama identifies our present use of drones as justified self-defense; with al Qaeda often being given (or forceful usurping) sanctuary in civilian communities. Having no country of its own, like a cancer, al Qaeda forcefully attaches to a multiplicity of non-military communities and countries; hiding behind the innocent — women and children.

Yes, it is certainly a new day for international conflict — a new day of man-less warring with thousands of innocents in the middle of the battlefield. The ramifications of drone war techniques call for an urgent international (UN) convention to set standards for cross-border (international) conflicts. Yet, with such drone guidelines, just who is it that will respectfully follow them?  Obama ? al Qaeda?

Will the day soon come when we refuse to attend our county fair or our family reunion out of fear of an enemy’s misguided (or accurately guided) drone attack?

“Praise be to the Lord my Rock... He is my loving God and my fortress… in whom I take refuge, who subdues my enemies.” [Psalms 144:1, 2]

The Rev. John Burkhart Ph.D, is a retired Episcopal priest and professor of psychology blog at inspirationsandideas


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